What do you do when there’s no room in the calendar or the bank account for a tropical beach vacation during the darkest, wettest, coldest months of the year? You bring the tropics to you! Since making the original batches of macarons and having such success I have considered dozens of possible flavour combinations, some tame but pleasant and others that are more on the edge of compatibility. One of my all time favourite flavour combos is lime and coconut, so that was a no-brainer as I set out to measure and mix more macarons.
With the excitement of my successful maiden voyage into the nerve wracking world of baking French macarons, I have been itching to try making them again and of course, coming a teensy step closer to perfecting them. So far I have learned a lot by trying macarons. They demand a much more exact execution than many baked goods, which as you know, is inherently more exacting than most cooking techniques. Macarons really remind you that baking is a science. With this particular batch I took a risk and tried using already separated and pasteurized egg whites from a carton. I had read that according to some bakers they were equally good as whites you separated yourself, others claimed they were inferior and would not give the same lift and elasticity. As a macaron novice, I was curious to see for myself. In my opinion, they worked just fine, however, they did not have the lofty height that previous batches with separated and rested whites had. I’d use them again if I was in a pinch, but if I plan ahead I will use egg whites I separate myself, from organic, free run eggs that have 24 hours to rest away from their yolks and are brought to room temperature before becoming meringue. See what I mean about exacting?
Another hint as I learn more about these delicacies is that to achieve the colour you desire you really do need to use gel or powder colors. I have come to learn that intense, convincing colours can be achieved with liquid colour but that the risk of compromising your batter, especially if you use a liquid flavour agent too, is very high. If the batter is thinned by too many drops of colour or flavour it loses some of its sturdiness and the little macarons will not have as strong a “foot” (the bubbly sides that give it height) as you would like it to. It will also require slightly longer to dry them in the oven, potentially resulting in browning the meringue, which will cancel out your efforts for pure, true colours. Like so many recipes, you will need to make them many times before you get the feel for your equipment, ingredients and appliances. Consider these tests investments towards mastering a mini art form.
A cup of hot tea is an obvious pairing for these tiny delights, but if you are feeling particularly celebratory about your baking accomplishments, whip yourself up a mojito, they make a perfect and refreshing compliment to the coconut and lime of these macarons. What the Hell, make yourself a couple mojitos. After all that finicky baking you deserve to put your feet up and enjoy a cold, tropical tasting cocktail. Paper parasol optional.
The recipe and ‘how to’ for macarons can be found here. For this lime and coconut version I added 1 tsp coconut flavouring to the basic batter and to the basic butter cream filling I added 1 tsp of fresh lime juice and the zest of 2 limes.
the juice of a lime
4-6 fresh mint leaves
a pinch of sugar
1 oz. of rum
sparkling water or lemon/lime soda to top it up
In the bottom of a tall glass, “muddle” or bruise the mint leaves with the sugar using a muddler or the end of a wooden spoon add the ice and rum. Top up with the soda or sparkling water if you prefer it less sweet. Stir well and enjoy!