Saturday, June 11, 2011

When Life Gives You Lemons...It's Time for a Mac Attack! (Lemon Macarons with White Chocolate Ganache)

Guest posts and macarons have become quite the norm recently here, haven't they? I'm actually getting a bit tired of photographing these cookies so much 8p. In fact I'd have waited weeks to post these, except that I've gotten such positive feedback on the taste of them from friends and family alike! Plus, I've been dying to share these adorable lemon shapes with you as soon as I came across the idea on Erica's blog. Believe it or not I actually lost my Mac Mojo a bit this week and had to make these 3 times before they came out to my liking. Not only have I continued to struggle with my hot spot-laden oven but this recipe also added in a new factor of slightly adjusting the shape of the shells.

Fortunately, despite my meekness in dealing with certain issues in life, that's not a problem I have with baking! I simply take each imperfect batch (still delicious,
thankfully) as a challenge to improve myself. And whether you've yet to try your hand at macarons or have failed a few times, let me assure you that the satisfaction of getting them right is so worth it in the end!

As I mentioned before, a lot of my macaron issues have been the result of reducing the sugar in the shells. Because sugar stabilizes the batter, decreasing it compromises the cookie's structure. So if you're new to them, I'd definitely recommend starting with a full sugar recipe. In the continuing evolution of my own shell recipe, I've also decided to add some (but not all) the customary sugar back in, while making other tweaks to reduce the experience of sweetness instead of just the actual amount of sugar.

Lemon Party!
What do I mean? Based on personal experience, perception of sweetness is based both on the objective amount of sugar present AND on the relative strength of salty and sour flavors also present. So how do we use this to our mac-vantage? Well first, we add a healthy pinch of salt to the shells as suggested by my friend/macaron authority, Stella of Bravetart. Other than that there's not too much we can do without upsetting the delicate balance of the batter, so let's turn our attention inward...

The sweetness of the shells can be countered with fillings that can be only mildly sweetened with out losing structural integrity (like Swiss meringue buttercream, mascarpone, or whipped cream). Or why not try a tart fruit curd (like rhubarb raspberry) or dark chocolate ganache with a bitter edge? Plenty of great options there...but being stubborn as I am I was stuck on the idea a lemon white chocolate ganache. So how did I turn an ingredient infamous for being tooth-achingly sweet into a treat even the sugar-shunners in my life loved? I gave it a good sour kick in the arse with a liberal dose of citric acid (a natural powder often used to add sourness to food/drinks)!

Do you have your own way of showing those overly sweet macs who's boss that I haven't mentioned above? Lemme hear 'em, please! =D

Lemon Party Macarons [Printable Recipe]
Lemon-shaping method adapted from Macarons by Erica
Makes 25 to 30 macarons

XIAOLU'S NOTES: I purchased citric acid fairly cheaply from my local Indian store. If you don't have it, you may be able to add 1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice instead. However I haven't tried this myself and therefore am not certain it won't cause curdling or other problems. Please do not try to convert this recipe to volume measurements if you don't have a scale (I use and love this one). This recipe is very sensitive and will not work if the measurements are not exact. Please also note that every oven is different and you'll figure out what works best for yours over time (see this post for great information on ovens and macarons). Since mine has major hot spots, I bake on 2 stacked pans for insulation if using parchment paper. If you're uncertain of your ability to pipe uniformly-sized macarons, like me, simply trace 1 1/4-inch circles on your parchment paper, flip the paper over, and pipe on the other side, using the outlines as your guide OR print (choose "fit to page") and slide this template under your parchment as a guide but don't forget to remove before baking! Macarons are best after having been refrigerated for 24 to 48 hours, according to French pastry master, Pierre Herme, "An osmosis takes place between the garnish and the biscuit. When freshly baked this is hard and crisp, but it absorbs some humidity from the filling and its inside becomes more tender while the crust on the surface stays intact" (quote via Not So Humble Pie). So even if you accidentally overbake the shells by a few minutes, maturing the macarons in the fridge for at least 48 hours should undo most of the damage =). See my first macaron post for helpful videos of the whole macaron-making process!

