Sunday, July 31, 2011

Lemon, Lime & Bitters Macarons

The other day I invited my two favourite bakers for a marathon baking day at my apartment. It was something we had always wanted to do, but living quite far away from each other made it difficult to organise. But I finally bit the bullet and invited them over, which was a good way to force A & myself to clean the house for once :P Many moons ago Lisa came up with a brilliant macaron flavour idea - Lemon, Lime & Bitters. US readers might not be familiar with this drink, but us Aussies love it. We decided that this was the right time to try turning Lisa's idea into reality and together we came up with this recipe - Lemon and Lime macaron shells, sandwiched with a Bitters buttercream (I didn't realise Bitters was 45% alcohol until recently), with a small dollop of lemon & lime curd in the middle. Even if you've never tried the drink before, you should still try these macarons because they are absolutely delightful.
I'm not great at hosting guests and my apartment can't handle too many people, but I wanted it to be lovely, relaxing day so I made sure some of our favourite things were waiting for us - satay and teh tarik from Mamak to start off, and raspberry cupcakes waiting on the table to be tasted.
Followed by some Pimm's & Lemonade while we baked...
A naughty fluffball watched on curiously as we bustled around the kitchen, singing along to Once More with Feeling, as you do.
[A snap by Karen I found on my camera ;)]
I whipped up a fresh batch CWA scones, to enjoy with strawberry jam and cream. It was a slightly gloomy, overcast day, the perfect weather for sitting back with a steaming cup of English Breakfast and a light-as-a-cloud scone loaded with wayyyy too much jam.
[Another shot by Karen]
And then we got down to business with these macarons. It was quite a long process since we decided to make one batch of lemon flavour shells and one batch of lime flavoured shells, but totally worth the effort because I loved the way they both turned out with those gorgeous pastel colours. The buttercream was also tinted a very attractive orangey-pink from the bitters. We were unsure about how much bitters to add since it's so strong, but we ended up adding quite a bit and probably could have added even more, since the it was mellowed out by the flavour of the macarons and the curd. We only used a very small amount of the lemon & lime curd because it was super sour, but it added a little bit of zing that was definitely needed.
My favourite thing about these macarons is that bitters buttercream. I didn't know if it was going to work, but it ended up tasting so much better than I expected. Mixing it into the Swiss meringue buttercream gave it a beautiful velvety texture, and the slight bitter, spicy and fruity flavour worked magnificently when combined with the sweetness of a macaron shell. I will definitely have to experiment with more bitter flavours in macarons from now on. Much love to Lisa & Karen for coming over to brainstorm and bake with me, it was so fun and will definitely be repeated. Our combined baking Brains Trust is a force to be reckoned with, watch out world!
Lemon, Lime & Bitters Macarons
(makes about 42 macarons, feel free to halve the amounts)
2 x 100g aged egg whites (you can use fresh eggs too, just make sure they are room temperature. I always use fresh these days, and zap it in the microwave on defrost for 10 seconds)
2 x 110g almond meal, dried in a cool (100 degrees C or less) oven for 5 minutes and sifted
2 x 200g icing sugar
2 x 50g caster sugar
Optional: 2 x 1 tsp powdered egg whites (available from The Essential Ingredient), helps to stabilise egg whites but is not necessary
green and yellow powdered/gel food colouring
zest of one lemon
zest of one lime

For the bitters buttercream:
2 egg whites
1/2 cup caster sugar
180g unsalted butter
About 2 tbsp bitters, adjust to taste
(If you're new to making Swiss meringue buttercream, these wonderful tutorials from two of my favourite bloggers will help)

For the lemon-lime curd (optional):
Prepare the lime curd from this recipe, replacing half the lime juice and zest with lemon (you will end up with a lot more than you need, but stay tuned for a recipe that will use up the leftovers!)

This recipe involves preparing two separate batches of macaron shells, one with lime and one with lemon, hence the '2 x' amounts listed in the ingredients. Prepare the lemon shells first, using half the egg whites, almond meal, icing sugar, caster sugar and egg white powder. Line baking sheets with baking paper. Place icing sugar in food processor and pulse for a minute to remove any lumps. Stir in almond meal and pulse for about 30 seconds to combine. Place in a large mixing bowl and set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites and egg white powder in a medium mixing bowl until the egg white powder dissolves and it reaches soft peaks. With the mixer on high speed, gradually add sugar and beat until it reaches stiff peaks. Add yellow food colouring at this point.

Add meringue and lemon zest to your dry mixture and mix, quickly at first to break down the bubbles in the egg white (you really want to beat all the large bubbles out of the mixture, be rough!), then mix carefully as the dry mixture becomes incorporated and it starts to become shiny again. Take care not to overmix, the mixture should flow like lava and a streak of mixture spread over the surface of the rest of the mixture should disappear after about 30 seconds. Place in a piping bag and pipe rounds of about 3cm diameter on baking sheets. Tap baking sheets carefully and firmly on the benchtop a couple times to remove any large bubbles.
Leave to dry for about half an hour, so that when you press the surface of one gently it does not break. This will help prevent any cracking and help the feet to form on the macs. Repeat the process above for the lime shells, adding green food colouring instead of yellow and lime zest instead of lemon zest. Preheat your oven to 140-150°C (285-300°F), depending on your oven. Place on top of an overturned roasting tray or another baking sheet if your sheets are not professional grade, for better heat distribution. Bake for 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of your shells. Remove from the oven and cool on the tray for a few minutes, then gently remove from the sheet and place on a wire rack to cool completely. While waiting for them to cool prepare the lemon lime curd as described in the other recipe and chill in the fridge. Prepare the bitters buttercream; place caster sugar and egg whites hisk together egg white and sugar in a large heatproof bowl. Clip a candy thermometer to side of bowl. Set bowl over a pan of simmering water, and whisk until mixture reaches 70°C (160°F) and sugar has dissolved, about 5 minutes.

