Monday, February 14, 2011

Meyer Lemon Cake and Raspberry Macarons

This cake was moist and not too sweet.  To me it was more like a sweet bread than a cake.  Very delicious!  Will definately make it again.

Meyer Lemon Cake

1 Tbsp butter, plus 8 tbsp. melted
2 Tbsp fine dry bread crumbs
1/2 cup whole blanched almonds
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp. fine salt
1 1/3 cups plus 2 Tbsp sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
2 Tbsp lemon extract
Zest and juice of 2 Meyer lemons

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a metal loaf pan with 1 Tbsp butter and dust it with the bread crumbs.  Invert and tap out excess crumbs; set aside.  In a food processor, grind the almonds until very fine, about 1 minute;  set aside.  In a bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.

Put remaining butter into a large bowl and add 1 cup of the sugar.  Mix with an electric mixer on low speed until combined, about 1 minute.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating just long enough to incorporate, about 30 seconds.  Add the flour mixture and milk mixture in 3 batches, beginning and ending with the flour.  Beat until mixed after each addition, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, about 3 minutes total.  Mix in the lemon extract.  With the spatula, fold in lemon zest and ground almonds. (The mixture will be thin.)  Turn batter into prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean and dry, about 65 minutes.

Transfer the pan to a cooling rack.  Prepare glaze:  Combine remaining sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring, until sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes, (Do not boil.)  Brush the glaze over the hot cake.  (The excess liquid my pool along the sides of the pan; it will absorb completely as it sits.)  Once the cake has absorbed all the liquid, turn it out of the pan and allow it to cool upright on a rack.  Once it's cool, wrap the cake with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 24 hours before serving.

Raspberry Macarons

Makes about 24 macarons

¾ cup (96 grams) almond flour
1 3/4 cups (201 grams) confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons raspberry powder*
3 large egg whites*
3 tablespoons (37 grams) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Powdered or gel pink food coloring, as needed

Raspberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
1/2 cup (3.5 oz/100 g) granulated sugar
2 1/2 large (2.6 oz/75 g) egg whites (to measure the ½ white, beat 1 white in a bowl with a fork and then measure out 1 tablespoon)
1 1/2 tablespoons (22 ml) water
1 cups (2 sticks/8 oz/227 g) unsalted butter, slightly softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup raspberry puree (puree fresh or thawed frozen berries and pass through a fine sieve)

Optional Garnish:
Raspberry powder

*Note: If you have time, it’s best to ‘age’ your egg whites before using them. Separate the whites, then store them in the refrigerator in a covered container for 48 hours. Bring them to room temperature before using.

Make the macarons:
1. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper.
2. In a food processor, process the almonds with the confectioners’ sugar and raspberry powder until well blended. Sift the mixture through a medium-mesh sieve into a bowl.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on high speed until foamy. Very gradually add the granulated sugar and beat until stiff and glossy. Add the vanilla and food coloring and mix until blended and you have the right color.
4. Add half of the sifted almond mixture and fold it in with a spatula. Add the remaining almond mixture and mix it in a light circular motion. Press and spread out the batter against the side of the bowl. Scoop the batter from the bottom of the bowl and turn it upside down. Repeat this motion about 20-25 times. When the batter becomes nicely firm and flows slowly as you scoop it with the spatula, it is ready to be piped. (When you spoon a little on the baking sheet, it should not form a peak.)
5. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375° F. Fit a pastry bag with a .4-inch plain tip (Ateco #4). Scrape the batter into the bag. Pipe out 1-inch rounds of batter onto the prepared baking sheet, spacing them ½ inch apart. Rap the baking sheet firmly against the counter. Dry the batter at room temperature, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
6. Stack the baking sheet with the macarons on it on another baking sheet. Place both sheets, stacked, in the oven and bake the macarons for 13-16 minutes, until slightly crisp (they will crisp more upon cooling). Cool completely on a wire rack.

Make the buttercream:
7. Pour enough water into a skillet so that it comes 1/2-inch up its sides. Bring the water to a simmer; reduce the heat to medium-low to maintain a simmer.
8. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the sugar, egg whites, and water. Place the bowl in the skillet of water and whisk gently until the mixture registers 160°F on an instant-read thermometer.
9. Transfer the bowl to the mixer stand and, using the whisk attachment, beat at medium-high speed until the meringue is cool and forms stiff, shiny peaks, about 5 minutes.
10. Reduce the speed to medium and beat in the butter, one tablespoon at a time. Beat in the vanilla. Beat at high speed until the buttercream is smooth, about 1 minute. Beat in the raspberry puree until combined.

Assemble the macarons:
11. Scrape the buttercream into a pastry bag fitted with a .4 inch plain tip (about the same size as you used to pipe the macarons).  Pipe a grape-sized dollop of buttercream onto the underside of a macaron. Gently press the underside of another macaron against the buttercream until it spreads almost to the edge. Repeat with the remaining macarons and buttercream. If you like, lightly sprinkle some raspberry powder through a fine sieve onto the top of the macarons. Store the macarons in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

I am getting there!
A pretty sexy and tasty macaron!

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