Entries tagged with “Pierre Hermé”.


Cakes.  Cookies.  Pastries.  Breads.  Puddings.

The latest round up on Mélanger explores sweet recipes that exemplify comfort food.  Home baked goodies that provide a little nostalgia and feed your emotions.  Foods that lift your spirits and soothe the soul.   Old fashioned favourites that bring back fond memories.

I chose the theme of ‘comfort food’ as I was saddened by the extensive damage around me here in Brisbane and throughout Queensland with the recent floods.

But now I finish this theme faced with truly heart breaking images of the earthquake devasted city of Christchurch, New Zealand.  My heart goes out to everyone there.  My thoughts are with everyone and their family.

{ Cinnamon apple Danish braid }  This 5 minute Danish pastry is nothing short of spectacular! Perfect for a quick sweet breakfast or afternoon pick-me-up.  Filled dough with diced Granny Smiths and a hint of cinnamon, this braid is simple and comforting.  { Read more here … }

 

{ Fleur de sel chocolate sablés }  Sweet and salty and melt-in-your-mouth.  Baked exactly per original instruction.  When a recipe is inspired by a Pierre Hermé creation, and developed by Dorie Greenspan, really, who needs to make changes?  { Read more here … }

 

{ Plum and white rose tea cake }  There is something comforting about a simple teacake topped with fruit.  With blood plums in season, inspiration for a flavour partner came from the floral scent of rose to add a subtle perfume to the entire cake.  A delicious combination with the sweet plums.   { Read more here … }

 

{ Chocolate Babka Bread Pudding }  Slices of lightly toasted chocolate babka are soaked overnight in a simple custard then baked until golden.  The resulting pudding is soft, creamy and chocolately!  Very comforting (and filling!), indeed.  { Read more here … }

 

{ Omenapiirakka :: Finnish Apple Pie } You need to try this pie.  The best part for me was how easy the pastry was to make.  And even better than that, how delicious it was.  I actually made the pastry a day ahead and was able to quickly roll out, top with apple and then bake in less than 45 minutes.  To keep it simple, I served with a light dusting of icing sugar and some rich vanilla ice cream to complement the gooey caramelised apple centre of the pie.  { Read more here … }


{ Rhubarb, strawberry & ginger crumble tarts } Rhubarb is synonymous with English desserts.  Growing up, I recall my mother creating a number of desserts that incorporated rhubarb.  Not to the extent that I eventually had to throw a hand to cover my eyes, and gesture any oncoming fruit ladened dish away, but to know that this humble fruit was versatile, practical and a hint towards winter.  { Read more here … }

 

{ Sticky toffee bread & butter pudding } Combining the essence of two favourite British desserts, the essence of the bread and butter pudding was sustained  using a homemade spice ladened bread, and the rich, buttery butterscotch sauce, made for a slightly more self-indulgent pudding.  A perfect treat for the cooler Brisbane winter evenings.  { Read more here … }

 

{ Marmalade & golden syrup steamed puddings } The sweet, steamed pudding descends from the traditional boiled pudding – a favourite at Christmas time.  The basic steamed pudding recipe is easy to play around with. It is one of the most simple and comforting desserts to make.  { Read more here … }


{ Mustikkapiirakka :: Blueberry Tart } This simple, rustic style tart is a snap to make and a treat to share.  The blueberries piled high look as inviting as they are delicious.  The simplicity of the tart is the winning secret.  Fresh berries sweetened ever so slightly with a sprinkling of sugar, and topped on an easy to prepare, flaky pastry.  Perfect for any time of year.  { Read more here … }

 

{ Banana pudding ice cream } A creamy and rich ice cream base injected with custard powder and cinnamon, along with a healthy dose of tropical bananas, produces a refreshing dessert reminiscent of banana pudding.  A winter pudding, with a summer twist. { Read more here … }

 

{ Chocolate pecan & maple scrolls } Soft, rich and sweet bread is layered with chocolate, pecans and drizzled with maple syrup.  Straight out of the oven it is hard to resist not pulling them apart and enjoying straight away.  Fill with your own flavour combination to personalise your own scrolls.  { Read more here … }

 

{ Mini doughnuts with homemade dulce de leche } Mini balls of fried yeasty goodness.  The distinct aroma of the cinnamon s ugar on the warm doughnut.  The unbeatable taste of that just cooked doughnut.  These fluffy yeast style doughnuts are a lovely reminder of old fashioned doughnut shop confections.  { Read more here … }

 

 

 

Five months ago, I was excitedly cleaning up my desk at work, bidding à bientôt to my co-workers, and, as I was skipping out the door, entered the final countdown before motherhood.

