Macarons Going Green and a Sham that Rocks

This past week we’ve seen many green posts in the bloggosphere for St Patrick’s Day.  As last week we went yellow with mimosa, then why not green this week to celebrate St Patrick’s Day and the continuation of Spring?  After all, the buds are now on the trees so greens are gradually popping out just as the locals are coming out of winter hibernation like les Champignons de Paris.

St Patrick is to Ireland what St Andrew is to Scotland.  Yet the St P green is so much more popular: St Andrews is better known as a golf course (there are greens there, too.) 😉 So here’s a piped round-up of the greener macarons:

From a pistachio macaron classic to pistachio and dark chocolate macarons

pistachio chocolate macarons

Pistachio-chocolate macarons, brushed with melted dark chocolate

…to a pistachio macaron with a surprisingly different twist: pistachio, white chocolate and wasabi.  This is my daughter, Julie’s favourite and I have to admit, I also find this one rather addictive with a pot of green tea.

pistachio wasabi macarons

Pistachio, white chocolate & wasabi macarons

In a couple of editorial reviews, ParisPatisseries commented, …”Thai Green Curry Macaron, anyone? There are some so adventurous that even Pierre Hermé’s wilder creations would seem tame by comparison.”  On the other hand, Elizabeth Luard from Scotsman Living.com loved the others but mentioned, “Thai green curry might be a bit too Blumenthal for me.”  It’s like music: totally subjective but I personally LOVE it.  The spicier the better!

The Thai Green Curry Macaron is rather adventurous and definitely something different with a Gin & Tonic for an apéritif.  Sorry, I should say Guinness here to keep on the Irish theme, but it honestly wouldn’t go as well as with a G&T or a glass of chilled Gewürtzraminer.  Try an Irish lager, though. 😉

macaron shamrock

Macaron shamrock? More like a sham but it rocks! Green thai curry macarons are HOT…

All the above are included in the book.  If you’re getting sick of seeing green, then don’t forget that there’s an Irish Coffee macaron, too. 😉

But here’s another of my latest experiments with flavours. We had some fun with this one on Facebook yesterday! Don’t scream, please don’t run away.

This is actually delicious.  It works.  I got the idea from a recent trip to South Africa, where I discovered Rooibos Tea.  I now drink this so much since it’s not just tasty but caffeine free, a great antioxidant and you can even add a dash of milk to it like the normal stuff.  Talking about it to a lovely South African lady,  she explained that her mother used to give her a popular infusion of rooibos with rosemary anytime she was down and needed a lift.  Now THAT needed investigation.  With an enormous rosemary bush in my herb garden, I set about preparing rosemary macaron shells…

rosemary macaron shells

Rosemary macaron shells

Hmm.  Don’t ask me why I added the chocolate, but I just felt like it.  Perhaps it was one of these moments when my system was shouting, “Gimme magnesium!  Gimme chocolate and LOTS of it.  RIGHT NOW!” So I infused the rooibos tea into the ganache cream to add a wonderfully slightly earthy, smoky taste of the tea to the dark chocolate.  The rosemary was also infused into the cream: just a sprig but enough to give a hint of it without being overpowering.  Now I understand that bit about this concoction being a pick-me-up!  So, here are Rosemary, Rooibos and Dark Chocolate Macarons

rosemary, rooibos chocolate

Rosemary, rooibos & chocolate macarons

Before you go, just a quick reminder about the Booksigning Event this weekend.  If anyone is in Paris on Saturday 19 March, please do pop in to say bonjour at Brentano’s American Bookstore between 15h-17h (address details are on the Event page).  It would be great to see you!

STAY TUNED for Sunday 20th March, when I’ll be posting something special for the Fête du Macaron!

Japan macaron flag

Our thoughts are with Japan…

This past week it has been devastating to watch all that has been going on in Japan.  It almost seemed silly to write a blog post this week, but it was ready to roll for St Patrick’s Day today so please excuse my normal weekly banter.

Thanks to some food blogger friends, such as  Manu from Manu’s Menu and Visda from Eat, Drink and Just Be!, here are some sites where you can donate to the Japan crisis:

International Salvation Army

Médecins sans frontières

Amercian Red Cross

British Red Cross

Stand with Japan.org (Direct Relief International)

March into Spring with Mimosa Macarons

This past week the weather in Paris has given us hope for Spring.  Morning frost has quickly surrendered to Azur skies, sweeter air and rays of sunshine are gradually pulling us out of any winter depressions starting to take hold.  Crocuses and electric yellow bushes of forsythia are suddenly announcing that Paris is marching into Spring.  OK, I can just hear you breaking into song with Ella Fitzgerald’s “I love Paris in the Springtime”…

forsythia bush

Forsythia giving their electric glow for Spring

With Antoine travelling for a while, there was less motivation to cook, however. 🙁 Where’s the violin?   So I cheered myself up with a bright and cheery bunch of mimosa flowers.

