Parisian Macarons: Star Anise and Vanilla with Lemon Curd Filling
I have been bitten by the macaron bug, a plague that has infected about forty percent of the foodie blogosphere and thus far is cured only by perfection. Since we can only advance asymptotically to perfection, we are left floundering with a chronic illness doomed to haunt us forever. Like any disorder, there is a large range of severity and I seem to have a milder version but nonetheless the agonizing symptoms drive me to alleviate them in whatever way I can: making more macarons.
Thus, like any clever parasite or immunological trickster, macaron madness is a positive feedback loop: when I make macarons, I get even madder and then I just have to make more macarons. Today was my third adventure into the world of persnickety cookies and while many of macarons cracked (apparently from being underwhipped and too humid), a few were pretty enough for a shoot.
I seemed to find the best possible flavor combination the last two times I made macarons: cardamom and lemon with buttercream frosting and so I found myself like a returning champion doomed to fail because I could not live up to my own creation. Luckily, as I searched through the spice rack I found beautiful star anise seeds, which smell like licorice and decided to combine the crushed seeds with 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Since the cookie was going to be slightly sweeter because of the vanilla, I chose to contrast the shell with a lemon curd filling from Tea and Sympathy's cookbook (see Lemon Danish post).
Mind you, I made these cookies in under two hours while I ate heated up leftovers for lunch before I left for my job as a figure skating coach, running out of the door the minute they came out of the oven. So, as one of my five year old students today said to me after we finished a conversation about the various designs of rink sideboards, "Speaking of shipwrecks..." you first grind your almonds and confectioners sugar (see specific amounts in my first Parisian Macaron post), and then sift into a separate bowl.