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A Party Macaron for Macaron Day: Hibiscus, Blood Orange & Campari.

When Jamie and Deeba announced the latest MacTweet Challenge it was time for more inspiration. That’s what I also adore about macarons: with an empty canvas in front of you, it’s easy to experiment with flavours using the basic recipe. For the challenge, macaronivores were to come up with a new macaron creation to celebrate la fête du macaron (Macaron Day) on 20 March. All the signs were there to do something a bit different. The result? A macaron that’s not really sweet as such; neither is it savoury. One thing is for sure – it’s a party macaron and as addictive as ever!

I’m fascinated by this sprawling hibiscus plant. Ever since we moved it indoors during the chilly months, it didn’t seem to appreciate our company. It’s next to the TV and the piano for goodness sake, so what’s been going wrong since October with no flowers? Suddenly last week, it blooming sprouted! Could it be that my piano students are progressing so it’s getting more tunes – or is it the Six Nations’ Rugby at weekends?

I first discovered hibiscus in Egypt many moons ago when my parents-in-law were living in Alexandria. It was in the form of carcadé – a bright red infusion made with dried hibiscus flowers. I loved this thirst-quenching drink in such a heat, as long as some sugar was added to sweeten its alluring bitter taste. Then the other day when I was cleaning out a cupboard (yes, this happens sometimes), these pretty dried hibiscus flowers pleaded, Infuse me; this bottle of Campari suggested, Finish me; and the blood oranges in the fruit bowl pressed at me, Squeeze me; so I poured myself a glass with a little carcadé, Campari and finished it off with blood orange juice. I highly recommend it while preparing risotto to gradually generate a party mode, especially during the week.

Then bingo: this cool drink just winked at me and begged, “Macaron me, baby.”

I know, I know. This macaron is perhaps not quite in focus. Neither are my eyes just now but I’ve ordered new glasses so patience is the word. What’s incredible about this macaron is that it’s not really that sweet. Before Julie tried one, I warned her about it being a bit bitter but my daughter is a keen taster: no, Mum. Don’t add any more sugar but hang on, can I just have a few more to confirm?

I simply followed the filling recipe on p84 (Whisky macCoffee) but replaced the liquid with 50ml blood orange juice, 30ml hibiscus infusion and 20ml Campari.

Hibiscus, campari and blood orange macaron

The hibiscus has found its friends: Campari and blood oranges… Cheers!

Julie is right; the filling’s bitterness and the macaron shell’s sweetness is intriguing and what makes it addictive. You can even enjoy this macaron as an apéritif and it wouldn’t be out of place (except if you call it macarooooon.) I took to drinking it with a pot of Darjeeling at goûter time. Don’t you just love trying out new concoctions? Thanks to MacTweets for the inspiration and Happy Macaron Day to all you macaronivores on 20th March. If anyone is in Paris, contact me and we’ll go on a macaronathon together to try out the goods! Kick-off at 10am at Pierre Hermé, Opéra…