(Where.  Has.  The.  Time.  Gone?)

Now, I am already preparing for my return to work.  By enjoying each and every day I have with my baby Nina.  Watching her grow, develop and mature.  Spending time with a baby that is flaunting her individuality, who is more alert and ‘talking’, who is trying to show spirit and independence through ‘commando’ crawling, reaching, grabbing, engaging, who giggles and screams in joy at the sight of my face, and who reacts with immense excitement at bright new shiny toys (and cannot get enough of them!).

Each day brings a new reward but the luxury of time will not last forever.   Before I know it, I will be packing her bag and lunchbox for daycare.  In fact, it will be in only six months that Nina will start, and I will ultimately return to work full-time.

And even though, in the future, Nina will not return home to find milk and cookies awaiting her, just freshly baked by her mother, she will not be without baked treats.  So I will comfort myself with the knowledge that a part of me will still be with her during the day.  Even if only in her lunchbox.

{ Fleur de sel chocolate sablés } Recipe by Dorie Greenspan

I made no changes to this recipe.  When a recipe is inspired by a Pierre Hermé creation, and developed by Dorie Greenspan, really, who needs to make changes?

* Ingredients *
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
170g/1 stick and 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel or 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
180g/5 ounces best-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chip-size bits.

* Directions *
1. Sift the flour, cocoa and baking soda together. Put the butter in the bowl of a mixer fitted  with a paddle attachment and beat at medium speed until the butter is soft and creamy. Add the sugars, salt and vanilla extract and beat for another 1 or 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and add the sifted dry ingredients. Mix only until the dry ingredients are incorporated (the dough may look crumbly). For the best texture, work the dough as little as possible. Toss in the chocolate; mix to incorporate.
2. Turn the dough out onto a smooth work surface, divide in half and, working with one half at a time, shape the dough into a log that is 1 1/2 inches in diameter. (As you’re shaping the log, flatten it once or twice and roll it up from one long side to the other, to make certain you haven’t got an air channel.) Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and chill them for at least 1 hour. (Wrapped airtight, the logs can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for 1 month.)
3. Centre a rack in the oven; preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
4. Working with a sharp, thin-bladed knife, slice rounds 1/2-inch thick. (If the cookies break, squeeze the broken-off bit back onto the cookie.) Place the cookies on the parchment-lined sheets, leaving an inch of space between them. Bake only 1 sheet at a time and bake each sheet for 12 minutes. (The cookies will not look done nor will they be firm, but that is the way they should be.) Transfer the sheet to a cooling rack and let the cookies rest, on the sheet, until they are only just warm. Repeat with the second sheet of cookies.

Belle Helene

For my next caramel challenge, I attempt Pierre Hermé’s version of the classic Belle Hélène.

The traditional Belle Hélène includes poached pears served with vanilla ice cream and a chocolate sauce.  Pierre Hermé’s version includes a few substitutes, bien sûr.  Most notably, the ice cream choice is chocolate and the sauce, caramel.  He also includes pear halves instead of whole pears.  Because of this, I originally started plating the dessert instead of serving it up ‘sundae’ style.  I was afraid the pears would be lost and wanted to display them more prominently.

So I carefully cut and fanned a pear on a plate.  Then drizzled with caramel sauce.  Setting that aside, I made a spun sugar ball as final decoration.  Next, the-clock-is-now-ticking part.  I made a perfect quenelle of ice-cream and delicately added to the plate.  I was shocked and then horrified to see it immediately starting to melt practically as soon as it made contact with the plate – and before I could even pick up the camera.

I am not sure if it was because the spoon I used to quenelle the ice cream needed to be warm so it already started the ‘melting process’, or if the plate should have been chilled, or if the eggless ice cream is more difficult to work with?  Any thoughts?

