Happy New Year! Wishing you the best of health, happiness and may all your sweet dreams come true in 2018.
To kick off the year, here’s a batch of dark chocolate macarons made with a splash of Whisky Liqueur (Drambuie) just to have an excuse to say Cheers to you! Santé ! Sláinte!
It’s easy to reproduce them yourself at home. Grab a copy of my book, Teatime in Paris, then simply flick to the Macaron Recipe chapter and follow the instructions for the Chocolate, Honey & Orange Blossom Macarons. Just replace the orange blossom with a Whisky Liqueur (I used Drambuie, which has a herbal honey flavour to it) or your favourite Whisky for a wee kick.
Are you a keen baker, love macarons but haven’t yet made them? Then make 2018 your year of le macaron!
The Auld Alliance: France & Scotland
As some of you may have seen on Instagram/Facebook, I’ve been looking for many ways to celebrate since in December, I became a French citizen. Do I feel different? Well, yes. Bah ouiii! I should have done this years ago but now I’m finally able to vote full-monty-on in France; like many of my fellow ex-pats, it’s something I wasn’t able to do as a British citizen abroad during the UK Brexit elections. So now I have more of an identity, including an official French Carte d’Identité and been so emotional, that I’ve had quite a frog in my throat. As I’ve kept my British-Scottish nationality, it’s leading me to post more French and Scottish recipes here – it’s surprising how much they have in common. Although I’m called Mad About Macarons, don’t be put off – I post all kinds of different recipes here, including the ‘sweeter’ recipes reduced in sugar.
The Scots particularly loved their Bordeaux wines, known as Claret or Clairet, as the much-awaited barrels arrived in Edinburgh’s Leith Docks. But Bordeaux is also just as famous for their Canelé teacakes, found in many Parisian bakeries. Made with egg yolks (the whites were used for the wine), vanilla and rum, you’ll also find an easy recipe for them in Teatime in Paris.
Before I post the first recipes and blog articles for 2018, here are just a few snapshots while spending Christmas with my family in Scotland. We were lucky to arrive on Christmas Eve and enjoy the ambience of Edinburgh’s award-winning Christmas Market.
The Christmas Market flows over not just one but THREE levels in East Princes Street Gardens, around the Scot Monument. Stalls of fragrant festive spices in all shapes and forms greet passers-by, along with tartan reindeer and other beautiful crafts, plus ample opportunities to stop for a mug of mulled wine or cider in between rides for all ages.
If you haven’t been to ‘Edinburgh’s Christmas‘, then mark it on your bucket list: it includes shows, free events, Santa’s Grotto, ice sculptures – just to name a few. Following on to George Street after ice-skating in St Andrew’s Square, this dazzling construction below – again encasing more opportunities for a Christmas tipple from a Whisky Liqueur to RumChata Hot Chocolate – lures the more adventurous to the Drop Tower next door.
Last year my daughter, Lucie, was so excited to be whirled around high above the Scot Monument on the Star Flyer but this year the even more daunting tower certainly made our jaws drop – and that was just looking on!
As we looked on in disbelief at her few minutes of screaming and waving her legs about towering over Edinburgh, cocktails beckoned in one of the many chic establishments in George Street before heading back home to continue the festive fun with the rest of the family.
The following days involved plenty of flambéd Christmas Puddings with brandy butter and custard from talented dessert whizzes Auntie Catherine, and my adorable sis-in-law – who laid on extra entertainment of chasing chickens off the road back into the neighbours’ garden in Kinross.
Epiphany in France – A Feast of the Kings
Now that we’re back in France, the festivities continue with Epiphany, the Feast of the Kings or Twelfth Night this weekend (what January diet? I never diet!) Traditionally, this puff pastry almond-frangipane-filled dessert contains a lucky favour (fève), and the person who gets it becomes King or Queen for the day. Perhaps that’s why we don’t just celebrate it this weekend only: like most of the French do, we’ll no doubt be continuing with this cutting, tasting and crowning until the end of January! There are so many different creative versions to try out.
For more explanation on the Galette des Rois and a line-up from many top pastry chefs in Paris, see my post here. Although written two years ago, many of the galettes remain the same in the Parisian bakery windows – including my own homemade recipe. You knew it was coming … the recipe is in Teatime in Paris!
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