These Lemon Bar Macarons combine lemon flavored macaron shells that are brought together with a buttery shortbread crust center and a creamy lemon curd filling. If you close your eyes you would swear you were eating a tart, rich lemon bar! They're lip-smackingly good and perfect for any lemon dessert lover in your life!
Table of Contents
- Overview: How to Make Lemon Macarons Using the Swiss Method
- What is a Bain-Marie?
- How to Create a Bain-Marie
- Helpful Tips for Making the Best Macarons
- Making the Lemon Curd Filling
- Additional Ways to Use Lemon Curd Filling
- How to Make the Shortbread Crust Layer
- Shortbread Crust Layer Alternative
- How to Store These Lemon Bar Macarons
- More Desserts from Beyond the Butter!
Overview: How to Make Lemon Macarons Using the Swiss Method
I used this same method for making my Dark Chocolate Macarons. It is the same process for making swiss meringue buttercream, except you do not add the butter. You can save that ingredient for the lemon curd filling!
Heat the granulated sugar and egg whites together in a bain-marie. You can also use a double boiler. Continually whisk the mixture until the granulated sugar fully dissolves and the it becomes frothy in appearance. Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and whisk on high speed until stiff meringue peaks are just reached.
Add your sifted dry ingredients to the meringue and continue to fold until you have a slightly thick, lava-like consistency batter.
What is a Bain-Marie?
A bain-marie is a french technique that uses gentle heat to melt or cook foods like chocolate, custard, or—in this case—the meringue for these lemon macaron shells.
How to Create a Bain-Marie
Bring 1 – 1 ½ inches of water to a simmer in a saucepan. Set a heatproof bowl, bigger than the mouth of the saucepan, over the simmering water.
The bottom of the bowl should not touch the water.
Place your ingredients in the bowl and gently heat per the directions of your recipe.
Helpful Tips for Making the Best Macarons
I talked briefly above about the swiss method as well as what a bain-marie is and how to create one for this lemon bar macaron recipe.
If you are new to making macarons, however, I would highly encourage you to visit and read through my Dark Chocolate Macarons post where I talk about the following:
- The purpose of the main ingredients. Which brands of almond flour I've used, powdered sugar, egg whites, etc.
- Necessary baking tools. There are 6 key tools you will want for making macarons. I talk about which ones I use, why I love them, and some additional tools that may come in handy.
- Helpful tips to navigate you through the entire macaron making process. I have these tips sectioned off by dry ingredients, making the meringue, macaronage, piping, macaron resting, baking, and cooling
There are also many macaron making resources online that can be very beneficial!
Making the Lemon Curd Filling
This lemon curd filling—what sandwiches the macaron shells together—is very easy to make and tastes fantastic! And what I really love about it? You can make this ahead of time!
Lemon Zest and Juice. I recommend getting your lemon zest and juice ready before starting the recipe. To me, I think it just helps to keep things moving!
Whisk Constantly. This will help keep the mixture from curdling. It will also help work on your upper body strength.
Patience. The lemon curd filling can take anywhere from 8-10 minutes to thicken over low heat. If it hasn't thickened by this point, increase the heat to medium and continue to whisk until it does.
Press Through a Mesh Sieve. This isn't a required step, but I do recommend it to remove any little lumps or zest that decided to stick around. Do this over a mixing bowl.
Cover with Plastic Wrap and Chill. Place the plastic wrap directly on top of the lemon curd. Let is chill covered in the refrigerator for a minimum of 1 hour, or my preference, overnight.
Storing. I like to store my leftover lemon curd filling in one of my canning jars, but any tightly sealed jar will be perfect.
Additional Ways to Use Lemon Curd Filling
With this recipe you will have some leftover lemon curd filling—which is totally not a bad thing—so here are some ways you can enjoy it!
- Cakes - makes a great filling for vanilla cakes! Pipe a border of buttercream around the top of the cake layer, then fill the center with lemon curd.
- Cupcakes - fill the center of the cupcake with the lemon curd filling, then top with buttercream. A great recipe for this would be my Small Batch Vanilla Cupcakes!
- Cheesecakes - makes the perfect topping!
- Scones & Muffins - drizzle some lemon curd over the top of either one! You can try this with my Lemon Blueberry Streusel Muffins! SO GOOD!
- Ice Cream - take vanilla bean ice cream and top with leftover shortbread crust crumbles, and lemon curd filling. YUM!
- On It's Own -just take out a spoon, dig in, and enjoy!
How to Make the Shortbread Crust Layer
Because we are not making that much of the shortbread crust layer, I recommend using your hand mixer for this part.
After mixing everything together, pat it down into a thin layer (about ⅛ inch) on a small baking sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes at 350ºF. Allow the shortbread crust to cool completely before you cut out the circles.
For the baking sheet, I like to use my small Nordic Ware serving tray. It's the perfect size for the amount of shortbread crust you'll use in this recipe. You can also use an 8 inch or 9 inch square baking pan as well.
For the circles, I used the small, 1 inch circle cutter from my 12 piece circle cookie cutter set. You can also use a large round piping tip as well.
Shortbread Crust Layer Alternative
Instead of cutting out the shortbread circles, you can break up the shortbread into tiny crumbs and sprinkle them over top of the lemon curd filling.
This alternative is helpful if you do not have a 1" circle cookie cutter or large piping tip to cut out circles of the shortbread.
Either method you choose, you will still get that nice little buttery shortbread crunch when you into one of these lemon bar macarons!
How to Store These Lemon Bar Macarons
The best way to store these fully assembled lemon bar macarons is in the freezer in an airtight container. They will keep for about 3-4 months. I recommend before serving, letting them come to room temperature for roughly 10-15 minutes.
