Mad About Lime Blossom Macarons in the Loire

Mon Dieu! I was so carried away with the MacTweets Fruity Challenge that I forgot this sequel to the Loire Valley post! Et voici, mes amis – enfin…inspiration for Lime Blossom Macarons.

Remember recently I asked you what this tree was? It’s a French Tilleul. In English, it’s Linden Blossom but after Sue of Tales from the Giantswood asked if it was a lime tree, I realised that Tilleul is linden blossom or lime blossom.  Thank you, Sue.

lime linden blossom Normandy

We had our breakfast under this tree at the Chambre d’Hôtes (Manoir de la Touche) just around the corner from the Château of Azay-le-Rideau in the Loire. What a civilised haven, with classical music coming out from the dining room as we ate – somehow Lady Gaga wouldn’t have been right in such Renaissance surroundings.

Loire castle fireplace

As the weather was warm, we ate under this lime blossom (tilleul) tree outside so the breakfast room was used as the buffet – filled with brioches, baguettes and goat cheeses. It’s the first time in my life that I’ve eaten goat cheese for breakfast. What an experience.

Loire goat's cheese or chèvre for breakfast

The perfect pot of café crème with a plate ranging from the freshest goat cheese, to the most matured and piquant; as the word implies, it almost pierced the taste buds and the sticky honey put out the “fire”.

I wouldn’t have this every day, but I shall never forget such a waking revelation to the taste buds. At home, we’re more likely to have our favourite salad in the summer as a main course: Salade de chèvre chaud (warm goat’s cheese salad).

linden or lime blossom Loire Valley

Tilleul / Linden Blossom

Back to that linden blossom tree.  When we first arrived, Antoine greeted the B&B owners as I secretly hid behind the tree and tried to straighten out my back.  I had turned into a stiff yet rickety chair after 3 hours of lying flat out in the passenger seat from Paris, so it was slightly embarrassing attempting a transformation from a crooked old woman to a 40-something on a romantic weekend..

harvesting lime or linden blossom in Normandy

The owner had her basket out, ready to laden it with linden blossoms. This was the perfect time to dry them as they were in full bloom.

infusing French tilleul or lime blossom in Normandy

In France this is particularly popular as a herbal infusion: infusion de tilleul, which is relaxing and caffeine free before bedtime.  An infusion of lime blossom is also said to soothe tension headaches.

Lime or linden blossom at Azay le Rideau castle Loire Valley

Linden blossom au château d’Azay le Rideau, Loire

As we took a walk around the Château of Azay-le-Rideau, linden blossom trees surrounded us and we were mesmorized by the perfumes and the views.

cat in a basket Normandy drying lime blossom

Back at the B&B, Madame hadn’t got around to collecting the blossoms yet.  Meanwhile, someone had a better idea for her basket.

sleeping cat in lime blossom basket Normandy

Sun in all its glory, blossoms perfuming the air, Vivaldi out of the speakers  – it’s time for a cat-nap.

linden lime blossom or French Tilleul tree

And time for some linden/lime blossom macarons with a hint of lemon for something light and gluten free on a summer’s day…

lime blossom macarons Jill Colonna

Not just for night-time infusions, my macaronivore friends… Wishing you a summer of lazy cat-naps and dreams under the shade of your favourite tree.

The Party Times!

Shhh. The macaron secret is out…

Come and join us at The Party Times Online, where Pippa Middleton is sharing some macaron recipes from the book, courtesy of Waverley Books.

Stay tuned, as she is also planning a great Mad About Macarons! competition on the Party Times site…(UK residents)

Life is a Bowl of Provençal Cherry Macarons

Life last weekend changed; it changed with five huge bowls filled with the largest, juiciest dark cherries I’d ever seen. Antoine and the girls picked them chez les beaux-parents in Provence.  I suppose it was compensation for not going.  Now I had to make something from them and although jam was on the list, I’m sure you know what was on my mind.

Cherry-coloured macaron shells were first (raspberry pink mixed with indigo blue powdered colouring), then a few drops of almond extract were added to the macaron shell mix.

Then came the task of pitting the cherries with no fancy cherry pitter; just a knife and fingers. You’re not getting the photos to show the lovely fingernails afterwards:  I’m so glad I wasn’t invited to the Elysée Palace this week. 😉

Then time to simmer 500g cherries with 40g sugar and cinnamon (I used double quantities).

Don’t forget to skim off the foam that forms at the top.

Then I blitzed the cherries using a hand blender, added 10g gelatine (pre-soaked in cold water for 5 minutes), 20ml Kirsch mixed with 15g cornflour; then let the compote cool and set in the fridge until transferring to the piping bag and set again (this part is important, otherwise the compôte will be too soft and make the macarons too wet).  Meanwhile, an almond filling was made using my recipe on pages 38-39 from the book.

Time to “dress” the macaron shells – as the French so fashionably put it – after some inspiration from watching the pastry chefs in action at ‘Pain de Sucre’ with Adam.

dark cherry macarons with almond filling - recipe Mad About Macarons

Leave them in the fridge for 24 hours.  Next afternoon, stick your feet up with a pot of darjeeling tea and a bowl of cherry-almond macarons.  This is the life! 🙂

There was still plenty of cherry and cinnamon jellied compôte, so it helped make the the base for a quick and easy dessert of rose and cardamom panna cottas.

There were still more cherries!  By simply carmelising them with a few cardamom seeds and a splash of balsamic vinegar, they were transformed into cherry sauce for some juicy duck…

No macarons here but jings was it good with frites

…carmelised again with slightly more sugar and vanilla and then dribbled on top of choux pastry waffles.

cherry almond macarons

Life is a bowl of cherry almond macarons

It was easy to get carried away since I still had 100g of egg whites and, as they were defrosted, I just HAD to use them! So, more cherry macarons with the same jellied compôte, but this time a different colour (to match Napoleon cherries), some vanilla buttercream filling (on p.35 of the book) and with a touch of basil.  Basil?  Well, after seeing Kitchen Confidente’s amazing cherry and basil sorbet, who couldn’t be inspired?

almond macarons with cherry compote

Adding just a leaf of my miniature globe basil plant to put on top of the vanilla cream. Oops, I forgot to take the photo with the basil, sorry: too busy getting carried away being “arty” with the cherry look using the compôte!

Cherry, vanilla & basil macarons

Who said life was a bowl of cherries?  They forgot les macarons… Don’t forget that macarons are gluten free, too.

I’ve added this post to the MacTweet Challenge for June.  Cheers to my fellow macaronivores, who are currently coming up with the most gorgeously tempting, fruity macarons.  I get so excited seeing so many macarons together, don’t you? 🙂

black cherry compote and almond macarons MadAboutMacarons

Life is a bowl of cherry macarons

Egg Yolk Recipe Series

My guest this week for the egg yolk recipe series is Hester Casey of Alchemy in the Kitchen.  She came up with a cracker of a recipe for a White Chocolate and Raspberry Paris-Brest.  Absolutely stunning. Shhh, don’t tell anyone, but hers are far more enticing than the original ones that were created by the Durand Pâtisserie in Maisons-Laffitte.

A “health nut”

A typical 20g mad-about-macaron contains about 80 calories – hardly a worry for British waistlines.  What’s more, they’re GLUTEN FREE.  Did you know that almonds are one of the best nuts for you, too! They can reduce cholesterol, improve complexion, they have anti-inflammatory properties and are good for boosting the immune system.