As I have previously mentioned, Kettle has a severe nut allergy. Like break out the epi pen and rush him to the hospital severe. And being the paranoid and nervous Pot that I am, I try not to bring nuts in the house because I am so afraid of making him sick or cross-contaminating something he might eat. I was actually so nervous about it when we first started dating that I googled the fastest route to the hospital just in case. I’m a nut, but one he’s not allergic to.
This has been a huge challenge for me with regards to my mild obsession with the french macaron. I love their look with their brightly colored, tiny little, almost cartoonish packages and their soft and light yet crisp texture (I’ve been dying to get my oven mitts on Jill’s book, Mad about Macarons, so I can explore more). But, being that I refuse to bring almond flour into the house (even though Kettle has offered numerous times to leave the apartment while I bake so any aersolized almond flour doesn’t kill him), I have been on a personal mission to create nut-free macarons so he can enjoy their sheer wonderfulness and so I don’t have to plan my baking expeditions around his business trips. What can I say, I’m smitten with macarons. Oh, and of course Kettle.
I was inspired this week by Brave Tart’s post on “10 macaron myths” especially when I stumbled upon number 4: Even using Almonds. To be honest, just leaving out the almond flour had never even crossed my mind. It seems so obvious, but I’ve been tooling around with various bizarre, some successful some not so successful, alternatives (posts to come on these escapades!) when I could have tried leaving it out all together. Hmm. I love it when the answer is right in front of my nose.
The macarons were very fragile! More so than those made with almond flour. The flavor of both the shell and curd were well received, but the shells were so fragile it made transporting and storing them a real challenge. They looked a little ugly by the time they got to french lunch, but my fellow lunchers had no issues eating them.
Upon discussion of the structural integrity of my macarons with my boss (not kidding, this is how our workplace rolls) we decided that in the absence of almond flour, a substitute is essential to give the macaron the strength to ‘hold up’ the curd/ganache/frosting. She suggested cream of tartar, but I’m contemplating other options. So back to the lab, er, kitchen I will go to try again.
Overall, there was definitely some success. The cookies I made look like french macarons, they just need a little tweaking to become french macarons. The lemon curd was excellent. In fact I could eat it with a spoon.
Nut-free Lemon Macarons
2+1/2 egg whites (save the yolks for the curd!)
1 tbsp sugar
2 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
Beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Slowly beat in sugar. Once firm peaks form, add food coloring and lemon zest. Slowly fold in confectioners sugar. Pipe 1 inch circles on parchment lined cookie sheets. Bake at 250°F for 5 minutes. Remove from oven, turn temperature up to 375°F and return to oven once temperature is reach. Bake 6-8 minutes.
Awesome Lemon curd
based on this recipe
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbsp butter
Whisk eggs, yolks, sugar, lemon juice, zest, and salt in a bowl that can be used as for a double boiler. Once well blended, set bowl on sauce pan of simmering water. Whisk curd-to-be constantly as it will begin to thicken as it warms up. Heat the mixture to 170-175, but don’ let it boil. Once temperature is achieved, remove from double boiler and whisk in butter. Once well blended, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.