So Plan B it was.  The original sundae serving suggestion.

I quickly made some more sugar threads to top the sundae. I flattened them out slightly to achieve a little contrast with the shape of the pear.  (I should point out that this caramel decoration is not part of Pierre Hermé’s recipe, but when reading through it, I wanted to inject a little more caramel into the dessert.)  The rest of the sundae came together quickly.  And with just enough time to take a photograph, or two.

In terms of flavours, it was a delicious combination.  I already have plans to make additional caramel sauce to keep in the fridge – as back-up.  The chocolate ice cream was a refreshingly light version of the more popular creamy variety.  And the pears?  A simple lemon-vanilla syrup certainly infused its way throughout this fruit.  I am not typically a big fruit dessert fan, but the delicate flavour of these pears will certainly have me coming back for more.

My next caramel challenge will absolutely be something with a little more ‘shelf life’ – for my sanity, if nothing else!  And as soon as I receive the wedding photographs (pending!), I will do a little update on the wedding macarons favours and a few snaps from the big day.

{ Belle Hélène } recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé and Dorie Greenspan
 
Pears
 
* Ingredients *
29 oz (825g) can of pear halves in syrup
1 cup water
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Pulp from half a vanilla bean
 
* Directions *
Drain the pears.  Bring water, sugar, lemon and vanilla to the boil.  Remove and pour over pears.  Cover with wax paper and refrigerate overnight.
 
Caramel Sauce
 
* Ingredients *
½ cup heavy cream
½ cup sugar
3 tablespoons salted butter
 
* Directions *
Bring cream to a boil and then set aside.  In clean saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of sugar over the bottom of the pan.  A soon as the sugar starts to melt and colour, stir with a wooden spoon until it caramelises.  Sprinkle over half the remaining sugar, and repeat.  Add the remaining sugar and cook until the colour is deep brown colour.  Take the pan off the heat and add the butter carefully (may splatter) and then add the cream.  Continue to cook until the sauce just starts to boil again. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.
 
Chocolate Ice Cream
 
* Ingredients *
½ cup powdered milk
3 cups whole milk
1/3 cup sugar
8 oz (230g) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
 
* Directions *
Set up an ice water bath with a small and large bowl and set aside.  Place powdered milk in sauepan and gradually whisk in whole milk.  When powdered milk dissolved, whish in sugar.  Bring mixtgure to the boil, then stir in the chopped chocolate and bring to the boil again.  Pull pan from the heat and pour the hot choolate mixture into the reserved small bowl.  Set the bowl into the ice water bath until cool.  Churn the ice cream in an ice cream maker following the manufacturer’s dictions.  Pack the ice cream into a freezer container and store in freezer for at least 2 hours.
 
Spun Sugar (recipe by Sherry Yard)
 
* Ingredients *
¼ cup water
1 cup sugar
 
* Directions *
Prepare an area for spinning the sugar.  Position two medium saucepans with metal handles at the edge of the kitchen counter/bench.  Let the handles extend out over the floor.  Place some newspaper on the floor to cach drips.  Combine the water and sugar in a saucepan.  Cook the sugar until the temperature reaches 300F or 150C.  Watch closely until the temperature edges up to 325F or 165C.  Take the caramel off the heat and let cool to about 275F or 130C.  Dip a fork into the caramel and carefully scoop out. Position the fork about 12 inches or 30cm above the handles and let the caramel flow off the fork, quickly wiggling the fork and draping the caramel back and forth over the handles.  After two or three forkfuls, stop and gather up the sugar threads and set aside and begin again.  Spun sugar needs to be used immediately.
 
Assembly
 
Put two scoops of chocolate ice cream into the bottom of a long stemmed balloon shaped wineglass or other cocktail glass.  Top with a few pear halves and drizzle over some caramel sauce.  Top with spun sugar, if using.

Paris Bakeries

A couple of days ago it was le 14 juillet, Bastille Day.  I was reminded that this time last year I was playing visitor and traveller around Paris.  I spent a week in this captivating city with a mission.  Visit as many delightful Boulangeries et Pâtisseries as possible.

