Granny’s special winter treats: gluten free, vegan and perfect for festive parties or teatime.
Do you find yourself carried away when you’re passionate about something? When MacTweets came up with the end of year macaron-making inspiration, I have to confess I was dilirious with mad macaron ideas: mixing this with that and being complicated with fancy flavours. Somehow at this time of year, however, we’re into luxury; but the French adore their Classics. Antoine is always reminding me of this before a French dinner party.
Recently, I dished out a salty, spicy, chocolate risotto (using Valhrona chocolate) with Reggiano parmesan. When I mentioned converting this into a macaron, he physically winced. Not because he thought it was awful but I’m sure he remembered the time I didn’t listen and I served it as a starter/hors d’oeuvres to perfectly classic, don’t-serve-me-anything-weird-please guests. Everyone raved about it. Sorry, Antoine. A macaron like that would go a blast with some Champagne for a festive apéritif.
For Mac Attack #25, Seasons & Holidays, I changed heart. Well, I’m thinking that poor old Santa is perhaps fed up with the same organic carrots and glass of milk by the chimney – and he certainly wouldn’t have time to stop for a spicy, bitter chocolate risotto with a chocolate chili macaron. Sometimes we have left Santa a glass of matured Scottish single malt whisky but somehow it never lasts that long: I wonder if he even gets to drink it, poor soul.
So, it’s high time that Père Noël got the treatment. In France, a Noël without marrons glacés (sweetened vanilla chestnuts) is… is a day without sunshine? Why can’t I find the words tonight? Perhaps I tried some of the whisky for inspiration but it hasn’t worked. In the words of Shakespeare, it stimulates the desire (I add here, to write) but takes away the performance. Say no more.
At this chilly time of year but festive, warm heart, chestnuts seemed to make sense. I already talked about roasted chestnuts in Paris. But this time, we’re talking sweetened vanilla chestnuts: les marrons glacés: a French favourite for the holiday season and rest-assured extra sweet bonus points if we arrive with a box of them at Christmas chez Antoine’s parents.
Jamie and Deeba at Mactweets incite so many macaron lovers to come up with a certain theme each month. I hope they don’t mind me tagging along again but don’t you love joining in fun stuff? Any excuse to make different macaron flavours…
Think Colour: since the flavour was chestnut, then it had to be brown. Dark brown. But somehow we don’t want them too dark. Gloomsville, no thanks. Think festive, so lighten them up a bit, using a dash of equal quantities of brown and yellow powdered colouring. To add a festive party glow, brush on a dash of golden food dust/lustre for the luxurious look (either think Pierre Hermé or imagine dancing all night at a Christmas party.)
Think Flavour: This is where the macaron comes into its own. Think concentrated flavours: add some vanilla powder to the shells for extra vanilla punch and don’t forget to taste your filling. It should pack a punch. I made a chestnut cream simply by using Clement Faugier’s sweet/candied chestnut spread with some creamed butter and some mascarpone. However, if you’re stuck for time just now, just slap on the sweet chestnut spread directly.
My very first batch of Chestnut macarons included Corsican Chestnut Liqueur from Castagniccia. Amazing. But after a few days the macarons became slightly too sweet. It’s better with a splash of dark rum.
Think Holiday! Whether you’re spending it with family or friends at home or abroad, enjoy these luxurious gluten-free treats by a crackling fire (or on the beach, you lucky southern-hemisphere friends) with a glass of off-dry Champagne. Take these high heeled fancy shoes off, ladies. They’re killing you, anyway. Change into your slippers and drift away into holiday macaronivore bliss.
Talking of bliss, have you tried them with this candied chestnut or marron glacé & vanilla ice cream?
Happy Holidays to you all! I’m packing them all up to Scotland this time…
Enjoy all the preparations and the Christmassy tunes.
A bientôt, mes amis.
Who could resist this month’s MacTweet challenge? To support this month’s Breast Cancer Awareness in the USA, MacTweets proposed a in the pink theme for macarons. If you haven’t already seen Jamie and Deeba’s site, MacTweets, and you’re making macarons like crazy, then I strongly urge you to join in the fun each month. It’s totally inspiring. It also gives you an excuse to make macarons or a particular flavour, should you so happen to be lost for choice. Believe me, as a macaron addict, you can become overwhelmed with choices at times!
When this image of Doris Day flashed up on MacTweets, I had a rush of nostalgia. It’s one of the rare occasions I was allowed to stay up late to watch films such as Pillow Talk when I was still proudly displaying milk teeth. Doris just made everything dazzingly right.
What’s not right, however, is that in this day and age, we still need to raise awareness about breast cancer. It continues to kill and a cure needs to be found. God knows how many of our lives have been affected by cancer. More thorns arrived in our lives at home last month, when news of an old friend was taken away by this creepy disease, leaving her two children behind. She was only 46. Last year it was my aunt who not only left us, but Suffered. You couldn’t even wish that on your worst enemy.
Fortunately, I know of friends who have had some form of breast cancer, but they have ended up happy stories simply since it was caught early via regular check-ups.
Back to the pink. I nearly always have a stock of rose macarons in my freezer macaron bank, as plain rose (or pétales de rose as Ladurée calls it ;-)) is one of our favourites. But for Mactweets, as before, I wanted to come up with something new – or at least presented differently.
Then in the foreign food section at our supermarket last week, Basset’s Liquorice Allsorts literally jumped out at me. When I grabbed a bag crammed in the edge of the shelf, the whole box of about 50 packets landed at my feet.
This had to be a sign: of course, they have tons of pink colours in their liquorice treats! I added another of the children’s favourites – Haribo’s liquorice bootlace coils. Put the two together and you’re in aniseed playground.
Using the recipe in the book for liquorice macarons (p74), I changed the colour of the shells for some pink fun – topping it off with a bit of liquorice in the middle of the filling (ok, I added one whopping great big reglisse wheel in that big mac for the photo!) Add a touch more ganache on top of the dry liquorice, so that it penetrates completely into both of the shells for the perfect chew.
Antoine adores the rose macarons – also with some different flavour combinations (rose-matcha, rose-chocolate, rose-raspberry, rose-geranium) but when he ate these pink liquorice ones next day, I was made to promise that I’d make liquorice macarons more often…Ooh. I can sense we’re going to have more egg yolk recipes up on the site!
So, remember to get annual check-ups and keep abreast of your body. Take regular exercise; being active is one of the best things you can do to stay healthy and keep cancer at bay.
There are a number of other factors to stay healthy, as outlined clearly by the American Cancer Society – such as eat a varied diet and vary the colours, too. That doesn’t mean vary the colour of your sweets or candies. Green veg just weren’t too ideal for macarons – although after taking these shots, it did get me thinking…
Remember, macarons are not only gluten free but they are less than 100 calories each for this size.
Thanks to Jamie and Deeba for hosting the Mactweets Mac Attack Challenge this month and for such an important cause. Sorry I didn’t add the special ribbon – truth be told, vivasex.ch I couldn’t find any! For information about breast cancer early detection, see the Breast Cancer Awareness Month Website.
May the rest of your October be totally pinkilicious and ladies, don’t forget to get your regular check-up. It’s all too easy to think of your children first and not yourself.
SO THINK PINK!