When life gives you lemons, make lemon-basil macarons?
Paris has looked like this for the last week:
...literally, all week long.
… but, today the rains have lifted momentarily, and so have my spirits! Thus, we have a lot to celebrate. Good things are happening (things perhaps even more important than sunshine?). My friend finally got her dream job (CONGRATS!) and it’s another friend’s birthday!
Side note: it always seems as if someone is having a birthday! I love it!
There is a restaurant in Montreal that, most literally, is the best place in the world. It's called Mr. B. and it's situated in the north-east part of downtown on the corner of two tiny roads. I don’t know if it’s the food, the vibe of the place, or the fact that I always go there with my family and/or friends when I’m in Montreal, but it gives me permanent happy thoughts. (I, sadly, haven’t been to Montreal in awhile, so it’s been over a year since I’ve dined there.) They switch up their menu a lot, but one summer they had this mixture ice cream-sorbet scoop of heaven that was flavoured with lemon and basil, then topped with pralines. I mean, honestly, isn’t that the best thing you’ve ever heard of? I think I went three times that summer just so I could get the dessert after dinner.
Basically, after I experienced this taste, it entered my flavour top five. I haven’t had it anywhere else though, and yesterday I decided this had to change. My lovely birthday girl loves lemon. Loves.loves.loves.lemon. So, a special birthday treat for her (ahem, and me?):
Citron-Basil Macarons – What you need:
- 110 grams of blanched almond meal
- 200 grams of confectioners sugar
- 50 grams of caster sugar
- 100 grams of aged egg whites (Ok, again, this RaspberriCupcake lady is THE BEST! ((http://www.raspberricupcakes.com/)) She had a tip if you didn’t have aged egg whites ready: pop the 100 grams of egg whites in a sealed freezer bag, then into the microwave on defrost for 10 seconds. I was skeptical, but it worked perfectly, Alternatively, you can leave them in a sealed container on your counter for 24 hours.)
- Zest of one lemon
- POWDERED (not liquid!) yellow food colouring (optional)
Citron-Basil Macarons – What you do:
In a large bowl, sift together the almond meal and confectioners sugar. Stir in the lemon zest.
In another large bowl, beat the egg whites on a high speed until bubbly and soft peaks start to form. Slowly add in the caster sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form. Beat the egg whites just until you can flip the bowl over without them sliding down the bowl… be careful not to beat them too much!
Add the meringue (the stiff-peaked egg whites) to the almond meal mix. Fold the egg whites into the dry mixture and incorporate the two mixtures well. Try not to over mix here! At around 30 spoon folds, add about half a teaspoon of powdered yellow food colouring. Incorporate the colour well into the mix, being careful (again) not to over mix. You shouldn’t need more than 50 stirs! The mix should be shiny and ribbon-like.
Put your macaron mix into a pastry bag and pipe out macarons on a parchment lined baking sheet. Tap the baking sheet on your counter a few times to get rid of any air bubbles.
Let the macarons rest for around an hour before baking. (This is super duper important!)
Pre-heat your oven to 140-150c, then bake for 14-17 minutes, rotating the baking sheet half-way through the baking time.
When they’re finished baking, allow the macarons rest for a few minutes on the pan before popping them off. They should come off really easily, and if they don’t, put them back into the oven for a few more minutes. Allow the macarons to cool completely before filling them with ….
Mascarpone-Lemon-Basil Macaron Filling – What you need:
- 2 grams of agar-agar powder
- juice of one lemon
- 250 grams of mascarpone cheese, softened
- ¼ cup confectioners sugar
- ¼ cup of sliced basil leaves
Mascarpone-Lemon-Basil Macaron Filling – What you do:
Put the lemon juice and the agar-agar powder in a bowl and stir until they’re combined well. Allow them to sit together for 5 minutes.
Add the mascarpone cheese and beat well. Once the mixture is incorporated together, add the confectioners sugar, and again beat well. Finally, stir in the basil.
(I bought a basil plant!)
Place the mixture in a pastry bag and pipe out a quarter/euro/toonie sized dollop onto a macaron and top it off with another macaron cookie!
This makes about 17 macarons.
Yeah, so I recommend you make macarons. Like now. These ones. They’re good. The only downside is that my Comparative Capitalism notes are all super sticky… but that’s just fine by me.
… Priorities, obviously. It’s fine.
Baking soundtrack – tunes to inspire your inner baker:
… So, I like to pretend I’m a gangsta. Because real Gs do real G things.
PLEASE watch this video. This is basically my life in Paris… minus the smoking, because smoking is bad for you.
((Random fun fact: dazzle in French is “éblouir”… essential for your French vocab! I learned this word during my massive effort of trying to read "Gatsby le Magnifique"))