Shiny Festive French Macarons

Paris is feeling extra magical at this time of year. Macaron cones are majestically towering more than ever in chic boutique shopfronts. As I joined the gathering crowd in front of Fauchon’s window in Place de la Madeleine, it made me giggle just thinking that it’s not for nothing that window-shopping is literally translated as window-licking (faire du lèche-vitrines) in French.

It was indeed window-shopping, after seeing the macaron prices! Instead inspired, I returned to ze kitchen and set about making a batch of shiny, festive macarons at home. As I’m not a professional baker and don’t have a shop or online business, I haven’t needed a macaron cone or tower – we just eat them greedily straight from the pastry boxes! The towers that the professionals have access to are amazing, but this macaron and cupcake stand is pretty cool, as is this clear, acrylic 4-tier cake stand version which I’m buying for Christmas, as you can compact the nesting design.

I may not have a business but I do have a straight-forward macaron recipe that works. It’s all in the book. If you’re new here, let me tell you it’s filled with tips and step-by-step instructions how to make macarons using the French meringue method (there’s no need for a sugar thermometer this way.) It’s a lot easier than you think to make them; there are just a few, simple ‘rules’ to follow but it’s so worth it (so is the book – a fraction of a macaron workshop!) Check out some tip examples on the sidebar ——->

There’s no need for a silicone macaron mat (see my macaron mat review) or a mould (the moulds are for chocolate makers who make macaron-shaped chocolates or marzipan); you really need a good spatula and a piping bag with a plain 8-10mm tip. See my recommended baking items. Oh, and the second edition is now out – including a troubleshooting section and a glossary of terms for our American readers.

If you’ve been timid to make them in 2012, then 2013 is your year of making macarons like the French!

Rubbing on the bronze food colouring luster dust on these vanilla and rum macarons give them that extra special festive look. It’s perhaps messy using your finger but you don’t lose the precious dust as you would using a brush. Speaking of a goldfinger, has anyone seen the new James Bond film yet? I digress but, if you’re still reading me at this point, you’ll know that this is one of my specialities!

I’m all over the place just now, like most women who need to juggle life, family, presents and – dare I say the words? – greetings cards!  Is it just me but do you get irritated by people who send a bald, ‘Love from xxx” and don’t write anything else inside? Rien du tout. You mean, you went to all that trouble to send something but you didn’t give an update? Frankly, with the environment and all that, what would you say? Tell them off, plead in your card that you (once again) would appreciate an update, or would you just not bother?

What are your favourite macaron flavours for the festive season? Our favourites are vanilla, pistachio, orange blossom and all chocolate varieties. Add some chopped fresh mint and mint extract to your chocolate ganache for After-Eight macarons. Spice up your chocolate macarons (also in the shells) with nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves plus add a dash of Grand Marnier or your favourite liqueur. To make rum and vanilla macarons, just replace 40ml of the milk in the vanilla macaron filling recipe with good dark rum. These cranberry egg nog macarons are also based on the vanilla recipe: just add freshly grated nutmeg, cinnamon and 100g of drunken cranberries (first soaked in rum) to the filling.

And there are not just sweet macarons; for those who are a bit more daring, try savoury macarons: Thai Green Curry, beetroot and horseradish, Bloody Mary, sweet garden herb or – my favourite garnish for soups – my Tikka Mac’sala! This weekend, I’m excited about entertaining friends and so it will be curried cauliflower with fried scallops to start with the curry macarons. It guarantees a giggle at the table!

Another favourite soup is Pumpkin, Leek and Ginger Soup which goes well with the curry macarons. When my children were between 5-7 years, their best bedtime story book of all time was Pumpkin Soup by Helen Cooper, as they were so concerned about Duck getting lost. Thank you, Granny, for many memorable moments and thank you, Helen – your wonderful story captivated my girls and any time I make this recipe, your name is always mentioned as they insist in adding some salt and a Pipkin of Pepper to the pot. Garnish the soup with crispy sage leaves and a couple of red peppercorns.

I think it’s time to make a pot of tea and attack that Christmas tree. Somehow the decorations are needing replacements around here. I bought baubles filled with chocolate nougat from our local chocolate factory. They open for a month before Christmas to the general public and so we go bananas stocking up like the pros!

