Macaron Gifts for UK Mother’s Day

Each time the end of March comes around, Mother’s Day takes me by surprise. It’s not that I’m trying to be the most awful daughter in the world, it’s just that I have a French diary. French diaries plot la fête des Mères at the end of May.  UK Mother’s Day is at the end of March.  How can I forget? You’ll be telling me that Mum’s Day is different in America and Australia, too?  Er, 11th May, to be precise. Can we have a set Mother’s Day for everyone, please?

rue de Paris street sign in St Germain-en-Laye

This UK Mothering Sunday on the 11th, we won’t be together.  It’s not that we’re so far away, we just can’t pop over for a chat with tea and scones or macarons. For the past 21 years, apart from regular visits, our main shuttle has been from Paris to Edinburgh via ‘phone.

Mum’s the world’s best listener.  She’s a shoulder to cry on and the perfect hugger.  ‘You just want a warm, don’t you?’, she teases my eldest, Julie. Lucie says, ‘I love Granny’s smell’. Me too, plus the ironing smell.

rue d'Edimbourg sign in Paris

Somehow Mum is always there for her grandchildren and still for me.  She’s there in my mind when I can’t find the whatsit truc I hid in a safe place. How could I possibly scoff as a young Mum, thinking that I’d be different one day when she’d hand me a Christmas present in April, explaining that Santa had mislaid it?

rose and orange blossom macarons for Mother's Day gift

Mum’s favourite macarons: rose and orange blossom

Now that the house renovations are nearly finished, I’m going through photos and came across this one: Granny and Grandpa with the girls over on a visit to Paris about 5 years ago.  They had taken the kids to the Tuileries Gardens and just before returning on the RER, they bought ice-creams. On arrival home, naturally the kids were excited to describe the highlight of their day (yes, they are kind of food orientated) but on realising it was just before dinner, I earned my nickname, ‘The French Police’.

Paris family visit to the Tuileries Gardens

Still crying for the ice-cream!

I remember that day vividly now and can’t think about it without tears swelling.  What a jerk I was.  So, the French don’t eat between meals and I’ve become one of them?  Perhaps, but why did I ruin an evening?  Mum, I’m owe you a lifetime of macarons, on demand.

Mum’s favourite macarons are rose and orange blossom; and let’s not forget Dad’s which are lemon meringue, chocolate and milk chocolate caramel.  Thank goodness for the freezer, when I can store some in advance for any visits!

macaron gift box with pink ribbon

Next Christmas, don’t throw away greetings card boxes like this one: they make excellent macaron boxes.

Save chocolate boxes, too.  This was the perfect size for a wee present of chocolate-pistachio macarons just to say, Thank You!

pistachio and chocolate macarons in gift box

Other times I’ve dared to use an old Ladurée macaron gift box. This one was bought from our nearest ‘Capital of Sweden’ store.

macarons in a gift box home made

Other boxes I’ve collected from my visit to NYC, when I popped into NewYorkCake.com. The cellophane clear wrapping on the left is ridiculously cheap bought in a large pack (such as 50 treat bags or 100 treat bags from Wilton). Keep fancy ribbons handy and it’s a quick doggy bag treat for visitors.

dark chocolate and caramel macaron gift packs

Large carton patisserie boxes (like these cake boxes), are not only excellent for storing a large batch of macs in the fridge and, when ready to eat 24 hours later, wrap a bow around it for an elegant but speedy present.

patisserie box of chocolate macarons

Life is a box of chocolate and caramel macarons …

Funnily enough, Mum was the one who gave me these treasure chest and striped pastel paper boxes. ‘I’m sure they’ll be perfect for macarons’, she said with a sweet twinkle in her eye.

chocolate macarons in treasure paper box

dark chocolate macaron treasure!

I completely forgot about these until the other day.  I found them wrapped up carefully in a large paper bag. 
They were in a safe place.

pastel macaron gift box mixed flavours

Just perfect for her next visit.

Wishing you all a wonderfully precious Mother’s Day,

whenever it comes!

Jour du Macaron – Macaron Day 20 March 2014

With Spring officially arriving in Paris tomorrow, it’s also a sign it’s Macaron Day!

The 20 March unveils the 9th edition of the annual Jour du Macaron in Paris, initiated by pastry chef extraordinaire, Pierre Hermé, and followed by over 80 budding pastry chefs who are members of the Relais Desserts.

macaron day paris march with free tastings for charity donations

Each macaron tasted is all in a good cause…

So what’s the drill?  Give a donation for a macaron in participating boutiques.  These include Pierre Hermé, Jean-Paul Hévin, Arnaud Larher, Christophe Roussel, Laurent Duchêne, and Sadaharu Aoki.  This year in Paris, the donations shall go towards Musoviscidosis, or Cystic Fibrosis.

Each year, more and more cities and pastry boutiques take part in the event.  There’s now a Macaron Day in New York and in Toronto, for example. In London, I’m sure it’s not just Pierre Hermé’s London store taking part.

