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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…

French Mushroom and Truffle Macarons of the Season

There has been a definite change in the air over the past 10 days around Paris.  The first sign of autumnal golden leaves are appearing. Slowly but surely.

first sign of Autumn trees

 

The sun has been shining but jings, the wind has had more of a mistral effect from the French South than anything else. When that strikes, a 20°C sunny day can feel like you’re in the north of Scotland. And I know what that feels like.

Mornings are becoming chilly; it’s time to put on that coat and admire the colourful scarves making their first fashionable autumnal appearances on the sidewalk. I’m not so sure it’s that fashionable: they’re covering up the first signs of a sore throat. The French always wear scarves to accompany throat infections. It’s vraiment cute.

wild mushrooms in the garden - not for eating

first mushroom in the garden – but not for eating!

When Jamie and Deeba posted the MacTweets Mac Attack #23 Challenge for September, it was something that brought back the warm to the cockles.  After 4 months of summer dilly-dallying, it was high time I joined in some seasonal fun.  The challenge was to celebrate the change of seasons through our passion de macarons.

giant tiramisu macarons with marsala figs

 

This past couple of weeks, we’ve been enjoying the brief period of French figs with a quick and easy fig tart and roasted marsala figs with giant coffee macarons and tiramisu cream.

 

Equinox last week seemed to have an affect on my baking habits this time, however…

… Which axis were my macarons headed for MacTweets?

mini mushroom and truffle macarons for the change of season

 

Pumpkins are gradually appearing but they are not quite there yet.  Right now the French markets are proudly displaying mountains of marvelous mushrooms in all shapes and sizes, to herald the start of Autumn.  Cepes, trompettes, pieds de mouton, girolles, champignons de Paris and chestnut mushrooms are displayed in all their glory.  We even discovered more (this time edible) mushrooms dans le jardin.

mushroom macarons growing in garden

 

Let’s take that one again…

from another angle…

Parisian macaron mushroom

A macaron mushroom!

You guessed right.  Well, I am officially Mad about Macarons, n’est-ce pas?  You are looking at cepes, chestnut mushroom and truffle macarons, inspired by the earth and its axis at this time of year en France.

I followed the same principle as the other savoury mad macs in the book regarding ratio of liquid and cornflour in the filling. I fried some chestnut and cepes mushrooms until they sweated off all their liquid and infused them into the cream, finally blitzing the whole lot and adding a dash of good quality truffle oil.  The chocolate dusting on the shells is 100% Belgian chocolate without any sugar. Don’t forget to dust the shells after airing, just before they go in the oven.

macarons mushroom out of oven

Et voilà.  I also added just a touch of cayenne in there to give it a kick. We all love macarons with feet but why not give a bit of a kick to them, too? 😉

They are great on their own served as an apéritif with hazelnuts and with a chilled white wine from the Jura, for example.  I tried this – especially as it’s the Foire aux Vins just now so need to taste if wines are any good or not before buying more – and they got the thumbs up. Or why not serve them along with some creamy mushroom soup? That certainly gets the conversation going at the dinner table.  In any case, you’ll find yourself on another axis when sharing this with friends.

mini mad mac mushroom

Life is too short to stuff a mushroom – make a mini mad mac

Thanks again to Jamie and Deeba of MacTweets for providing us macaronivores with yet another month of macaron inspiration!

Enjoy the new season!