125 g almonds [not roasted or salted]
160 g powdered sugar
2 Tbsp lemon zest, air-dried at least 1 hour
Large pinch of salt
35 g granulated sugar
2 g egg white powder [optional, to stabilize batter in humid weather]
90 to 95 g egg whites [about 3 large egg whites]
Pinch of citric acid [optional, to stabilize meringue and add subtle tart flavor]
Tart White Chocolate Lemon Ganache (Recipe below)

Microwave fresh egg whites 10 to 15 seconds in the microwave on medium-low heat (I set my microwave to 40%).

Combine the almonds, powdered sugar, dried zest, and salt in a food processor, and pulse on and off until the nuts are finely ground (about 1 to 2 minutes). Sift the powder to remove any large chunks that remain. Put those chunks back into the food processor and pulse again for another 30 to 60 seconds. Sift again. You will probably have some slightly chunkier almond bits. Hopefully they're no more than a tablespoon or so, in which case you can throw them out.

Weigh out and mix your granulated sugar and egg white powder in a small bowl until uniform; set aside. Using a handheld or stand mixer, whip the egg whites on medium-low speed with citric acid until foamy, then turn the speed up to medium to medium-high and gradually add the sugar mixture until you obtain a glossy meringue (it'll look like shaving cream, hold stiff peaks, and stay in place if you turn the bowl upside-down; but don't overbeat your meringue or it will be too dry).

Add all of the nut mixture to the meringue and fold together. Use both a folding motion that scrapes the bottom of the bowl (to incorporate the dry ingredients) and a gentle pressing motion, to deflate the meringue against the side of the bowl. Slow down after all the dry ingredients have been incorporated, and continue folding the mass carefully until you obtain a batter that looks somewhat glossy and flows from the spatula in a thick ribbon. Test the batter by spooning a small amount of the batter on a plate: if the top flattens on its own within about 20 seconds, it’s ready to pipe. If there is a small peak, give the batter 2 to 3 more folds and test again. The peak shouldn’t disappear immediately either or it’s already overmixed.

Fill a pastry bag fitted with a 1/3 to 1/2-inch wide plain tip (I like Ateco #805 or 806) with half of the batter. (When your bag is too full, the pressure causes the batter to rush out in a way that’s difficult to control, making for sloppy macarons.) Pipe tiny blobs of batter onto the 4 corners and center of 2 baking sheets, then line baking sheets with parchment paper OR line with silicone mats. Pipe small rounds (slightly larger than 1 inch wide) straight down and about 1 inch apart onto the baking sheets. Immediately use a toothpick to pull out points on opposite sides of each round to create the lemon shapes. Then pick up each sheet with both hands and slam it firmly straight downward on the counter 2 to 3 times. This will to force out any large air bubbles. Immediately pop any bubbles that rise up but don't break with a toothpick. Do NOT do this once a few minutes have passed because you'll mess up the shell that's forming.

Preheat the oven to 285 to 300 degrees F. Let the macarons sit out for 25 to 90 minutes to harden their shells a bit (to prevent tops from cracking during baking). Test if they're ready by touching the top and side of one shell lightly. It should feel dry and not stick to your finger at all. Bake one pan at a time for 15 to 25 minutes, depending on the size of the macarons. After the first 10 minutes of baking, rotate the pan and place a large piece of foil loosely over the macarons to prevent browning (If I’m baking on 2 stacked pans, I also remove the bottom pan at this point to make sure the macarons will be completely cooked on the bottom and not sticky). Let cool completely before trying to move the shells.

Once cool, remove the shells from the silicone mat or parchment and flip them over. If you have trouble removing them from parchment paper, freeze the macarons for about 10 minutes, then quickly peel them off before they have a chance to warm up and get sticky again.

Fill the shells (spooning or piping) with 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons of filling and top with a similarly-sized top shell. For the best flavor and texture, store in the refrigerator for 24 to 48 hours before eating (see notes above for detailed explanation) but they are best if eaten within 6 days. Bring to room temperature before eating.

