I continue to be still intrigued by the not-so-humble French macaron (not to be confused with macaroons as they are commonly mispronounced).
And am still busily flipping through the sumptuous Laduree dessert recipe book that Q's cousin, Vera (who is a chef-for-hire) got for me with all their sucre treats. The book has over 100 dessert recipes compiled by their Executive Chef and has all the artisan opulence of Laduree and French style expressed in just the quality of the book which comes in a box, is covered with a velvet bookjacket with each page flecked with gold etching. Talk about grand!
In case you missed my post on our recent visit to Paris, Laduree is the inventor of the macaron and also the inspired creators of the desserts that you saw on the film about Marie Antionette (starring Kirsten Dunst).
Also it has not helped that Harbour City (where we live in Hong Kong) has had a very successful chocolate fair promotion called The Chocolate Trail running through Christmas and the Valentines season so that each day as I walk out to run errands, I am faced with giant macarons and other chocolate treats glaring at me straight in the face - saying 'Eat Me'.
Eye Candy to say the least ... makes me wish these were real!
Finally, an eclair I can sit on
If only this was the real thing!
A row of delightful chocolate treats outside my door!
With that in mind, I got together with my church friend Sarah and together we embarked this week to try out the recipe. Much as I wanted to follow the Laduree recipe closely - I opted for a youtube video demonstration which I am going to share as this Chef Joanne Chang from fine cooking.com just explains it so well and makes it look so easy..
... which in restrospect it was not as alot has to do with following close instructions and a good amount of preparation and patience. No wonder macarons are not cheap when you consider the amount of work that goes into making a batch. Her recipe makes you a batch of 50 if you pipe them small.
I started off doing the Lemon Curd filling - http://www.finecooking.com/recipes/lemon-curd-cake-filling.aspx which is soft and sticky so should be made the night before, put into a piping bag and refrigerated. Also advance preparation is needed for egg whites which you have leave on the counter (over-night) at room temperature.
The next morning, I did the butter cream about two hours before Sarah arrived and we started working on the macaron cookies (also called shells).
See Joanne Chang's recipe here: http://www.finecooking.com/recipes/vanilla-buttercream-macaron-filling.aspx and portion the Butter Cream mixture into half. Left one half Vanilla and the other half, I added 2 tspns of the wonderful Ghiradelli Chocolate Powder that Vera also gave me. Thanks so much Vera!
The hard work is making the shells - these have to be hand-piped onto a silicon sheet or parchment paper I kind of regret not buying the macaron sheet that I saw selling at Shermay's in Singapore which came with a silicon piping bag (S$70) as I thought it was a costly investment for something that I would not use often .. but hey, they say you do only live once .. so ..
This is the effect - perfectly shaped macarons
Below the piping bag and tray that Shermay's was selling
is about Euro 15 to 19 each online.
The result without the macaron tray (below)
Very hard to get these to the right size and shape when piped by hand
Also finding and matching two halves that are about equal size
together is not easy either
So there was Sarah hard at work, but quite expertly piping in the filling with Alexis watching (in my lovely new kitchen).
And yes, in case I have not told you - my sweety nu-nu pie Alexis is wearing glasses because she is long sighted (yes what an odd ailment for a 7 year old). But we have been assured that it can be corrected so she will have to wear glasses for now till her eye balls elongate... another story for another day..
Not to bad, I have to say ... definitely nothing like Laduree's quality
but a good start for amateurs!