How to Make Macarons without a Kitchen

It’s the first time I’ve been asked to demonstrate how to make macarons in a library – and the Mitchell Library to boot.

So, how do you make macarons without a kitchen? My macaron kitchen was in a suitcase but somehow the oven was missing, so preparation was key with “Here are some I made earlier.” It’s just as well I’d prepared more than needed. Have you ever tried to transport 3 pastry boxes of fragile homemade macaron shells through security at the airport from Paris?

Demonstration Macaron Making Book Festival UK

That could be another service Mr O’Leary can offer to RyanAir passengers when booking online: Will you be transporting Parisian Macarons? Then tick the box for another €30.

As this wasn’t a service this time, these 3 boxes went through the stuttering security conveyer belt, then jolted back in again just for an extra look. When they eventually came out, the boxes were upside down and many macarons were smashed. I’m surprised they didn’t confiscate the ones that were intact!

Talking macarons at Glasgow Book Festival UK

It’s a ‘macaron’, so no confusion with this coconut macaroon bar

The event was chaired by the lovely Elizabeth McMeekin of the Herald and Times Newspaper Group. She knew how to put everyone at ease and how to deal with a chatterbox like myself, by keeping the session to one hour!  A huge thanks to Waverley Books for organising the event, Eleanor Abraham (the Editor) for the photos, and such a friendly audience. When you return to Glasgow after being so long in Paris, you really appreciate how the Glaswegians are so helpful, chatty with their sing-song accents and down-to-earth.

With a low table, one way to help the audience see properly was to whisk in the air! Whisk your egg whites to stiff but glossy peaks…

Elizabeth asked if you needed to be an experienced baker to make macarons. Well, assuming you cook or bake a little, it’s easy. Even my Dad made macarons and he buys his cakes! (Sorry, Dad, but it’s true…) His came out perfect first time around just by following the recipe to the letter. It was a proud moment!

Then the actual process which makes a macaron a macaron with a foot…macaronnage!

macaronage technique – easier than you think!

Have I always made them perfectly? No. When I came home after a macaron lesson in a pâtisserie, suddenly my oven wasn’t like the professionals and there were many cracked macarons that ended up crushed in desserts. My children referred to the ‘best mistakes’ once as les caves à l’orange due to huge hollows and asked for them again recently. Could I really make my blunder again? I’m not sure, but one thing is certain: your oven is often the biggest culprit. As le blog only started up after the launch of the book, I don’t have any of it documented here. But the lessons learned from all the experiments in the kitchen were learned quickly and the results of making perfect macarons at home are simply written in the book.

The fun moment: out with the piping bag, then leaving the little rounds to air while answering questions from the audience. There’s one that is still foxing me: can you bake macarons in an AGA? Well, I’m sure you can but you’ll definitely need an oven thermometer to check the heat. I need to find someone who has one so I can try it myself. Have you ever tried them in an AGA? I’m dying to hear from anyone who has given them a go using one.

Q&A plus TASTING TIME! Fresh macarons versus macs left to do their magic after 24 hours.

Tasting time!  After assembling the fresh ones, the audience were eager to try. It’s important to taste the difference between ones just made and those that are left for 24 hours. It’s definitely worth the wait. Macaron magic takes place when the filling and its flavour permeates into the shell, making the special fondant centre, the meringue like crunch on the outside… I can now feel one coming on, can you?

One of the hardest questions: what’s your favourite macaron?  I’ll leave you with a peek of one of them: white chocolate, pistachio and wasabi. If you love wasabi, you’ll love it with pistachio.

Pistachio, white chocolate and wasabi macarons (recipe p.63)

It’s Macaron Day in Paris on 20th March. Och, who am I kidding?
Every day is macaron day

Recipe for macarons in my book, Mad About Macarons!

Macaron Talk

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Comments (54)

This! This is what you need to come do in Cayman. Books & Books…you need to get on the Books and Books International author circuit so you can come show me your moves 🙂

Looks like so much fun (not the crushed security bit of course!)

Oh, this is too tempting! You could show me some cocktails and your lovely restaurants, Carsley 😉

Nice job!! Was that a Lee’s bar you were holding up? I miss those sweet toasty things 🙂 But…I like macarons better and I’m intrigued by your wasabi addition.
Take care…

Gerry, that sure was a Lee’s bar. Brings back these coconut sweet memories, eh? The real ones contained potato!

I love this post! What fun to lead a class/demo like this and I can see that it calls for much creativity! Funny you mention wasabi because I just bought the new Lindt chocolate wasabi bar and want to use it for a ganache for macs! Now I need to work in some pistachios! Happy Macaron Day, Jill, and I wish that I could spend the 20th with you in Paris tasting macs. Guess I can only go and pick up a few Pierre Hermé (now sold in Nantes) and Vincent Guerlais/

Jamie, sounds like Hermé isn’t giving that much away. Still queuing for my one mac, though, said the Scot in me. Yes, this demo did need some creative thought…
Lindt chocolate wasabi? Wow. I need to find this! Although I prefer adding my own dose of wasabi for the heat. The pistachios are really wonderful together.

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