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Macarons Galore;

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freerk's picture
freerk

Macarons Galore;

UPDATE: Dear TFL-ers; here some more impressions of my macaron adventures :-)

Dear TFL'ers;

A macaron has little to do with bread, unless your name is Pierre Hermé, and are raking in the dough on these little babies...

Nevertheless I have the guts to go totally off topic and ask your help in making a shortlist of macarons. After feasting your eyes on the options, I hope you're willing to cast your vote at the end of the post! I promise the next one will be healthy and hearty again, okay? :-D

Freerk


To the Fullest

In the last couple of months I have taught myself to make a wicked macaron. They are hip, they are cool and every body will tell you how hard it is to make them, including me...

/>But guess what, it ain't half bad, once you get the hang of it!

And once making those macaron shells has become second nature to you... that is where things really become interesting!

It took me two batches to find out that in order for me to really like a macaron to the fullest, it needs to be not overtly sweet. Since the sugar parameters are practically set in stone in a macaron recipe, the only thing left to do is play with the flavors.

Another important factor to make the macaron live up to its expectation of utter exquisiteness, is to come up with a combination of flavors, rather than a single one. Eating it has to be like an adventure into unknown lands, or at times exactly those places you know your way around with your eyes closed.

Pierre Hermé

Pierre Hermé is a master at this, and this whole macaron "revival" can be directly credited to him. His book on macarons has quickly become a hit, and when you start baking out of it, you understand why.

From the "classics" to the "fetish", all the way through to the "exceptions" you never stop being amazed at what he comes up with; wasabe and grapefruit, chestnut and matcha green tea, there's even something in there involving Heinz Ketchup...

Help me choose!

Here are some takes on Hermé macarons from the BreadLab kitchen. You can really do me a favor by letting me know which one of these flavor combinations you would try first, or like best! There's a poll at the end of this post, to make it easier for you (well, there is some scrolling involved...), but if you like to; feel free to leave a comment, it's very much appreciated :-)

(You will help me put together a very special gift for a very special person! but shhhht about that!)

Enjoy, and happy baking.

 

Chestnut Matcha Green Tea Macarons (Hermé's recipe)
Wasabe Grapefruit (Hermé's recipe)
The Pietra, Hazelnut praline (Hermé)

 

Lemon and Flaky Hazelnut (Hermé)
Pumpkin Pie Spice (own creation)
Salted Caramel (own creation)
Sour Cherries (own creation)
Vanilla Buttercream (basic recipe)

Comments

yy's picture
yy

MMMmmmmm I'd like to try all of them, but if I were to choose 2, one would be a richer flavor (such as hazelnut praline or salted caramel) and the other would be a fruit-based, more "refreshing" flavor (such as sour cherry or wasabe grapefruit). The contrast between the two heightens the flavor of each one. 

freerk's picture
freerk

hey yy,

I'm looking indeed to assemble exactly that experience in a box of macarons (around 6 flavors). 3 rich ones (not necessarily overtly sweet), countered by 3 "refreshers". I scored some Yuzu juice/concentrate at the chinese store yesterday. Do you know of any (unexpected) contrasting or blending flavors that would work well with yuzu? I alsogot yuzu-flakes, so theoretically I could build the yuzu taste into the shells and offset that with a ganache or buttercream. I just can't come up with good candidates :-)

any suggestions?

 

freerk

yy's picture
yy

Some flavor combinations I've seen from restaurant menus are:

yuzu and corn

yuzu, pistachio, and spruce (from former wd-50 pastry chef Alex Stupak)

yuzu, mango, black sesame, popcorn (also from wd-50)

yuzu-scented ketchup with pickles (I believe ketchup and cornichon is one of Herme's combinations)

Disclaimer: I haven't personally tasted any of these combinations myself, except for yuzu-scented ketchup from a Belgian frites restaurant in San Francisco. I have, however, had some savory dishes featuring yuzu. They're usually fish dishes, although I have had a foie gras dish with yuzu foam that was delicious. Foie gras might be a bit too "unexpected" in a macaron though. 

freerk's picture
freerk

YY! You make me happy!

