Monday, September 12, 2011

Lime Macarons with Strawberry Curd Filling

French macarons are a terrifying dessert. You didn't think dessert could be terrifying, did you? Well they are. I just spent a week on them in pastry school, and I'm still not sure I mastered them. I mean, I'm quite sure I didn't. Have I scared you yet? OK well relax, you really can make them, if you follow the instructions to a T and don't mind the occasional imperfection. Better yet - if you eat the occasional imperfection. So you too can tackle lime macarons with strawberry curd filling! (P.S. read to the end of the post for a cute bonus!)

So here's the truth.  The recipe I'm sharing with you below is not what I use in pastry school. At all. That version involves making an Italian meringue, a complicated mixing process, and air drying the cookies before baking. The one I used to make these (a couple months ago, when I had a fully functioning kitchen) has none of that. And guess what - it's just as good.
If there's one part of macaron making that is the absolute most crucial to learn, it is the folding of all the ingredients together. One stroke too little, your macarons will be misformed and lumpy. One stroke too many and they'll ooze all over the tray and never develop their signature "feet."
OK, perhaps "one stroke" is a bit dramatic, but it is all a matter of undermixing or overmixing. The unfortunate part of this is that it is kind of hard to teach through a blog. The best way to figure it out is to have at it - make a batch, mix it up, and learn from your mistakes.
So today is my birthday! I know it can't compare to the great build up last year, but here is a little peek of me on my first birthday. And yes there was cake - but no French macarons!

Tip of the Day: A good way to test readiness of the batter is to fill a piping bag with a little, and pipe out a round.Any lumps or bumps should disappear within a minute but it should not ooze more than 1/2 cm past the original size you piped. If the lumps don't disappear, your batter needs a few more strokes before it's done.

Recipe: (original ratios from The Brave Tart)

Lime Macarons:
4 egg whites
2 1/2 ounces granulated sugar (~1/3 cup) 
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lime juice
zest of 2 limes
food coloring 4 ounces ground almonds or almond flour (~1 cup)
8 ounces confectioners sugar (~2 cups)

Strawberry curd, chilled (recipe below)

On a piece of parchment paper (about 3 for this recipe), trace 1 1/2" circles with a pen or pencil, then flip over, and fit to a cookie sheet.
Beat the egg whites, granulated sugar and salt together on medium speed for 3 minutes. Then beat on high for about 6 minutes. It should be very stiff at this point. Add in lime juice and zest plus any food colorings you want, then beat on high for another minute to ensure everything is incorporated.
Add in the confectioners sugar and ground nuts and begin folding. You should be gently incorporating the ingredients together but also gently deflating the egg whites. Continue folding, slowly, until the mixture is uniform. Then keep folding, one stroke at a time, until the mixture holds its shape for just one moment before spreading. 
Fill a pastry bag fitted with a medium round tip with half the mixture. Pipe rounds on to your parchment paper, stopping just before the lines you traced. 
Bake, one sheet at a time, on 300 F for 18 minutes. Let cool and remove from parchment paper. 

When cool, fill with chilled curd and sandwich two together. Store in an airtight container in the fridge. 

Strawberry Curd:

12 ounces fresh or frozen strawberries
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
4 egg yolks
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened and cut in to chunks

Puree the strawberries until smooth, then strain through a sieve to remove any large pieces.
In a medium pot, add the sugar, eggs and yolks, lemon juice and salt to the puree and mix well.
Place it over medium heat. Stir the curd continuously, making sure to scrape the bottom and corners of the pan. Cook until the curd thickens and coats the back of a spoon - it should just come to a boil. It should read about 175 F on a thermometer, after 10 to 12 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in the butter until smooth. Refrigerate until cold before filling macarons.


  1. I have always wanted to make macarons! I will have to give your recipes a shot- they seem scary to me too!

  2. what about the butter in the curd?

  3. Ah sorry, I'll fix it to say - added after removal from the heat.

  4. what a great picture of you :)

    you are right about making macarons, it is all about trying and learning from your mistakes, and some advice if you want to make them, make sure you have enough ingredients for more batches in case something goes wrong. When you have backup ingredients you don't have to stress and run to the store :)

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  7. really have no fear and they will turn out fine...I have only been making macarons for the past few months...I have had a few shells crack...and a few hollows as well but I have had more success than failures... I think what I don't understand is...we whip all that air into the egg whites...only to purposefully deflate them when folding in the other ingredients...not only do you fold...but you actually smoosh the batter up the sides of the bowl until you get a ribbon like consistancy...depending on the type of macaron...usually anywhere from 40-50 stirs will do the trick giving your batter a ribbonlike consistancy...I am going to give your cookie part a try and fill mine with a lime buttercream and a little lime curd...thanks for your recipe

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