Last time I walked around the boutiques in Paris on Macaron Day,  I started at the Opéra and walked around les grands magasins, Galéries Lafayette and Printemps.  If there are too many crowds this year, I suggest you go towards the Eiffel Tower and check out Jean-Paul Hévin (23 bis, avenue de la Motte Picquet) and Christophe Roussel (10 rue du Champs de Mars) in the 7th arrondissement for a more leisurely macaron walk.

What kind of flavours are you likely to choose? Classic or adventurous?  Savoury or sweet?  Plain chocolate? Chocolate ginger? Chocolate pistachio?  Or are you more of a fruity tutti?

chocolate pistachio Parisian macaron stack

And if you’re not around any macaron boutiques that are taking part in Macaron Day, then why not make your own this weekend and sell them for your chosen charity?  Apart from Mad About Macarons recipes, here are more macaron ideas.  Go on, enjoy yourself!

Update:

Grandin Pâtisserie in St Germain-en-Laye (west of Paris) is also participating and, like many other boutiques, are continuing ‘Macaron Day’ until Saturday 22 March!

Kitchen Cupboard Organisation

“How can you find anything in here?  Why does this cupboard door not shut properly?” These questions made me shudder but they were meant well.

Life just got in the way. Correction. Cooking and baking were much more fun. I’m a fanatic at keeping things clean but I knew my mess. I knew that the rubber spatula was loitering somewhere in the middle. The only thing organised in this kitchen drawer was the bag of elastic bands, their matt rainbow colours collected from countless bundles of asparagus from the market.  It was time to do something about it when the kitchen scissors were continuously mislaid.

how to best organise kitchen drawers with organiser boxes

After becoming completely side-tracked on Pinterest, the unanimous solution was to find these little rubber, non-slip boxes (like these interlocking storage bins).  Once they were played with to size, everyone found a home.  This is when I realised just how many corkscrews we have.  How did that happen?

how to organise kitchen drawers

As you can imagine, this kitchen tidy-up was contagious.  It spread to my favourite pâtisserie drawer. It’s a deep drawer – underneath the oven – and so plastic containers made life easier to house pastry bags, different tips and ribbons for cellophane macaron gift bags.

organising a pastry baking drawer

Then it dawned on me what space I was wasting with a long, deep cupboard (50cm). It wasn’t using the space to the maximum.  It housed my favourite cookery books and the space in front was temptation for loitering post-its, pens, pencils… you get the picture.  My prized package containing Granny’s Black Book of her favourite recipes was hidden at the back.

Granny would be proud to see that her kitchen notebook filled with family scribblings is moving to my new office, complete with a secret door (more on that later; it’s nearly finished!  I’m having trouble blogging since I’ve been bluffing my way at being an interior designer for our attic conversion).

how to organise deep kitchen cupboards for maximum use - before photo what not to do

Now my Mad About Macarons books are floating.  An ingenious design, it’s so easy to install this floating bookcase – and it saves space.

floating bookshelf for Mad About Macarons

All the other recipe books are now replaced by a pull-out, sliding drawer. This valuable space can now store syrups and alcohols for cooking and baking.  Underneath, it’s an ideal nest to stack up patisserie moulds.

deep kitchen cupboard shelving for maximum use of space

The pull-out drawers (rather like this one, although I got mine from the Cooke & Lewis range at Castorama in France) are also excellent for storing heavy objects and, as a result, it’s much better for your back. They can hold a heavy crock-pot cocotte and other kitchen ‘stuff’, such as essential macaron making equipment: digital scales and an electric mixer.

deep slider cabinet organiser for kitchen pots and utensils

Baking trays were even under the pots before.  Not practical; no wonder the back was having a hard time!  With a simple change of plan, all baking sheets are now stored vertically and stay in place, thanks to a simple cut-out of non-slip kitchen drawer liner.

kitchen cupboard organisation for baking trays

Do you hide bits and bobs under the kitchen sink, too? Now, thanks to a pull-out tray on a roller (rather like this one), I can pack in all the little kitchen organisation extras.  It has changed my life!  Nothing fancy, just simple and effective.  An extra shelf was put in on the left side above our Go-Green bucket, recuperated from a shelf taken out to accommodate the sliding shelves above.

organising space under the kitchen sink cupboard

Our main kitchen cupboard is divided with all sweet baking ingredients on the left and on the right, pasta, rice, pulses and flours.  The spices can now be found easier since I got one of these extra little cupboard shelves from our nearest capital of Sweden store.

kitchen cupboard organisation with raised shelving for spices

And do you know what?  These photos were taken a few weeks ago, yet the tidy order continues!  I feel like Bree.  Or perhaps more of a French-style Brie?  Hm. That sounds rather cheesy.

Next, I’m on to all those odd socks in the laundry.  Normally I’m obsessed about macaron feet but now it’s socks and secret doors!