Archive for Baking Adventures

Lemon Curd Macarons

Happy Feet.

It’s a fabulous movie –well up until the strange ending that preached about environmental activism — but it means so much more than that. So so much more.

I’ll go on.

Happy feet is also something Boy makes fun of me for. He doesn’t call it that exactly, but I’m similar to good ol’ Mumble in that I “dance” when I’m happy.

[I also tap dance while I’m waiting for the elevator in the hospital and no one’s around. Or when I’m sitting in a lecture and bored out of my mind. Or when Boy really wants me to show him time steps. Google that last one if you’re interested. Boy loves them for some reason. Especially with appropriate arm movements. Oh yes.]

I jump up and down, shuffle my feet about, and squeal when good things happen.

Like these feet on these macarons.

They had happy feet, I had happy feet.

I’ve tried French macarons before with Tartelette’s recipe and tutorial. The light and chewy texture came through but physically the poor suckers were flat and feetless. But this time, with the help of Dorie and the LA Times I did it. Macarons with feet. MACARONS WITH FEET!

Oh I shimmied, shook, and shuffled my happiness all around my condo. Boy loves that. I turn into a little girl who can’t find the words to say what she feels, just expresses it with movement and incomprehensible sounds.

I was so convinced that it wasn’t going to work out that I didn’t even take pictures of the process. I concentrated all my energy into following the recipe exactly and making those split second decisions of whether the whites are stiff enough, need to be beaten more, or have I already beaten them to beyond where I want them to be. And it worked.

Okay so they’re not perfect. I made them a little wide and the feet are sticking out kinda funny and the lemon curd I made is leaking from the sides. But as long as it has feet, I’m happy. Happy with the feet.

I’m posting this mainly so I can chronicle my macaron journey. I plan on trying to recreate the very first macaron Boy and I had from L’Espalier in Boston that was pure heaven in our mouths. Boy’s been asking so I’ve been working on it. It was a lovely substitution for an after-dinner mint, chocolatey and just a little bit minty. Oh I wish I had one right now.

Anyway, these were quite good. The lemon curd may have been a BIT too strong for my liking but not enough to stop me from eating two of these at a time. Same for Boy.

If you’ve had trouble making macarons with other recipes, I (and Dorie) suggest you try this one out. It worked for me!

French Macarons
adapted from the LA Times

1/2 c (3-4 large) egg whites, at room temperature, divided
Food coloring (optional; I went for purple)
1/2 tsp vanilla (optional; I didn’t)
1 1/2 c almond meal or flour
1 1/3 c powdered sugar
3/4 c granulated sugar
3 tbsp water


Push the almond flour and powdered sugar through a strainer into a large bowl and whisk to blend. Pour half the egg whites into a large bowl for a stand or hand mixer and mix the other half in a separate bowl with food coloring and/or vanilla if using.

[You now have 3 bowls of stuff.]

Bring the granulated sugar and water to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat, washing down the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water. Increase the heat to high, insert a candy thermometer and boil, undisturbed, until the syrup reaches 240 degrees. Meanwhile, beat the whites in the mixer [sans coloring/vanilla] over low to medium speed until foamy, then increase the speed and continue until they hold medium-firm peaks. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and slowly pour in the syrup [sugar/water mixture], being careful to avoid hitting the whisk attachment. Beat the meringue on high until the peaks are firm, about 2 minutes, then set aside to rest for about 5 minutes. [This part scared the heck out of me but it turned out fine as long as you keep the hot sugar moving!]

Pour the unbeaten egg whites over the almond-sugar mixture and top with the meringue; fold everything together, then stir the batter briskly until it falls off the spatula in a slow, moderately thick band. If you want more coloring, add it now.

[I suggest you prepare sheets with penciled circles that are 1 1/2 inches in diameter so you don’t overpipe and they’re all uniform in size.]
Spoon half the batter into a pastry bag fitted with a half-inch round tip and, keeping the bag vertical and 1 to 2 inches above the sheet, pipe rounds about 1 1/2 inches in diameter and 2 inches apart onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Rap the pan against the counter (or don’t; I didn’t), refill the bag and pipe out a second sheet. Set the sheets aside in a cool, dry place, allowing the rounds to rest until you can gently touch the top of the mounds without having any of the batter stick to your finger. [Be patient and let them rest! This is crucial to feet.]

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and set a rack in the middle. Place one of the baking sheets on top of a spare baking sheet and slide the double-pan setup into the oven [I didn’t do this because I didn’t notice this sentence until the creation of this post. Whoops.].

Bake the macarons for 4 minutes, then quickly open and close the oven door. Bake them for another 4 minutes and open and close the door again. Continue to bake the macarons until the tops are rounded and firm and a craggy ridge, the foot, has formed around the base, about 4 minutes (check the macarons after a couple minutes, as the baking time will vary by oven). [Baking actually only took me about 8 minutes for each batch this time around.]

Slide the parchment off the hot baking pan and onto a counter and set aside until the macarons are cool. Repeat with the second sheet of macarons. Peel the cooled macarons off the paper and match them up for sandwiching. Pipe 1 tsp of filling on one half of the macarons and top with their mates. Pack the sandwiched cookies in a container and refrigerate for 24 hours (or for up to 4 days) before serving. Remove from the fridge 30 minutes before serving.

Martha’s Lemon Curd
from Martha

3 large egg yolks
Zest of 1/2 lemon
1/4 c freshly squeezed lemon juice, (2 lemons)
6 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces

Whisk together yolks, lemon zest, lemon juice, and sugar in a small saucepan. Set over medium heat, and stir constantly with a wooden spoon, making sure to stir sides and bottom of pan. Cook until mixture is thick enough to coat back of wooden spoon, 5 to 7 minutes.

Remove saucepan from heat. Add the butter, one piece at a time, stirring with the wooden spoon until consistency is smooth.

Transfer mixture to a medium bowl. Lay a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd to avoid a skin from forming; wrap tightly. Let cool; refrigerate until firm and chilled, at least 1 hour. Store, refrigerated in an airtight container, up to 2 days.

Try it. Take the chance!

What makes you get “happy feet”?