If you are planning to make the macaron shells ahead of time, you can keep them stored in an airtight container the freezer. I recommend letting them cool completely before placing them in the freezer. Set them out 10-15 minutes before assembling them with the lemon curd filling and shortbread crust centers.
For the lemon curd filling, you can keep this in an airtight container or jar in the refrigerator. The lemon curd will last up to a week.
You can bake the shortbread crust centers ahead of time as well. They will keep fine in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3-4 days.
More Desserts from Beyond the Butter!
- No-Bake Dark Chocolate Tart
- Super Easy Lemon Bars
- Bakery Style Lemon Blueberry Streusel Muffins
- Homemade Angel Food Cake with Berries
- Mini Strawberry Nutella Tarts
Lemon Bar MacaronsAuthor:
lemon macaron shells
- 1 cup Almond Flour, sifted
- ¾ cup Powdered Sugar, sifted
- 3 Large Egg Whites
- ½ cup Granulated Sugar
- ½ tsp Lemon Extract
- 4-5 drops Yellow Food Coloring
shortbread crust centers
- ¼ cup Unsalted Butter , room temperature
- ½ cup All-Purpose Flour
- ⅛ cup Powdered Sugar
lemon curd filling
- 6 tbsp Unsalted Butter, room temperature
- ½ cup Granulated Sugar
- ⅛ tsp Salt
- ½ cup Fresh Lemon Juice, 1-2 large-size lemons
- 2 tsp Lemon Zest, finely grated
- 2 Large Egg Yolks + 1 Whole Large Egg
lemon macaron shells
- Prep your work area by cleaning your mixing bowls, whisks, and any other baking tools that will be used for making the macarons. Using a little white vinegar on a paper towel will help remove any grease left behind.
- Line 2 baking sheets with either parchment paper or silicone mats and fit a large piping bag with a round piping tip (like this Wilton 2A tip). Set to the side.
- Weigh all your ingredients using a food scale.
- Sift the almond flour and powdered sugar together twice, removing any bits left behind from the sifter. Whisk together to fully blend (or use a food processor).
- Using a double boiler or bain-marie, heat the granulated sugar and aged egg whites over 1 - 1.5 inches of simmering water, continually whisking until the sugar has fully dissolved and the mixture is frothy in appearance (about 5-6 minutes). Test by rubbing a little of the mixture between your pointer finger and thumb to make sure all sugar granules have dissolved.
- Transfer the hot mixture to a mixing bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and set the speed to high. When the mixture initially reaches the soft peaks stage, add in the lemon extract.
- As the meringue begins to reach medium peaks, add in the yellow food coloring.
- Continue to mix on high speed right until stiff peaks form (about 10 minutes). The meringue should look glossy and be able to hold its shape when you invert the whisk attachment.
- Using a spatula, gently fold in the sifted dry ingredients with the meringue. As you continue to fold, press the batter against the side of the bowl. Keep folding until the batter is the consistency of a somewhat thick lava.
- If the batter falls off the spatula in ribbons (or can make a figure 8 pattern) without breaking, it’s time to pipe! If not, fold 2-3 more times, then test again.
- When ready, scoop the lemon macaron batter into the piping bag. Holding your bag perpendicular to the silicone mat (or parchment paper) and pipe out a circles close to 1.5 inches in diameter. When you bang the baking sheets on the counter after piping they should spread out just a little.
- Bang your baking sheets on the counter 3-4 times to release the air bubbles, then use a toothpick to carefully remove any that came to the surface.
- Set the trays of lemon macaron shells to the side, somewhere cool and dry, where they can rest/dry for 40 minutes. The lemon macarons shells are ready to be baked when the tops are no longer sticky and dry to the touch. Use a ceiling fan to help dry them, if you have one or drop your A/C to a cooler temp. Drying times will vary based on where you live. The higher the humidity, the longer the rest time!
- When you are close to the end of the resting time, preheat your oven to 300ºF and place your oven rack on the 2nd level mark (just above the center).
- Bake only 1 tray of the lemon macarons at a time for 16 minutes at 300ºF, rotating the baking sheet at the 8 minute mark. Do not skip this step!
- When done, remove from the oven and allow to cool for 20-30 minutes. If your shells are still a little sticky after this time frame, you can pop them in the freezer for 15-20 minutes.
- Once completely cooled, keep the macaron shells stored in an airtight container in the freezer until ready to use.
shortbread crust centers
- Preheat your oven to 350ºF. Lightly cover your small baking sheet with a little baking spray.
- Using your hand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the unsalted butter on medium-high speed for 1-2 minutes until soft and creamy.
- Reduce the mixer speed to low and add in the all-purpose flour and powdered sugar. Mix until well blended.
- Pat the mixture down into a thin layer, about ⅛ inch, on a small baking sheet.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes at 350ºF.
- Remove and allow to cool completely.
- Using a 1 inch circle cookie cutter (or similar size from a large piping tip), cut out roughly 20-22 circles. Set to the side. Any leftover shortbread crust can be used as a topping for the leftover lemon curd filling!
lemon curd filling
- Using a hand mixer or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the unsalted butter on medium-high speed for 1-2 minutes or until it's smoothy and creamy. Add in the granulated sugar, salt, lemon juice, and lemon zest, mixing until well blended. Add in the 2 eggs yolks and 1 whole egg and mix until fully combined.
- Transfer the mixture to a medium-size saucepan and while whisking constantly, cook over low heat until thickened (about 8-10 minutes).
- Remove from heat and press through a fine mesh sieve into a mixing bowl.
- Add a layer of plastic wrap directly over top of the lemon curd and chill in the refrigerator for a minimum of 1 hour, or overnight. Kept in a tightly sealed container, lemon curd will last up to a week in the refrigerator.