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Christmas Macaron Tree & New Email Alert Service!

At last!  Many of you have been asking me to bring back the email alerts since I took it down due to spam problems. So here’s my Christmas present to you, thanks to Cédric Bonnard my web guru, who helped me get a brand new one up and running!  Now you need never miss a blog post – just click the pink email notification button in that right hand corner —>
or sign up here to receive updates to le blog or recipes – and you can choose whether to receive them daily or weekly!

It has all been a bit crazy the last few days.  I was so hoping to make a second bûche de Noël as, by the time I’d finished it, it was so dark and I gave up on photos and just enjoyed it with the family!  Now that we’re leaving for Corsica to spend time with Antoine’s family, there’s no time left. I shall be better organised for you next year, promise.

Merry christmas macaron tree

When I realised I had some egg whites left, I piped out a batch of 3 different sizes of pistachio macarons  (a bit quickly, I have to say) then simply sandwiched them with decadent layers of pistachio pastry cream (using egg yolks so now I have more egg whites I can freeze before I go!).

I made a big one for the photos here but simply 3 macaron layers are sufficient. If you want to be more organised, then ideally have the macaron shells prepared in advance (even stored in the freezer) and prepare the trees at the last minute. Decorate with berries of your choice.

All details about making macarons are in my first book, Mad About Macarons – but don’t forget that there’s a whole chapter on making macarons in my new book, Teatime in Paris, plus more recipes for éclairs, Réligieuses, Saint-Honorés, tarts, millefeuilles, financiers etc.

Merry Christmas Macaron tree

Don’t forget to dust on some food glitter – something which has stuck to my cell phone, as I quickly took photos of it for Instagram…  It’s catching!

Have a very Merry Christmas and good luck with all your delicious preparations.  Before I leave, I’ll post my new concoction – a great festive dessert to serve with your salted caramel macarons – Apple Gingerbread and Caramel Trifles, coming up next…

New Email Alert Service – Daily or Weekly

Don’t forget to sign up to the new e-mail alert service so that you don’t miss a post.  You can even choose whether to receive it as it comes (daily) or weekly!  How cool is that?

Colouring and Pistachio Macarons

When I found myself preparing photos for Mad About Macarons within a short deadline, I wanted something a bit different for a pistachio macaron shot. Tossing in my sleep one hot night I hit on an idea: ice cream? I rushed first thing next morning to our local Gelateria Amareno in St Germain-en-Laye, asked the owner if I could borrow an ice cream cone stand and ran off with it – leaving him with a cheque just to prove I’d return it.  He thought I was NUTS. Little did he know I was almond and pistachio nuts and definitely mad about them in macaron form.

Pistachio and pistachio-white chocolate-wasabi macarons from the book

As many friends, family and colleagues would tell me they couldn’t even attempt to make macarons as they were difficult, I was on a mission to help combat their macaron stumbling block.  The aim of the book is therefore aimed at beginners to get perfect macarons with simple instructions. This means keeping the recipe straight forward too. For the pistachio recipe, the pistachios are all in the filling: the ganache or cream rests in the shells for at least 24 hours before eating them so that it permeates into the shell, making the whole macaron take on the flavours and take on a wonderful fondant finish inside.

Tip: Almonds are the least oily of nuts and easier to work with for making macarons. As pistachios – like other nuts – can be oily, I would recommend if you’re going to use ground (unsalted) pistachios in the shells, to substitute a third of the ground almonds for pistachios (or other nuts.)

Arnaud Lahrer’s pistachio and cherry macarons, finished with food colouring spray

It never ceases to amaze me in pâtisseries in Paris just how different pistachio macaron colourings can vary. Call me a snob, but I prefer to have pistachio macarons the colour of ground pistachios.  Gerard Mulot in Paris, for example, does fabulous pistachio macarons in flavour but just look at the colour…

Here, Café Pouchkine and Acide Macaron have a pistachio macaron with orange flower water. Both delicious perfection and different colouring ideas.

Acide and Pouchkine’s pistachio macarons

Not completely pistachio, but if you’ve tried Hermé’s Mosaïc macaron, you get the pistachio in between cinnamon shells and with a black cherry that winks at you. Great for cinnamon lovers, since it stands out plus the pistachio colour is pistachio.

