You say Macaron …I say Marcona ?

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What happened to all my macaron posts? I have not posted anything specific about them for a while now except for a brief appearance on my Yule Log.

I have given up on the Italian Meringue method. I have tried macarons au sucre cuit (macarons with cooked sugar) from Alain Ducaisse’s,Grand Livre De Cuisine: Desserts and Pastries  but I found that macarons made this way made a tough shell and became too tooth achingly sweet – they resembled nothing of the beloved taste I desired in a macaron. If anyone can dispute this fact – and give me tips (wink, wink), please let me know!

After being briefly sidetracked by my Pie Crust obsession, I am back with a vengeance. My recent experiment involved using a different almond known as marcona which seems like a play on the word macaron – could I be on to something here? I first came across this type of almond in one of Pierre Herme’s book and got curious about it. I found it on this website and immediately ordered a pound. They are almonds native to Spain and are roundish and flat. They have a subtle sweetness to them – indeed an almond quite like no other. They are pricier compared to their California cousins – but if the Sugar Daddy of pastries declare that they are the best almonds to use for macarons, so be it.

I was planning on taking these to a New Year’s Eve party and decided to make three different flavors with my stash of marcona almonds: Almond with lemon cream, Hazelnut with Salted Caramel and Pistachio with chocolate.

The recipe for the lemon cream is from Desserts by Pierre Herme.

Lemon Cream

1 cup sugar
zest of 3 lemons
4 eggs
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
10 1/2 ounces cut into tablespoon pieces, softened

Make a water bath by putting a saucepan of water over heat to simmer and placing a metal bowl over, without the bottom touching the water. Rub the sugar and lemon zest with your fingers and add to the metal bowl. Whisk in the eggs and lemon juice.
Cook the mixture over the water bath, whisking constantly until the cream thickens and reaches 180 F on an instant read thermometer. This can take 10 minutes or more.
Once the cream reaches 180°F (your whisk will leave ribbon tracks in the cream), remove the cream off the heat and put it into a blender or into a bowl large enough to use an immersion blender. Let the cream cool to 140°F and then incorporate the butter until perfectly smooth.
Can be used immediately, refrigerated up to four days or frozen for a month
.

Cooking Notes:

            I thought lemon cream and lemon curd were the same thing until Helen clarified the difference. Lemon cream is made with whole eggs while curd is just made with egg yolks.  The only problem I encountered making these were that my thermometers couldn’t agree with each other, my cream was fast coagulating and I was either 20°F or 10°F (depending on the thermapen or the infrared) off from where the cream was supposed to be. I made a judgment call – decided the cream was thick enough and took it off the water bath – it was nice and thick after I incorporated the butter. Later, Helen told me she cooks hers directly over the flame. Daring woman! I shall attempt that next time, I guess you could always strain the cream afterwards if some of the eggs scramble.

So did the marcona almonds make a difference? Definitely! Both the “Hungry” Hubby and I agree that the resulting macarons had gained a new dimension in sweetness that did not come from sugar. Plus, the overall texture of the macaron was perfect. It had a thin, crisp shell that gave way to a soft chewy interior.

Oddly enough, the lemon cream tasted a bit too sour to me but tasted too sweet to the HH. The salted caramel remains our favorite filling! 

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31 thoughts on “You say Macaron …I say Marcona ?

  1. As always, your macarons look gorgeous. Today, Martha Stewart opened her show with a look a basket of macarons, and I immediately thought of you. I think you should approach MS about a guest shot on her show!

  2. What, no macaron recipe for me to compare? I'd have to agree that the cooked sugar varieties are definitely a different sort of beast.

    Marcona almonds seem to be an 'in' thing these days, they're popping up everywhere. With the price of CA almonds already, I don't think I could spend THAT much just for a pound on almonds. I don't quite have the correct equipment for making proper almond powder, either.

  3. I found marcona almonds at Trader Joe's on my last shopping trip. They are very popular these days in tapas bars. Whether they're worth the extra cost for baking, I'm not sure. But it's always fun to experiment with new ingredients, isn't it?

  4. Great to hear about the Marcona experience. I haven't gone down that path yet but wanted to. As for the Italian meringue technique, I don't find the sweetness markedly worse for the Italian vs French meringue macaron recipes that I've written about, and for stability the Italian has always been my preference. I haven't had tough/thick shell probs either — I don't use aged egg white or rest the piped shells when using the Italian meringue method… is that something you do?

  5. Jef – I just used the Ala Cuisine standard macaron batter http://www.alacuisine.org/alacuisine/2004/11/macarons_imbb_1.html

    Lydia – I wish we had a Trader Joe's over here…soon I think…
    Hi Duncan – Hmmn, i wonder why mine tastes so sweet. When I bite into an Italian Meringue macaron the back of my teeth actually hurts with the sweetness. I would love to use the IM method if only for its convenience to make different flavors at the same time. I age my egg whites if I have the time but I usually just separate them the night before and leave them in the refrigerator and take them out to come to room temperature the next day or I warm the whites slowly in a water bath to come to 75F. After piping I wait till the tops are dry before I pop them in the oven.

  6. Gorgeous macarons Veron! The lemon cream sounds totally refreshing. A bit like the Lime ones I posted earlier this week. I am also totally crazy about your salted caramel ones.

  7. I am addicted to the Marcona almonds but my pocket book is screaming famine! They look scrumptious! The orange macarons fromKate were a complete flop, but I had a feeling from the very beginning as I thought "way too many egg whites"…and I was right!
    I am so done with messsing with hot sugar syrup also! I can only imagine the extra dimension the Marcona almonds gave to the macarons. On to make another batch this afternoon!

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  9. They do look perfect! Veron, all your hard work and efforts have paid off…this are worthy of the Sugar Daddy himself 🙂 They are gorgeous!

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