I'm  intrigued most by the yuzu, mango, black sesame and popcorn, although I might have one flavor too many going there to make it work in a macaron.

Although: if I sprinkle the shells with "popcorn crumbs".... aaah, inspiring! these are wonderful suggestions!

Would you believe it; Hermé DOES a foie gras macaron!

spruce! my goodness, that is still one step out of reach for my imagination; something citrussy, with something "woodsey", with nuttyness in between...hard to imagine how that would taste.

Thanks for the suggestions!

Freerk

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

To me, macaron is all about choosing the right filling to offset the sweetness (<cough... too much sweetness... cough>) from the shells. So my vote would be the Lemon one (the Grapefruit one sounds nice too, but the wasabi part might not go over well with everyone), and the Chestnut Matcha one. That special someone would be very happy!

freerk's picture
freerk

That is what it is all about indeed! Hermé is a true master at building macarons in a way you'd almost think there is no sugar whatsoever in there;  The wasabe (two of my 10 "test-tasters" could identify it) is best eaten NOT knowing there's wasabe in it, so I stopped telling people. Although on the "wild" side of the spectrum, this flavor combination shows Hermé's mastery; eat it right after you've assembled it and you will spit it out (I did!), but leave the flavors to infuse and come together for 24 hours and a (small but significant) miracle happens; a complete and utterly different experience!

Since I'm fooling around with Hermé, one of my testers (well, it's my neighbor really, lol) told me he thought it was great that I had found a way to make macarons without all the sugar... Amazing how powerful flavor influences your experience of what you think is in there!

Still working on the golden sticks, I'll let you know when I "find" it :-) It's so nice, recreating your recipe; there is so much attention to detail and being consistent, balanced. The more I think of it, the more it is a true "East meets West" bread! Thoroughly enjoying myself with it!

Freerk

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

Another great video!  I love citrus, so lemon is first...would love to have a green lime one, maybe your next bake :)

Sylvia

freerk's picture
freerk

I'm sort of missing a "green" taste, so I was thinking of lime-basil. And I got "fiori di sicilia". Still looking around what to contrast/offset that pretty flavor with. Suggestions are more than welcome!

freerk

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

I like a  dark bitter-sweet chocolate with any combination of citrus. 

Sylvia

Syd's picture
Syd

Very entertaining video Freerk.  Loved the drama of the storyline.  Beautiful looking macarons, too!  

Syd

freerk's picture
freerk

thnx syd!

ehanner's picture
ehanner

I don't know much about macrons and have never made them. I like the idea of the contrast of the wasabi-grapefruit and also the salted caramel. But as txfarmer says, the lemon looks pretty good. It would be soooo much easier if you sent me a box with a few samples so I could judge for myself. Is there a primer coming on how to make the filling? They all look so good.

Eric

freerk's picture
freerk

Hey Eric!

I'm sort of learining myself to "think" (a little!) like M. Pierre Hermé in putting together the flavors. That has been my biggest lesson with the macarons I guess. It has been a big eye opener. I'm making 3 different macarons, inspired by his way of working. When I "get" them, I will share those!

I'm looking for flavors to off set/contrast or complement with: fiori di sicilia, something with Yuzu and the third one I'm not too sure of yet. But if you have any suggestions, they'd be more than welcome!

 

Freerk

teketeke's picture
teketeke

Hi Freerk,

Oh my goodness,  I admire your macarons.  I have a trouble to make nice circle ones like yours. Your macaron is perfect. All of them look so good to me. By the way, I love frozen macarons when I eat.  

Thank you for sharing,

Akiko

 

freerk's picture
freerk

Hey Akiko :-)

I know what you are saying!

:-) Freerk

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

with the sour cherries pulling up third!   They all look too inviting!  Pretty!

I have a weakness for lemon anything...  Pisco?  Margarita?

I was careful to make my choice without reading any of the comments above...  Oh Eric!   

