For Bastille Day, I did a little jig on my front porch in gratitude to France for the Louisiana Purchase, and then I made macarons. There just is no better dessert, I’m convinced. The last time I made these with my lovely neighbor Denae, I ate my half of the batch with embarrassing haste. Oh, but how could I not? They melt like vacation. Sweet and brief.
Lemon Lavender Macarons
Adapted from Food Network
1 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 cup superfine almond flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup superfine sugar
4 drops purple food coloring (mix red and blue)
3/4 teaspoon almond extract
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (or 300 degrees F for convection). Line baking sheets with silicone baking mats. Sift the confectioners’ sugar into a large bowl. Sift in the almond flour.
Beat the egg whites, cream of tartar and salt in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment on medium speed until frothy, about 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium high and gradually beat in the superfine sugar until the mixture is just stiff and shiny, 2 to 2 1/2 more minutes, adding the food coloring and extract during the last 15 seconds of mixing.
Fold the egg white mixture into the almond flour mixture using a rubber spatula, giving the bowl a quarter turn with each fold, until incorporated. Continue folding and turning, scraping down the bowl, until the batter is smooth and falls off the spatula in a thick ribbon, no more than 2 minutes (about 60 strokes).
Transfer the batter to a piping bag fitted with a 1/4-inch round tip. Holding the bag perpendicular to and 1/2 inch above the prepared pans, pipe 11/4-inch rounds (30 to 35 per pan).
Firmly tap the baking sheets twice against the counter to release any air bubbles. Let the cookies sit at room temperature until the tops are no longer sticky to the touch, 30 to 40 minutes, depending on the humidity.
Slip another baking sheet under one batch of macarons (a double baking sheet protects the cookies from the heat). Bake the macarons, rotating the baking sheet halfway through, until the tops of the cookies are shiny and rise 1/8 inch to form a “foot,” about 20 minutes. Transfer the top pan to a rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining two batches, using a double baking sheet for each. Sandwich the cookies with citrus curd or preserves.
Lemon Lavender Curd Filling
3 large egg yolks
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
1 TB lavender, dried
4 tbsps unsalted butter, cut into pieces
To make the filling:
In the top of a double boiler filled with 2 inches of simmering water, combine egg yolks, confectioners’ sugar, lemon juice and zest. Cook over moderately low heat, whisking constantly, until thickened, about 10 minutes.
Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter. Strain the curd into a bowl and press a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the surface. Refrigerate until completely cold.
Match the macaron shells in pairs. Pipe a small round of lemon curd (about half a teaspoon) on the flat side of a macaron shell and sandwich together with a matching macaron shell. Repeat with the remaining macarons.