My experience of a bakery as a child went something like this.  Walk into shop.  Ask for desired item (for example, Lamington).  Wait for sales assistant to extract item with a set of tongs from the display area, then pop the item inside a plain white paper bag, and thrust across the counter for payment.

In stark contrast, the Boulangerie et Pâtisserie in Paris is an experience. Pâtisserie boutiques present their creations like works of art.  Macarons, chocolates, pastries are all eagerly showcased to full advantage.  The care and attention taken is beyond words.  The bread you find in a Boulangerie is bold, crusty and chewy.  It is always fresh and smells heady.  The accompanying packaging to present your macarons, or pocket your baguette, is often striking in itself and serves to highlight the deliberate effort to deliver nothing but quality. 

So after much walking, admiring and tasting, I present my top visits during that week. They truly were some of the best bakeries and pastries in Paris.

:: Pierre Hermé :: is undisputedly one of the pastry masters in Paris.  Visiting a boutique is an experience, a true sensory overload.  The pastry is exquisite.  Faultless.  You cannot make a bad choice if you tried.  { Read more here … }
72, rue Bonaparte, 75006 Paris

:: Ladurée :: is French through and through … it has a certain je ne sais quoi.  You cannot visit Paris without a visit.  And if you are obsessed with the macaron (like me!), you probably will not be able to stop with dropping in just the once.  { Read more here … }
21, rue Bonaparte, 75006 Paris

:: Gérard Mulot :: is an institution in Paris.  Visit and take in the impressive macarons, les petits gateaux, and les chocolates on offer.  If you plan to visit Paris, book yourself in to a “behind the scenes” tour organised by the Paris Tourist Board.  It is priceless.  { Read more here and here … }
93 rue de la Glacière, 75013 Paris

:: Fauchon :: is modern and slick.   Expecting a simple éclair with chocolate glaze?  Think again.  The pastries are vibrant and bold.  Make sure you pick up some of their famous madeleines.  { Read more here … }
30, Place Madeleine, 75008 Paris

:: Gosselin :: is known for its baguettes.  It truly is one of the best bakeries in Paris.  They make great sandwiches which are perfect to pick up while sightseeing.  Popular with locals and tourists alike.  { Read more here … }
258 boulevard Saint-Germain, 75007 Paris

:: Poilâne :: is a destination boulangerie.  There is an outstanding selection of sourdough, definitely not to be missed.  The petit store is just adorable, too.  { Read more here … }
8 rue du Cherche-Midi, 75006 Paris

:: Maison Kayser :: is deservedly known for its croissants.  Wickedly rich, but light.  They practically melt in your mouth.  They are a taste sensation and certainly one of the best pastries in Paris.  { Read more here … }
14 Rue Monge, 75005 Paris

:: le Boulanger de Monge :: is a little gem.  Grab a baguette, then pick up a few items at the near by markets at Rue Mouffetard for your own Paris picnic.  { Read more here … }
123 Rue Monge, 75005 Paris

:: Chez Angelina :: serves hot chocolate that is out of this world.  A (not so healthy!) dose of hot chocolate plus coffee – served with deliciously warm milk – kick-started my Boulangeries et Pâtisseries challenge.
226 Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris

My macarons

{ Images :: some of my recent macaron creations }
Top row:  Lavender macarons, Champagne macarons, Liquorice macarons
Middle row: Blueberry macarons, Lemon macarons, Passionfruit macarons
Bottom row:  Pistachio macarons, Rose macarons with raspberry cream, Caramel macarons

GT July 2009There it was.  I felt legitimised.  For close to two years I have been obsessing about these petit French treats.  And finally there they were.  Boldly emblazoning the front cover of arguably the country’s finest food magazine, Gourmet Traveller.  I am talking about, of course, French macarons.

My family, friends and work colleagues have been subjected to a barrage of commentary relating to my trials and tribulations with the French macaron.  I have only come across a handful people in Australia who share a similar passion (read: obsession).  But the masses?  Many people (well, in Brisbane anyway), are unfamiliar with the French macaron.  Most connect the word macaron to the equally delicious, but considerably less tricky to make, coconut macaroon.