Green makes me think of pandan.  Pandan with coconut-caramel.

While I'm at it...  what do you think about Jasmine with sweet/sour/hot?  

Mini  :)

 

freerk's picture
freerk

Mini! How are you doing :-)

The margerita is on my list, still contemplating and researching how to build it. Pisco sounds intriguing, I've never seen it here, and might have to contact my sister in law, who is from Peru!

Pandan is on my list as well, as a matter of fact I got some pandan paste from the Chinese store today, which is nice, because I can easily infuse the shells with taste as well :-) I like coconut-pandan! It could work well with a light caramel. I'm having trouble remembering the taste of Pandan (I remember the fainter tasting chiffon cakes most of all)

There is a Jasmin macaron in Pierre Hermé (he made it for perfumery Patou), and I honestly believe I have never really tasted jasmine. That is, if breathing in the scent at dusk on a looong summers night isn't tasting :-) I might have to invest in some essence :-)

Great! Thanks for all the suggestions! If you have any associations with fiori di sicilia... let me know! Fiori di sicilia virgin here....

BTW I just finished a batch of Lime-Basil. The hint of basil is there, but I need to get myself some proper basil, I just had my own "drooping in the winter sun basil". No balance there and thus quite lime-curdy.

AND (yeah, I'm really having a go at it this weekend) I made Pistachio-Cinnamon with  kirsch infused "griottes" cherries. But my ganache won't set, so much for Callebaut white chocolate drops....

Sorry for rambling on, lol. I'm having a real macaron ball here, and much of the fun is in the anticipation of things to come :-)

Freerk

 

 

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Jasmine rice?  

Jasmine/chili  Jasmine/ananas  Jasmine/granatapfel    ???         :)

freerk's picture
freerk

yes, jasmine pomegrenate! even sounds like a perfume! sweet perfume with a bit of bitter (campari?), I like that. buttercream or ganche... I'd say....buttercream, with a very light butterscotch crunch. oh my...  I'll get a chance to use my recently purchased titanium oxide to make the shells bright white :-D

EvaB's picture
EvaB

but am slightly frustrated at the poll, I could only vote for one, but would vote for more, but not wasabe and grapefruit, I am not into such a deviant mix of flavours.
The lemon is good, the caramel is good, but I'm not into hot or odd flavour combos.
I'm also being very frustrated by my inability to download your videos at all, I get a few seconds, and its just too difficult to watch in 3 second intervals, I have no idea why its happening, but its happening. This is the second one that was in such an annoying way. I am getting new internet service on the 23rd and its supposed to be better, so it had darn well better be, or they will be hearing from me.

freerk's picture
freerk

Sounds like a slow internet connection Eva! Must be very annoying indeed not to be able to watch a video without it pausing on you every three seconds. I hope your new provider or service will give you a little more value for money!

I was a bit frustrated with the poll as well; it doesn't take my commands and hence the lay out is lousy. Ah well, I'm getting a good idea already which flavors are "winners"

thanks for your kind words

lumos's picture
lumos

What a fun! Your macarons look really great. I tend to be in mood for nuts in autumn/winter time, so my choice would be hazelnut one.  If it's combined with chocolate, you can definitely send me to heaven!  And the second choice would be salted caramel. :)

As for yuzu flavour combination, I love squeezing yuzu on grilled white fish, but I have a suspicion it's not a sort of flavour profile you're looking for in your macarons. :p

For sweet things, yuzu works quite well with green tea, but a lot of people do that, so it's nothing unique, either.  It works well with creamy flavour, too, so condensed milk or similar flavoured thing might be a good companion for yuzu. Coconut, maybe?

freerk's picture
freerk

Lumos, it has been so long!

there IS a salmon macaron by hermé, I believe.... and caviar, and ketchup and pickles (I'll stop here before you run off to the bathroom)

for the yuzu or the fiori di sicilia, I am looking to make a combination that works similar to the combo of vanilla ice cream with orange sorbet. we used to have this Popsicle called "split" (orange sorbet on the outside, creamy vanilla ice cream in the middle).

