There are few pantry staples that I think everyone should have. I think that lemons are high on that list. They keep (relatively) well in the fridge and they do make both savoury and sweet dishes taste better.
Many savoury dishes are better off with lemon – it adds a refreshing brightness to a dish and cuts through any oiliness or richness – a roast chicken could do with that extra rub of lemon zest and have half of lemon stuffed into its cavity; those garlic prawns in olive oil would gladly welcome a squeeze or two of lemon; and oh the hollandaise sauce.. how can it be one without lemon?
I’ve also been reading up on the flavours of preserved lemons that will add to a dish and I hope to explore the use of it soon.
When it comes to sweets, the possibilities with lemon are almost endless!
I almost can’t imagine life without lemon meringue tarts, that slice of comforting lemon pound cake or that refreshing cold lemon sorbet on a hot, sunny day.
Of all the ways of using lemons in sweets, one of my favourites is in the form of lemon curd. Lemon curd is perfect as a spread on a brioche bun; it is perfect as a filling in a sweet tart; it is perfect being sandwiched between two macaron shells.
For those of you who might find lemon curd too tart on the palate may that the lemon macaron gives you the best of both worlds – the sweetness from the almond macaron shells and the acidity and freshness from the lemon curd.
I added a touch more butter to the curd for these macarons so that they would hold its form better. You would also need to allow the lemon curd to thicken and set slightly either in the fridge or a short while in the freezer before piping them out on the macaron shells.
By the way, I must tell you that I’m more than excited about my upcoming trip to Italy in late autumn.
I can’t wait to have the first taste those Amalfi lemons freshly picked off the trees! I’ve only heard good things about them.
Recipe: Lemon macarons (filled with lemon curd)
Makes 30-35 regular macarons
Macaron shells (French meringue method)
Recipe adapted from Le Cordon Bleu
Makes 60-70 regular sized shells
120g ground almond meal
10g cocoa powder
130g icing sugar
100g egg whites, aged if possible, at room temperature
pinch of cream of tar tar
120g caster sugar
- Prepare your baking trays: Place baking parchment on trays.
- Process the almond meal in a food processor. Then, dry the ground almond meal in a 100 degrees celcius oven for approximately 15 minutes, or until it doesn’t clump together when pressed between two fingers.
- Sift together the ground almond meal, cocoa powder and icing sugar.
- Make a french meringue: begin by whisking the egg whites in a clean, grease-free mixer bowl at low speed. Add in the cream of tar tar when the egg whites turn foamy.
- Increase the speed to medium-high and whisk until soft peaks before adding the caster sugar gradually.
- When all the sugar has been added, increase the speed to high and whisk until stiff and glossy peaks. You will know when it’s ready if you lift the whisk and the mixture is firm and doesn’t droop. (see picture above)
- Add in 1/4 of the meringue mixture to your almond meal and icing sugar mixture. Fold them together. You do not have to be too careful about knocking the air out at this point. What you want is to lighten the mixture to a similar consistency as the meringue so it is easier to fold through the rest of the meringue.
- Add in the remaining 3/4 of the meringue and fold gently to incorporate.
- When it is well-combined, smear the mixture against the sides of the bowl with your spatula to achieve macaronage. This should be done about 10- 12 times to achieve a smooth, glossy mixture, without holding peaks. When you lift your spatula, the mixture should fall in about 5-6 seconds. The consistency should be similar to your choux pastry mixture.
- When it is done, fill the macaron mixture into a piping bag with plain nozzle size 8 or 10 and pipe the macaron shells onto a baking sheet. Try to pipe them as evenly as possible and leave about 1/2 inch gap in between the macarons. The mixture will spread a little.
- After piping the macaron shells, rap the tray against the kitchen counter a couple of times. This will help the pied (or foot) of the macarons to form.
- Let the macarons rest for about 30-45 minutes in an air-conditioned environment until they have form a skin and the batter does not stick to your fingers when you touch it.
- Bake in a preheated oven on the center rack at 165 degrees celcius for about 15 minutes and allow it to dry in the oven, with the oven door slightly ajar for 2-3 minutes. The macaron shells are ready when the bases are dry. You can try lifting one shell out to test, it shouldn’t stick to the baking parchment.
- Allow the macaron shells to cool on its baking tray before attempting to peel them off the baking sheet. They would release themselves more easily after they are cooled.
enough to fill 30-35 regular macarons (with some leftovers)
Adapted from Le Cordon Bleu
63g caster sugar
63ml lemon juice, freshly squeezed
120g unsalted butter, cut into small cubes (I added an extra 20g of butter into my curd recipe that I use for my tarts so that it would hold its form better)
1. Put the lemon juice, caster sugar, and eggs into a stainless steel bowl. Whisk them over a bain-marie.
2. At first, the mixture will go frothy and bubbly. Continue whisking until it thickens until a ribbon stage. This means that as you lift the whisk from the mixture, it will fall back upon itself but should leave a trail or ‘ribbon’ across the surface. This ribbon will not immediately sink back in on itself but will hold firm.This will take a while so be patient.
3. Take the thickened mixture off heat, let it cool to cool down slightly before whisking in the cubed butter. Whisk until incorporated.
4. Let the lemon curd to cool and thicken in the fridge before you start to pipe the lemon curd onto the macaron shells.
- Pair up similar sized macaron shells together before you begin piping the filling.
- Using a plain nozzle size no 8 or 10, pipe the cream cheese frosting in the centre of one of the macaron shells. Place the second shell on top of it and twist it gently until the filling comes right to the edges of the macaron.
- Place it into the fridge to allow the macarons to mature at least 24 hours before consuming. This maturation process is important for the macaron shells to absorb the flavours and moisture from the filling giving it a nice chewy center.
* Finish the matured macarons within a few days, otherwise the shell will be too soft.