So, this was an idea we had for our equivalent of Independence Day, which it technically is: the modern day Kingdom of Sweden was founded on June 6th 1523. Having been an independent nation for almost 500 years, it's somewhat taken for granted nowadays... but since it's been a day of historical importance throughout the years, other noteworthy events have been scheduled for this date, such as the 1809 Instrument of Government, which provided legislative power to parliament and freedom of expression and press. June 6th is sometime called “Day of the Flag” here, so in honor of that, we decided to make macarons in the colors of the Swedish flag. Now how do you get macarons to be blue and yellow? And what's this post doing long before June 6th?
None of us is going to be home for June 6th, so we decided to skip the date, and just make blue and yellow macarons (I'll be on a conference in Boulder, Colorado May 31st–June 7th if anyone happens to be in the neighborhood).
Now, blue and yellow macarons, preferably with a Swedish connection... As you've perhaps noted, I make a killer lemon curd that's excellent for filling, and which is also yellow. So, how to make blue shells? Why, flavor them with bilberries! Bilberries are called “blåbär” in Swedish, which literally translates into “blue berries”. There's endless confusion between blueberries and bilberries, but both are more or less blue... probably have to help the shells with some coloring though...
For the lemon curd, see this recipe. And for the bilberry macaron shells you need:
200 g Confectioner's Sugar
100 g Almonds
100 g Egg Blues
1 tsp Lemon Juice
30 g Sugar
1 dl Frozen Bilberries
Liquid Blue Food Coloring
Wait a minute, egg blues? What's that? Well, basically blue egg whites... and in anticipation of future genetic improvements of domesticated birds, we have to rely on egg whites and liquid food coloring. It's hard to give exact measurements of how much food coloring is needed, but the before and after pictures below gives a hint of what to aim for.
So, to make the shells, start by making the bilberry jam. Heat the berries in a pan, they will start to disintegrate and leak, which is fine, we're aiming for something jam-like here. Let them reduce for a while, and then cool. Purée the bilberries through a strainer to get rid of the peels. Since the shells are teeming with sugar anyway, we opted to make the jam altogether sweetener-free.
Grind the almonds to a flour. We have a purpose-built mill, but a food processor might work as well, or maybe you can get almond flour at your local store? Mix the almond flour with sifted confectioner's sugar in a large bowl.
Whip the egg blues and lemon juice. Add the sugar and whip it to a meringue. Fold in the bilberries.
Egg blue meringue in the making
Fold the meringue into the almond mix without over-working it. Use a plain tip pastry bag to squeeze out small rounds on parchment covered baking sheets. Let them sit at room temperature for at least ½ hour before baking for 7–8 minutes at 175°C. Let the shells cool before removing from the parchment. The shells keep well in the freezer, but won't make it more than about a day in room temperature. To assemble, just put some lemon curd between two equally sized shells.
In hindsight, we probably should have gone for more bilberries and less food coloring, but there might be a June 6th next year as well...
Swedish flag macarons