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Raspberry, Redcurrant and Rose Macaron Filling

To macalong story short, this raspberry, redcurrant and rose macaron filling all came about as the sweet queues became out of line via Pierre Hermé’s pâtisserie and macaron boutique in rue Bonaparte this summer, it was time to make a sharp exit. Out of Paris. Direction? Home in the quieter, bird-singing banlieue outskirts of the City of Light.

After a winter that well overstayed its welcome into summer, our raspberry crop hadn’t been as plentiful this year.  Meanwhile, the burstingly ripe and competitive redcurrants next to them were eager to feature into some pots of homemade jam, just to help us reach the quantity readings on the digital scales. The redcurrants’ presence was so tart, yet alluring, that they nudged and reminded me when it was time to make a batch of raspberry macarons. But, thinking Hermé, raspberry macarons needed just a hint of rose for that extra, sophisticated je ne sais quoi.

 

Imagine tart, yet tantalisingly fruity; acidic yet counteracting with the velvet vanilla sweetness of white chocolate with a hint of rose petals, and you have sweet – yet not overly sweet – macarons: crisp meringue-like on the outside and compact, compulsive-eating squidginess in the inside.

This, of course, comes from the macaron magic: after leaving the filling to infuse in the macaron shell for at least 24 hours.

Many people use jams in their macarons.  It’s less time consuming but somehow, I find it a bit too sweet.  I even tried making macarons with my own homemade, reduced-sugar, raspberry and rose jam.  They were good but the kind of macarons I could buy at the French supermarket or at our local pâtisserie, to be honest – and at a price.  What was missing was a bit of creaminess, without the cream and butter this time; just good, fresh produce with the sugar and creaminess from white chocolate, without it tasting too much of white chocolate.

OK, do you think I’m fussy?  Well, for a macaronivore, it’s allowed.

If you’ve been to Angelina’s in Paris (and also braved the queues at prime tourist season starting in June), you may have seen their Macalongs.  Just pipe your macaron shells as the book describes in the basic recipe, but in longer strips (like an éclair).  Richart chocolate boutiques also showcase their macalong version, with 3 macarons ‘stuck’ to each other, as above. Just pipe out your macarons according to the book, but don’t leave much space between them.

If you don’t have redcurrants, just use 200g of raspberries.

To make the macaron shells, simply follow the instructions in the book, Mad About Macarons: How to Make Macarons Like the French.

Raspberry, Redcurrant and Rose Macaron Filling

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
Cooling Time: 1 hour

150g fresh (or frozen) raspberries
50g fresh (or frozen) redcurrants
1 tbsp rose water
180g white chocolate, broken into bits

1. Blitz the raspberries and red currants in a food processor for about 3-4 minutes, until the seeds are well and truly crushed.  (If you really don’t like seeds, you can filter the seeds through a sieve at this point.)

2. Heat the fruit purée in a saucepan with the rose water – over a medium heat – and gradually stir in the white chocolate bits and, with a wooden spoon, stir slowly until the  white chocolate is completely melted and blended with the fruit.

3. Set aside to cool then refrigerate for an hour before piping out the filling on to your macaron shells.

So to ‘macalong’ story short, these are fresh and fruity delicious!

Update! You’ll find another macalong recipe in my second book, Teatime in Paris!  Here it is here…

rasbperry maclairs

Mad About Macarons Christmas Party Special

It’s Christmas countdown! Is the excitement crescendoing in your family? I don’t know about you but up until now, I’ve been avoiding any tunes or decorations – especially since our local authorities mounted the festive decorations as early as mid October! Motivation, however, soon jump-started last week on a shopping spree in Paris. Check out these macaron baubles for the tree.

More baubles were hanging up with the gingerbread men at my favourite pastry shop in St. Germain-en-Laye, Le Petit Gateau. This is where I first learned how to make macarons all those years ago, since they have workshops for adults and children. Looking in the window, everyone becomes a child. Isn’t it magical?