Tart White Chocolate Lemon Ganache
6 Tbsp heavy cream
1 tsp lemon zest
6 oz. white chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 to 3/4 tsp citric acid
Pinch of salt

Heat cream and lemon zest in a small saucepan, and bring to a boil. Slowly pour the cream into a heatproof bowl containing the chopped white chocolate and let sit for 3 to 5 minutes. Stir gently until all of the chocolate is melted and you've obtained a smooth ganache. Sprinkle the citric acid and salt over the ganache and stir in thoroughly. Let cool to a cool room temperature until thickened before filling macarons. (It's fine to speed up the cooling by popping the ganache in the fridge but make sure it doesn't get too hard to pipe/spoon on.)

102 comments:

  1. They look amazing :)))) little lemons ;)

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  2. These are super cute! I gotta try to make some with my Meyer Lemons on hand. :) Never thought of adding citric acid to offset the sweetness. Clever!

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  3. Thanks for the tips on microwaving the egg whites. I'll give that a try next time. I sure can save up some space in my fridge for other treats! :D

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  4. MacAttack ...
    Cute... very cute...
    Wouldn't it be nice if you are my neighbour ;)*wishful thinking*

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  5. Those macarons are so cute! Love it! how clever to shape them like lemons! :) Great post, Xiaolu...

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  6. i am a sucker for lemony things, so your macarons are for me! I really love their unique shape. Too cute.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  7. I have had a little bottle of citric acid in my cupboard for like, a year. Usually I'll just sprinkle some on gummy bears but now, I have a fancy use for them! Fantastic recipe, I cant wait to try it! :)

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  8. OMG, these are simply stunning!

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  9. These are the cutest thing! I love the lemon flavor and the shape of the cookie is pure art!

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  10. They look amazing. I like how you shaped them like little lemons!

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  11. You are becoming a queen of macarons:)

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  12. They are adorable :) So pretty and summery!

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  13. Those are possibly the sweetest little cookies that I've seen in a good long time! Such clever design ... just perfect with a glass of iced or hot tea or chilled lemonade! Kudos!

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  14. When I saw that photo on your Flickr stream, I'm pretty sure I shrieked at the cuteness. Seriously, I had to call over my mom immediately and show her- That is just brilliant, so amazingly creative, and perfectly executed! Ah, I love these macarons so!

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  15. Oh my word so cute! Creative :)

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  16. wow....these are gorgeous! seriously, what an amazing job! and I agree with salt in anything...just makes it that much better!

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  17. OMG! these are so adorable and sound so delicious! you are a macaron PRO now :D

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  18. These are absolutely adorable! Gorgeous, sunny! :) Beautiful job Xiaolu, I love your determination for perfection!

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  19. cute little lemon macarons I want to pinch them!!! I want a bag of these :(

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  20. love the perfect lemon shaped macs, true mac inspiration

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  21. Your macarons look absolutely gorgeous!!! Beautiful clicks too!!

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  22. Thanks for the support, everyone! Clearly YOU guys aren't getting tired of the mac posts =D. I think I get the most comments on these over most others.

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  23. You dont need a title for this post! The shape and look of these macarons says it all.Very pro & cute looking babies :) These are the exact flavors I m loving these days- citrus & less sweet.

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  24. Wow, they're perfect!!! great job, I've tried my first round of macarons and they were awful, but seeing yours I know I can't give up :) Have a great weekend!

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  25. How cute! Those are absolutely adorable! I bet just the lemon flavoring alone would make them amazing :D

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  26. I am digging that you made the efforts to reduce the sugar in these macarons. The tart white chocolate lemon ganache sounds wonderful!

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  27. these have got to be the cutest macaroons i've ever seen. love love them!

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  28. OMG, you are so awesome! I don't even know how you manage to produce such perfect little specimens of everything. I bet they taste tangy and lemony and so amazing!

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  29. wow! I think this is the flavours I love the most from you yet Xiaolu! I was guessing lemon curd filling before hehe. But white chocolate is awesome!

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  30. You are truly the Macarons Queen :) These looks so nice and yummy!

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  31. Best macarons I have seen to date. I love everything about them.

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  32. These are awesome. I love the lemons shaped macarons and the lemon ganache sounds delicious :)

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  33. I love your cute lemon shape! Just an adorable (and clever) idea! I am so scared of macaroons but I so need to conquer that fear.

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  34. I love the idea of balancing out the sweetness of the macs with a tart filling! Lemon is always a favorite dessert flavor of mine and the shape of these is so cute!

