Savoury Macarons: Festive Starter Ideas

Who can believe that the year has just about made a wrap?  Before it ties up with a silver bow on Hogmany, let me share some starter ideas to serve with your savoury macarons.

Not all of us are into savoury macarons such as chocolate and fois gras as an apéritif (me included!) but have you tried any of the savoury macaron recipes from the book’s ‘Mad Macs’ chapter yet?  Many of them are HOT and SPICY, which makes an interesting tasting sensation: the sweetness of the macaron helps put out the fire after the first couple of seconds!

beet horseradish macaron with smoked salmon

Gourmet meals can be given that extra touch of chic with a horseradish and beetroot macaron (recipe on page 103). Here I’ve served it with Salar Scottish smoked salmon with an apple and horseradish sauce.  Our previous family visit to Corsica included a surprising gourmet treat consisting of a Terre et Mer simple yet sophisticated starter: it may look and sound unusual but, believe me, the mix of smoked salmon with smoky charcuterie dried hams is amazing!  The chiogga beetroot and spicy macaron adds that je ne sais quoi.

terre et mer beetroot macaron

Mini tikka curry macarons are also a spicy surprise on the side to warming soups, like this leek, pumpkin and ginger velouté.

festive savory macaron ideas

Or why not try them with a mini amuse-bouche of parsnip, round carrot and coriander soup? Round carrots, or Parisian carrots are round, short and dumpy and have an even sweeter flavour than normal carrots.

Curry fans can add another touch of chilli spice under the mistletoe with the mini Thai curry macarons. Make them red or green, depending on your mood with a hint of coconut.

Thai red christmas curry macarons by Jill

Thai green curry macarons can be a surprising addition to a starter of sweet potato, crab and thai herb croquettes, served with a thai-style mayonnaise to use up your egg yolks.

Or what about serving a mini mac with these light, gluten-free ginger, crab and coriander quiches?

Inspiration for this warming watercress soup came after a wee trip to the watercress beds in Normandy this summer. Serve with garden herb macarons (recipe on page 97 of the book).

Or surprise your guests with mini herb macarons as a side to this cherry tomato, wild strawberry and rocket salad, peut-être? For those lucky sun-kissed macaronivores in the Southern Hemisphere.

 Or serve with a Bloody Mary macaron for a surprise with a slightly bigger punch?

It’s time to wrap up presents but just a few festive starter recipe ideas to accompany the savoury macaron chapter in the book.

I’m a green and red curry macaron ‘read-thai’ to party!

Are your macarons ready to party?

christmas macaron ideas

Check out the full index of bonus recipes to accompany the book, including many egg yolk recipes and desserts to serve with your sweet, gluten-free macaron treats.

Thank you for all your support, your lovely, motivating comments over the year here on le blog, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and for spreading the word about Mad About Macarons!

Happy holidays
and wishing you a
Healthy, Happy and a Macaron-ivorous New Year!

 

Chocolate Hazelnut Rocher Truffles

As I got the ball rolling with chocolate hazelnut macarons for holiday gifts this weekend, Julie and Lucie had other ideas on the side. Shopping for macaron ingredients at our local supermarket, they were instead eyeing the shiny, festive towers of  Ferrero Rocher’s golden foil-wrapped little crunchy milk chocolate hazelnuts.

Lucie remembered seeing a recipe for Rochers at home, in a tiny little book that came with a cute bear mould (which they have never used, alas) in her stocking last Christmas. With the advance thought of her dental brace being put in today, it was essential in her book to cram in as many sweet – and especially crunchy treats – as possible before she had to em-brace (sorry!) the orthodontist’s less than sweet, strict toothy diet restrictions.

To make them extra crunchy and nutty, we toasted the hazelnuts in the oven first and coated them in dark chocolate, although the recipe calls for milk chocolate, if you prefer.

Chocolate Hazelnut Rochers

Adapted from  L’atelier Oursons & Guimauves by Aline Caron

Makes 30 mini bites

Preparation Time: 50 minutes
Resting Time: 2½ hours

Chocolate ganache:
200g milk chocolate, broken into bits
12g (a tablespoon) single cream
30 whole hazelnuts

Coating:
100g dark chocolate
50g wafer biscuits (optional)
100g hazelnuts, crushed

Prepare the Ganache:

1. Heat the oven to 180°C and roast all the hazelnuts in the oven for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool. If you prefer, you could wipe off the skins using a tea towel.

2. Heat the tiny bit of cream in a saucepan (yes, it does look so little but trust me, this is correct!) and add the broken bits of milk chocolate. Using a whisk, once the chocolate has melted, take off the heat and, using a balloon whisk, mix quickly until you have a mixture that resembles a gorgeous, chocolatey putty.

3. Using a teaspoon and your fingers, break off a walnut size of milk chocolate ‘putty’, roll it in the palm of your hands into a ball. Push a toasted hazelnut into the centre and roll again, ensuring that the hazelnut is completely covered. Complete the process until you have 30 balls then chill in the fridge for about 40 minutes.