So what colouring do I use? I prefer powdered colourings, as a tiny amount is needed in comparison to liquid colourings, which can affect the meringue if you add too much liquid.  For pistachio, use a good pinch of green colouring with a tiny pinch of brown or caramel to soften the green. (I say a pinch, as so little is needed. You’ll see for yourself: if you use a teaspoon or even half, it’s too much.) 3 parts green to 1 part brown or caramel colouring.

Previously, I ordered powdered colourings at meilleurduchef.com and at MORA in rue Montmartre in Paris – until I discovered Déco Relief just across the road from Mora.  The staff are delightful and eager to please, which in my book deserves customers.  So, my friends, I recommend you pop in to see Djamel at Déco Relief, 6 rue Montmartre, and tell him I sent you. His colleague is a great fan of Glasgow in Scotland! Yes, like the Scots, they are chatty.

As Antoine isn’t a fan of cinnamon, he asked just for plain pistachio macarons the other day.  Nothing fancy but they were delicious. Sitting back, looking at the summer rain with an espresso and contemplating our driving holiday in a just as wet and cool England.  There’s nothing else for it but to eat and drink, don’t you think?

Cheers! So did you get the answer in the previous post about the Mosaïc macaron?

The Heat is on: Pistachio, Vanilla and Wasabi Ice Cream

Are you feeling the heat? You’re lucky. Mid July in Paris and we’re thinking of putting the heating on indoors as we watch the torrential rain. At least there’s no need to worry about sunburn and slapping on the sunscreen. On the other hand, I’m seeing poor friends having to deal with soaring, sky-high, sweltering temperatures.

While our American friends are enduring the worst drought since 1956, they’re hopefully enjoying National Ice Cream month, at least. Although we’re not craving ice cream just now as much as we should in Paris, I have a solution for our differences in temperatures. Needing something ice cold? Needing ice cream but with some heat? Here’s my solution: Pistachio, Vanilla and Wasabi Ice Cream.

One of my favourite French chefs is William Ledeuil of Ze Kitchen Galérie in Paris (and KGB). He makes the most incredible dessert consisting of a white chocolate and wasabi ice cream and serves it with a pistachio and green tea sauce, fresh strawberries and either crumble or wasabi meringues. The flavour combination is simply incredible!

I have been experimenting with the flavours that he concocts in his grand finale but twiddling with my own recipes at home. Instead I’ve put the flavours into just one ice cream to make it simple – after all, I’m a lazy gourmet!  I replaced the white chocolate with egg yolks (as macaronivores, we need the whites for macarons!) The result is a gluten free dessert, full of interesting flavours.

Pistachio-wasabi ice cream. Are you making a face?

Recipe Pistachio, Vanilla and Wasabi Ice Cream

200ml coconut milk (small carton)
300ml whole milk
50g ground pistachios
1 vanilla pod
1 tsp pistachio extract
pinch green and brown food colouring
(3 parts green, 1 brown)
5 egg yolks
100g caster sugar
4 tsp powdered milk
15g wasabi paste

1. Heat the milk, coconut milk and pistachios in a heavy-based pan with the vanilla pod which is cut in two lengthways. Bring to the boil, and turn off the heat for the vanilla to infuse in the creamy milk for 5-10 minutes.

2. Cream together the egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add the powdered milk, wasabi paste and pistachio extract and mix well.

3. Scrape out the seeds from the vanilla pod and add to the yolk cream. Discard the pod from the warmed coconut-milk and add the food colouring.

3. Pour the creamy milk onto the egg mixture whisking continuously. Return the mixture to the pan on a medium heat, whisking constantly until the custard thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Set the mixture aside to cool.

4. Once cool, place in the fridge for 1-2 hours before pouring into an ice cream maker to churn according to your ice cream maker.

Serve on fresh strawberries with pistachio macarons on the side.

Pistachio Vanilla Wasabi Ice Cream recipe

If you feel like a double intriguing wasabi wham – enjoy this with Pistachio, White Chocolate and Wasabi macarons (recipe on p65 of the book.)

How much wasabi can you eat to feel the heat?