I’m on this mission to finish all the chocolate nougat by this weekend so my tree is filled with macarons for our guests. Although I wouldn’t eat them. They’re just for show, as they’ve not been put in the fridge. It reminds me of my Uncle Bob, who ate the chocolate from my Granny’s Christmas tree and just about passed out when Granny told them they were 15 years old!

Never mind the tea. Is it Wine O’Clock yet?  I keep thinking about these greetings cards. Apologies for such a long post. I didn’t have the time to do a short one. Best prepare some curry macs for Saturday.

Happy Holidays to you! May it be merry and bright, relaxing and with many macarons!

Cheers from a cold and frosty Paris.
I’ll be back with you in 2013 with many recipes.

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32 Responses to Shiny Festive French Macarons

  1. Jadore vintage paris January 13, 2013 at 17:27 #

    LOve this blog soo much! and love macarons :)

    Twitter: Jadorevintage_x
    Instagram: Jadorevintage_x
    FaceBook: jadore vintage paris

  2. Mardi (eat. live. travel. write) January 10, 2013 at 12:47 #

    What a lovely shiny festive post Jill! Hope you had the merriest Christmas with many macarons!

    • Jill January 10, 2013 at 20:02 #

      Thanks, Mardi. Yes, even too much at first and now we’re on a macaron ‘break’, lol.

  3. Purabi Naha January 8, 2013 at 15:29 #

    Hi Jill, wish you a very happy new year! How are you? I love your macarons and would love to see more new recipes this year.

    • Jill January 9, 2013 at 12:53 #

      Lovely to hear from you, Purabi. Things are great here although, as you can see, I’m a bit behind on the blog. Recipes coming soon, promise!

  4. Jura Henderson January 6, 2013 at 17:43 #

    Hi Jill,
    I recieved your book as birthday gift and I absolutly love it. I seem to be having problems when I am colouring the macarons, there are a lovely vibrant colour once before they are baked but once they are losing their colour especially on the pieds. I’ve been using sugarflair colouring pastes, am I using the incorrect type of colouring!!
    Thank-you Jura xXx

    • Jill January 7, 2013 at 18:01 #

      Happy New Year to you, Jura. These sugar flair colouring pastes can be funny at times. I’ve had the same thing happen to me on only certain colours (red, bordeaux, for example) but for others like black, they’re great. That’s why, although gels are good and you may need to use a bit more of them to work well, I prefer using powdered colourings. Glad you like the book! Jill

  5. Nami | Just One Cookbook January 5, 2013 at 10:30 #

    Happy New Year Jill! I hope you had a nice Christmas and holiday with your family. I love the macaron ornaments and bronze color macarons – so festive!

    • Jill January 7, 2013 at 17:55 #

      All the best to you too, Nami. Thanks for popping by. I’m so behind on everything just now! Will be back soon…

  6. Magic of Spice December 31, 2012 at 01:09 #

    I hope you had a lovely holiday, and wishing you an amazing 2013!

    • Jill December 31, 2012 at 13:36 #

      Thank you so much. You too – may it be extra spicy and magical!

  7. Hester @ Alchemy in the Kitchen December 23, 2012 at 23:26 #

    It is indeed Wine O’Clock – cheers, Jill. Your Macabaubles are sooooo pretty on the tree! What a delicious year it has been over at MAM. Wishing you and yours the Merriest Christmas and the Happiest New Year, Hester x

    • Jill December 31, 2012 at 13:35 #

      Hester, thanks so much for your continued support, sense of humour and friendship. Wishing you a wonderful 2013 with many exciting projects ahead.

  8. Claudia December 23, 2012 at 22:51 #

    I just dropped by to wish you the merriest Christmastime. And what do my wondering eyes should appear? But macaron towers! Macaron ornaments! Love, love them. (Partial to pistachio.) What a delightful posting! Merry Christmas, Jill from my home to yours.

    • Jill December 31, 2012 at 13:34 #

      Wonderful to hear from you, Claudia. Wishing you a fabulous 2013 and many exciting theatrical projects. Much appreciate you popping by.

  9. Gourmantine December 21, 2012 at 15:07 #

    I’d love to be able to walk around Paris this time of the year with all these beauties, but I’d at least hope to have a peak at how Aix next week :) Lovely and warming soup! Merry Christmas :)

    • Jill December 21, 2012 at 16:35 #

      Never! You going to be in Aix next week? Me too. Enjoy your Christmas, Gourmantine.

