Sunday, May 22, 2011

Lemon Curd, Toasted Black Sesame Frangipane Almond Tart

Added zest from 2 lemons, lemon extract, lemon curd, and 2 Tbsp of ground, toasted black sesame seeds. I made my own recipe, but forgot to write it down, so quantities are approximate.

Bake at least a day in advance, and let flavors meld together in refrigerator.

Tart crust

- 1 1/3 cup AP flour
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1 stick cold butter, diced
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp sugar


- 1 cup almond flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 large yolk + 1 large egg
- 1 stick softened butter
- 2 Tbsp ground toasted black sesame seeds
- zest from 2 lemons
- juice from 1 lemon
- lemon extract
- previously made lemon curd
- blanched almond slices

  1. Make tart dough.
  2. Mold to pan, freeze dough for 60 minutes; dough will NOT shrink in oven this way. Trim edges as needed so that tart crust edge will be flush with tart filling (want about 1 cm higher than tart filling top surface).
  3. Spread lemon curd on bottom of tart.
  4. Mix filling together, by first creaming butter and sugar, then adding eggs one at a time, adding almond flour last.
  5. Pour filling into tart shell with lemon curd on bottom. Cover fully with almond slices.
  6. Bake at 375 degrees F for about 15 minutes, then turn to 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.
  7. After warm from oven, cover with more blanched almond slices.
  8. Brush with hot apricot preserves/water to get glossy look.
  9. Top with raspberries and dusted sugar!

Oblique overhead view.

Here's the profile shot! I dare say it was quite tasty.


- (Version 2; basically used 1.5x quantities, made lemon curd more tart, added thicker base of lemon curd to tart before adding frangipane. Also, omitted lemon zest and extract from the frangipane and left as is to blend with the lemon curd).

- 1.5 cups almond flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 large yolk + 2 large eggs
- 1 stick softened butter
- 2 Tbsp ground toasted black sesame seeds
- previously made lemon curd
- blanched almond slices
- blanched almond slices (with skins on)

Add the blanched almond slices to the center only, and the blanched almond slices with skins on to the outer periphery of the tart; I liked the rustic look of the almond slices with skins on.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

French Meringue Macarons

I literally tried dozens of batches, experimenting with different amounts of almond flour, confectioner's sugar, oven temperatures, folding techniques, etc... Finally got it! I didn't like most of the online recipes, because they used too much sugar, and the shells were too sweet.

I prefer to add in the almond flour mixture all at once. Also, being rather lazy and tired of experimenting with macaron batches, I came up with an alternative to directly sifting the almond flour mixture into the meringue. Instead, I used a whisk to finely stir the almond flour mixture.

It's critical to beat a nice, stiff egg white peaks. The granulated sugar helps to stabilize the whites. I found the folding to be easy, actually. The meringue portion turned out to be the weakness in my recipe, i.e. insufficiently stiff whites.

Finally came up with a recipe that I like that's not too sweet. Also, because the recipe uses less confectioner's sugar than others (normal recipe is about 2:1 confectioner's sugar to almond flour), the shells are slightly rough and coarse.

Makes roughly 14 1" diameter shells

- 1/2 cup almond flour
- 3/4 cup confectioner's sugar (using any more than 3/4 cup results in a very dry base)

- 2 large AGED egg whites
- 1/8 tsp cream of tartar
- 4 Tbsp sugar

  1. Age egg whites on counter for at least a day. This decreases their viscosity and makes them easier to whip air into.
  2. Add cream of tartar to egg whites. Start beating on medium-low speed.
  3. Beat to soft peaks, then slowly add in sugar while still beating.
  4. Turn mixer to 2nd highest setting, and keep beating until you get a bird's beak, or very stiff peaks. I had to beat for nearly 5 minutes to achieve this. Beat to glossy stiff peaks, or when egg whites does not fall out of pan when held upside down for 30 seconds.
  5. Transfer egg whites to mixing bowl.
  6. Whisk almond flour and confectioner's sugar together. If you're feeling energetic, sift directly into egg whites. Otherwise, just dump the whisked mixture into the egg whites.
  7. Fold the egg white flour mixture; don't have to be too gentle. Give a quarter turn, then fold. Once you get to 50 folds, you should have roughly the desired consistency, +/- 10 folds. The often repeated metric is to fold until it looks like magma, but honestly, who has ever peered into a volcano, besides on the Nature channel? A better metric is that a peak will take roughly 30 seconds to collapse back onto itself.
  8. Scoop into piping bag.
  9. Pipe out 1-inch rounds; flick the wrist after piping to minimize the peak. If peak forms, use a little water to tap it down.
  10. Let sit on parchment paper on baking tray at least 30 minutes; this will help develop the feet. I prefer parchment to the Silpat; somehow, always got soggy macarons with the Silpat.
  11. Adjust oven rack to lower third.
  12. Ideally, bake the macarons in two stacked baking pans to prevent the bottoms from browning. Not having a second baking pan, my bottoms were slightly browned. Oh well.
  13. Turn oven to 300 degrees F.
  14. Bake for about 15-16 minutes.
  15. Transfer to wire rack.
  16. Let cool, place at room temp in sealed container.
  17. Freeze until later usage; I found that placing the empty shells in the refrigerator made them soggy.
  18. Add favorite filling; jam, lemon curd, butter cream, ganache, etc...

Black sesame red bean paste macaron; red bean paste wasn't the best filling to add in the middle. Made the macaron too soggy and the shell lost its form very quickly.