Wednesday, February 29, 2012

When life gives you lemons make macarons

There are situations in life when you feel completely and utterly let down by life, when the efforts you have made feel fruitless and you can be tempted to throw stones and blame everyone and yourself. It has happened to everyone at some point and I think everyone can relate to the desire to get one's own back or alternatively sink into self destructive despair about the future. You may well hear people say to cheer up and move on, when life gives you lemons and all that. To be honest I sometimes feel like saying 'I have enough lemonade, thank you very much!' So you've been churning away making lemonade and you've had enough. Well I have a sweet suggestion - lemon macarons!
When I was thinking about this recipe I thought about the inspiration and the desire to throw stones. I frequently think that macarons look like little pebbles and so I also decided to design my macarons like little stones with symbols on them, more on this later. So here's the silver lining to an annoying situation -

Lemon Macarons

The rind of 1 lemon
3 egg whites (preferly one day old and cold)
pinch of salt
75g Caster sugar
125g ground almonds
175g icing sugar
optional drops of lemon essence and yellow food colouring
Red food colouring for decoration

Beat your egg whites with the pinch of salt until fluffy. Add the caster sugar and continue to beat until you achieve firm peaks.Take the rind of one lemon and sieve it with the ground almonds and icing sugar. (This process is not easy, the ground almonds will not want to go through the sieve and I recommend weighing after you sieve as the 125g of ground almonds is important.)
Mix the almond mixture into the meringue mixture. At this stage if you wish you can add the extra lemon flavour or yellow food colouring. Be VERY careful with how much extra liquid you add as macarons are very delicate and too much liquid will ruin them completely. I choose not to add food colouring as I wanted them to look like little stones. Once the mixture has reached the stage that small bit spooned onto a plate retains no peak then put the mixture into a piping bag.
Pipe little circles of the mixture onto a parchment lined cookie sheet. To add the design I drew on the macarons with red food colouring on a tooth pick, but it is important to note that this must be done immediately before the shell hardens. Here is an example of one that worked and one that I left too late

A nicely decorated macaron (note the smooth shell)
One that I left too late (note the bumpy shell)

 Once the macarons have been decorated they should be left to dry for at least an hour before baking at medium heat for 15-20 minutes. Watch the oven carefully as much like cookies there is a very small window in which they are perfectly baked. Then you can choose the filling. I don't like filling my macarons with buttercream. Firstly because macarons as sweet enough but more importantly because I have eaten proffessional macarons that just tasted dry and disgusting because the buttercream has dried up and simultaneously dried up the whole thing. I choose to put raspberry jam and marmalade inside and they worked out very well. I would even suggest something less sweet. Then enjoy them in three little bites of delight -




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