How to Make Macaron Hearts – Think ‘V’ for Valentine

As the 14th February is on the pinkish, romantic horizon, it’s hearts galore on the internet. A few macaron lovers have asked me if I could tell them how to make macaron hearts.

Well, it’s so easy. You don’t even need a template. To pipe out macaron hearts, just think “V” for Valentine.

how to make macaron hearts

How to Make Macaron Hearts

Pipe out the macaron batter using a plain tip. Make two separate strokes in a V shape, pressing down firmly at the top and tapering away towards the bottom.

how to make macaron hearts

Make 2 separate strokes with your piping bag in a ‘V’ shape

Don’t forget that the hearts will spread to form the heart, so leave a good space between each. If, after a couple of minutes, your hearts are rather round at the bottom, take a cocktail stick and just make a quick line down the middle to the tip. The hearts will continue to spread slightly and even out nicely while you’re airing them.

how to make macaron hearts

Make pink heart macarons with the rose buttercream filling (see recipe on page 45), or why not make a macaron dessert, placing a macaron heart on top? The hearts can be made in advance and frozen so you’ll have a quick, easy romantic dessert for your Valentine. Moreover, it’s gluten free!

Inspired by Pierre Hermé’s famous Ispahan of rose, raspberry and lychee, I have a rosy, raspberry dessert in my first book, Mad About Macarons (recipe on page 109.) Simply mash a few raspberries into mascarpone, adding a dash of rosewater and sugar, whisk until light and fluffy. Serve on top of a giant rose macaron, decorate with raspberries and plonk (sorry, delicately place) your Valentine heart on top.

how to make macaron hearts

Say sweet nothings over this raspberry-rose macaron dessert

Why are there no lychees? Er – shh, don’t tell anyone – but when I was 9, I stole a lychee from Safeways. What? Well our family never bought them. I was intrigued by their lumpy, martian appearance and had no idea of their taste. Terrified about being caught with it in my pocket, the most guilty feeling followed of cracking the shell secretly in my room. I’ll never forget the taste but as a result of secret guilt, you won’t see any lychees in my cooking – well, very rarely.

There!  That saved me a fortune in therapy, now that it’s finally out in the open.

Say it with rose macarons this Valentine’s Day.

And for those of you who are not into love heart-shapes, like my Frenchie Valentine, there’s always the plain, traditional round macaron – just like the ones you find in the Parisian pâtisseries. Isn’t it funny? We see all kinds of macaron shapes and macaron art out there on the internet and social media, but the Parisians stick to the good old plain and beautiful round shape. Although there’s nothing really that plain about a macaron, is there?

How to make macaron hearts

With a macaron, dessert’s your oyster!

Update: There’s a Valentine’s section on macarons in my new book, Teatime in Paris! including how to make macaron hearts.

A Walk up French Bread Street or Chocolate Street?

I promised you another walk around our Paris environs, didn’t I? Last time we were macaroned on French Impressionists’ Island. Today it’s a lovely day, so let’s take a stroll around my favourite town up the road, St Germain-en-Laye.

Château de St Germain-en-Laye

We’re only walking up one street today: rue au pain. With a name like Bread Street, you can imagine the smell of boulangeries, right?  Wrong.

Bread street? Pain! It’s all chocolate.

This street should really be called rue au pain au chocolat, as it has chocolateries, confiseries, and pâtisseries. Oh, why do I get such a lovely shiver when I say these words?  This confiserie, La Petite Cousine – which is rather expensive – is totally worth it: their mendiants (chocolate palets with candied fruit and nuts), guimauves (marshmallows), pâte de fruits and chocolate selections are all rather exquisite.

chocolateries, confiseries, confused?

Rue au pain is also the birthplace of one of my favourite composers, Claude Debussy.  He was born in rue au Pain on 22 August 1862.  They’re currently refurbishing the museum (which also houses the Tourist Infomation point), so I’ll show you it when it’s finished. It’s spooky to think I used to play so many of his piano and flute works (my first BBC radio flute recital was featuring Debussy) and one day I’d end up in the same town; just as eery when I suddenly put on radio classique and Debussy plays as I’m driving around the town, looking for a parking place.

Debussy by the American sculptor, Mico Kaufman

This is all in the space of a 5-minute walk – although given that you’re licking the windows (as the French say for window-shopping), or even buying these sweet treats, then it will take you more like 25 minutes.

This chocolate shop is only a few doors away from Jeff de Bruges and they give them tough competition: usually their window is dressed in seasonal chocolate sculptures and many a time, there’s a chocolate fountain enticing passers-by to pop in. Here they’re luring us with crêpes and real melted chocolate – if you want Nutella you get the cheaper ones around the corner!

Pâtisserie Grandin have recently refurbished their boutique to showcase their pastries and macarons…

My personal preferences are in the other streets (you can perhaps tell by their look, ahem. You see why I make them myself?) I’ll show you my favourite Pâtisseries later, as it deserves another post. And now for the final stop at the very top, facing rue au pain: Patrick Roger.