Does this front cover exposure mean French macarons could swiftly gain popularity here in Australia?  Could the French macaron rapidly become the new cupcake?  The cupcake is undeniably popular and continues to reign in many circles.  The surge in cupcake celebrity, however, has brought with it the inescapable poor, cheap imitation.

Is it inevitable that sub-standard macarons may start appearing across the country?  There is a risk.  But I am happy for the attention to be elevated on these little treats.  It would be a dream to have just fraction of the range and quality of macaron available here in Brisbane that equals Ladurée, Pierre Hermé and Gérald Mulot.  Could it happen?  We will see.

For now, I will continue to make my own.  Given my recent focus on macarons as favors for my upcoming wedding (and my obsession in general), I have been getting considerable more practice on my macaron recipe.  I thought I would put together some tips and hints for budding macaron aficionados who want to tackle these delicate little sweets for the first time.

{ French macarons :: My ‘how to’ }

Mini macsThe first time I made French macarons, I simply picked up a recipe and followed the instructions line by line. When the shells I produced did not mirror the accompanying photo in the cookbook, I was a little miffed. Since then I have made countless batches of macarons, I have fiddled with seemingly minor details to ‘perfect’ the recipe for me.  Looking back on that first recipe, I realise how much is not often explicitly explained.

{ Methods }

There are three methods of making macarons.

French :: Beaten egg whites (French meringue) added to almond mixture.
Spanish :: Beaten egg whites (with higher sugar content), added to almond mixture.
Italian ::  Cooked sugar added to egg whites (Italian meringue) added to almond mixture.

The most successful macarons I have made have been with the Italian method.  This is the most stable macaron recipe.  The focus of my tips and hints is around this version, though many of the techniques apply across all three versions.  (NB: all the images of my macarons featured above have been made using the Italian method.)

{ Standard macaron recipe }
Italian meringue method

* Ingredients *

100g egg whites
3g egg white powder
125g almond meal
125g icing sugar
Food colour (optional)
For the syrup:
150g sugar and 50ml water

* Directions *

Process the almond meal and icing sugar together.  In a mixer, add half the egg whites with the egg white powder.  Whip to soft peaks.  Meanwhile, in a saucepan bring the water and sugar for the syrup to 117C (or 242F) on a candy thermometer.  Once ready, slowly add the boiling syrup to the egg whites and continue to whip on medium speed until they thick and shiny and are completely cooled (about 10 minutes).  At the final changes of whipping the meringue, add the food colouring (if using).  Mix the remaining egg whites to the sifted almond mixture and fold into the meringue in four parts.

Pipe macarons on lined baking sheets. Double up your baking sheets if you do not have professional grade quality.  Let your macarons sit at room temperature for 30-60 minutes. Bake at 140C or 280F for 15-18 minutes (depending on size).  Fill with ganache or filling of your choice.  Refrigerate to set.

Depending on your size, the standard macaron recipe should make between 20-25 finished macarons – around 40-50 unfilled shells.

{ Tips on the ingredients }

1. The egg whites must be aged.  That means separating your eggs and leaving the egg whites uncovered at room temperature for 24-72 hours (preferable 72 hours) before using.  This provides an element of evaporation while still maintaining the protein level.
2. Egg white powder.  For extra insurance, I always use additional egg white powder to provide further stability. 
3. The almond meal ideally is allowed to dry at room temperature for up to one week prior to using.
4. The icing sugar must be pure 100% sugar.  No added starch.