Do you remember this chocolate that was going around a looooong time ago, it was called "Kilt" by cote d'or, and it would give you the sensation of eating ice cream ("cool chocolate"). Can't seem to find it anywhere any more.... but I wonder if I could make a white vanilla ganache with it that could work as the "vanilla ice cream" in a macaron.

Ah! question you might know: I'm looking for some affordable Jasmine essence. Do you perhaps have a secret address that does reasonable prices? All I run into is extremely overpriced stuff. This afternoon I got excited at the Chinese supermarket... but I turned out to be holding a bottle of  Jasmin hair-oil! :-D

I ended up buying dried jasmine flowers. I might have a go myself to get the taste out in a sugar syrup or something :-)

Good to hear from you again Lumos!

 

lumos's picture
lumos

Salmon macaron with cavier sounds great.....as long as it's savoury, even if it's with ketchup and pickles. (though I'm not too sure about ketchup....)  :p

What sort of thing you use for yuzu-flavoured recipe, btw?  (If you can get fresh yuzu fruits in Amsterdam, I'd be officially EXTREMELY JEALOUS!) Can you get yujacha where you are? It's basically just like marmalade made of yuzu from Korea, the original usage is to be dissolved in hot water to make hot, sweet drink, but it's great for dessert making, too.

Can't help you with jasmine essence for culinary use, I'm afraid, as jasmine is not a native plant, so it's never been used in Japanese cooking. It's more of southeast Asian thing, I think. (....and Chinese tea, of course) I quickly searched on internet if I could find something in UK market, but all it showed was jasmine essence for aromatherapy or for cosmetic purposes.....like soap. :p

However, I have made some desserts using jasmine tea before, like jasmine tea jelly/ice cream/sorbet (using infused sugar syrup), jasmine tea butter cake/sponge cake (just mixed in some jasmine tea in the batter), etc. which worked quite well. But it's not purely jasmine, I know, so not sure that'd interest you.  But if you've got dried jasmine flowers, I'm sure you can infuse the aroma by seeping it in a liquid ingredient you're using for a particular recipe, I'm sure.

Hat off to your passion and inspiration in search for great flavours, as always! :)

freerk's picture
freerk

I have yuzu-concentrate and yuzu-flakes (and yuzu ice cream, but that won't be of any use :-)

A director friend is in Hong Kong right now, and he's going to bring me back some essence. I can find it here, but at either rather ridiculous prices, or questionable quality. AND they'll bring me some bubble tea pearls, my latest craving. I got the white and the black "balls", but I couldn't get the "rainbow" variety.

I might try to squeeze some flavor out of the flowers, and I found out yesterday my better half has a bottle of Monin Jasmine syrup, I might just sneak in to work and get myself a few shots to take home and experiment to see how much of the flavor (although I still think it's more a scent than a flavor) I can build into a macaron!

thanks for your feedback, it's greatly appreciated!

Freerk

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

for they are used to aromate the tea.   Drop the flowers in some sugar and cover.  Set them in a warm (not hot) location.  The sugar will take on the flavor like sugar does with vanilla bean.  :)   

freerk's picture
freerk

Great Mini, this sounds a lot less messy than sugar syrup! One question; do you mean, squeeze the flowers dry after a soak in hot water and then add to the sugar?

It sounds like THE perfect way to build jasmine scent/flavor into the shells. I can use the infused sugar to make the meringue! Actually the whole concept of using  infused sugar opens up an entire highway of new possibilities. I bow before you in deep gratitude :-)

Thanks for all the wonderful little things I learn from you!

Freerk

 

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I would not soak the flowers in anything, maybe cut them in half thru the middles if it can be done.   I might be tempted to add a few drops of vodka and shake vigourously to help bring out the aroma.  

freerk's picture
freerk

okay, now I get it. I will start squeezing the flavor out of them this afternoon, no soaking, just maybe cutting them in half (although they're quite small) or bruising them a little. Wodka? I'm in :-) !