Their gingerbread men are a huge hit with customers but the pastry chefs are freaked out by them. The popular smiling treats are hanging on their strings when it’s lights out at night; first thing in the morning they’ve dropped off them, lying motionless in the window. Did they come alive during the night like in Toy Story? I wonder if they played with the dwarves (oh dear, makes me think of a terrible joke but I should keep this website respectable) or did they storm the gingerbread house, claiming their territory?

Chocolate-cointreau-gingerbread macarons

Speaking of gingerbread, there has been a huge trend towards gingerbread macarons on the blogosphere recently. It has been exciting to see so many macaron lovers preparing their Christmas mac treats. You must visit Laura of Craftstorming and check out her incredible Gingerbread macaron men. Also Jamie of MacTweets aka Life’s a Feast. Jamie added Cognac to her macs (she had an excuse to use the good stuff after visiting the place en direct, lucky girl!) I didn’t have any left (what’s going on in our liqueur cabinet?) so resorted to Cointreau – a lovely orangey alternative, which goes well with the ganache and spices. I loved Jamie’s addition of the sweet chestnut purée: you don’t taste it with the chocolate as much as on its own but adds a beautiful Christmas gloss to the ganache.

And in the window at Patrick Roger’s chocolaterie

Back to Christmas tree baubles. Just take a peek at Patrick Roger’s vitrine of his St Germain-en-Laye boutique. How would your family react if you came home with a chocolate tree like this with real orange baubles? This year, kids, we’re respecting the environment. We’re fed up of untangling the Christmas lights, so let’s just decorate it with oranges and spiced orange blossom macarons. What do you think?

Spicy Christmas Orange Blossom Macarons by Jill

spicy orange blossom macarons

 

This time last year it was snowing. It was so dizzily exciting at first but it soon made way to alarmingly heavy snowfalls, that my first TV debut for making macarons was postponed. Instead we consoled ourselves my munching through these spicy orange blossom macarons that I’d prepared for the program. All was not lost; we just sat and gorged on them in front of the fire with slippers on, watching the snow outside plus the snow reports on the TV.

For orange blossom spiced macarons: just follow the recipe for orange blossom macarons (on p.77 of the book), infusing 2 cinnamon sticks, 3 star anises and 2 cloves in the cream.

Are you Christmas partying? These mini Thai green/red curry mac’sala macarons are a real hit at parties (spot Auntie Shirley’s knitted Christmas mac warmer!) Same goes for the beetroot and horseradish macarons or tikka mac’sala curry ones: serve them with drinks or better still, with hors-d’oeuvres/starter, as a surprising gluten-free alternative to bread with Round Carrot, Parsnip and Coriander soup.

This weekend, my eldest had her first boum – disco party – which is quite a milestone for 11/12 year-olds. I’m still recovering myself after that disco! What happened to the next day? I felt more like a Black-Eyed Pea Poopper! I’ve had some serious catching up to do in the groovy world after Mamma Mia: Funky Mum needs to know LMFAO, Zac Harry, Katy Perry, Pitbull, David Guetta. Guetta-load-of-that! It was great to see over 25 kids really enjoy themselves. They’ve worked so hard this tough term as the new kids on the block in first year at Collège. They also proved they’d worked hard at these dance moves. They know how to shake their stuff!

When I brought out the boxes of macarons, one boy asked Antoine if they were actually allowed to eat them. Can you imagine? Are macs just seen as treats for the adults? Really. Makes me want to make them all the more.  Then all the boys pounced on the chocolate ones and the girls were discussing what was the cube in the middle of the strawberry ones. Fascinating.

Drunken cranberry and egg nog macarons

Meanwhile, these macarons were preparing themselves for another party debut: drunken cranberry egg nog macarons. Using my favourite Appleton Estate Rum, I only wished I’d upped the dose by not just macerating the dried cranberries in it but also adding more rum to the vanilla cream, too. It just confirms that I should do what I say myself and don’t be afraid to concentrate the flavours as much as possible.