{ Tips on the directions }

1. Pay careful attention to processing the almond meal and icing sugar (tant pour tant) together.  Do not over mix.  With the fat content of the almonds, too much processing can make the mixture oily.  Tip – add vanilla in tant pour tant to reduce oil leakage.
2. I begin to mix my egg whites (and egg white powder) in a stand mixer on medium speed just before I bring my water and sugar to the boil.  They need to come together at the same time.  The coordination is critical.  Do not stop mixing your egg whites if your sugar is not ready.  Turn the mixer down to the lowest speed until your sugar reaches temperature.
3. The temperature of your sugar and water is key.  Too low and the meringue will not be stable enough.  Too high and the meringue will be too stiff.  When the thermometer reaches 115C I turn it off.  By the time the saucepan reaches the stand mixer, it has continued cooking and reached 117C.  This is my magic number.
4. Incorporating all the final ingredients together is the trickiest part I have found.  Severely under mix and you get stiff, ugly, bumpy macaron shells.  Slightly under mix and you get dull but flat macarons.  Over mix and you get ill-shaped, cracked macarons with no feet.  Mix perfectly and you get a shiny shell with perfect little feet.  (Can you see how it is easy to become obsessed?)  It is sometimes hard to gauge, but practise does help.
5. I usually mix the first quarter of my Italian meringue in the almond mixture quite roughly.  This is mostly to break up the mixture.  The next additions are a little more careful.  The technique that works best for me is one that I learned at Savour.  Apparently you can tell if someone is mixing their macaron mixture correctly by the angle of their elbow!  Your elbow should be close to your body and moving back behind you as you work the mixture.  You need to lift the mixture away from you starting from the centre / middle of the bowl.  You need to make quarter turns each time.  Basically you are pulling up and dropping down the mixture each time.  You often hear that the mixture is ready when it ‘flows like magma’.  I do not know what that really means.  I look for a shine to the mixture.  I also test by lifting up a spoonful and seeing how it flattens out.  You want the mixture to flatten but still hold its shape a little.
6. Piping can be tricky.  I now pipe my macarons by eye.  They are not all 100% completely uniform, but they are close now.  When I first started, I needed a little guide.  I drew up a ‘circle template’ with a dark pen and put under the parchment paper I was using.  Believe me, when you are making 100 of these at a time, you do not want to draw 100 circles!  Once you are more confident, you will pipe with more ease.  I usually hold a piping bag directly over the baking tray and pipe out for a few seconds.  I pull the bag away quickly once I am done to diminish the likelihood of a peak.
7. The ideal way to pipe your macarons is to alternate the rows.  This helps airflow in the oven.  For example, pipe six macarons on the first row and then five macarons between the six on the second row etc.
8. You know when your macaron mixture is at the right consistency once you have piped.  When you pipe them out, they should have a slight peak.  However, this peak should slowly disappear to a smooth finish.  By the time you have finished piping one complete tray, the first few rows should be sitting perfectly.
9. I always tap the tray when I have finished piping.  This helps eliminate potential air bubbles.
10. Rest time can vary.  I usually leave my macarons about 30 minutes before baking.  But with a few batches, some are baked sooner, some are baker later.  The main thing is that there is a bit of a skin formed on the macaron before you put it in the oven.  Delicately touch the macaron.  If your finger does not leave a mark, then they are ready.
11. Always, always, always use double baking trays if you do not have professional grade.  If you do not double up, your macarons will burn too quickly.

{ Tips on experimentation }

1. You need to check your oven temperature.  If you do not have one already, buy an oven thermometer.  You may be surprised how different that temperature reads to the dial on the front.
2. Watch out for hot spots.  I have some in the back of my oven where it is extra hot.  You will need to test for your own.
3. Experiment baking macarons between 140-160C.  I have the best success at 140C but others equally so at a slightly higher temperature.  Each oven can be different.
4. Experiment with resting time.  I sometimes have success popping in a batch of macarons just after piping but also let others rest for 1-2 hours.
5. If you are using colour, note that this will fade ever so slightly in the oven. So if in doubt, add a little extra.
6. Humidity can cause havoc with macaron making.  Ideally make these tricky little treats on a dry day.  Well, your first time anyway!

I will endeavour to keep this updated as I test new recipes and techniques.  I have a new recipe that I am about to tackle.  Not sure if I should tempt fate, but I am too excited by the prospect of experimenting further.

To everyone that has left me comment in the past on one of my macaron posts saying they have never tried to make macarons, please give them a try.  I would love to see how you go.  Though be warned.  Once you start, it is hard to stop.  It is infectious.  Bonne chance!

{ Acknowledgements }

I need to acknowledge the following outstanding and accomplished chefs who have shared some of their secrets of macaron making with me.

Chef Patrick Leclercq :: Head Patisserie Chef @ Gérald Mulot, Paris
This man is responsible for creating many of the macaron flavours at Gérald Mulot.  Gérald Mulot is an institution in Paris.  I was fortunate to experience macaron making first hand in the 13th arrondissement boutique.  And with the aid of a translator (!) was able to glean considerable tips.

