I’m back with my second post investigating some more of the flavour combinations from the McCormick Flavor Forecast 2012. Last time, I was inspired by the trends presented in the report to create my own flavour combination and ended up with Coconut-chili butternut squash soup, so this time I decided to investigate some of the McCormick chefs’ featured flavour combinations.
Right off the bat, I was excited to see the combination of Meyer lemon with lemon-thyme, Limoncello and lemon peel as lemon is one of my absolute favourite flavourings. I pretty much put lemon zest in everything, sweet or savoury! Tarte au citron is also of my all-time favourite desserts (up there with crème brûlée) so I was happy to see that McCormick was featuring the “Ultimate lemon Tart with Limoncello blackberries” figuring with a flavour combo like that, what could go wrong? The fact that we happen to have our own Limoncello (made with Meyer lemons) on hand (thanks Mr Neil) made this an easy choice for me.
I started out making the lemon curd. So easy!
I used the lemon curd recipe from the Flavor Forecast – it literally took me under 30 minutes to whip up.
Once I had that cooling, I set to work on the blackberries. As soon as I saw the combination of blackberries and Limoncello with lemon-thyme, I knew I wanted to make a jam out of that. How I would work that into the tart, I would figure that out later. But those flavours were screaming to be jam-ified! I couldn’t find lemon-thyme (fresh or dry) for the life of me so I used a combination of fresh thyme with lemon zest. Perfect!
- 1½ cups blackberries
- ½ cup sugar
- ¼ cup Limoncello
- 2 teaspoons dried lemon-thyme (or 1 teaspoon finely chopped thyme with 1 teaspoon Meyer lemon zest)
- Combine blackberries, sugar, Limoncello, thyme and zest in a medium heavy saucepan.
- Cook over medium heat until the blackberries begin to soften a little.
- Use a wooden spoon or a potato masher to break up the fruit.
- Reduce heat to low and cook, uncovered, stirring often, until the mixture begins to thicken, about 30 minutes.
- The jam won’t be as firm as you think it should be but it will definitely firm up once it cools down.
As soon as I had finished making the jam and curd (and, errr… tasting it!), all thoughts of making lemon tarts flew out of my head because I knew this would make the PERFECT filling for macarons. I’ve been playing with macaron fillings lately and have been looking to jazz up my flavour combinations. Lemon macarons (with a hint of zest in the shell and filled with lemon cream cheese frosting) are my “go-to” macarons if people ask me to make them (and one of my standards in the macaron classes I teach at Le Dolci in Toronto) and I knew that this would up the flavour ante tenfold.
I was very gentle filling the macarons as I didn’t want to risk over-filling them – it might have made the delicate shells collapse under the weight. But by being very light-handed on the blackberry jam (which was a fairly strong flavour), they worked perfectly.
And the flavour?
Wow – these really pack a punch. The tartness of the lemon mixed with the sweet blackberries and the earthy thyme is a fabulous combination and one I’ll try again. The boozy jam is genius and inside the macaron, it solidified a little making for a delightful, chewy jelly-like surprise. I am so happy to have tried something I might never have thought of – the thyme with lemon and now I am definitely on the hunt for the McCormick dried lemon-thyme – I can think of so many dishes (both sweet and savoury) where it would work so well.
For more inspiration, please be sure to visit the McCormick Flavor Forecast.
Disclosure: I was provided with compensation as well as a kit of herbs, spices and other ingredients featured in the McCormick Flavour Forecast 2012 in exchange for writing two posts about the Flavor Forecast. All opinions are 100% my own.