Many of us know of a Mimosa as a Champagne cocktail mixed with fresh orange juice (in the UK we call it a Bucks Fizz).  I personally love a Grand Mimosa with a touch of Grand Marnier in there, too (that managed to cheer me up as well ;-)).   There’s even a Grandaddy Mimosa, adding rum and lemon juice… Now that sounds my kind of tipple!   In France, you may have heard of oeufs mimosa: a classic, simple dish served as a starter and great for Easter.  It’s basically hard boiled eggs, halved with the egg yolk scooped out and mixed with mayonnaise, crushed garlic and parsley then stuffed back into the egg cavity.  Sound familiar?  When I was little it wasn’t as posh as the French version.  Two hb egg halves were turned upside down and dolloped with Heinz salad cream and sprinkled with une touche de paprika.  No comment.  Well, perhaps yes.  Sorry, Mum.  I now owe you a box of mimosa macarons…

box mimosa macarons Jill

Anyone for a mimosa macaron?

Back to my bunch of mimosa flowers, though.  Little did I appreciate just how strong the mimosa scent was and the house smelled of its perfume for days, even though its ephemeral blossom had dried out so quickly.  I couldn’t believe how this simple bunch of yellow mini pompoms could also have such a postive mental effect.  There’s even a Mimosa Festival in the South of France which takes place mid to end February with spectacular mimosa floats.  Can you just imagine how that would smell?

Then I remembered that Ladurée had a beautiful mimosa macaron display in their Champs Elysées boutique window last year.  SO why not make some myself?  I’m now on a roll to make new flavours and experiment again!

mimosa macaron pompom Jill

Mimosa macarons: a touch of Paris in the Springtime

Surfing on meilleurduchef.com I was excited to see they even had a mimosa aroma.  So I added a few drops to the macaron shells.

infusing mimosa

infusing mimosa for the buttercream filling

Using the tutti frutti macaron recipe (p.83) as a basis for the filling,  I instead infused some mimosa into the full cream milk for 10 minutes.  It was amazing how the milk turned bright yellow.  I then added a teaspoon of the aroma to the buttercream at the end.  The result?

bitten mimosa macaron

Crispy meringue on the outside, fondant in the middle

They were delicious and surprisingly subtle for such a strong-tasting buttercream.  After 24 hours, they had turned perfectly soft inside with the characteristic crispy meringue on the outside.  Bliss with a pot of Darjeeling tea, so not to overpower the flavour of the macaron.   As a perfectionist, however, I would double the amount of mimosa used to infuse in the cream for next time.  To make a macaron taste of the flavour, the filling does need to be pretty concentrated.

pompom macaron mimosa Jill

Mimosa pompom macaron

Alas it’s the end of the short mimosa season, but there’s still time for you to give it a go!  Next year I must get to the mimosa festival, though.

Opera near Brentanos

Brentano’s bookstore is on the Avenue de l’Opera, Paris (see Events)

Before you go, I’m so excited to annouce my booksigning on Saturday 19th March at Brentano’s American Bookstore in Paris.  The next day is the Fête du macaron but as it’s a Sunday the bookstore will be closed.  So if you’re in Paris, start off the macaron weekend fun between 3-5pm on Saturday. Brentano’s is just next door to Pierre Hermé if you’re needing a macaron fix.  I look forward to seeing you next weekend!

Chestnuts! From pancakes & ice-cream to macarons…

This weekend we took a stroll along the Seine en famille.  It was still pretty chilly but we needed a walk, some quality time together and a wee dose of Paris.  One of the typical scenes in this cold weather is the sellers of roasted chestnuts by the side of the road and at the exits of some popular metro stations.

Roasted Chestnuts Paris

Selling roasted chestnuts in Paris

As the glacial wind threatens to whisk any colour out of your cheeks, the welcoming aromas of roasted chestnuts waft around the metro stairs as you surface to street level.  My girls were just so excited.  “Mummy, pleeeease can we have a poke of roasted chestnuts?  You’re such an angel, the best Mum in the world…“

Yeh, right.  At 5 euros a poke they needed to enjoy them 😉  Am I getting cynical or what?  In any case, it’s true that there’s no other creamy, rich taste than roasted chesnuts.  Full of flavour, they’re ideal for adding to the traditional poultry stuffings we have in the UK and US.

roasted chestnuts

What? 5 euros for a poke?

