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LES SECRETS DU MACARON

February 18th, 2012 | Posted by The Booyah Cook in Macaron | Recipe - (2 Comments)

Yeah man, what is cooking?!

Absolutely nothing of late as after the back agony, the GA passing away, Christmas, work, boyfriend changing his eating habits.

Until yesterday at work, after a week of eating bought macarons from Ladurée and Paul, one of the girls piped up with “Emma’s are the best macarons I ever had. They look exactly the same by she makes more interesting flavours.”

Is it any surprise when my house is full of both Ladurée books, watched every macaron recipe on Youtube going, been to Le Cordon Bleu and have these books too:

L to R : Un Amour de Macaron Stephane Glacer, Macarons Pierre Hermé, Les meilleurs des Macarons Thomas Feller, my class handout from Le Cordon Bleu.

In terms of which book would be best to buy to learn how to make macarons, I would say get the Ottolenghi book because that is the recipe I always used and the closet to the one from Le Cordon Bleu. Both recipes don’t bother with heating the sugar to make the meringue part. The other books all seem to employ making a meringue for the shell with hot sugar and a candy thermometer.

Using the Ottolenghi recipe.

The thing about macarons is the shells dont taste of anything, the are always just egg white, castor sugar, icing sugar and almond meal with a bit of colouring. The flavour comes from the filling – be it ganache, icing sugar, jam, caramel beurre salé, ice cream, fois gras, mousse (yep you can even have savoury macarons)…

So luckily, you just have to find the recipe for the shells you like and practice it over and over again until you get it right. That is the frustrating part – depending on the humidity in the air, the age of the egg white, the temperature of your kitchen, how well your oven can keep the temperature, whether you remember to let the steam out of the oven as they cook – is managing all the variables to get the macarons to come out without splitting across the dome.

I have never tried this recipe, but it is very similar to the Ottenghi one I recommend. Gourmet Traveller Macarons I also rate recipes of this website – they have definitely been tried and tested before publishing. There are a few things the recipe I don’t necessarily agree with for example:

– leave a macaron 4-5 hours seems a little extreme. I usually leave mine 30 mins to an hour before touching one gently to see if a skin has formed.

– I would recommend adding 1g / a pinch of cream of tarter to the egg whites as you start to beat them. This for some reason stabilises the eggs and helps things turn out ok. (Tip from Le Cordon Bleu. Other recipes suggest lemon juice. I figure that is adding more liquid to the mixture and could be problematic later so I haven’t tried it.)

– the chef at Le Cordon Bleu recommended 160 degree centigrade without humidity. Above that temp, the macarons discolour. Below that, they won’t cook. And, by without humidity, he means twice through cooking open the door quickly, wait a second for all the steam to come out and shut the door again.

But, as I said I rate the Gourmet Traveller so expect their way to turn out pretty well. And if your macaron shells are a fail, there is nothing wrong with using them to make Eton Mess in cocktail glasses or something. Also, there are some areas of France where the traditional macaron is cracked so you know, just wing it.

But this is where all the recipe books come in handy – ideas for different flavours to make the filling. If you want ideas for filling, I like the big green book on the left – except it is French. You could also try Google of course and end up with suggestions for flavours so hideous and sweet on various blogs. To make macarons that “are the ever eaten” my suggestion would be to try things that are naturally flavoured, use real fruit rather than jams or flavouring, herbs are great too and booze works wonders in a ganache. The best macarons I ever had were with the Cardinal in Zurich from Sprungli that were cinnamon flavour. The best macarons I ever made were either blood orange and campari OR honey and basil.

 

TODAY LONDON NEXT WEEK PARIS

February 9th, 2010 | Posted by The Booyah Cook in Cooking | Macaron | Paris - (0 Comments)

a.k.a. My Love Affair With the Macaron

So how many people have I told the same story to over and over

I’M GOING TO PARIS TO LE CORDON BLEU TO LEARN “THE SECRET OF MACARONS”.

