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Macaron Gifts for UK Mother’s Day

Each time the end of March comes around, Mother’s Day takes me by surprise. It’s not that I’m trying to be the most awful daughter in the world, it’s just that I have a French diary. French diaries plot la fête des Mères at the end of May.  UK Mother’s Day is at the end of March.  How can I forget? You’ll be telling me that Mum’s Day is different in America and Australia, too?  Er, 11th May, to be precise. Can we have a set Mother’s Day for everyone, please?

rue de Paris street sign in St Germain-en-Laye

This UK Mothering Sunday on the 11th, we won’t be together.  It’s not that we’re so far away, we just can’t pop over for a chat with tea and scones or macarons. For the past 21 years, apart from regular visits, our main shuttle has been from Paris to Edinburgh via ‘phone.

Mum’s the world’s best listener.  She’s a shoulder to cry on and the perfect hugger.  ‘You just want a warm, don’t you?’, she teases my eldest, Julie. Lucie says, ‘I love Granny’s smell’. Me too, plus the ironing smell.

rue d'Edimbourg sign in Paris

Somehow Mum is always there for her grandchildren and still for me.  She’s there in my mind when I can’t find the whatsit truc I hid in a safe place. How could I possibly scoff as a young Mum, thinking that I’d be different one day when she’d hand me a Christmas present in April, explaining that Santa had mislaid it?

rose and orange blossom macarons for Mother's Day gift

Mum’s favourite macarons: rose and orange blossom

Now that the house renovations are nearly finished, I’m going through photos and came across this one: Granny and Grandpa with the girls over on a visit to Paris about 5 years ago.  They had taken the kids to the Tuileries Gardens and just before returning on the RER, they bought ice-creams. On arrival home, naturally the kids were excited to describe the highlight of their day (yes, they are kind of food orientated) but on realising it was just before dinner, I earned my nickname, ‘The French Police’.

Paris family visit to the Tuileries Gardens

Still crying for the ice-cream!

I remember that day vividly now and can’t think about it without tears swelling.  What a jerk I was.  So, the French don’t eat between meals and I’ve become one of them?  Perhaps, but why did I ruin an evening?  Mum, I’m owe you a lifetime of macarons, on demand.

Mum’s favourite macarons are rose and orange blossom; and let’s not forget Dad’s which are lemon meringue, chocolate and milk chocolate caramel.  Thank goodness for the freezer, when I can store some in advance for any visits!

macaron gift box with pink ribbon

Next Christmas, don’t throw away greetings card boxes like this one: they make excellent macaron boxes.

Save chocolate boxes, too.  This was the perfect size for a wee present of chocolate-pistachio macarons just to say, Thank You!

pistachio and chocolate macarons in gift box

Other times I’ve dared to use an old Ladurée macaron gift box. This one was bought from our nearest ‘Capital of Sweden’ store.

macarons in a gift box home made

Other boxes I’ve collected from my visit to NYC, when I popped into NewYorkCake.com. The cellophane clear wrapping on the left is ridiculously cheap bought in a large pack (such as 50 treat bags or 100 treat bags from Wilton). Keep fancy ribbons handy and it’s a quick doggy bag treat for visitors.

dark chocolate and caramel macaron gift packs

Large carton patisserie boxes (like these cake boxes), are not only excellent for storing a large batch of macs in the fridge and, when ready to eat 24 hours later, wrap a bow around it for an elegant but speedy present.

patisserie box of chocolate macarons

Life is a box of chocolate and caramel macarons …

Funnily enough, Mum was the one who gave me these treasure chest and striped pastel paper boxes. ‘I’m sure they’ll be perfect for macarons’, she said with a sweet twinkle in her eye.

chocolate macarons in treasure paper box

dark chocolate macaron treasure!

I completely forgot about these until the other day.  I found them wrapped up carefully in a large paper bag.
They were in a safe place.

pastel macaron gift box mixed flavours

Just perfect for her next visit.

Wishing you all a wonderfully precious Mother’s Day,

whenever it comes!

Changing the clock with verbena macarons and hot tea

In the last couple of weeks in and around Paris we’ve had beautifully sunny Autumnal scenes, but ever since the clocks went back this weekend it has turned to rain and well, just dreich scenes.

Dreich is a real Scottish word and there’s no other word quite like it which sums up the damp, dingy, dreary days that become shorter between now and the festive season for us poor souls in the Northern Hemisphere.  So don’t you think this calls us to pick ourselves up with pots of fragrant tea and Parisian macarons?

This cheery view from the kitchen window has been motivating. The diminishing leaves have had such brilliant greens and yellows, it’s as if someone had switched on a spotlight against the dark skies. You’ve guessed where I’m headed? Total inspiration for a double whammy of bright yellow lemon and green verbena macarons.

My verbena plant is surprisingly tougher in the cold than I thought. I love rubbing my fingers over a leaf and releasing its powerful lemony scent. In France we tend to use verbena leaves as a herbal infusion. Yes, I said these healthy words on a decadent macaron site. It could be worse: I could tell you what some of my French friends call herbal infusions, but this is a respectable site 🙂

One of the first changes I made when I came to Paris nearly (ah-hem) 20 years ago, was to do what the French did. I discovered that the French are so sensitive about drinking caffeinated drinks after dinner. In Scotland, I would be drinking mugs of coffee without batting an eyelid (no pun intended).

Everyone around me was drinking this trendy verveine (verbena) which has a heady lemony fragrance. As a student I started with the regular supermarket sachets until I discovered the dried leaves at my mother-in-law’s local market in Provence. I never looked back – until I recently discovered that I could simply get the plant. Once you try the real fresh leaves, there is no comparison. They are scrumptious infused in cream to make verbena ice-cream or crème brûlées.

The creamy zest of the lemon and verbena together is a real pick-me-up. I had to put some away in the freezer before the whole lot disappeared. That way when feeling healthy but decadent I can quickly defrost a few verbena-lemon macarons and serve with a pot of freshly infused verveine to finish off dinner. It gives a whole new meaning to sweet dreams.

In fitting with the dreich part and final browning leaves left hanging, I couldn’t resist making chocolate-caramel macarons to bring some golden warmth into the kitchen and to accompany a pot of hot Assam tea.

Early last December we had our first petit voile de neige.  I wonder if we’re going to have the same snowy treats this year?  So far, so good.

almond macarons in the snow

As this was one of my very first blog posts and nobody saw this (I mean nobody), I’m reposting this for you now.  That way, it may be a year old but at least it’s getting seen this time.

Unfortunately subscribers received the previous post before updating this afternoon. Apologies!  I’m no use at this technical part of the blog! Thanks for reading my previous blog posts and commenting. It means so much and makes it all feel worthwhile.

Jill xo