Having lived in Paris for a couple years, I am frequently asked for travel recommendations from friends who are heading there for the first time. Their questions run the gamut from where to stay, what to see, and of course, where to eat. I am always happy to share my thoughts about Paris because doing so always gives me a sort of vicarious thrill, as though I were travelling back there myself.
Without exception, one piece of advice I give everyone who asks for tips is this; you MUST go to Pierre Hermé and buy yourself an "Ispahan" macaron, a perfect confection of rose cream, lychee and raspberries. Not the tiny little tasting version, but the full-on 4" diameter monster; and not to share either, as this is one of life's special moments that is best enjoyed alone.
If someone else is dying for a bite, tell them to go buy their own!
Now, while ours don't quite measure up to the famed Ispahans, they are awfully tasty, and as an added benefit, you don't have to fly to Paris to enjoy them. There are countless recipes out there for macarons and in-fact, Pierre Hermé recently wrote a whole cookbook dedicated to the subject of MACARONS if you find yourself so smitten that you just can't resist.
While I do have a tried and true recipe from my time at Le Cordon Bleu, these cookies were made with left-over batter from a batch of macaron ice cream sandwiches we concocted recently from a recipe in Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home. These babies piped out beautifully, baked up nice and sturdy with perfect little "feet" (the raised ring around the base), and a nice crisp dome. They were delicious!
We finished these with a little lemon curd filling that we dressed up with some Elderflower Syrup, but they would be awesome with a mocha, coffee or chocolate ganache filling as well. They are best once they've married with the filling for a couple of hours, this allows some of the moisture to penetrate the cookie and yields the perfect combination of internal chew, with a nice snap of the outer shell.
Vive La France!
Cheers – Steve
Cinnamon and Lemon Curd Macarons
- 8 ounces whole almonds (1 1/2 cups), or 8 ounces almond meal (flour)
- 2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
- 3/4 cup egg whites, from 6-7 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- food coloring (optional)
- 1 cup store bought lemon curd (we enhaced ours with a little Elderberry syrup...yum!)
- Line two large baking sheets with parchment, and set aside.
- If using whole nuts, gind them with 1/4 cup of the confectioners sugar in a food processor just until a fine flour forms, but not so much as to turn the nuts into a paste. Add the remaining confectioners sugar and cinnamon and pulse to combine. Strain through a fine meshed sieve into a large bowl to remove any large pieces of nuts remaining.
- In a standing mixer, whip the egg whites and salt until frothy. With the mixer running at medium-high speed, add the granulated sugar in three additions until the meringue is bright white, glossy and holds medium peaks, about 4-5 minutes.
- Using a spatula, gently fold the almond mixture into the whipped whites in three additions and lightly mix until all the dry ingredients are fully incorporated. Add a few drops of food coloring at this point if desired.
- Transfer the mix to a large piping bag fitted with a 1/4" plain tip. Pipe the batter with the tip pointing straight down until the cookie reaches a diameter of 1 1/4" to 1 1/2". Let the cookies sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to dry a touch before baking, this helps ensure an even, uncracked crust on the finished cookie.
- Heat your oven to 300℉.
- Bake cookies 13-15 minutes, roatating them once during baking, or until they look dry and set on top. Remove from the oven and let cool completely before using.
- To finish, pair tops and bottoms so that they match nicely, pipe some curd onto the center of each bottom (leaving a bit of a border for the filling to expand when pressed between the two cookie halves), and marry with it's matching top.