In France it’s not used as a stuffing as such but either served roasted with vegetables or as a purée alongside poultry.  It’s funny:  we live in Le Pecq, outside Paris, where Alexandre Dumas (Three Musketeers fame) built his extravagant Château de Monte Cristo.  His other passion – or Violon d’Ingres – was cooking and opulent entertaining. In the Château’s museum we see examples from his “Grande Dictionnaire de Cuisine” which mentions puréed chestnuts served with pork sausages.  We often forget, though, that chestnuts are just as good in desserts for that something un peu différent.

Clement Faugier

Here in France, we’re lucky that the chestnut comes in different forms for baking.  Clément Faugier from the Ardèche makes a wicked candied chestnut (marron glacé) and vanilla spread.  Typically, we use it for dolloping on fromage blanc to give it a sticky-toffee-creamy-nutty flavour, which is so handy when we don’t often have time to even THINK of making dessert, especially when hungry children are concerned… and it’s a healthy sweet, full of calcium.

chestnut puree and fromage blanc

Chestnut paste with fromage blanc

I often throw a 100g tin when making a typical 500ml batch of ice-cream (see p.125 of book for recipe).  I’m an ice-cream lover: not just because it’s often handy to have a quick gourmet dessert when needed, but it also uses up many egg yolks.  That way I’m a happy bunny with plenty of whites stocked up for making macarons. 😉

chestnut ice-cream

Homemade chestnut ice-cream

Who could resist a melting scoop of chestnut vanilla ice-cream on warm crêpes or pancakes?  We certainly have plenty of excuses to make them following US pancake week and in anticipation of next week’s Mardi Gras or Shrove Tuesday.  Who doesn’t like a good pancake now and again?  Here we serve Crêpes.  In Scotland we also have Scotch Pancakes.  As my husband is from Corsica, where chestnut flour is one of the basic elements in baking, I love using some chestnut flour we brought back from his mountain village last summer.

Corsican Chestnut Flour

Corsican Chestnut Flour

Corsican chestnut flour is pretty strong and so a little goes a long way.  As chestnuts are already quite powdery in nature, the flour is uniquely intense. Typically we use it to make a rustic Corsican Chestnut Cake (my mother-in-law serves it at breakfast but being Scottish I do prefer this at goûter time with a pot of tea.  Well, nobody’s perfect :-))  I do, however, love adding a little chestnut flour to  Scotch Pancakes for a New Alliance.  Here’s my recipe for Scotch  Corsican Pancakes.

You can just whip them up in next to no time and serve warm with plenty of honey (Scottish Heather Honey or Corsican honey, so no favouritism!) Or try drizzled with warmed Whisky marmalade: chestnut and bitter orange go so well together.  I’m not going to influence you but the Corsicans also have a wonderful Chestnut liqueur, so I love to add a tablespoon to pancakes, muffins, brownies, cannelés, macarons, or just in a glass on its own… Oh and there’s the Corsican beer, Pietra:  it’s brewed with chestnuts and has a unique smoky taste.

Scotch Pancakes

Scotch Pancakes Corsican Style

How could I finish off without even talking about a macaron or two? As you can understand, I’m not allowed to share my macaron recipes with you, as the rights belong to Waverley Books.  C’est normal. You’ll just have to buy the book! 😉  But I can leave you with a few photos now and again…  Here are some Sticky Toffee Pudding macarons (gluten free).

chestnut macarons

Chestnut macarons

Before you go, I’m thrilled to say that Manuela from Manu’s Menu has honoured Le Blog with an award.  Gosh, there are times when it feels you’re posting out to a vast empty void so this Lovely Blog Award makes it feel like I’m doing something ok.  Grazie Mille, Manu!  Thanks also for helping me out with the image (she’s not just clever in the kitchen but a whizz on the internet, too.)  Check out her step-by-step mouthwatering recipes on her blog and you’ll become master in the art of Italian cooking, prestissimo!

Bonne semaine!

Update (January 2012): Recipe now posted for Sweet Chestnut Ice Cream

Scotch Corsican Pancakes with Chestnut Flour

Wanting something a bit different for pancake day? These Scotch Corsican Pancakes are just the thing: I’ve added a delicious Corsican twist to the classic drop scone or Scotch pancake with chestnut flour and orange.