 

Thanks again!

 

Freerk

freerk's picture
freerk

Oh my goodness, I just researched the Yujacha, and now I need to have it! And you know, I think I saw it at the supermarket (we have a GREAT china town in Amsterdam that is rapidly becoming extremely popular because of the much better quality they have on offer, and reasonable prices). We also have a wonderful Japanese Supermarket, but they are in the glitsy part of town so I tend to veer off towards chinatown when I suspect they have it in stock as well. I've seen the same udon noodles sell for 5 times the amount I get it for (!)

 

Thanks Lumos!

freerk

lumos's picture
lumos

Yeah, Yujacha is really good and versatile. Worth keeping a jar in the fridge.

Just in case you can't get it in Amsterdam, there're very good Korean food shops and Japanese food shops in the centre of London (very near Tottenham Court Road tube station), so you can easily get it (and other goodies, possibly) when you're coming over hear for Get-Together! ;) 

freerk's picture
freerk

it's been saved in the iphone, when I get there it will lead me straight to the goodies :-)

madruby's picture
madruby

Wow...did you make all of these?  They look spectacular. I too became a macaron addict (making macaron addict) just this year.  I started making them Jan. 1, 2012, appx 1 or 2 batches everyday, and I cannot stop.  As I am constantly chasing after new flavors, techniques, tips and tricks, I am realizing that I also need to find a macaron anonymous group  - a 12 step help program, otherwise, there will be nothing left in my life other than baking these devils.  Addiction has never felt or tasted sooo good.

If I have to take a pick from your gorgeous macarons above, I'd go with the matcha tea one.  I too love that ingredientwhich I only recently discovered through my macaron baking.  I agree that macarons, due to its high sugar content, tend to be too sweet for the taste buds (at least mine) and having realized this, I usually do not add (or just a pinch) sugar in the fillings anymore.  My fillings have become almost sugarless but because they are paired with a very sweet shell, the marriage of these two turns into something close to heaven.

Enjoy your macaron journey....I know I am loving mine. 

annabel398's picture
annabel398

This video has captured PERFECTLY the obsessive nature of macaron-making. I too have caught the bug, making one or two batches nearly every night in search of perfection. I have conquered "tiny feet" and "hollow shells" and "the dreaded browning"... now working on "perfect tinting" and "how to make a fantastic buttercream that doesn't squirt out when you bite it" =(  Ganache is soooo much easier, but less versatile.

My cure for sweet shells is either bitterness (my ganache is 83% cacao and almost inedible on its own, but after maturing it's awesome) or sourness (lemon, say no more!)

Thank you, and I hope you'll revisit this topic to tell us how the gift was received.

 

 

freerk's picture
freerk

hey Annabel!

In the mean time I have started selling them as a pop up baker. Great fun and people really love them. I'm using the proceeds to make a documentary on bread (deo volente) with my BreadLab initiative, so in between regular work (and baking) I'm often to be found on a neighbourhood market or at a Tea Bar here in Amsterdam with my dainty ladies ;-)

 

I'd love to see and read more about your macarons! Any pointers, pics, amazing combinations?

Thanks again for your co,pliments!

 

Freerk

annabel398's picture
annabel398

Shells flavored with orange zest - filling a El Rey white chocolate ganache, flavored with loads of orange zest plus a soupcon of ground ginger, just enough to give you a hint of ginger flavor.  People either love it or hate it (I myself have never been fond of the chocolate-orange combination, but I have a co-worker who was licking up microscopic crumbs of it that had fallen to the desk).

 

Another goofy-sounding one that is actually pretty good is shells flavored with finely-ground freeze-dried strawberries, combined with a Saigon cinnamon buttercream filling. I ordered a high-quality cinnamon (5% oil) online and it's delicious but it makes the buttercream very oozy indeed.