Chef Andreas Stossel :: Head Patisserie Teacher @ Southbank Institute of Technology, Brisbane
This Swiss trained Chef not only has given me valuable tips on pastry making, but also many tips and tricks to fuel my macaron obsession.

Chef Paul Kennedy :: Savour Chocolate & Patisserie School, Melbourne
A complete fountain of knowledge, Paul has explained, in depth, macaron making including the three key methods that are typically used.  My full day macaron class in Melbourne earlier this year truly solidified my obsession (yes, I would fly interstate to attend a macaron class!), and some outstanding questions.

I would also like to acknowledge some great web-based macaron references that I have also used in my macaron endeavours.  These references have been invaluable for me to gain understanding the real science behind the macaron.

Mercotte
This is a tremendously comprehensive reference to macaron making.  This English version provides a great overview of how to tackle these tricky little petit fours.

Tartelette
Helen not only provides easy to understand direction around her macaron making, but she always produces such imaginative creations.  Her enthusiasm for macaron making shines through.  A pleasure to read.

Syrup and Tang
Duncan’s detail on the different macaron methods is so inclusive and clear.  I found his step-by-step guides vastly helpful in understanding the technicalities of macaron making.

Lemonpi
And a special thank you to Y, at Lemonpi who has given me countless tips and encouragement throughout my macaron endeavours!

rose-macarons

I was reflecting on the macarons I saw throughout Paris at Pierre Hermé, Ladurée, Gérard Mulot, as well as those I made at Savour Chocolate and Patisserie school.  I think part of the attraction of macarons for me is the bold, strong colour and favour combinations.  So for my next macaron challenge, I wanted to be more daring in my selections.

In searching my pantry I came across some rose water.  I instantly knew that rose macarons would be the next feature.  Combining the delicate rose flavour, along with some essential food colouring, would certainly produce quite an attractive shell.

For the filling, I initially considered a nice simple vanilla buttercream.  But after some thought, I considered complementing the rosy colour with a berry filling.  I took some inspiration from Fanny at Foodbeam and one of her macaron posts, and raspberry cream was born.
 
The macaron batter used was the same as the lemon macarons I made recently.  The only key difference was resting time.  I was able to let this batch sit for closer to an hour before baking.  The outcome for these blushing delights?  A slightly more prominent foot.   You cannot be disappointed with that?

rose-macarons-21{ Rose macarons }

* Ingredients *

100g egg whites
3g egg white powder
125g almond meal
125g icing sugar
Rose pink food colouring
2 teaspoons rose water
For the syrup:
150g sugar and 50ml water

* Directions *

Process the almond meal and icing sugar together.  In a mixer, whip half the egg whites to soft peaks.  Meanwhile, in a saucepan bring the water and sugar for the syrup to 117C (or 242F) on a candy thermometer.  Once ready, slowly add the boiling syrup to the egg whites and continue to whip on medium speed until they thick and shiny and are completely cooled (about 10 minutes).  At the final changes of whipping the meringue, add the food colouring and flavouring.  Mix the remaining egg whites to the sifted almond mixture and fold into the meringue in four parts.

Pipe macarons on lined baking sheets. Double up your baking sheets if you do not have professional grade quality.  Let your macarons sit at room temperature for 30-60 minutes. Bake at 140C or 280F for 15-18 minutes.  Fill with ganache or filling of your choice.  Refrigerate to set.

roses{ Raspberry cream }

* Ingredients *

120g white chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tbs good quality raspberry jam (St Dalfour)

* Directions *

Heat cream until bubbles form around the edge of the pan.  Pour cream over the chocolate.  Let sit for 2-3 minutes and then stir.  Add the raspberry jam and continue until just mixed.  Let cool then transfer to the refrigerator to thicken.

logo160x180Today is Macaron Day (or Jour du Macaron) in France!

Created by Pierre Hermé and other members of the prestigious Association Relais Desserts, le Jour du Macaron raises money and awareness for the Federation des Maladies Orphelines children’s charity.

