Since handing in my Dissertation (of Doom) way back in May, the limited organisational skills that I used to have appear to have entirely disappeared and I’ve missed a couple of blog challenges for June. Granted, I’ve had plenty to do – packing the flat up, cleaning it thoroughly, attempting to sort my life out, graduating (no biggie), etc. – but still, I can’t help but feel that I might have been slightly more organised. However, even though it’s technically no longer June any more, the round-up for Mac Attack hasn’t been posted yet, so I’m going to sneak my entry in, the theme of which was supposed to be “Fruit.”
There are plenty of fruit available at the moment, so my main difficulty was choosing which fruit to focus on. After accidentally eating my way through an entire punnet of cherries in one sitting the other week (not that there’s anything wrong with eating cherries, but I’d planned to keep some for later. Woops…), I decided to make cherry macarons. My first thought for the filling was to use cherry jam, but I felt that making cherry jam was a little too much effort (and a little on the expensive side as well). Then I thought of cherry curd. After a quick online search for recipes, I happened across one for cherry margarita curd. Hellooooo… Plus, margaritas are totally summery, so I decided that cherry margarita macarons were definitely worth a try.
I had a few issues when making the curd – the recipe did not yield nearly as much cherry juice as it implied that it would (although that was easily solved with a tequila top-up), and I didn’t quite cook my curd for long enough so it was still a little bit on the liquidy side, which made filling the macarons rather interesting. However, they still tasted rather delicious, even if not quite so practical to take photos of or give. But cooking the curd until properly thickened should solve the issue I ran into.
Cherry margarita macarons
When making the curd, be sure to let it cook for long enough so that the curd sets properly. It can be made in advance, and will keep in the fridge in sealed, sterilised jars for around two weeks Don’t throw away the cherries when you strain the juice – they’d be great for adding to cupcakes/muffins/brownies, etc. Any left-over curd would be lovely on scones or crumpets for Afternoon Tea with a slight twist! Make sure you leave the macarons at least 24h before eating them, in order to allow the curd to soak into the shells a bit. They can be stored in an airtight box in the fridge – just remember to bring them out at least 30mins before eating them, so that you can appreciate the flavour fully!
For the macaron shells:
100g aged egg whites (age them for 4-5 days in a sealed jar in the fridge)
66g caster sugar
120g ground almonds
180g icing sugar
Red edible sprinkles or sugar (optional)
For the curd:
About 70 ml tequila
About 2 tbsp Cointreau
1-2 tbsp kirsch
2 tsp cornflour (US: corn starch)
1 large egg yolk
Pinch of salt
To make the curd filling:
1. Wash, halve and stone the cherries, then add to a saucepan with 35 ml tequila 1 tbsp Cointreau and the juice from the lime. Cook together until the cherries begin to disintegrate.
2. Roughly mash the cherry mixture in the saucepan to squeeze as much juice out as possible, then strain into a measuring jug (if you don’t have a heat-proof measuring jug, then pour into a bowl first and allow to cool a little). Reserve the remaining mushy cherries for later.
3. To make the curd, 60 ml of cherry juice is required, so top up the cherry juice that you’ve strained as necessary using mostly tequila, 1 tbsp Cointreau and 1-2 tbsp kirsch. Pour the 60 ml of juice obtained into a large heat-proof bowl and add the sugar, cornflour, egg yolk, cubed butter and pinch of salt.
4. Place the heat-proof bowl over a saucepan of water, but make sure that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Mix all the ingredients whilst bringing the water to a simmer. Cook the curd over a medium heat, mixing constantly with a spatula or whisk, until the curd simmers and thickens (I got bored and didn’t wait until it has simmered slightly and consequently it didn’t set properly. Perseverance is key! And don’t forget to mix constantly.). Simmer for a further 30 seconds before removing from the heat, and straining into a heat-proof bowl. Allow to cool.
To make the macaron shells:
5. Whilst the curd is cooling and setting, make the macaron shells. Line three or four flat baking sheets with baking paper and set aside. Prepare a piping bag with a plain nozzle.
6. Blend the icing sugar and ground almonds together (don’t skip this step!) Sift them through a medium sieve into a large bowl. Sift them again if necessary.
7. Make the French meringue by whisking the egg whites at room temperature (take them out of the fridge 2h beforehand) to glossy firm peaks, gradually adding the caster sugar.
8. Incorporate the French meringue into the dry ingredients using a large spatula and mix well. Now work on the mixture by pressing down well with the spatula, going backwards and forwards, to press out the oxygen from the egg whites (this is the macaronnage stage), until you have a smooth mixture. Don’t do this for longer than 5 minutes. The result should be a soft and brilliant mixture that forms a “ribbon” on the spatula.
9. Transfer the mixture to the previously prepared piping bag and pipe out the desired size of rounds (mine were about 1.5-2cm in diameter). Press the nozzle right down on the paper and finish off with a flourish to obtain a nice round. Leave a good space between them so they can spread out. Sprinkle red sugar or edible sparkles over the top of each if you wish.
10. Leave to set for about 30mins (this helps to produce the feet). Preheat the oven to fan-oven 160°C. When you can feel that a skin has formed over the top, they are ready to go into the oven.
11. Bake one tray at a time in the centre of the oven for about 8-10mins (to see if they are done, touch the top – if there is a “wobble,” leave them in 2-3mins longer). Leave them to cool on the baking trays, and when they are completely cool, carefully remove them and pair them up by size.
12. Lay out half a mushy margarita cherry on the bottom shell of each pair (you may need to tear the edges a bit so that it lies vaguely flat). Use a teaspoon to deposit a dollop of curd over the cherry. Then place the partner shell on top, and use a slight twisting motion to squash the shell down onto the filling.
13. Leave in the fridge for at least 24h before serving (I know, it’s difficult! But so worth it!!)