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  35. What brilliant idea to have the macarons shaped like lemon. Lemon's tartness definitely balance up the super sweet macarons. I need to succeed in making this. Try, try and try again!

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  36. These are just amazing Xiaolu! They look just like lemons..and no doubt taste like them too, shell and white chocolate- lemon ganache. LOVE them! You're so creative :) BTW, I received the cupcake POM POM's, and they are magnificent - perfect color too! Can't wait to use them for Zach's dark chocolate - nutella B-Day cupcakes!

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  37. Thanks again, you all! Your support is so precious to me.

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  38. I gave up with macarons for a while now, but I still enjoy eating them... Lemon Macarons are my favourite! Yours are amazing!

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  39. Love your notes, it sounds so prefessional but I am determined to try one day! Love the lemon shape too :) If I were to go for a sweet counterbalancing filling, can I just do normal whipped cream?

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  40. Thanks, Xinmei! I'm really just trying to add as much detail as possible so you're never left feeling lost as you try it =). I promise it's not really that tough once you get the hang of mixing and also get familiar with your oven's hot spots and other characteristics. Yes, you can definitely used whipped cream as a filling, but since whipped cream is not so stable and also is very moist, I would probably eat them sooner than other macarons -- I'd say maybe within 2 - 3 days? I haven't tried it yet, so please let me know if you do =D

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  41. these are simply the cutest! omg i can see u're fast becoming a mac addict. ^^

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  42. I can't believe your tired of photographing cookies - you do it so well! Even this picture is so beautiful in its simplicity! Anyways, your readers will never ever tire of your photographs (I'm on of them!).

    I had a macaron fail last week. Hoping to do better this or next week =) Bakers loves challenges.

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  43. Its declared you are the new mac queen! What cute little babies my talented friend

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  44. Wow those are so adorable! I can't wait to try this recipe

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  45. Oh my goodness, those macarons look ADORABLE! Thanks for sharing :))

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  46. These are gorgeous! Love this idea.

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  47. Oh, my! The shape of these lemony macs is just brilliant! Seriously! Gosh, I wouldn't have thought of piping my mac batter this way ... Wish I can have some. I love tart-sweet combinations.

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  48. This is simply marvelous, Xiaolu! I'm drooling all over your cute-cute lemony macarons :)

    Beautiful as always,

    Hugs,

    Aldy.

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  49. I can't blame you for wanting to share those little lemon shaped lemon macarons - so cute. I love lemon flavored sweets too - the contrast between tart and sweet is divine. And these not look adorable, but they sound delicious too.

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  50. Aw how cute are they! You are such a talent.

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  51. Thanks, friends! You are all so kind ^_^

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  52. Your macs are adorable, Xiaolu! Thanks for all the useful tips. I bet these taste fantastic:)

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  53. These are so cute, I love that they look like little lemons! Congrats on the top 9 =)

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  54. These must be the most gorgeous lemon macs I've seen ... adore the shapes! And I use lemon juice in place of cream of tartar to stabilize the meringue .. in case you'd like to know it's ok to use it in place of the citric acid.

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  55. Not a fan of macarons but I wouldn't mine these. Am a sucker for cute things and love the color!

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  56. You know if you ever need someone to take those "imperfect" macs off your hands... :-)

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  57. Xiaolu - these are so cute - I thought I had seen it all with macarons but clearly - you are in a league of your own. Well done with the shaping and the flavour sounds delicious - I do tend to find macarons too sweet - a lemon filling would be delicious!

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  58. I absolutely love the colour and beautiful shape of the macarons.. They look so beautiful and lovely...You have a brilliant site.

    -Shilpa

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  59. I just had to scroll down a thousand comments before I could comment myself...that just shows how amazing these look. WELL DONE! i can't wait to make these, anything with white chocolate...mmmm.

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  60. Hi Xiaolu, Congratulations on TOP 9.... ! Now you are the most experienced and certified baker to make Macroons even with closed eyes....Bravo, these are looking YUM and Cute. I Loved the new combo of ingredients - chocolate ganache and lemons...hmmmmm, and the way you made and presented this recipe. Saving this recipe of urs and wud love to give ur version a try on the coming weekend. Have a great day….Sonia !!!

