Pearl Macarons with Blackberry Lime Curd

140 grams egg whites, about 4 large egg whites (aged 5 days in refrigerator)
92 grams granulated sugar
168 grams ground almonds
252 grams confectioners' sugar
clear vanilla extract
pearl luster dust
small paint brush

Preparation
*Remove egg whites from fridge 2 hours prior to using.
*Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper.
*Weigh all bowls that you'll be using (it's helpful when trying to ensure you have the proper weight of ingredients after sifting).
*Measure granulated sugar into a small bowl.
*Sift ground almonds into a large bowl. Measure the weight of any almonds that didn't fit through the sieve, and replace them, continuing to sift, until you have a total weight of 168 grams. Sift confectioners' sugar into the same large bowl. After sifting, weigh the total weight; be sure the combined weight of the bowl, almonds, and confectioners' sugar is correct. With a spatula, mix together the almonds and confectioners' sugar.
*Fit a large decorator's bag with a coupler (optional) and large round tip (I use Ateco #808). Clip the bag just above the inserted tip (a clothespin works fine). Fold the bag down to form a cuff and set bag into large glass or pitcher. (The cuff can help the bag balance inside the glass, but it also makes it easier to fill the decorator bag.)

Instructions

With an electric mixer or whisk, beat the egg whites (medium speed) in a large stainless steel or glass bowl until frothy. Gradually add granulated sugar, continuing to beat until glossy and semi-stiff peaks are formed (the peaks will curl to the side but will hold their shape and remain moist) - don't overbeat.

Add half the almond mixture to the egg whites. Combine with a spatula (no need to fold) until mostly mixed, deflating the egg whites. Add remaining almonds to egg whites and continue to mix in a half folding, half smoothing the batter against the sides motion, until the batter starts to fall back on itself in a ribbon. (If you're unsure if the texture is right, pipe a one-inch mound onto the parchment. There should be a slight peak that will disappear on its own after a few seconds. If the peak doesn't go away on its own or the batter appears very thick, give the batter another fold, then try again.)

Transfer batter with the spatula to the decorator bag. I find it better to just undermix the batter, as filling the bag tends to continue the mixing and could result in an overmixed batter. Pipe 1 inch rounds onto the parchment, leaving about a half inch in between macarons. Let rest at room temperature 30 minutes to set.

Preheat oven to 325*F.

Bake one sheet at a time, 10-12 minutes. Check for doneness at 10 minutes by touching the top of the macaron and giving it a light wiggle with your finger. If it jiggles, baking another minute or two until set. Cool completely before removing macarons from parchment.

Combine a teaspoon or two of clear vanilla extract with a sprinkle of pearl luster dust in a small dish or ramekin. "Paint" shimmery mixture onto macaron shells (though it probably goes without saying, use a brush dedicated to food decorating). The extract will evaporate, leaving a shimmery sheen.

Pair up like-sized macarons and fill with a small spoonful of blackberry lime curd.

Bonus: your home will smell wonderful!

Blackberry Lime Curd

1 pint blackberries
1/4 pound (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
3 large eggs
4 large egg yolks

Fill a medium saucepan 3/4 full with water and bring to a simmer over medium heat.

Puree berries in food processor or blender, then pass through sieve into a small bowl. Measure out 1 cup of puree (I had one cup exactly) and transfer to a small saucepan. Add butter and cook over low, stirring occasionally, for about a minute. Add sugar and lime juice juice, stir until sugar is dissolved (rub a little between your thumb and index finger - when it no longer feels gritty, the sugar is dissolved). Transfer to a large liquid measuring cup (I use a 4 cup measure). If, unlike me, if you do not make a giant mess in the kitchen, you can skip this step.

Whisk eggs and yolks in a large heatproof bowl, just until combined. Place bowl on a damp paper towel. Slowly drizzle the blackberry mixture into the eggs while whisking. Place bowl over simmering water and cook, whisking constantly, until the curd has thickened and reached a temperature of 160*F.

Remove from heat and strain curd through a mesh sieve into a small bowl. Press plastic wrap directly on the curd's surface and refrigerate. When cool, transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use, up to 1 week.

Macaron recipe adapted from Mad About Macarons
Blackberry Lime Curd adapted from The Secrets of Baking

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