Lemon Bar Macarons

It’s lemon season here in Arizona and my ginormous lemon tree is busting with lemons. It’s one of my favorite times of year as I not only cook with lemons, but bake all sorts of lemon desserts. I married both of my two favorite desserts; the macaron and a lemon bar. These might be my new favorite macaron!

Lemon Bar Macarons

yield: ~ 30 or more assembled macarons (depending on piped size of shells)

Macaron Shells:

140 gm Almond flour (I like Wellbee’s super fine blanched brand)*

124 gm confectioners sugar

107 gm egg whites, room temperature

110 gm granulated sugar

1/4 tsp. cream of tartar

Lemon yellow gel food paste add to desired color

  1. In a food processor place the almond flour and confectioners sugar and run for 30 seconds. Stop and scrape down the sides so the mixture settles into the processor bowl. Repeat this 2 more times, then sift mixture through a strainer (it doesn’t have to be fine) over a large bowl (I use a 5 quart size stainless steel bowl). Preheat the oven to 300° F convection, 325° F for non convection setting.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer place the egg whites and cream of tartar and whisk by hand (using the mixer whisk) until foamy for about 30 seconds. Prepare two baking sheets with either parchment paper or Silpat liners.
  3. Set the mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment assembled to the mixer, and start the meringue by running mixer on power level 4 (Kitchen Aide) and start gradually adding in the granulated sugar- run/whisk for 2 minutes once all the sugar is in. Stop once to scrape the sides of the bowl to push down any sugar that appears on the sides.
  4. Increase mixer then to power level 6 and run for 3 minutes.
  5. Increase mixer to power level 8 and run for 3 minutes.
  6. Stop mixer and with a bamboo skewer or toothpick add in your gel color.
  7. Increase mixer to power level high (10) and run for 1 minute or until meringue is stiff peaks. A sign that meringue is ready is there will be a good amount collected within the whisk and if you turn the bowl upside down the meringue will not slip or move. If the color does not appear to be mixer to your liking at this point I add in any color and mix gently by hand; being careful not to overmix.
  8. Add one half of the meringue to the almond flour/sugar mix and start folding with a rubber spatula until mixture starts to look cohesive. Add in the remaining half of meringue and continue to gently fold, stopping occasionally to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. The batter is perfect when you lift up the spatula and tip the pointed end of the spatula down and ribbons of batter fall smoothly back into the bowl. I like to gauge its ready when I can count 7 ribbons falling without breaking and I can “draw” a figure 8 with the batter when lifting the spatula and letting it fall into the bowl.
  9. Prepare your pastry bag fitted with an Ateco 804 tip or a Wilton number 12 tip.
  10. Pipe the batter onto prepared baking sheet with 30 macarons per sheet. Six across the long side, and five rows perpendicular. Take the sheet pan and rap against the counter for 13 times. Repeat x 2 more times of 13, then look for any visible air bubbles and pop with a toothpick or bamboo skewer. Allow the macarons to rest for 10-30 minutes, then bake in a preheated (convection oven if you have at 300° F , 325° F for NON convection oven*) for about 16-18 minutes or until the cookie does not wiggle when attempting to check by carefully grabbing both sides of a cookie and gently testing.
  11. Let the tray rest on a wire rack and then bake the second tray.
  12. Cool the cookies completely before removing from the tray. Pair up the same size cookies to fill as per assembly instructions below.

Lemon Curd (yield ~ 1 Cup)

1/2 Cup fresh lemon juice, strained (114 g)

zest of one large lemon

1/2 Cup granulated sugar (85 g)

3 egg yolks

1/8 tsp. salt

1 Tbsp. cornstarch

1/4 Cup unsalted butter (57 g) room temp, but not too soft.

In a bowl, place the egg yolks, cornstarch and salt and whisk vigorously to combine until smooth. Set aside.

In a saucepan place the lemon juice, lemon zest and sugar. Over medium heat whisk continuously and cook until you reach a simmer. Remove about 1/2 cup of the mixture and slowly whisk into the egg yolk mixture to temper the mixture. Add the mixture from the bowl back to the rest of the lemon mixture in the saucepan to combine. Whisk constantly and cook over medium heat until thickened and you see at least one large bubble burst open in the middle of the pan. I cook mine for a few minutes after I see the first large bubble. Remove from heat and strain into a bowl and stir in the butter. Cover directly with plastic wrap and cool in the fridge until thickened. Ideally its best to do the day before or several hours prior to allow proper thickening.

Vanilla Buttercream :

3 egg whites

3/4 Cup granulated sugar

2 sticks unsalted butter

1 tsp. vanilla bean paste

In the bowl of a stand mixer combine egg whites and sugar. Set over a saucepan of simmering water and whisk until mixture is hot and sugar is dissolved. Remove bowl and place on mixer and beat until stiff meringue forms and bottom of mixer bowl is cool to touch; about 5 minutes. Add softened butter one tablespoon at a time until all is incorporated. Add the vanilla bean paste,  then beat until smooth.

To assemble: pipe a double ring of the vanilla buttercream on one half of a macaron shell, then pipe in a dollop of the lemon curd. Sprinkle on (optional) some crumbled up shortbread crumbs (I used Walkers brand), then top with a macaron shell. Dust the final assembled macaron with confectioners sugar. Let the assembled macarons ‘cure’ in the fridge until softened; about 3 days.

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