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  61. OMG - these lemon shapes are the cutest macarons I've seen! Gorgeous. Well done. Agree with the sugary problem and when starting out, don't cut down until you're comfortable. Chapeau to you!

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  62. And just seen you're on Top9! Congratulations. :-)

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  63. Those look so lovely! Love the lemon shape.

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  64. Love lemons, love the look of these!

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  65. These are just the cutest little macs I've ever seen! Wonderful job, and congrats on a well deserved Top 9!!

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  66. super cute idea and such a wonderful blog. well done... keep up the cute work!!

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  67. awwww i love these!!! seriously, u never cease to amaze me.

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  68. Thanks, everyone! Surprised and so delighted this made top 9 on Foodbuzz =)

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  69. Ooooh... Citric acid. I dig it! Love the shape on these. Super cute! You're doing amazingly well with your macs. I'm envious!

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  70. Oh my god, these are way too cute!

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  71. The shape of these are adorable! So fun to look at (and probably to eat too!)

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  72. I love your macarons - especially the lemon shape! So original and pretty! And great macaron-baking tips too :-)

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  73. i love this take on macarons! so sweet!

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  74. As I've said before, these macarons are really the most adorable ones I've seen. When I'm ready to make macs, will definitely need your help :D Thanks for all the lovely tips.

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  75. Again, you had me at Lemon. I continue to be so impressed with your perseverance. That's a big word for me to be using so early in the week. I'm sure I didn't spell it correctly. You inspire me to challenge myself. Really you do. :)

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  76. You did a great job. They're adorable!

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  77. Thx all!

    Amee, I'm so glad to hear you say that! Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions before, during, or after the process =D

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  78. Most gorgeous Macarons i have ever seen the shape is darn cute :)

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  79. I literally gasped when I saw these. CUTEST macarons EVER!

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  80. These are not only perfect and adorable but they look like they tasted fantastic. Your fast becoming the Macaron queen :) Love, love them!

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  81. look at you, with your fancy shaping. you're the macaron queen, as far as i'm concerned. :)

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  82. I've been over macarons for nearly two years now, but these little cuties could inspire me to make a comeback! :)

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  83. These are so lovely I can't even write a decent comment - I'm speechless, Xiaolu! Too pretty (and lemon is my favorite flavor in the whole world).
    Gorgeous!

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  84. They look so pretty! This would make a lovely home-made gift :-)

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  85. I can't believe how cute they are! I've seen heart shaped macarons before but never lemon, I absolutely love them!

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  86. These macarons are the prettiest, most stylish ones I have seen, ever! Ladurée in Paris should hand you an order!

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  87. Thanks everyone for your continued support =D

    tasteofbeirut - LOL you flatter me

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  88. Oh my gosh, you made them look like lemons! You're too much! :)

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  89. This is so, so pretty. The fact that the macarons are shaped like lemons simply blew me away!

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  90. Absolutely adorable! Fresh and summery as lemons!

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  91. oh wow! now did I miss this post!? they are so cute!

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  92. These are so amazing! I have never seen macarons look cuter.

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  93. These are adorable, and amazing how you can pipe the shells into a specific shape and get them to match!!!

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  94. These are absolutely adorable, Xiaolu. And great idea on reducing the perceived sweetness, I'd eaten Pierre Hermes' macarons, found them a little too sweet for my liking!

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  95. Those are the CUTEST!! I love the lemon shape.

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  96. Wonderfully detailed instructions for a macaron-maker-newbie. I salted mina alot and used salted butter for the chocolate ganache. In France the sweetness is not a top note like many American macarons. I wish I knew how they achieved this.
    merci
    carolg

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  97. Not sure if I'm too late to this, but I just found this post! Love your blog btw! I have found swapping the powdered sugar and the almond meal quantities to yield great results for my macs... I've posted many of the recipes at www.thesweetart.com - a lot of people say it can't be done, but I have and my macs have looked and tasted great. They're a lot nuttier but since my boyfriend's family (Chinese) don't like sweet desserts, they much prefer it!

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  98. Thanks for letting me know -- I'll be sure to check it out!

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I love hearing from you all! Please leave me a message if you have questions, advice, or just to let me know you stopped by. Your feedback is always very much appreciated. Thanks! <3 Xiaolu