Cranberry Egg Nog Macarons: Simply follow the basic recipe for vanilla macarons (p. 35 of the book), using 120ml whole milk and 40ml rum, and add freshly grated nutmeg, cinnamon and 100g of drunken cranberries to the filling.

This week, it’s time to say “merci, maîtresse” (thank you teacher) with little macaron bags at the end of term.

Bags of macarons for the teachers

The question is, do I give dark chocolate and mint macs to the French or the British school teachers? I love making these every Christmas – and each time Antoine still tries to explain that the French just don’t like mint with chocolate. Well I’m sorry but we love it in Britain: we were brought up to serve After Eights after dinner. It’s posh. So I’m still doing it whether you like it or not, Monsieur Antoine.

After Eight macarons

Wanting to decorate them with something festive, Mum had given me these Edible Green Trees by Rainbow Dust last year. Great idea and thanks, Mum – but they were so small and fiddly to use and kept curling. Now Lora, aka The Mad Hausfrau had a great arty crafty technique of painting on snowflakes with white food colouring directly on the macaron shell, then glittering them with disco dust for a Christmas macaron disco fever!

Don’t forget to put out some macarons for Santa with these macarons aux marrons glacés. Bulging stockings are guaranteed…

Well, the macarons are made and there’s even more partying: this is going to be a mad week! Enjoy your Christmas macaron-ing. Now it’s time to hang up the decorations!

spot the edible ones 🙂

Don’t forget to enter the international Christmas Giveaway of Mad About Macarons!
You could be one of the FIVE lucky readers to receive a copy, courtesy of Waverley Books.

Paris Pâtisseries and Perfect Macarons

I think I upset some friends on Facebook.  I “rubbed it in”, as it were.  Well, yes I did and I’m sorry.  Sorry because now I’m going to talk about it yet again: eating pastries in Paris.

These last few days I’ve taken a break from baking.  The weather has been surprisingly summery after such a LONG winter that for once, it seemed wrong to stay in the kitchen.  So there was nothing else for it but to take the short ride into Paris for a taste of some pastries and macarons. Would I do it on my own?  Of course not.  The pastry binge was with one of the most serious pastry tasters I know.  Here he is in action:

Adam from ParisPâtisseries.com

My gourmet friend, Adam Wayda, has finally arrived from the US to spend the next few months in Paris, tasting his way around the best pâtisseries in the City of Light. You probably already know him from ParisPatisseries.com fame.  Tasting pastries with the reviewer himself was seriously fun.  I mean, this was my breakfast and lunch: for Adam, he had already a head start beforehand! How does he do it? Fat pants, he says.

Genin’s luxury boutique is more like a chocolate museum

This was my first time at Jacques Genin’s chocolaterie in rue de Turenne and I was so glad that Adam had suggested it.  The luxury chocolate boutique is full of the most incredible sculptures that are showcased like museum pieces.  Time for a seat and a taste of Monsieur Genin’s Ephemère: a mix of chocolate mousse and passionfruit on a charlotte base, while Adam attacked a caramel éclair. Would he stick it under his nose like a moustache first? Just take a look at that hot chocolate. It’s not for the faint hearted.

What did Adam think of the caramel éclair?

We couldn’t leave without getting a few of Mr Genin’s legendary caramels.  Adam persuaded me (it didn’t take much convincing) to try the mango/passion fruit caramels and the caramels au gingembre.  True, at 110€ a kilo, one or two is fine.  But you know me, that’s inspiration enough to make some at home à la Jilly.  In the meantime,  why not add some ground ginger and finely chopped glacé ginger to a crème au beurre salé?

