Easter weekend was approaching and I wanted to bring a treat for my family-in-law, an extended clan covering four generations. My mother-in-law has a strong penchant for all things lemony, and the sisters-in-law and the nieces have been impressed by previous versions of macarons, so I made the obvious choice of lemon macarons.
For the shell, I followed my basic statistical macaron formula, but using 3 egg whites. I filled them with mascarpone cream cheese flavoured with sugar and lemon juice, topped with homemade lemon curd.
Lemon macaron shells:
Ingredients (makes about 32 shells, or 16 sandwiches):
- 3 egg whites
- 60 g (2 oz) granulated sugar
- 210 g (8 oz) icing sugar
- 120 g (4 oz) ground almonds
- zest of one lemon
- Sift together the icing sugar and ground almonds, removing any lumps or coarse bits of almond. If you want a really smooth macaron, grind the sugar and almonds together in a food processor. I don’t find this necessary.
- In a stand mixer, using the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until they resemble bubble bath foam, and are light and fluffy but still moist.
- If you are using food colouring, add it at this stage. If using liquid food colouring, use as little as possible, as it will tend to flatten the shells.
- Add the granulated sugar and lemon zest gradually and continue whisking until the whites resemble shaving foam, dense and shiny, but not dry.
- Using a spatula, mix in the icing sugar and ground almonds. Don’t be too gentle, as you want to lose some air from the whites. When the dry ingredients are fully incorporated, check if the batter falls back on itself when you pull the spatula out to leave a peak. If it falls back after a count of ten, you are good to go. Otherwise, fold it a couple more times and check again. Be careful not to over-mix it at this stage.
- Place a sheet of parchment on a baking tray. A double thickness or insulated tray is ideal. A handy tip is to use a small blob of batter at each corner to hold the parchment down. Fill an icing bag fitted with a #10 nozzle with the batter. To do this, if there is no help at hand, place the bag in a jug, with the end turned down to hold it in place. This makes it easy to fill. Pipe circles of about 1 inch diameter, spaced about 1 inch apart. At the end of piping each disk, lift the bag quickly and start the next. Tap the tray on a worktop to remove bubbles and help settle the peaks.
- Leave the shells to rest for half an hour to an hour. Ideally, the shells should be dry to the touch. This helps in the development of ‘feet’.
- Preheat the oven to 160°C (for a fan oven) or 180°C for a convection oven. Bake the shells for 14 minutes, with the door held slightly ajar (a wooden spoon is handy for this). Remove the trays from the oven and leave to cool. If the shells are sticking to the paper you can return them to the oven for another few minutes.
Ingredients (makes the right amount for 16 sandwiches):
- 85 g (3 0z) caster sugar
- zest and juice of 1 large lemon
- 2 large eggs
- 55 g (2 oz) butter
- Place the sugar and lemon rind in a heat proof bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs and the lemon juice, and pour the mixture over the sugar and rind.
- Add the butter, chopped into small cubes.
- Place the bowl over barely simmering water, and whisk for 20 minutes.
- Leave the filling to cool at room temperature before refrigerating it.
Lemon mascarpone filling:
- 250 g (~9 oz) mascarpone cream cheese
- 100 g (3.5 oz) caster sugar
- Juice and zest of one large lemon
- Mix together all the ingredients until they are smooth. You want the filling to be soft without being to moist (you don’t want those macarons going soggy!).
- A few hours before you expect to eat them is a good time to assemble your macarons. This allows enough time for the flavours to develop, but not enough time for the shells to go soggy.
- Roughly match up the shells in pairs by size and shape (this assumes that like me, you have not yet achieved perfect uniformity with your piping).
- Using a teaspoon or an icing bag, place some mascarpone filling covering the flat side of one shell.
- Using a teaspoon or an icing bag, place some lemon curd on top of this.
- Complete the sandwich with a second shell.
I’m already looking forwards to making these again. They disappeared on Easter Day in no time, and seemed to be a big hit with everyone.