Sunday, 13 January 2013

Véritables Macarons de Somewhere or Other

If you're unlucky enough to have been reading this blog for a while then you might have noticed a certain obsession with French baking and you can’t wander through the world of French baking for too long without falling over a macaron. Everyone must be familiar with the modern macaron, beloved of fine patisseries everywhere, but there are more traditional versions of the almond cakes which turn up in various places around France. Amiens, Reims, St Emilion, St Jean de Luz, Montmorillon, Cormery, Melun, Niort and Nancy all have their own versions and that’s just the ones I can think of for the moment.

I feel an urge to include a few random facts at this point  (sorry, I can be really annoying sometimes):
  • There’s a vaguely plausible theory that macarons may have been baked first in ancient Persia, although there’s little doubt that they arrived in France via Italy.
  • Cormery claims the oldest recipe - allegedly dating from the 8th century. The Cormery macarons are ring-shaped – well, the shape of a monk’s navel if you believe the legends.
  • Montmorillon boasts a museum dedicated to the almond and the macaron.
  • Macaroons arrived in England a very long time ago – for instance, there’s a mention of them in ‘The Queen-like Closet or Rich Cabinet’ of 1670.
That’s enough facts for now – I'm getting a headache.
Macarons
There are plenty of macaron (or macaroon) recipes around and I hesitate to add another to the pile but I'm going to anyway. This recipe is my general purpose traditional French macaron recipe. It's a really simple version that, shall we say, evokes the spirit rather than tries to be exactly like any of those I've mentioned. Let’s pretend that this recipe is closest to the St Jean de Luz version, even though that’s almost certainly not true, because it does give me an excuse to include a picture of that pretty little town and imagine I'm there rather than here in the cold murkiness of an English winter. Incidentally, I have been known to bake a vaguely authentic version of the macarons from Amiens and I promise to post that recipe as well before too long.
Saint Jean de Luz
These macarons keep pretty well and, I think, actually improve with a day or so of sitting in an airtight tin. Depending on how big you make them, this will produce between 20 and 25 macarons. They go really well with strong coffee.

2 egg whites
200 g caster sugar
200 g ground almonds
2 tbsp runny honey
½ tsp vanilla paste or extract
A generous few drops of almond extract

Preheat the oven to 160°C. Cover a couple of baking trays with silicone sheets or non-stick paper.

Whisk the egg whites to the soft peak stage. Gently stir in the sugar, followed by the ground almonds. Mix the vanilla and almond extract into the honey and, again, gently stir into the mixture.

Place spoonfuls of the mixture onto the prepared baking trays. Shape them into rounds and flatten the tops a little. You can vary the size but I reckon that something like a tablespoon of mixture per macaron is about right for a decent bite or two.

Bake for 10 – 15 minutes. The macarons should be relatively lightly cooked – a golden brown but not a dark brown. Leave on the trays to cool for at least 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container once cold.

10 comments:

  1. We visited the museum of macarons in Monmorillon in 2011. (It's just an hour or so south of our little house.) It was well worth a visit and you get to do a tasting at the end.

    There seem to be lots of different types of macaron and I think I prefer the ones more like yours. Thanks for the recipe!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Your macarons look more like the traditional English macaroons, beloved of cake shops. Baked on rice paper and presented with an almond pressed into the top.

    And they are Veritable Macarons de Phil's Kitchen, surely? ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Those are the kind of macaroons I remember! The modern ones confuse me...

      Delete
  3. Perfect macaroons - my mouth is watering just reading the recipe!
    Mary x

    ReplyDelete
  4. Wonderful macarons - they look as though they're crisp on the outside and ever so slightly chewy within - is that the case? As you say, a perfect accompaniment to an espresso.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Definitely a chewy inside - the outside is crisper but the contrast between the outside and inside isn't as strong as in some thicker macarons. I think they definitely work better with strong coffee than with any other drink - the flavours really blend together well.

      Delete
  5. These look much more like the ones my Mum used to make,than the multicoloured ones you see so many of nowadays. They look delicious, and will definitely make some. Thanks Phil.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks for this recipe, these sound perfect to me. Will be trying them in the next few days. Keep well Diane

    ReplyDelete
  7. Can't wait to try these! Macarons are my dad's favorite cookie.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hello,

    We've recently launched the site Alldishes.co.uk where users can search through tens of thousands of recipes from UK and Irish food sites and blogs.

    We noticed that you have a lots of tasty recipes on your blog and would like to suggest you have a look at our Top Food Blogs section here: http://www.alldishes.co.uk/top-food-blogs.
    If you want to add your food blog to the list and have your recipes indexed on Alldishes.co.uk, all you have to do is follow the instructions here: http://www.alldishes.co.uk/add-your-food-blog

    Hopefully your food blog will be up there in the top!

    Warm regards,
    Senka
    www.alldishes.co.uk

    ReplyDelete

Sorry but I've had to switch word verification on due to a vast amount of very depressing spam.