When I was getting ready to come over, I decided that while I was here I would try to make macarons. I first read about them on Not Quite Nigella's blog and was intrigued. A lot of work and practice to make what was essentially a sandwich cookie? I figured I'd give 'em a go. But first I had to try them.
If you've read this blog before, you'll know that I love the Avoca Cafe cookbook. Well, Avoca has so, so much more than just cookbooks. There all kinds of neat dishes, gifts, household stuff, books and fancy-schmancy foodstuffs. As in - it's the only place in Ireland where I've seen macarons. They're made by French-trained pastry chef Iseult Janssens (http://www.thecakestand.ie/) and are a whopping 8.95 euro for 5 of them! I figured, its all in the name of research so I bought a pack.
From top: lemon, orange, blueberry, grape and raspberry
As the macarons in box I bought were all broken, the cashier very kindly gave me a second box for free! Woo-hoo!! :)
From left: salted caramel, chocolate, cafe mocha, vanilla and pistachio
So I tried em. I found them interesting. The texture and sweetness wasn't what I was expecting but they were quite nice. The salted caramel was my favorite, followed closely by the chocolate.
So I was set. I had a kitchen at my disposal, an eager assistant in the form of my cousin Clare, and time to give 'em a shot. I saw a seasonally-appropriate recipe for gingerbread macarons at Tartlette (who makes some extremely pretty macarons) and she also has a 10 page document with tips (you can find it here) so after reading it and getting everything ready (and after leaving the egg whites out for 2 days) we gave it a go.
Clare piping out the macaron shells
Leaving the shells to rest before baking, to help create hard surface
The finished macarons with the gingerbread buttercream filling!
I think they came out ok for a first try. The feet were there, the tops and bottoms had a crispy shell and a smooth interior. The flavour of them was fantastic and everyone really enjoyed them, but I need to practice the technique a whole lot more. They are pretty finnicky!
Have you ever tried macarons? Any thoughts?
Oh - and a very happy new year to you and yours :)
The angel liked them :)