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Macarons for Valentine’s. The Romantic French? Aye Write!

It’s that rosy time of year again. You’re expecting me to go all gushy on you, aren’t you?  Living in one of the most romantic places in the world and being married to a Frenchman must make anyone go weak at the knees at this time of year, right?

I love France and the French. I love Paris and where we live, surrounded by such a gourmet foodie culture. I love macarons. I love my husband. Not in that order, of course. I used to be a soppy romantic; now I just go weak at the knees when I find myself driving around the Arc de Triomphe.

There’s something about living in France that brings out the more serious in you, though. Hard to believe? I dreamed that my Frenchman would whisk me off my feet, feed me with French romantic phrases; and pop the question on bended knee at our ‘local’, up in the Eiffel Tower’s Jules’ Verne restaurant, producing a surprise box over the most dreamy Parisian pâtisserie dessert.

Who am I kidding? We were just starting out with new jobs, living in a matchbox studio in the 7th arrondissement. That was already pretty chic but you couldn’t swing a cat in the place. I won’t embarrass Antoine in front of you about how he proposed in real life. How could I expose him – much that it’s tempting – as he never has time to read le blog? My adorable Frenchman has gradually become more romantic over the years, however. Could it be that macarons make the heart grow fonder? Like a blockbuster bottle of Burgundy, each year together just gets better and better. (If I said, ‘improves with age’ that makes us sound like old fogies, no?)

What’s sweeter than saying, “Darling, we don’t need one day in the year to give presents and say how much we love each other”? Too true. In any case, he’s on biz galavanting around India this week so he has a valid excuse. I’ll enjoy a cosy evening with my girls at home which is just as special: we can secretly enjoy lentil and bacon soup with oh-so-British cheese scones without him going into cultural convulsions. But I know that after a few days, it will ware off. When he returns in a couple of weeks, we’ll have our usual candlelit French dinner together like any other day in the year. La vie en rose? Aye right. If I’m in luck, his suitcase will be filled with curry leaves and exotic, original spices – but my guess is it will be full of mini hotel shampoos and conditioners.

Before he left, he tasted these macarons to accompany that White Chocolate Valentine Mousse recipe. No guesses as to what kind they are, if you already saw my previous post. I’m addicted to them already and keep wanting to make more. Quite simply, it’s a cross between a rose macaron and a orange blossom macaron: it’s a rose-orange blossom macaron and it’s bliss!

Simply follow the recipe for either Rose macarons (on p. 45) or Orange Blossom Macarons (on p. 77 of Mad About Macarons!) Replace the fragrant water with both 2 tbsp rose water and 2 tbsp orange flower water. It’s that simple, and you’ll taste them both in there. Can you imagine that with a glass of bubbly?  It’s what dreams are made of. Who needs posh restaurants?

Aye Write! Free Tickets to Give Away

Want to learn how to make macarons like the French? Come to Glasgow for the annual Book Festival in Scotland, Aye Write! I’ll be demonstrating how to make macarons as well as answer your questions. It’s a great excuse to meet each other and even taste some macarons.

When and Where?

Saturday 10 March at the Mitchell Library, 11:00-12:00.
Reserve your place now at the Aye Write website!

Waverley Books have FOUR entry tickets to give away. To enter, just leave a comment below saying “My favourite macaron is…..” Tell us what kind of macaron says it for you. The Giveaway ends Sunday 19 February. I’ll announce the winners on Tuesday 21 February, when I have a special guest coming to join us on le blog.

Valentine macarons on a date in Paris

If you didn’t see last year’s Valentine’s post, then take a look at this recipe for rose panna cotta with a cherry and cardamom coulis. After something more red velvet? Then check out this recipe for chocolate and beetroot fondants.

Happy Valentine’s, my friends and extra hugs to your loved ones.

First TV Macaron Demonstration

As you can imagine, this past week has been filled with love heart macarons.  They are so easy to do; except, perhaps, when nerves take over and a sudden uncontrollable wobbly hand pipes out a mess on live television: this was my very first TV Macaron Demonstration!

macaron hearts pot

I was so excited to be given the opportunity to share my macaron world with Presenters, Michelle McManus and Steven Jardine on STV’s “The Hour” on Valentine’s Day.  They are such wonderful, down-to-earth and chatty hosts that they instantly made me feel at home back in Scotland. Michelle jumped in with a spontanious, encouraging you-can-do-it hug before countdown. En plus Steven had lived in Paris for a couple of years and so it was fun to blether about macarons and Patisserie shops.

rose macarons on STV The Hour

With Michelle McManus & Steven Jardine on STV’s The Hour

Live TV is not as easy as the pros make it look.  For a start, you need to have confidence and above all, be re-laaa-xed
They could tell I was nervous.  Perhaps it started when one of the members of the production team came to meet my Dad and I before even going into the studio.  (I was so glad Dad drove me since I had 3 large bags including everything but the kitchen sink.)  But without batting an eyelid, Dad stepped in and introduced himself with a confident, “Hello. Nice to meet you. I’m Jill’s Mum….‘ Hm.  After that remark I started worrying about my mascara running after the incontrollable giggles.

Jill Colonna on TV macaron demonstration live

Yes.  They knew I was nervous. Perhaps it was after our quick run-through in front of the cameras and realising that we ran at least 3 minutes over time since I blethered too much.  I said everything I wanted to in the rehearsal:  aged egg whites, they’re gluten free, not many calories etc.  When it came to the real thing in my mind I had already said it!

Talking had to be constant and there was no time to just stand and chat.  I quickly discovered that a live TV macaron demonstration and answering questions at the same time is a real challenge in around 6 minutes.  Luckily I had prepared a few macarons in advance, including some shells – especially macaron hearts.

lemon ginger macaron hearts

Speaking of hearts, just check out the video clip.  You will see just how Michelle tackled the most amazingly confident giant heart macaron.  Silly Jilly stepped in to show the 2-stroke heart with the piping bag:  See?  Easy: bit more at the top going down one side, then same again on the other.   I invite you to do far better, my friends!

TV Macaron Demonstration – How to make Rose Macarons on The Hour, STV, Video Clip

One thing is for sure:  I had so much fun doing the show and was thrilled to meet such a dynamic and friendly team.  I can’t believe I missed James Blunt, though.  He’s on the show later this week.  To think he could have tried a macaron…

Valentine’s Day may be over but it doesn’t stop us from having macarons and dates with the ones we love.  Bonne semaine!

Parisian macarons on a date

A couple of Parisian Macarons on a Date

Easier than you think!

Macarons have a reputation of being devilishly difficult to make and accordingly, there’s a price tag to match.  But the process is straight-forward and fun in this colourful new book by Jill Colonna.  She explains simply and clearly her secrets so you can make macarons just like the French at home.