 

I'm planning on exploring the ginger flavor more fully... I think ginger/black pepper/burnt caramel might be a good combo for a filling, what do you think?

freerk's picture
freerk

I like your idea of infusing the shells with both taste and texture. Freeze drying seems a very smart way to go about business with this. I'l most certainly keep my eyes open for interesting freeze dried flavors and textures to give it a try! Do you have pictures of the strawberry infused shells? do they give off some color during the bake? My guess is you add it at the last possible moment to avoid to much moisture being sucked away by them? Very curious about your findings! Let me know :-)

 

Freerk

hanseata's picture
hanseata

I never made macaroons, and I was never crazy about them, either. But just out of curiosity, and because they looked so nice, I bought a lavender macaroon at my favorite cafe "Mornings in Paris" in Portland - and was absolutely amazed how fantastic it tasted.

Karin

freerk's picture
freerk

You know what Karin...I am not a big fan of things overtly sweet myself, and probably when I had my first macaron, my head told me 'waaaaay tooo much sweetness here~" before I even tasted the thing. It wasn't until I made a Hermé creation that I got to understand how far in the opposite direction you can go with flavors. They are without a doubt sugar bombs (and will remain so for technical reasons beyond any ones control), but the experience certainly is completely different, sometimes the complete opposite! I think that, more than being in love with 'the dainty ladies', I am in awe with how these chefs magically make the sugar "disappear"

I'm trying to learn and see if I could do something born from my own creativity, and I have to say; so far I haven't produced anything even close to the sometimes whacky combinations Hermé is producing.

I had great hopes for my 'papelon-macaron', the shells were made with Venezuelan palm with sugar, crunchy tamarind buttercream and a heart of candied orange.

They were great lookers, and the shells came out perfect with a "palm sugar meringue" (complete experiment, but it works!) The tamarind was way too overbearing, and didn't make any sense with the tiny piece of candied orange I put in the heart. So.. back to the drawing board; the palm sugar stays, as is the 'zoethout' powder (light, woody, liquorice taste) I dusted them with. All I need now is an appropriately subtle buttercream/ganche or fruit fillling and a tiny taste finale in the middle:-)

I'm also working on something involving candied fennel (as a core) and zoethout, and was thinking of going lime in the filling. Completely theoretical still, 'cause I haven't tried the flavor combos in a macaron :-)

If you hear of any ridiculous flavor combinations that somehow work, let me know!

with warm greetings


Freerk

cherryadia's picture
cherryadia

Dear Freerk,

I've always wanted to try wasabi one. I've only heard and read about Hermé's macaron.... Only had some made by other macaron chefs sold in Korea (as I live in Korea).

But I would really like the pumpkin spice one as well... Oh... *Drool*

I was going to suggest yuzu but someone has already done it...

Here in Korea, one of the most sold flavour is Earl Grey flavour. I am sure you've already tried one.

And for me, green means mint. Mint and chocolate cream... I am sure it's another very common flavour. Or mint and lemon cream. Yeah... I'm not too creative... Sorry!

How about some spicy ones like chili? Chili and chocolate? I'm sure that's been suggested or you've already thought of that!

I am so sorry that I couldn't really give you any good ideas...

Making macaron is one of the things I am too scared to do. I've heard that there are 10000 things to do wrong but only 1 way to do right for macaron. Scary....

But macarons are so yummy! Maybe I'll brace myself and try making macarons one of these days!

Thank you for wonderful macaron pics and the story! :D

Adia

freerk's picture
freerk

Hello Adia,

With all these wonderful suggestions, I think you should overcome your fears and just start making the macarons! In the end it isn't that difficult. Sure, you will have a few misses, but once you know how to make them, it is like riding a bicycle; you'll never forget how to it, once you master the art :-)

I have tried some macarons with tea, and I really like them. I make an oolong-tea macaron, and there is Hermé's "trois thés" that has earl grey ( I believe, I'm not sure)

I love macarons, as long as they aren't overtly sweet, and hermé has really got the talent to balance the flavors!

Buy the book and start baking ;-)

Thank you for your very kind words!

Freerk