Lemon Macarons

“I think you’re forgetting an ‘o’. Don’t you mean macaroons?”

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Despite the common misconception, no. A French Macaron and a Macaroon are two distinctly different desserts, and here’s why:

A macaron is probably what comes to mind first; the light, airy cookie sandwich with cream or jam filling that has its roots in Italy and France. A macaroon however is the chewy Americanized cookie made of coconut and sometimes dipped in chocolate. One takes two days (if done properly) and immense patience, and the other can be done by anyone in under an hour. For more clarification, visit this article Macarons vs. Macaroons.

This recipe will teach you how to make the perfect Lemon Curd Macarons: delicate, tangy, and not too sweet, with all the signature traits of macarons (smooth top, curly feet, airy interior, eggshell crust, uniform shape, and delicious flavor). But this comes with a price (literally). While you could spend a lot of time and effort mastering macarons without any of the following tools, that would probably take years and a lot of heartache.

To make this process a whole lot simpler, you can purchase these simple tools:

  1. A silicon macaron mat (ridged circles that make each macaron identical in size and shape)
  2. A real piping bag and circular 1/2 inch nozzle (for piping out the perfect amount of batter)

For a total of about $10 you will now save yourself the stresses of mat-less macaron baking! Trust me, I’ve been there. I spent 2 hours meticulously cutting parchment paper to fit my cookie sheets, and then drawing identical circles with a pen for each macaron… and they still spread. The mat’s ridges do more than you think.

Macarons are not that hard, despite what you might hear. It’s just that you have to follow each step with precision. If you’re a carefree, loose, no-recipe baker, macarons are not for you. But if you can read directions and follow them well then you’ll be a master of macarons in no time. All of my tips and tricks will be imbedded in the recipe so you won’t forget them while you’re baking.

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Happy Baking,

Ivy B. Lake

For this recipe you will need 1 impeccably clean stainless steel bowl, 1 medium mixing bowl, spatulas, a whisk, a food processor (optional), a macaron mat, a piping bag, 1/2 inch round tip, a baking sheet, a mixer, a wire rack, and a kitchen scale. This recipe yields 48 halves, so 24 complete macaron cookies.

For the lemon curd you will need a saucepan, a whisk, 2 lemons, and plastic wrap.

Ingredients (Macarons):

  • 120g Super-fine Almond Flour (about 1 cup)
  • 200g powdered sugar (about 1 3/4 cups)
  • 50g granulated sugar (about 1/4 cup)
  • 3 aged egg whites
  • 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1/4 tsp. lemon extract
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 3-4 drops yellow food coloring

Ingredients (Lemon curd):

  • 2 small eggs
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest

Directions (Macarons):

One to two nights before you plan on baking your macarons: separate three egg whites from their yolks and place them in a bowl (preferably a glass measuring cup). Store them in a cool dry place loosely covered with plastic wrap for 24-48 hours so they can “age”. This is key to making macarons. (The aging process evaporates the water so that they form a better meringue).

Once your egg whites have been aged, you’re ready to begin. Blend together the weighed (yes, weighed) almond flour and powdered sugar in the food processor OR sift them together three times. Don’t skip this! There must be NO lumps (even small ones). Set the mixture aside in the medium mixing bowl.

Clean your stainless steel bowl with soap and water, and then dry with a paper towel, being careful not to let your skin touch the bowl. Any oils will ruin the meringue.

Pour the aged egg whites in the steel bowl and begin beating them on high speed with your mixer. When they start to foam, add the cream of tartar. When they form a cream add the granulated sugar. Continue beating until glossy. *This is an extremely long process that requires patience and focus*. When the meringue is finished you should be able to lift some to form a stiff peak, and it will stay standing no matter how hard you shake the bowl. If it droops, it’s not done. You should also be able to hold the bowl upside down for 4 seconds without the meringue moving at all.

Gently fold the lemon juice, extract, and optional yellow food coloring into the finished meringue with a clean spatula.

Gently add scant 1 cup of the almond flour/sugar mixture to your meringue and fold it in with a spatula. You may want to look up a video of how to fold macaron batter at this point, as it is one of the most important steps. With a gentle wrist you should fold the meringue over itself until all the flour mixture is incorporated (about 15 strokes). After this, add another cup of the flour mixture and repeat. Continue doing this until all of the almond flour/sugar mixture is added, and be careful not to overmix. As soon as the flour is fully incorporated, you can stop folding.

Fill your piping bag (fitted with the 1/2 inch round tip) with the macaron batter. Place your macaron mat on top of your baking sheet. Pipe circles of batter onto your macaron mat (about the size of a nickle). Most mats will have a smaller circle inside of a larger one. If you pipe enough to fill the smaller circle, it will eventually spread to the larger one on its own. Once all of the macarons have been piped, grip the baking sheet with both hands, lift, and tap firmly against your counter. Do this 2-3 times, and don’t be shy. This removes any air bubbles that could make your macarons hollow or cracked.

Let the macarons rest for 45 minutes – 1 hour on the counter (away from heat). This process is crucial and allows them to form a ‘skin’. After 45 minutes if you lightly touch one with your finger they will no longer be sticky.

Preheat your oven to about 300 degrees F (depending on your oven, the temperature is anywhere from 285-320, but 300 works for me). While the macarons rest, you can make your lemon curd.

(For the lemon curd) In a small saucepan over medium heat whisk together your lemon juice, granulated sugar, 2 eggs, and zest. Then add your softened/melted butter. Constantly whisk for about 10 minutes until the first bubbles start to appear and the curd is thick enough to coat your whisk. Remove from the heat and let cool. Once cooled, store in an airtight bowl and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Once the macarons have rested for 45-60 min, they are ready to be baked. Place them in the oven and set your timer for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, rotate the pan (the opening of the oven door at this point also provides necessary air circulation). Set your timer for another 5 minutes. Repeat (open, turn, close). Finally, bake for another 2-5 minutes and they’re done. (Total baking time: 12-15 minutes). You are looking for a slight rise, good crinkly ‘feet’, smooth tops, and NO browning or cracking.

Place the entire baking sheet on a wire rack and let cool. After about 30 minutes, slide the macaron mat off the baking sheet and leave the mat on the rack. After another 20 minutes, gently begin pulling the macarons off of their mat. If they are still warm, let them cool before doing this. They are extremely delicate.

After the macarons have cooled and your lemon curd has been chilled in the refrigerator for an hour, you can begin assembling them. Holding one macaron halve in your hand, slowly pipe a circle of lemon curd onto the flat side (about the size of a penny). Press another macaron halve onto the curd, forming a ‘sandwich’. Repeat this process, yielding 24 perfect macarons!

And then you’re done! Almost 2 days of work for 24 gorgeous and delicious cookies. I hope you enjoy these citrusy and impossibly light desserts.

Leave a comment if you have any questions or suggestions.

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