Life is a Macaron – or a Meringue?

How often have you lain in bed wide awake at 3am, cogitating your lists mentally, ready to take on the world – until slumber hits at 6am and when the alarm has the audacity to scream brightly, there is no way on earth you can drag these bones out from the cosy duvet?

How many times have you got up on the wrong side of the bed and wished you could start the day over?  It’s no use crying over spilled milk. Even if it was my favourite mug, or that one of the girls reached out in a greedy moment to grab the Nutella jar and it landed crash bang on my precious hand-painted plate by Anna Young in Hermanus, as she immortilised the moment of a Southern Right whale jumping out of the water in South Africa’s famous whale town.

Kitchen floor quiche. That’s a new one on the menu…

Before the school holidays, my savoury contribution to the end-of-term party was a quick and easy bacon-asparagus quiche. So speedy, that half of it jumped out of my burned fingers trying to juggle a large plate, foil and a schoolbag. They ended up getting the other quiche half and a huge bag of crisps. Can you imagine the children’s teacher/Maîtresse holding it up at the front of the class? “Les enfants – this is the contribution from whom?” Aha. Your Mum is Scottish? Don’t worry, dear.

C’est la vie, I know, but these scenarios have been recurring too often recently. Could it just be the change of winter to spring? Becoming another year older? Worrying about the upcoming French Presidential Elections and what the results mean for our family? Contemplating our house project? Adding and subtracting new ideas to the upcoming new book? Excited about Mad About Macarons’ 4th reprint and release of its second edition?

I’m a sensitive cookie. Big time. It can also take one short book review that says something totally grumpy and I’m up most of the night upset about it. It’s the second time I’ve read someone groaning that it’s their first ever macaron book and say, “…but the shells are all the same!” Well, please don’t get upset about it. C’est normal. You’ve got a simple recipe and a recipe that works! Why complicate things?

If anyone knows their macarons, they’ll tell you that the secret in the flavours is in the fillings. Ask Pierre Hermé. Sure, now and again you can add vanilla, coffee powder, any kind of flavouring to the shells, but keep it simple. The secret in a good macaron is that it’s the filling that packs a punch in taste. In the essential 24 hours that you need to wait before eating one, the macaron magic takes place: the filling permeates into the shell, making the centre incredibly fondant while the outside remains lightly crisp. The fragrance takes a hold of the whole macaron.

Voilà. Mini macaron lecture over. On the other hand, it’s incredibly gratifying to read so many wonderful reviews, when the sweetest souls take the trouble to share their excitement, exclaiming how they can’t believe they can make macarons at home themselves. See? It’s not as difficult as you think! What’s more, it’s fun watching these feet form as you dance in amazement in front of the oven. Then when you take that first heavenly bite, it’s love. It’s amour. It’s Paris.

I’ll leave you with this last image. It’s how I feel when even acupuncture couldn’t provide the turbo I was needing: a meringue stuck in a white chocolate mousse with rose and orange blossom. As this extra portion was left overnight, the meringue drooped.  Like macarons, humidity isn’t on their side. Fatigue isn’t on mine but I do love how it looks like some animal with its praline tongue hanging out!

As you’re reading this, I’m far away from ze kitchen. I’m on a beach and with any luck, soaking up the customary sun to accompany it, staring at that ball in the sky like a stuffed lizard. Or instead rejoicing for frogs or ducks with their ideal weather, as we play with the hotel’s grotty Scrabble set indoors as we stare at the rain skipping on the swimming pool, wondering why I booked so early and so couldn’t be at the London Book Fair. Cheers to revamped, positive thoughts and living the sweet life of a macaron.

See you next week, my friends –

bright eyed, bushy tailed and positively recharged!

40 replies
  1. thoma
    thoma says:

    I hope I’ll remember it all while I jot it down here.

    First of all congrats on an eclectic post like this; few have mixed so many ingredients in one post!

    You should tell me how you reacted when it broke! Only today I bought a hand painted blue white plate/plaque and oh these are beautiful.

    Second ed! CONGRATS! I’m way behind you Jill. Neither have I read your book nor have I tried a macaron. I think I should wait for Alice to turn three ( a year from now). Then I can hopefully read your third or fourth or fifth ed ;p

    Praline tongue! You said it! So Jillish that was!

    Hope I haven’t left out anything!

    • Jill
      Jill says:

      Thoma, you cracked me up with your comment – never mind the plate! Well of course, I told my daughter that accidents can happen and don’t worry – but then when I got over the kind part I nagged her into jolly well looking at what she’s doing in future (she was Jilled!) Thanks for your kind words.

  2. Jacqueline@HowtobeaGourmand
    [email protected] says:

    ‘Kitchen Floor Quiche – that’s a new one on the menu” – Priceless 🙂
    It’s great that given the stressful periods you’ve kept your sense of humour.
    Hope you have a fantastic break Jill. Look forward to reading more entries on your return.

  3. Kiri W.
    Kiri W. says:

    I love that chessboard picture! 🙂
    I second all the recommendations to take the rest. Sometimes that is what you need, and no amount of good will will change that. Breathe, and things will improve!

    • Kiri W.
      Kiri W. says:

      Hi Jill,
      I’m sorry, I can’t find your email address, so I’m commenting again, here. I was just wondering whether you would be at all willing to guest post for me if you have time. I completely understand if you are not interested or too busy, but I figured asking can’t hurt! 🙂 If you would consider, my email address is
      Thank you so much!