Prepare the coating:

4. Melt the milk chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of hot water (bain-marie). As soon as the chocolate has melted, take off the heat and leave to cool slightly. Meanwhile, crush the hazelnuts (and wafers, if using) in a food processor (or place them in a bag and bash them using a rolling pin) then place them in a round bowl.

5. Dip the cooled rocher balls into the chocolate and immediately roll them in the crushed hazelnuts.

6. Place the rocher chocolate nutty truffles on a baking sheet covered with baking paper and leave to set at room temperature for 1½ hours.

These little rocher bites can keep for up to 5 days, kept in a cool place.

For the best presentation, place each rocher in mini bright foil cases for festive effect. In our case, they were pounced on so fast, it wasn’t even necessary.

With some leftover crushed hazelnuts, it’s an ideal decoration for chocolate hazelnut macarons (recipe in the book): just brush on some chocolate ganache and spinkle the nuts on top.

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.

What colour and/or flavour of macarons would you like to see at a party or decorated on your Christmas tree?

Red Onion Chevre Tatin for Ann Mah’s Tuesday Dinner

I’m thrilled to be a guest over at Ann Mah’s Tuesday Dinner series. If you remember, Ann inspired me to pack my bags and jump on the train to France’s gastronomic capital, Lyon. Reading her book, Mastering the Art of French Eating, you may just find yourself doing the same! When I met Ann in Paris we munched on macarons with chocolat chaud but today it’s virtual and savoury.

Red Onion and Goat Cheese Chèvre Tarte Tatin

In short, this is one of my favourite savoury dishes that’s handy to make with basic ingredients I like to keep in the fridge and pantry. It’s also so easy that it’s not much of a recipe. By following a classic tarte tatin recipe (see Mango and Orange Tarte Tatin for example), you can make up your own creations using different fruit and vegetables.

This is a baked version of a French salade de chèvre chaud (packed with onions en plus) since it can be made easily in advance and popped in the oven while picking up the kids. It’s also great for all seasons and, depending on who’s sitting at the table, it can be dressed either up or down for something simple but oh-là-là effective.

Here’s the recipe but pop over to Ann’s website for the chatty part, which is far more interesting! It’s always a delight to see when someone has made the recipe.

Red Onion and Chèvre Tarte Tatin

Serves 4 as a light dinner

Special equipment: a frying pan that can transfer to the oven

2 large onions
2 red onions
large knob of butter (30g)
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp herbes de Provence
3 crottins de chavignol (fresh goat’s cheese)
1 ready-rolled puff pastry round (all butter is best)
Handful of walnuts

1.  Peel and cut the onions into thin slices. Meanwhile, over a medium-low flame, melt the butter with a dash of olive oil in a sauté pan that can be transferred to the oven. Add the onions to the pan and leave to soften and cook for 20 minutes, turning only once or twice to coat the onions in the butter and oil.

2.  Preheat the oven to temperature suggested on box of puff pastry.

how to make savoury tart tatin

An upside down tart so the cheese is hidden. Woah!

3. Stir the balsamic vinegar, herbes de Provence and salt and pepper into the onions. Slice the crottins of goat cheese in half horizontally and distribute them on top of the packed caramelised onions. Top with the large disk of puff pastry, tucking it in around the sides of the pan. Prick the pastry with the fork then transfer to the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until golden.

4.  Remove from the oven. Place a plate larger than the pan over the top. Turn the tatin upside down quickly on to the plate.

Serve with a salad tossed in olive oil, balsamic vinegar and extra toasted walnuts.

best onion tarte tatin recipe with goat cheese

Make this tarte tatin with white onions, too, and serve with a chilled Sauvignon Blanc. Ideally, serve a wine from the Loire Valley since it’s The French region for goats cheeses. For a change from Sancerre, why not serve a Quincy?

That now makes two tatins at the table, ready for dinner tonight chez Ann Mah.

Bon Appétit! 

A Gourmet Weekend in Lyon

Well that took forever to post something: my kids are suddenly using this computer so much for their homework that my minutes are counted! Where was I?  Ah yes, my weekend in Lyon: it was a real treat. After experiencing Chez Hugon, a fabulously friendly Lyonnais bouchon with its traditional sausages, poulet au vinaigre and quenelles de brochet, it was time to venture out next day to discover Lyon’s sweet side.

market in Lyon

No trip to Lyon is complete without visiting Sebastien Bouillet.  I’d already seen his chocolate and macaron artistry at the Salon du Chocolat in Paris and had previously heard of his ‘MacaLyon‘, which provided inspiration for a half-dipped macaron in chocolate which is in the book.

