Limoncello Macarons

I prefer making macarons to eating them.

There.  I’ve said it.  I generally find them too sweet for my taste.  I hear gasps of horror and disbelief.  Believe it.  It’s almost considered sacrilege to admit something like that, isn’t it??  I’m a brave soul so I’ll stand my ground.  I do find the process of making them to be very therapeutic, a form of meditation, if you will.  OK, melting and tempering chocolate is my number one on the therapeutic scale and kneading bread dough is also really good (especially when de-stressing!).  I’m not sure what it is.  Perhaps it’s all that meringue action … and you know I love making meringue.  Maybe it’s all that rhythmic folding of the macaronage. 

Scrape. Turn. Flip.  Faster pussycat ...

Whatever it is, it’s very soothing.  Recently, I had a rather harrowing experience with my oven that resulted in some peculiar looking macarons which admittedly detracted from the whole meditation idea.  I was calm until I put each tray into the oven.  At that point, I was breaking out into a cold sweat.  Drove me nuts.  But since the oven has been sorted … all’s well and back to normal.  Now, I am a bit of a perfectionist.  *cough, cough*   But I don’t need them to be perfect every time.  Let’s face it, that’s unrealistic.  But I’m happy with them as they are.  I can’t afford to be a princess about it.  I make them practically every week for my father.   He always hopes I’ve got a few cracked ones so he can have them ASAP.  He’s rather addicted to them.  Me?  I’m just not sure that’s manly 😉

None of that changes the fact they can be really sweet.  They are quite small, though, and if you pick your fillings right, they don’t have to be sickly sweet.  My favourite?  Raspberry or lime and dark chocolate ganache.  I also quite like this version.  The filling isn’t too sweet and is so light, it’s a perfect foil for the sweet, crackly shell.

A splash of Limoncello doesn’t hurt.

Just enough to transport you to the Amalfi coast.

Riding a Vespa.

In my dreams.  *sighs audibly*  😀

The recipe for the macaron shells is the same as the one given in the Wattleseed Frangelico Macarons post, using the Italian meringue method.

You know they are gluten and wheat free, right?  Yes, they are.

Yield 30 – 36 macarons (depends on the size)

Macaron Shells
150 grams almond meal
150 grams icing sugar
55 grams egg white
135 grams sugar
40 grams water
55 grams egg white
pinch of salt
yellow food colouring (gel or powder)

Limoncello Filling
175 grams ricotta
75 grams mascarpone
30 grams icing sugar
100 grams cream
40 millilitres Limoncello

For the macaron shells
Preheat the oven to 150°C.  Line 2 – 3 large baking sheets with silpat sheets or baking paper.  Set aside.

Place the almond meal and icing sugar into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the mixture is very fine and silky in texture.  You can test it between two fingers.  I do this before sifting the mixture, but if you prefer, just sift the almond meal and icing sugar together.  Once done, place in a large mixing bowl.  Add the 55 grams of egg white and mix well with a spatula until you obtain a smooth paste.  Set aside.

Place the remaining 55 grams of egg white and salt into the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer and start whisking at low-medium speed.  Place the water into a saucepan and add the sugar.  Dissolve the sugar, in the water, over a low heat.  Bring to the boil and cook until the sugar reaches 115°C.  By this stage the egg whites should have reached a soft peak stage.  Continue whisking at medium speed as you pour the syrup into the egg whites in a thin, steady stream.  Keep whisking until the bowl cools to just warm.  I usually whisk the meringue for about 10 minutes or so and turn up the speed for a minute or two at the end.  Towards the end of whisking, add a little of the yellow food colouring until you get the desired shade.  The meringue needs to be stiff.  When you lift the whisk, there should be a solid stiff clump on the whisk.  It should be able to look you in the eye without flinching.  The coloured meringue should not be streaked with white.

Scrape a small amount of the meringue into the bowl with the almond mixture and work it into the mixture to lighten it, using a spatula or pastry scraper.  I prefer the scraper.  Scrape the remaining meringue into the bowl and fold it into the almond mixture, flipping it over on to itself, and turning the bowl with each fold.  Make sure to scrape down the bowl to ensure the mixture is homogenous, and there are no streaks of meringue or almonds.  Continue folding until the macaronage is at the stage where a little mixture, lifted, will fall back into itself slowly (i.e. the magma/lava stage everyone goes on about).

Fit a large piping bag with a plain tip and pipe small mounds onto the baking sheets.  Rap the baking sheets hard onto the bench to expel any air bubbles.  Rap it again, harder, if you’re not sure.  Harder.  That’s it.  You need to be disturbing the peace in your neighbourhood.  Air bubbles are bad.  Get rid of them.

You can pop them straight into the oven or leave until the mixture forms a light crust for about 30 – 60 minutes.  It’s up to you.  Won’t matter either way.  Bake for about 15 – 16 minutes.  Depending on your oven, they may need another minute or so.

Remove the macaron shells from the oven and set aside to cool.  Remove from the baking sheets and pair up shells of the same size.

For the Limoncello filling
Place the ricotta, mascarpone, and icing sugar into a bowl and beat until smooth and creamy.  Add the cream and Limoncello and whisk until thickened and light.

Fit a piping bag with a plain tip and fill with the Limoncello filling.  Pipe onto the macaron halves and sandwich the pairs together.  Refrigerate a few hours at least to allow the macarons to mature and flavours develop.

Because of the creamy filling, the macarons will soften more than those filled with ganache.  They are best eaten within a day or two.  Enjoy!

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