  4. parisbreakfast
    parisbreakfast says:

    Enjoy every minute of yr vacace Dahlink!
    Yr plate is always full…unless it’s falling on the ground : )
    I get up at 3 am so I can’t imagine cogitating lists mentally. I’m doing them.
    Right now it’s past my bedtime but I;m painting a portrait of 4 chickens at the Eiffel Tower.
    Go figure
    watch out for that sun
    cheers carolg

  5. Kim Bee
    Kim Bee says:

    Enjoy the sun and down time Jill. I wish I was right there with you. I am going to make an attempt at macarons. I’ve never made them so it should be interesting. And my dear mini-me knocks stuff over daily. She also walks into walls. One week she spilled pop on my computer 3 times. Some days I just sigh, others I want to scream. But I figure it’s just stuff. She’s just like her mama, I can’t take two steps without stubbing my toe.

  6. Choc Chip Uru
    Choc Chip Uru says:

    I am very happy you are going to relax and enjoy yourself my friend – after your book’s success, you deserve it 😀
    And grumpy reviewers? They are daft I tell you!

    Choc Chip Uru

  7. Jill
    Jill says:

    Thank you so much for these wonderful, uplifting comments while I’m away. I’m frustrated as I can’t respond to each individually, as my computer connection keeps cutting off here and hubby is getting at me for even checking in – can you believe it? Love your comments, merci beaucoup. Hugs, Jill xo

  8. Ivy
    Ivy says:

    Your post made me laugh: “Aha. Your Mum is Scottish?” Great humour.
    I’ve had lots of sleepless nights but mainly due to menopause:) Don’t pay attention to silly comments. Your book is perfect and look forward to your new one. Have a great vacation!

  9. Parsley Sage
    Parsley Sage says:

    I adore the droopy meringue. It’s so appropriate. Don’t let those grumpy reviewers get you down! Have they published a book? I highly doubt it. Haters gotta hate 😉

  10. Jamie
    Jamie says:

    Enjoy your well-deserved holiday, ma chère! But hurry back to us! And yes, those kinds of disasters, those kinds of days always do seem to happen one after the other in quick succession and then we need to run away and enjoy a lie on the beach or a roam through a new town. And I love the “oh, your mom’s Scottish?” – how many times have I got the “Oh, that mom with the big mouth? She’s l’Américaine” Yeah, know it. Still, YOU make perfect macarons!

  11. Liz
    Liz says:

    Enjoy your fabulous holiday,my friend!!! Life IS a beach at times…and but hoping it’s mostly the sandy kind kissed with sunshine!!! My family gives your cookbook 10 thumbs up!!!

  12. Dan
    Dan says:

    hi, thank you for a great post. Yes, the filling is what makes a difference in macarons and that’s why I always age my macs in the fridge overnight. Recently I tried the Italian meringue method and found that I needed to keep them in the fridge a little longer than usual as the cookies were a tad bit hard but after a few days they tasted divine! Can I please share here something with your readers that’s relevant and on the topic? If any of you want to master the art and science of macaron making then you may want to check out – it shows how to create bakery-quality macarons that look and taste fabulous!! 🙂

    • Jill
      Jill says:

      Hi Dan,
      Thanks for sharing your link but you know, my book is the reason I’m doing this blog as well to convince people that they can make bakery-quality macarons using it and they look and taste fabulous 😉 I’m using the French meringue method because it’s easy and no need for sugar thermometers…

      • Dan
        Dan says:

        Hi Jill,

        I have read your book – it is very beautiful! And, yes, the French meringue method is not only easier but also produces macarons that taste better, they melt in your mouth = divine! 🙂 I keep experimenting with the meringue and find that changing it slightly (whipping it longer/shorter) dramatically changes the texture of the macs.

  13. Kim - Liv LIfe
    Kim - Liv LIfe says:

    Enjoy some ocean bliss Jill!! Unfortunately I can totally relate to the first part of the post, but not this week. It’s been a good week!
    We have not made any macarons for a while, but I do remember that little bit of magic the 24 hours did. Liv and I did try our macarons just as we made them and thought they were “good”… didn’t really see what all the fuss was about. But like you say, that 24 hours made all the difference!!!

  14. Nami | Just One Cookbook
    Nami | Just One Cookbook says:

    I used to think too much and couldn’t go sleep but now in a few seconds I pass out. I hope you will have well deserved holiday on the beach and refresh your mind and soul. Good luck with finishing up on your 4th reprint. You are one amazing author! By the way, I like the phrase “Life is a macaron. It’s your move…” on chess board – really creative! 🙂

  15. Maureen @ Orgasmic Chef
    Maureen @ Orgasmic Chef says:

    You are the most upbeat and perky person. I was wondering if you had human moments and you do! Life gets overwhelming for everyone and your plate is fuller than most right now.

    My father taught me a long time ago to do the best I could and if anyone felt the need to say things that hurt my feelings, they could go jump in the lake. They didn’t define me. Constructive criticism is great because it makes us better but snarky is just snarky.

  16. Paula
    Paula says:

    What a shame about your beautiful plate 🙁 I love the shot of the mac on the chess board. Hoping you are enjoying the beach and getting rejuvenated. Best wishes on the completion for your 4th (!!!) reprint of Mad About Macarons.

  17. Gerry @Foodness Gracious
    Gerry @Foodness Gracious says:

    On a beach, where..Troon?? Your right about the macs. I love the shells but the filling is where its at. They go hand in hand like a perfect couple and do age gracefully. Maybe we should all sit in the fridge for 24 hours?

    • Jill
      Jill says:

      Cheeky! Troon would be great normally but decided to go somewhere further south. You can sit in the fridge but I prefer the oven, Gerry; ;-))

  18. Tina@flourtrader
    [email protected] says:

    This was a very good read Jill. I think all the accidents were due to the need to relax and I am glad you are doing just that. Also, if they had macaroon royalty, you surely would be the reigning queen! Congrats on your book continuing to be a success!



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