Silk museum in Lyon

First – since we wanted a girlie weekend with a bit of culture thrown in too – we headed to La Maison des Canuts. The Canuts were the Lyonnais silk weavers who mainly worked in this hilly area of the Croix Rousse. The museum takes about 50 minutes to visit (if you do the guided tour in French) otherwise you can stroll around willy nilly while you’re left imagining the poor conditions these weavers had to work in, as if out of a scene of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables.

Sebastien Bouillet is only a ten minute walk away from the museum to the market square, at Place de la Croix-Rousse.

Sebastien Bouillet Patisserie Lyon

With the bellowing of an accordion nearby to get us into the French pâtisserie spirit, the boutique’s front was more like a make-up stand in a Parfumerie.

Chocolate lipstick by Sebastian Bouillet Lyon

Don’t be fooled: these are chocolate lipsticks from his ‘Chokola’ collection! What about some lip-smacking milk chocolate and passion fruit to hide in a handbag along with some chocolate lips, chocolate caviar… and some candied chestnuts (perhaps the latter would be messy)?

best chocolate and patisserie Sebastien Bouillet Lyon

His pastries were so inviting and at a fraction of the cost of the same kind of elegant, creative combinations you find in Paris. With only a 2 hour ride from Paris Gare de Lyon (surprise!),  I need to pop on that TGV train more often. He also runs a prestigious pastry school, Gâteau Ecole.

Best pastries at Sebastien Bouillet Lyon

His colourful array of macarons are just as tempting with inspiring flavours such as quince, chestnut, gianduja with green tea, chocolate, praline, salted caramel…. what would you choose?

macarons Sebastien Bouillet Lyon

Another culture break down the hill is well worth the visit to the Musée des Beaux-Arts, the second biggest art gallery in France after the Louvre. I love seeing the impressionists paintings of scenes taken along the river Seine.  This Sisley landscape is just up the road from us, in Marly-le-Roi. Nothing much has changed.

Alfred Sisley Marly le Roi France painting

Just next door to the Gallery is a welcome sweet neighbour, Chocolatier Voisin. Léon Voisin’s chocolate shop’s doors have been open since 1897. He created the Lyon speciality, Le Coussin de Lyon: a bright green cushion of chocolate ganache, almond paste and a hint of Curaçao. If you love marzipan like I do, this is a must!

Voisin chocolate shop in Lyon

The friendly staff at the art gallery told us to try Voisin’s delicious praline quenellesThey’re officially classed as a national delicacy as the patrimoine nationale de la confiserie.  Again nutty, they’re made with grilled hazelnuts and almonds and covered in white chocolate.

Les Coussins chocolates speciality from Lyon

I felt like a bit of Opera coming on but we’d missed the guided tour (Saturdays at 1pm) so instead we headed to rue de la République.  Or rather, we tried to.  What is it with these Smartphone map apps?  I always get lost with them.

Lyon Opera House

Instead, we found it the old-fashioned way by asking a friendly Lyonnaise the direction. Walking in Lyon is like being in Glasgow but chatting in French: the Lyonnais are so friendly they even ask where you’re heading and how they can help. It’s a long way from Paris!

Lyon pastry shops and tea salons

At 4 o’clock, it was time for another kind of Opéra, with a cup of tea. Bingo! We found our recommended Salon de Thé or tea salon at La Maison Debeaux. 

best Tea salon Maison Debaux Lyon

Their traditional pink praline tart and brioches were tempting enough but I surprised even myself by pouncing on a giant coffee macaron with mascarpone cream, the ‘Maccarpone‘. Well, macarons are gluten free, after all.

Our particularly adorable server, on the other hand, wasn’t quite in agreement with my tea order: I’d asked for one of their gastronomic teas with a petit nuage or cloud of milk. But Madame, this kind of tea shouldn’t be taken with milk. Instead he brought me some Earl Grey, or Thé à la Bergamote, and offered me the most dinkiest looking teapots filled with blue flower and jasmine tea, just for me to try.  Now that was class in a glass teapot. I missed my milk, though!

Maison Debaux best Tea Salon Lyon

When most gastronomes think of Lyon, they think of Paul Bocuse.  This time around I wanted to try the Tetedoie restaurant, run by the brilliant chef and President of the Maîtres Cuisiners de France, Christian Tetedoie. His menu, Découverte et Gourmandise, merits a post by itself but a glimpse of his sweet treats will hopefully give you an idea why I’d love to return.  This sublime dessert, caramelised pastry with green apple compôte and Granny Smith sorbet was light enough to enjoy his surprise plate of mignardises to finish off the evening – all with the most spectacular views of Lyon.

Christian Tetedoie restaurant Lyon

It was the cherry on the cake – or meringue on the macaron? – of the weekend.  This coming weekend is Lyon’s annual festival, la Fête des Lumières (5-9 December – check out their fun video on this site).  Next year we’ll need to organise another trip and discover more of Lyon’s sweet side. What do you think?

You’ll see for yourself in Lyon – it’s a treat!

 


 

Disclaimer: All tastings and financial indulgences were purely my own. Ridiculous!