Today in Paris you can pick up four free macarons! at a Pierre Hermé boutique.  In exchange, the lucky recipients are encouraged to make a donation to the charity. 

Unfortunately, Brisbane is too far away from Paris to take advantage of this dream event, so I look forward to seeing posts and pictures from other bloggers who were fortunate enough to participate today!

In the meantime, I continue my macaron experiments in honour of celebrating my own macaron month!  So far I have attempted mint chocolate macarons and café au lait macarons.   This week, I think lemon and raspberry flavours may feature strongly.  Souhaitez-moi bonne chance … and happy macaron day!

mint-macaron21My first experimental batch of macarons for this month is with the Italian meringue (sucre cuit method).  I borrowed from Mercotte’s  recipe that is favoured by Tartelette, and strongly resembles the quantities and techniques used by Pierre Hermé.

Unfortunately … I was disappointed in the outcome. 

Probably not surprising my maiden effort with the Italian meringue method was disappointing.  In addition to being pretty heavy-handed in the kitchen (never good when making meringue!), I did also take a few short cuts.  1) I did not use eggs that had been separated ahead of time.  2) I did not dry out my almond meal.  And 3) I did not wait after piping to put the macarons in the oven. 

But that is all part of the experiment, I guess. 

The resulting shells were sort of smooth (though a far far cry from the little treats I savoured in France!).  They were also the most fragile I have made.  They certainly had the right texture though – a crisp outer shell and soft centre – and the taste was lovely, too. 

All in all, worth the effort.  But chalk this up to being a record of (hopefully) mastering the techniques over time.

{ Basic macaron }

* Ingredients *

120g egg whites
25g sugar
150g almond meal
150g icing sugar
For the syrup:
150g sugar and 50ml water

* Directions *

Process the almond meal and icing sugar together.  In a mixer, whip half the egg whites to soft peaks.  Meanwhile, in a saucepan bring the water and sugar for the syrup to 117C (or 242F) on a candy thermometer.  Once ready, slowly add the boiling syrup to the egg whites and continue to whip on medium speed until they thick and shiny and are completely cooled (about 10 minutes).  Mix the remaining egg whites to the sifted almond mixture and fold into the meringue in four parts.

Pipe macarons on lined baking sheets. Double up your baking sheets if you do not have professional grade quality.  Let your macarons sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Bake at 140C or 280F for 15-18 minutes.  Fill with ganache or filling of your choice.

{ Mint Chocolate Ganache }

* Ingredients *

120g bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup chopped mint leaves

* Directions *

Heat cream and mint until bubbles form around the edge of the pan.  Pour cream through strainer, over the chocolate.  Let sit for 2-3 minutes and then stir.  Let cool then transfer to the refrigerator to thicken.

pierre-hermeWalking into a Pierre Hermé boutique is an experience.  In a recent visit to Paris, I took a trip to 72 rue Bonaparte in Saint-Germain.  The store was a delight for all the senses.

Patisserie in France is something to be savoured.  Whether an afternoon pleasure, a post dinner sweet, or a celebratory memento.  Patisserie is paid rightful tribute in France.  It is not cream donut slapped into bag then gobbled while driving (oh, and having some of the contents fall into your lap while you do!).

At Pierre Hermé, each patisserie is a piece of art – and it is treated as such.  When you make a selection, the item is carefully lifted from the display case onto a single board.  It is then taken away from the main counter to be individually packaged.  Your patisserie is placed in a beautiful cornflour blue box and gently sealed.  The sequence is finished with the item presented to you like a gift.

It is like you are walking into a high-end jewellery store about to purchase a special piece of jewellery.  You are overwhelmed by the beauty of all the pieces.  When you choose, your item is treated with the up-most care.  And when you leave, you leave knowing you have something very special lovingly tucked away within the box you hold in your hands. 

After the visual experience comes the tasting…  Pierre Hermé is undeniably one of the pastry masters in Paris.  I do not think I need to explain.

Pierre Hermé
72 rue Bonaparte 75006 Paris.  Also at 185 rue de Vaugirard 75015 Paris.  Plus a new boutique at 4 rue Cambon 75001 Paris (dedicated to macarons and chocolate).