Scotch Corsican Pancakes with chestnut flour

 

Scotch pancakes are also known as drop scones or griddle cakes.  To keep Corsican hubby happy, I came up with an Auld Alliance version, merging the two nations in a simple pancake. Here I’ve made them slightly different with the addition of chestnut flour, which is a typical rustic flour used in Corsican cuisine and easily found in our health food stores.  It just adds a nutty, rich texture and goes beautifully when paired with orange.  Serve warm with plenty of honey and/or warmed marmalade for something special. Adding a touch of Corsican liqueur just gives a subtle kick to the flavour.

For more recipes using chestnut flour or sweetened vanilla chestnut paste, check out the following:

Scotch Corsican Pancakes

Wanting something a bit different for pancake day? These Scotch Corsican Pancakes are just the thing: I’ve added a delicious Corsican twist to the classic drop scone or Scotch pancake with chestnut flour and orange. See printable recipe below.

Makes 12 pancakes

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Resting Time: 30 minutes (put your feet up & have a cup of tea..)
Cooking Time: 10 minutes

70g plain flour
45g chestnut flour
2 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
30g butter, melted
2 tbsp caster sugar
1 large organic egg
1 tbsp Corsican Chestnut Liqueur (or Grand Marnier)*
1 tsp grated zest of an unwaxed orange
120ml milk

  1. Sift the flours, sugar, baking powder & salt in a large bowl.
  2. Make a well in the centre.  Whisk in the melted butter, the egg, orange zest, the liqueur (if using*) and gradually add in the milk until thick and creamy.  Set aside the mixture for 30 minutes so that the glutens in the flour expand.  This will make your pancakes light and fluffy (which I didn’t do for the photos here.  I was in a rush to run the kids back to school at lunch and you can see they’re as flat as a pancake.  30 mins rest does make a difference).
  3. Lightly grease a griddle/pancake pan or heavy frying pan and preheat it.
  4. Cook in batches.  Drop the equivalent of 4 spoonfuls of the mixture spaced apart over medium heat for 3 minutes until bubbles rise to the surface and burst.
  5. Turn the pancakes over and cook for a further 2 minutes.

* If you don’t want to use alcohol, replace the liqueur with orange flower water.

 

Scotch Pancakes

Turn over the pancakes once you see the bubbles bursting

Scotch Corsican Pancakes

Scotch Pancakes (Drop Scones) with Corsican Chestnut Flour

 

Update: I’m still learning: I should have just lumped these Scotch Corsican Pancakes with the blethery blog post on one page. So if it’s the chatter you’re after, see le blog: Chestnuts! From Pancakes to Ice Cream to Macarons…

Scotch Corsican Pancakes
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
20 mins
 

Fancy something a bit different for pancake day? These Scotch Corsican Pancakes are just the thing: I've added a Corsican twist to the classic drop scone or Scotch pancake with chestnut flour and orange.

Course: Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: British, French, Scottish
Servings: 4 people (calorie serving: 3 each)
Calories: 350 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 70 g (2.5oz) plain flour
  • 45 g (1.5oz) chestnut flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 30 g (1oz) butter melted
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 large organic egg
  • 1 tbsp Corsican Chestnut Liqueur or Grand Marnier*
  • 120 ml (4oz) milk
  • 1 tsp grated orange zest (unwaxed orange)
Instructions
  1. Sift the flours, sugar, baking powder & salt in a large bowl.

  2. Make a well in the centre.  Whisk in the melted butter, egg, orange zest, the liqueur (if using*) and gradually add in the milk until thick and creamy.  Set aside the mixture for 30 minutes so that the glutens in the flour expand.  This will make your pancakes light and fluffy (which I didn't do for the photos here.  I was in a rush to run the kids back to school at lunch and you can see they're as flat as a pancake.  30 mins rest does make a difference).

  3. Lightly grease a griddle/pancake pan or heavy frying pan and preheat it.
  4. Cook in batches.  Drop the equivalent of 4 spoonfuls of the mixture spaced apart over medium heat for 3 minutes until bubbles rise to the surface and burst.
  5. Turn the pancakes over and cook for a further 2 minutes.
Recipe Notes

* If you don't want to use alcohol, replace the liqueur with orange flower water (fleur d'oranger).

If not eating straight away, stack on a plate and cover with a clean tea towel.

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com