With a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg white mixture on high speed until cooled and thick, about 5 minutes. Reduce speed to medium, and add butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until incorporated after each addition. If mixture is runny at this point, refrigerate for 10 minutes and then continue beating until it starts to hold its shape (this can take a while). Mix in bitters gradually, taste testing as you go. You want the bitters flavour to be quite strong, as it will mellow when sandwiched between the macaron shells. Spoon or pipe buttercream on to macaron shells, sandwiching one lime and one lemon shell together for each macaron with a small dab of lemon lime curd in the centre. Refrigerate overnight in an airtight container to allow the flavours to mature, serve at room temperature.
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  1. I love the three colours in the macarons. So pretty, and such a fabulous effort.

  2. Baking with friends is one of the best bonding sessions ever. Your macarons are just stunning. They look so tasty. You are by far the macaron queen Steph.

  3. To watch the queen in action and learn heaps about baking macarons? People would pay for the opportunity so I count myself extremely lucky :D

    It was such a fun amazing day; baking, eating, Buffy and gossip? Perfect and we need to do it again verrrrrry soon <3

  4. What a fun baking party and such gorgeous macarons with fantastic flavors. That bird s off the hook cute btw.

  5. Wow! They look so cute and colourful! I definitely need to try this recipe one day :) The idea of a baking day sounds fun and those cupcakes look amazing :D

  6. Beautiful photos and beautiful macarons!

  7. ooooh yum! I first heard about lemon and lime bitters when I was in Australia earlier last month, and gosh I must say it beats any drink hands down! I especially liked downing it with ribs. I can't imagine how this will taste like in a macaron, but I'm sure that it definitely tasted as good as it looks!

    Ps: I do like that 'unbalanced' cup you have in one of the photos above - it's really cool!

  8. Steph, these are absolutely amazing. You are such a cute to host to your baking friends. Everyone's idea of the LLB macaron is just genius. Your shells look perfect. Really wishing I could taste one of those right now..... But congratulations on such a fine effort xx

  9. LLB macs sound freaking amazing! I love the pastel look of them. I have to work up the courage to make macarons again, the last few attempts have been pretty fail, and I think one of the few flavours I'd try would definitely be this.

    Nice way to gather around your besties for some gossiping and baking.

  10. i love baking with friends! its fun to come up with new things together.
    love all your creative recipes! :)

  11. You made making macarons look so easy! Inspired to give them a try on my own now. Thanks for a lovely day, it was so much fun. And thanks for turning my crazy idea into macaron reality! Definitely have to do it again soon xx

  12. What a wonderful idea to have lemon lime bitters macarons! So unique, wish I could try some of those!

  13. Well, now I'm kind of obsessed with the idea of working bitters into a dessert. So creative! Thanks for sharing.

  14. OOUH Im so jealous of this post.. here in Malta with the heat and high humidity, i cant make any macarons... Gorgeuose post and photos :) Love the dash of lemon curd in between

  15. Gorgeous macs! Sounds like a really fun day.

    Also, I'm definitely going to try your scones recipe - I'm on the hunt for a great one at the moment.

  16. purdy! i would like a bucket of icing please.

  17. What an awesome macaron flavour! I'd love to try some of that bitters flavoured buttercream, it looks amazing!

  18. your macy's are always cute. i need way more practice till i get them like yours

  19. Oh! I bet you guys had tons of fun. I keep seeing bitters around... I'd never heard of it before, but it sounds like it worked quite well here!

  20. This is a kick-ass flavour combination and, oooh, look at the pretty pastel colours!

  21. What fun to be able to bake with friends! Oh, and love the new raspberri cupcakes look :)

  22. leaf (the indolent cook) - Thanks so much! was really pleased with the way the coloured turned out :)

    A cupcake or two - I agree, I love baking with friends :) We have to bake together one day!

    K | Citrus and Candy - Haha shh sif im a queen of any kind. Yes to doing it again very soon!

    Lora - :D Isn't he the cutest? Best pet ever.

    Kimberley - Thank you! Baking days are so fun and relaxing :)

    OohLookBel - Thank you dear!

    Janine - It's a great, classic drink :) Haha thanks, I was given them as a gift from overseas, can't remember where they got them from though!

    Tina @ bitemeshowme - Thank you :) The shells were a bit bumpy cos I was a little lazy with the sifting but the flavour more than made up for the appearance!

    Phuoc'n Delicious - I loved the buttercream so much! Hope you do try macs again, they're so satisfying to get right!

    Christine - Same here! The creative brainstorming is so inspiring

    Lisa - They aren't too hard right? So glad you went on and made them too!

    Miss Adriennely - Thank you!

    missklicious - Thanks so much!

    lwbookeater - You should definitely try it! I was so surprised how interesting and delicious it was in the buttercream.

    La Roquette - Ick, that's the worst thing about hot weather, it's so bad for baking!

    Poires au Chocolat - It was really fun :) thanks! So glad you tried my scones :):):)

    chocolatesuze - *hands you a bucket*

    Jacq - The buttercream was the best bit! I could have eaten so much of it!

    KitchenTherapy - Thank you so much! Practice makes perfect :)

    Kaitlin - Try it! It's great stuff

    mademoiselle délicieuse - It was totally kick-ass haha! Pastels are my fav :)

    Y - Thanks so much! It really was so much fun

  23. Exquitos macarons looks absolutely tempting, I try, wonderful pictures, hugs.

  24. Thank you!! Today I made lemon macarons using this recipe.. they are PERFECT. So proud right now :)


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