Do you find yourself carried away when you’re passionate about something? When MacTweets came up with the end of year macaron-making inspiration, I have to confess I was excited with mad macaron ideas: mixing this with that and being complicated with fancy flavours. Somehow at this time of year, however, we’re into luxury; but the French adore their Classics. Antoine is always reminding me of this before a dinner party: don’t make it complicated!
Recently, I dished out a salty, spicy, chocolate risotto (using Valhrona chocolate) with Reggiano parmesan. When I mentioned converting this into a macaron, he physically winced. Not because he thought it was awful but I’m sure he remembered the time I didn’t listen and I served it as a starter/hors d’oeuvres to perfectly classic, don’t-serve-me-anything-weird-please guests. Everyone raved about it. Sorry, Antoine. A macaron like that would go a blast with some Champagne for a festive apéritif.
For Mac Attack #25, Seasons & Holidays, I changed heart. Well, I’m thinking that poor old Santa is perhaps fed up with the same organic carrots and glass of milk by the chimney – and he certainly wouldn’t have time to stop for a spicy, bitter chocolate risotto with a chocolate chili macaron. Sometimes we have left Santa a glass of matured Scottish single malt whisky but somehow it never lasts that long: I wonder if he even gets to drink it, poor soul.
So, it’s high time that Père Noël got the treatment. In France, a Noël without marrons glacés (sweetened vanilla chestnuts) is… is a day without sunshine? Why can’t I find the words tonight? Perhaps I tried some of the whisky for inspiration but it hasn’t worked. In the words of Shakespeare, it stimulates the desire (I add here, to write) but takes away the performance. Say no more.
At this chilly time of year but festive, warm heart, chestnuts seemed to make sense. Chestnuts are so popular with the French and roasted chestnuts are all around Paris around December. But this time, we’re talking sweetened vanilla chestnuts: les marrons glacés: a French favourite for the holiday season and rest-assured extra sweet bonus points if we arrive with a box of them at Christmas chez Antoine’s parents.
Jamie and Deeba of MacTweets suggested:
Think Colour: since the flavour was chestnut, then it had to be brown. Dark brown. But somehow we don’t want them too dark. Gloomsville, no thanks. Think festive, so lighten them up a bit, using a dash of equal quantities of brown and yellow powdered colouring. To add a festive party glow, brush on a dash of golden food dust/lustre for the luxurious look (either think Pierre Hermé or imagine dancing all night at a Christmas party.)
Think Flavour: This is where the macaron comes into its own. Think concentrated flavours: add some vanilla powder to the shells for extra vanilla punch and don’t forget to taste your filling. It should pack a punch. I made a chestnut cream simply by using Clement Faugier’s sweet/candied chestnut spread with some creamed butter and some mascarpone. However, if you’re stuck for time just now, just slap on the sweet chestnut spread directly.
My very first batch of Chestnut macarons included Corsican Chestnut Liqueur from Castagniccia. Amazing. But after a few days the macarons became slightly too sweet. It’s better with a splash of dark rum.
Think Holiday! Whether you’re spending it with family or friends at home or abroad, enjoy these luxurious gluten-free treats by a crackling fire (or on the beach, you lucky southern-hemisphere friends) with a glass of off-dry Champagne. Take these high heeled fancy shoes off, ladies. They’re killing you, anyway. Change into your slippers and drift away into holiday macaronivore bliss.