This is one of the latest branches of Patrick Roger’s Parisian chocolate boutiques.  Every few weeks he changes the giant chocolate sculpture in the window; from Gorilla, to Grizzly. I wonder if he could do Kaufman’s statue of Debussy in chocolate? Just an idea, Patrick!

Grizzly sculpted in Venezuelan chocolate

At la rentrée – the return to school – children were greeted with gigantic chocolate pencils and glistening chocolate marbles presented in pencil-cases.  Is that not an easy way to instantly become the teacher’s pet, brimming with a packet of mini pencils and marbles?

He’s a MOF – Meilleur Ouvrier de France, but of course. I already showed you his pumpkins – it’s a better photo since it was taken inside, without the reflection and it means I could actually buy something, but what?

The elegant assistant always lets me taste one of their chocolates and I never take a photo of it, as it disappears too quickly. Chocolate-basil was the last one I tried. But my personal favourites are his passionfruit caramels – plus I love the chic green bag!  It makes up for him not making any macarons.

Add a touch of red colouring to your chocolate shells

What?  No macarons? So back home, I’m inspired by something chocolatey this weekend.  Don’t forget to add a touch of red to your chocolate macaron shells (just one of the many tips in the book.) You don’t see it but I can assure you when you add it, there’s that instant professional look!

Hm. I wonder what chocolatey flavour we could have this time?  What macaron would you prefer?

April Fooled by a chocolate bacon macaron?

Have you ever felt out of place at a fancy dress party? Last weekend Antoine and I arrived at the door unsuspectingly wearing pyjamas and cuddly bears to meet a sea of hand painted Venetian masks and hired gowns from the Carnaval of Venice to Captain outfits.

In our defense we were dressed as characters from a French children’s show, Bonne nuit les petits. It felt, however, as if we were the April Fools of the year. In France, they call it Poisson d’avril and its victims go around the rest of the day with a paper fish pinned to their back. But it was too early. No, this was no joke. No turning back. We were in that door and we had to carry it off amongst an array of anonymous forbidding masks and, apart from our neighbours, complete strangers. At least we were comfy dancing in our slippers.

April Fool! Poisson d’avril !

A good friend, Belinda, provided consolation with a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson:
Be true to your own act and congratulate yourself, if you have done something strange and extravagant to break the monotony of a decorous age.” It so happened that Belinda was visiting from the US last week and so she was in the firing line to taste another macaron experiment to break away from the monotony of classic flavours…

This is too funny: you mean it’s not just chocolate? Wait a minute, I get it!

I took her photo seconds before she cracked up laughing.

The flavour? Dark chocolate and bacon. It’s not so mad, is it? We’ve seen bars of bitter chocolate with fleur de sel and seen chocolate chip and bacon cookies – so why not in a macaron?
The secret is not too much bacon, just enough to give a hint of saltiness and intrigue.

chocolate ganache with bacon rashers

Firstly, add a touch of fleur de sel to the chocolate shells, fry 5 streaky bacon rashers then infuse 2 bacon rashers in the cream for the ganache.

Infuse bacon rashers in the cream

Then discard the bacon from the cream and continue normally with a chocolate ganache. I did cut back slightly on the normal quantity of butter used, due to the presence of bacon fat. Julia Child did say that fat gives flavour, n’est-ce pas? (Note: I tried a batch before these ones, using allumettes (mini bacon bits) but they kept getting stuck in the piping nozzle and the end result was like eating tiny bullets in the ganache. So learn from my mistake. This next batch with infused bacon and rashers added to the ganache later was by far better.)

Place a cooked bacon rasher bit on top of the ganache

Cut up the rest of the bacon rashers with scissors and place on top of the ganache for each shell.
One wee tip: when putting any kind of “solid” in the ganache, always top it up slightly with a dash more ganache on top. That way the ganache can infuse perfectly into both shells over the next 24 or even 36 hours (if you can wait that long) for chocolate toe-curling bliss.

Add more ganache on top of the bacon before assembling

Et voilà, mes amis. Nothing fancy. Nothing complicated. Just more macaron fun!
Et maintenant

Giveaway Winners to Celebrate the Fête du Macaron

As promised, it’s time to announce the 5 lucky winners of a copy of “Mad About Macarons!” from Waverley Books. A huge thank you to all of you who participated and for so many lovely comments. I honestly wish we could have given a copy to everybody!

Congratulations to:

  • Jenna Parrington
  • Mary Jane
  • Mary Rosch
  • Spinneys Cauldron
  • Sylvie

Please send me an email ([email protected](dot)com) with your full name and address so that we can mail out your copy. For the rest of you, don’t worry. The macaron madness continues…. and who knows, we’re surely going to have another giveaway soon. 🙂 Stay tuned.

Just remember: don’t be caught out tomorrow on April Fool’s Day. Poisson d’avril !!!

Don’t be caught out tomorrow. POISSON d’AVRIL !