  10. Choclette December 20, 2012 at 13:54 #

    Jill, I would have your macarons over any I could buy in a shop. Yours always look fantastic and I love the flavour and colour combinations you come up with. Your Christmas baubles are so clever and look perfect.

    You’ve just sorted out a problem for me, as I knew you would. I’m just about to have some egg yolks left over and wanted something I could make as Christmas gifts with the yolks, but didn’t have a clue what. Yours was the first site I thought about to solve my dilemma and it came up trumps – Breton Biscuits. Thank you.

    Thank you also for my little macaron earrings, which I adore.

    Wishing you a very Merry Christmas


    • Jill December 21, 2012 at 16:39 #

      Thanks so much, Choclette. So glad that the egg yolk recipes have come in handy – I’ve planned many more in 2013. I bet you look fabulous in your macaron earrings! A very Merry Christmas to you too and enjoy all your chocolatey treats.

  11. Pierre December 17, 2012 at 23:04 #

    Love your shiny macaroons, sorry macarons ;-) Rum at Christmas is wonderful.
    I’ve the same predicament with these cards, Jill. I’ll see what the friends do first to do my bit for the environment, lol. Looking forward to these recipes in the New Year. Look after that back and have a fabulous Christmas!

    • Jill December 18, 2012 at 14:09 #

      Good idea, Pierre. Yep, recipes are coming since they’ve all been going into the book that the blog has suffered a bit. THanks for your wishes – back difficult in front of the computer but asked Santa for a new one :-) Take care, J xo

  12. Laura December 17, 2012 at 15:19 #

    I love the macarons hanging on the tree, such a cute idea! My favourite flavours vary but I prefer fillings that aren’t too sweet to offset the natural sweetness of the shells, maybe dark chocolate ganache or something flavoured with alcohol. Yum.

    • Jill December 18, 2012 at 14:08 #

      Laura – just like you – prefer the less sweet fillings to compensate on the sweet meringue shells. Dark chocolate and alcohol? Hm. Been enjoying the dark chocolate, gingerbread and rum ones (hidden back of the fridge!) Enjoy the festive season.

  13. parisbreakfast December 14, 2012 at 01:35 #

    Such a pretty post!
    I wonder how they get the macarons to stick vertically like that?
    I’m glad yr Garnishing the soup with crispy sage leaves and a couple of red peppercorns and not holly leaves ahem.
    Bonne Holiday and vacance Jill.

    • Jill December 14, 2012 at 12:11 #

      Thanks, Carol. Holly? If anyone gets a thistle, it isn’t a good sign, lol. Normally the macaron towers are done using polystyrene cones and the macs are placed using cocktail sticks. I guess it’s the same method but on the side – unless anyone has brilliant ideas, I’m all ears!

  14. Liz December 14, 2012 at 00:07 #

    Your soup sounds marvelous! And I love the festive garnish :) And I bet you’ll have a mac Christmas tree one of these days!

    • Jill December 14, 2012 at 12:06 #

      Thanks, Liz. I love crispy sage with pumpkin. Funnily enough, I did make a Christmas tree macaron but I can’t find the photo of it. We prefer the taste of just the regular ones, to be totally honest. Nothing fancy just good!

  15. Tony December 13, 2012 at 22:15 #

    very festive and only you could dare to go for such a green – couleur de l’espoir pour 2013 as they say. Happy holidays:)

    • Jill December 14, 2012 at 12:02 #

      L’espoir indeed, Tony. Living in hope that 2013 brings everyone health and happiness!

  16. Ann Mah December 13, 2012 at 17:57 #

    Yes, yes! Christmas cards need a personal note like macarons need a ganache filling :) Happy holidays, Jill! I have a feeling your new year will be sweet.

    • Jill December 14, 2012 at 11:59 #

      “…like macarons need a ganache filling” – LOVE it, Ann. Thanks – you’ve made my day! Sweet? Well, er…


  1. Chocolate Hazelnut Rocher Truffles | Mad about Macarons! Make Macarons like the French - le blog in Paris - December 17, 2013

    [...] OK, now it’s on to the end-of-term macaron-making marathon using the recipes in the book. These macarons are going to party this week! Next ones will be festive and shiny. [...]

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