Every now and then you come across something that kind of changes your life as you know it. For me, one of these moments occurred in the summer of 2009 when I was offered my first macaron; a Laduree creation that had me reeling! Since then I have always tried to keep the macaron in my life, indulging whenever I have the opportunity. They are so sugary and rich (but they don’t come cheap), so they will always be an indulgence item, but boy are they worth it!
I always thought of Laduree as the pinnacle of macaron craftsmanship, that is until Christmas, when I was giving a gorgeous looking box stuffed with macarons of the most amazing colours and flavours. They were from Pierre Herme, the French patisserie chef who has mastered the creation of weird, wonderful and beautiful macarons.
I have visited their store on Lowndes Street only a couple of times since then because I find it practically impossible to resist the urge of buying a big box, but a sudden urge for macarons (plus a need to buy a present for Ben’s mum) sent me there the other day and I was once again reminded of its greatness.
Let’s put his in perspective, this place made not one BUT TWO sweet macaroons with foie gras at Christmas! Yup, they really push the boat out with the flavours and it honestly works. Having poked my nose in last weekend, my attention was caught by a gorgeous bright red and green macaroon, which they told me was their special Mother’s Day creation. Believe me, I can think of no better place to get a treat for your mum! The Mother’s Day macaron is Pistachio and Raspberry compote and fits in just perfectly with a big, mixed, box of macarons (as I found out when I was eating a box of them later in front of the TV). The store always has some of the classic macaron flavours, but mixes them up with something a little more interesting such as, Green Tea, Chanterelle Mushroom & Lemon. It’s good.
So, if you are thinking that Pierre Herme’s boutique might just merit a visit, it’s worth noting that they are running their Macaron Day on Tuesday 20th March, too late for Mother’s Day but still a great way of welcoming the first day of spring on Wednesday 21st...If you need an excuse.
|Walking home with my valuable macaron!!|
For one day only on Macaron Day, Pierre Herme will be stocking a staggering 25 flavour of macarons, including their foie gras variety(!), in what they call a “taste retrospective”. The event is held in aid of Ambitious about Autism and with the tag line “1 Donation, 1 Macaron” and with a percentage of all sales on the day to be donated to Ambitious about Autism, you can’t go far wrong. You can find out more here: www.pierreherme.com/media/catalog/product/JDM-UK.pdf
Now, I have made macarons on a few occasions with varying degrees of success. One thing is for sure though, I certainly can’t make them as neat as I’d like! I always like to try out different flavours and my latest batch of lemon and pistachio ones certainly went down well, it’s just a shame I didn’t think about the colour composition before I started as my greens and yellows all look a bit samey. A nice chocolately brown and pink would’ve brought them to life quite nicely...something to think about for the future, but for now here’s my macaron recipe very heavily influenced my Eric Lanlards from Home Bake, which I have found to be the best:
For basic macaron mixture:
100g ground almonds100g icing sugar
90g egg whites (from 3 large eggs)
100g caster sugar
1. Sift the icing sugar and almonds together in a bowl.
2. In a large bowl, whisk the egg whites on a fast speed with an electric whisk. When this starts to thicken, gradually add the caster sugar until it forms stiff peaks.
3. Fold the almond mixture into the egg whites, along with your chosen colouring and flavouring with a large metal spoon.
4. Pre-heat the oven to 150 degrees Centigrade. Lay baking parchment on large backing trays and using a wide, plain nozzle, pipe out discs of mixture approximately 3cm round. Leave these to dry a little for 5-10 minutes.
5. Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes, making sure that they don’t start to brown.
6. As soon as they come out of the oven, it’s a great tip to lift the baking parchment and pur some very cold water onto the tray. This makes it much easier to remove the discs from the parchment with a spatula.
7. When they are cool, sandwich together with your choice of filling.
For my lemon and pistachio macarons you will need the following:
Lemon:2 drops of lemon essence for flavouring
A few drops of yellow food colouring to achieve your desired depth of colour
Good quality, shop bought lemon curd for the filling
For the main mixture, substitute 20g of the almons with raw pistachio nuts and blitz them up into a fine powder (so 80g ground almond and 20g whizzed up pistachios)
A few drops of green food colouring
Pistachio Ganache for the filling, as below:
Ingredients100ml single cream
40g unsalted pistachios (smashed up into small chunks)
40g caster sugar
1 tablespoon caster sugar
2 egg yolks
20g butter, softened
A few drops of green or black food colouring
For the pistachio ganache:Heat the cream in a saucepan over medium heat then add the pistachios, sugar and caster sugar. Bring to the boil, then add the eggs and cook and turn down, making sure it does not boil but is on the point of boiling. Remove from heat, stir in the softened butter and food colouring, then refrigerate.