Genin’s boutique was wonderful but he didn’t have any macarons.  So Adam suggested a wee stroll up to rue Rambuteau to drop in for some macarons at Pain de Sucre.

macarons from Pain de Sucre patisserie Paris

macarons from Pain de Sucre, Paris

This is what was left from my doggy bag: chocolate mint, caramel au beurre salé, morello cherry-pistachio and chocolate-passionfruit.  My first taste was his Fleurs de Sureau (Elderflower) macarons.  Absolutely delicious.  Cassis/Blackcurrant was excellent, too.  The chocolate mint was just so refreshing with a dark chocolate button in the middle.  Although it was hard and I had to take it out and eat it at the end, it was full of flavour. In fact, all of Monsieur Mathray’s macarons are just bursting with flavour at Pain de Sucre.

That’s what I adore in a macaron. But as you can see, the shells are not quite perfect.  Some were coarse, some had cracks and some not perfectly round.  But does that REALLY matter? Even Monsieur Mathray isn’t worried about absolute perfection.  Some of his macarons may have a slightly bumpy shell (or “homestyle charm” as Adam calls it) but the taste is just fantastic.

Pain de Sucre’s refreshing chocolate-mint macaron

On the other hand, there are also many famous Parisian macarons that LOOK absolutely perfect but if you were given a blind tasting (i.e. not influenced by its colour or fancy name associated with it), it’s often difficult to tell the exact flavour you’re eating.

Beautiful macarons…

Many readers are excited when they get their macarons perfect first time.  That’s brilliant! Even my Dad made fabulous macarons recently for the first time ever and he doesn’t even BAKE for goodness sake!  But I’ve been amazed at some readers who make macarons for the very first time and are expecting complete and utter perfection.  They worry when they have a slight crack or feet that are not big enough.  Please, don’t be so hard on yourself! It will come …

Giant macarons in a luxury pastry shop

There are macarons – expensive macarons –  in many great pastry shops in and around Paris that have been making them for years and they’re sometimes not quite “perfect”: not the perfect looking shell or perhaps a perfect shell but not enough flavour.  They are made by professionals with the right equipment with fancy ovens.  Professionals have access to liquid egg whites in cartons that do act differently.  Many use macaron-making machines.  We’re making them at home in our own kitchens, often with ovens that are so-so.

There’s no end of macaron flavours

Just remind yourself of this and have confidence that the next time you’ll get it right, once you’ve ensured you’ve done everything in the recipe and followed the tips in the book.  Have you checked the oven’s exact temperature with an oven thermometer?  Did you whisk your egg whites enough to stiff but still glossy peaks? Feet not good enough?  Then leave your macarons out to dry a bit longer before baking them.  Some people say they don’t need aged whites or they don’t need to dry out their macarons.  Great.  But again, we’re baking them in our own home kitchen and not as a professional baker. We can get perfect macaron results each time but if you have the odd crack now and again, don’t worry. It could also just be your egg whites – are they organic? These are best. If you’re going to the trouble of making macarons, don’t skimp on so-so ingredients.

Making macarons is not a competition: it’s about having fun, being creative and above all, enjoying them! There’s nothing quite like getting that rush of excitement when the feet form in the oven and you can think up your own flavours, bringing out the artist in you.  To be able to say “I did that”.  I mean, have you done the macaron dance out of sheer excitement with these things? The proof in the pudding, though, is the taste.

OK “I did that” and admit I did the macaron dance…

Talking of being creative…. for all macaronivores who are fans of the forthcoming Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate, I’m looking to showcase YOUR inspired macaron creations for a Special Royal Macaron Procession on Le Blog on 29 April.  It’s not a competition.  Just a fun post to share our macaron ideas; it could be a typically British inspired flavour or on a decorative flag theme of red, white and blue.  Please send me your photos to jill(at)madaboutmacarons(dot)com and I’ll add them to LeBlog.  Have fun!  But wait…

pineapple curd egg yolk recipe

1st guest post and new series for egg yolk recipes with pineapple curd

Before you go, just a word for anyone who missed our first Blog Post from Erin, author of BigFatBaker.com.  She is kicking off a brand new series of egg yolk recipes on the site with her organic pineapple curd.  Just perfect for all those egg yolks left for making macarons!