I was talking to Mum on the phone this morning asking her “What other kind of cake is hard and a bit fiddly that you have to practice loads to get perfect and even go to a class?” and she said “Profiteroles?” I told her I already made those and they were easy. Maybe not perfect, but successful enough on the first go to not feel challenged. Sponge cake – I have totally cracked it. I have struggled with cannellés and clafoutis – maybe that is the kind of thing – but nothing like a macaron. If you serve a macaron, people are amazed and always say “HOW DO YOU DO THIS? Is there a mould? Do you drop it into something hot? How do you get it so smooth?” etc etc etc. Anyway I have no clue as to what I will learn in Paris but I am getting HELLISHLY excited. And I feel a bit sick/nervous about it. The confirmation letter even tells you what you have to wear in the kitchen.

So – with this level of thrill in mind let me tell you first of all about Mrs K MEETING PIERRE HERME at the new Selfies consession where she had to photograph him for work. I had about 5 missed calls from her that day as she attempted to tell me “MOVE YOUR ASS HERE IMMEDIATELY” and as I said in my previous post about it [and apparently MISQUOTED and then got berated for it afterwards and I told her “Okay woah like fine but I will just blow it up all over the blog about how you yelled at me LOL brb gtg my nbff just logged on bye”.

Oh Buddah where was I? Oh – about to eat this gift of personally selected macarons by Mrs K from Pierre Hermés own hand.

Here are a few views of the macarons at The Cardinals house. Please note the china. Also in bottom photo bottom left please note the sliver of marmite toast available for palate cleansing.

You may remember if you even care, these were the ones I had in Paris when I was there last from Pierre Hermé shortly after getting silly stringed by three pre teens on a skateboard outside the the Pierre and Marie Curé University mineral and gem museum.

So The Cardinal and I were in a gifted position to be able to truly assess the macarons in the privacy of her living room in front of an open fire, sipping Earl Grey Tea from china cups and a variety of cutlery to best perform the operations of peeling apart the layers.

Not the first time I have done this. Remember Nantes?

Sorry lost in a K-HOLE of macaron reminiscing and checking on the Danish cabbage in the kitchen.

Back to Pierre Hermé. There seems to be a whole divide between Pierre Hermé vs Ladurée and who’s is better and whatever. I am going to say that on the whole, I prefer Ladurée. I like to know that what is labelled as Rose is going to taste like Rose. Admittedly I do admire the adventure of P.H.’s “collections” but I think the ratio there is too much filling to macaron and I am not a big fan of chocolate & fruit together at the best of times. I think they are both marvellous though. The only macarons I ever that that were awful were the ones in Nantes – the really tasted like lipstick, shampoo and shower gel.

With all this preamble, lets get ourselves to Sunday afternoon when I had a tea at The Crib with a selection of O.G.’s in attendance: Covvo, Alex T [the sub editor], Ella, Fi and the Cardinal. Hobart was also there but her presence was only felt when she scratched the Cardinal and singed her whiskers on a candle. For my guests I presented my take on cream cheese & radish and egg mayonaisse & quails egg sandwiches. Followed by a selection of macarons made in my own exclusive kitchen and two cakes. Oh and Champagne and tea.

These were Bailey’s and Hazelnut. Total fail in my opinion but Alex T was more than happy to take the ones we didn’t eat home with him at the end.

These were Campari and Blood orange on the left and Lavender on the right. Both lovely.

These were Basil, Pinenut & Honey with Lime. They totally cleaned up. Unfortunately they are a visual fail – see the brown bit? Slightly over done but did not affect taste.

The success of these makes me feel a bit less nervous about the class in Paris. I have to say, I had a very jolly afternoon after heinous weeks at work. The cookbook was planned. I will even be doing a chapter on Chinese food. It will be one page long.

“Don’t fuck with it and leave it to the Chinese.”

Although since then, I have been thinking about macaron recipes on that theme.

My lunch is ready now – braised fennel and Danish cabbage. I’m going to go eat it. You can be rest assured that I will be reporting back in detail from Paris all about how I go. PLUS I have been in touch with Goon already to discuss the restaurants we will be visiting! YERRRRRR.

xx Lektrogirl