March 4, 2012

MACAROONS

When is a macaroon not a macaroon?  Or, put another way, when is a macaroon a real macaroon?

When we were in France last summer we visited a macaroon museum.  Yes really.  The French have a museum for everything and anything including almond macaroons.

museedumacaron2_02_thumb3It was a delightful way to pass an otherwise unpleasantly warm and humid afternoon.  The museum presents the history of a family of artisans who began making almond macaroons in France a hundred years ago and at the end you get a little dégustation.  And very nice they were too.  I wrote about it here.

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The original almond macaroons.

Then there are coconut macaroons.  I have my friend Elizabeth to thank for re-introducing me to the delights of those.

macaroons9aCoconut  macaroons. 

These are a dream to make and absolutely scrumptious.  Now that I have discovered my favourite recipe I make them often.  You can read about them here.

Then there is the Be-Ro book version of macaroons. You can see the original recipe here and I made a mincemeat version of them here.

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Be-Ro book macaroons, well sort of.

However, I have never made anything like these.  Not only that, I have never eaten one either.  They always look incredibly fiddly to make and I have immense admiration for anyone who does make them.  They’re on my bucket list for a day when I’m feeling brave and frivolous.

Fashionable macaroons.

When we were in France last summer I took with me a book borrowed from the local library.  It soon became one of those books I couldn’t live without so I bought myself a copy.  It is now one of my very favourite cookbooks.

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I was sitting on our little terrace under the shade of the big umbrella one afternoon.  Nick had gone fishing, the dog was snoring in the sunshine, I had a little pile of cookbooks on the table next to my glass of rosé wine and all was well with the world. 

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With our recent trip to the macaroon museum still fresh in my mind, I found a recipe for these:

macaroons8  Hazelnut macaroons.

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I nipped straight down the hill to the little Spa shop in the village and there on the shelf was just what I needed, a packet of ground hazelnuts.

This always amazes me.  Here we are in rural France in a little village the size of Cromford in Derbyshire and you can get everything you need.  It might be basic and the choice may be limited but between the village butcher, baker, Spa shop and Thursday market, there’s not much you have to go without.  Twice we have spent a whole week in the village without venturing anywhere else and we managed perfectly well.  There are very few Derbyshire villages where you can do that.

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The little macaroons were a joy to make and absolutely lovely.  Great with morning coffee and afternoon tea.  I always give our neighbour Mme André some of my baking.  It amuses both of us and she’s always most appreciative.  It’s also my way of thanking her for all the little gifts of flowers, fruit and vegetables that she leaves on our doorstep every visit.   She thought “les macarons” were beautiful and delicious.

This is what you need.

160g ground hazelnuts

2 egg whites

160g caster sugar

40g ground almonds

2-3 drops vanilla extract

This is what you do.

Mix the egg whites and sugar together and add the other ingredients.  Combine to form a sticky dough, cover with clingfilm and put in the fridge for half an hour or so.

Preheat the oven to 130°C/gas mk ½.  Line a baking sheet with baking parchment.

Remove the mixture from the fridge and stir to loosen slightly.

Take small pieces of dough, about the size of a large teaspoon, shape into rounds or balls and place on the baking sheet.  Allow a little room for spreading.  Flatten slightly.

Bake for 25 minutes or until the macaroons are light golden.  They should be firm on the outside but slightly soft in the middle.

Cool on a rack.  They will keep for several days in an airtight container – allegedly !!

Makes 25-30 macaroons.

20 comments:

  1. I love that cookbook! I've made so many recipes from in but not this one. They look delicious. I just love french shops - I love the fact they still have the butcher, baker, greengrocer etc.

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    1. MissCakeBaker, it is a truly delightful book. I have yet to have a failure with a recipe and many of them are very adaptable.

      Having all the little shops in the village is one of the reasons we love the place so much.

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  2. Macaroons, oh yummy, Jean! Lovely posts and I'm so tempted by the hazelnut version, but I'm not sure I've ever seen ground hazelnuts for sale around here. I shall have to investigate....

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    1. Perpetua, ground hazelnuts are available in our supermarkets in the UK, next to the ground almonds! They are quite expensive though. I suspect you could use more almonds and less hazelnuts in this recipe and it would still work.

      I have actually blanched and ground whole hazelnuts but it's very fiddly. The advantage for this recipe would be to leave some larger bits in which would be nice.......but then you could do the same if you bought a bag of chopped hazelnuts......now there's an idea.....

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  3. Jean I see the Fashionable macaroons on a regular basis at our local Lidl but they are always in the freezer!! Maybe you can give me the answer why, or I will just have to buy some and find out for myself! Diane x

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    1. Diane, it could be because the buttery fillings don't keep too well if chilled....you just have to try some !!

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  4. Oh I bet they were delicious. I so want to try hazelnut macaroons now. Fancy having a museum dedicated to them. The coconut macaroons look good to and I haven't made those for a few years. Macaroons in all forms are delicious - at least I assume the fancy ones are as, like you, I haven't tasted those. Can't believe you can buy ground hazelnuts in your village shop. I can't get them anywhere here!

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    1. Choclette, there is a museum for virtually everything within a short travelling time of our little French house - the mushroom museum is especially fascinating !!

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  5. I bought a macaron book last year but have yet to try out any recipes. You have inspired me to try, although I might just try out your recipe first ...

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    1. Gaynor, I remember your post about that book and I wondered how you got on. These would be much much easier !!

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  6. Oh, makes me hungry. I just love France and French cooking. You can't beat France for beauty in all sorts of places. http://caroleschatter.blogspot.co.nz/2011/11/saint-ceneri-le-gerai.html

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    1. Carole, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

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  7. Oh those magic words "gluten free"!! YES; I'll be baking these tomorrow without a doubt! Thanks, Jean.

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    1. Elizabeth, these are right up your street, I think.

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  8. my absolute favourite are coconut macaroons... I actually don't care so much for the new 'sandwich' type myself... give me a giant coconut macaroon any day!

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    1. Dom, I didn't realise how much I liked coconut macaroons myself until I "rediscovered" them. They're yummy but these are pretty good too, guests were most impressed with them !!

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  9. Hi Jean,

    You won the Hairy Biker book!

    http://cookbookqueen.blogspot.com/2012/03/hairy-biker-book-winner.html

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    1. Wow, me ??!!
      I'm not usually that lucky, Kelly-Jane. I am really looking forward to getting the book - it looks like a good-un !!

      (Note to self - buy lottery ticket this week.)

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  10. I made the hazel nut macaroons this afternoon and they were quite delicious. Thanks. A couple of changes, when I got home the hazelnut package only weighed 125g (no weight on the packet!) so I put in 75g almond to make up the weight. At 25 minutes there was no change in the colour so I gave it another 10 mins but still no change so I took them out. They were perfect, crisp on the outside and soft in the centre. With the remaining 2 egg yolks, I mixed in about 85g of slightly softened butter, and then added enough icing sugar to make it firm enough to hold 2 macaroons together. Oh and I added a little almond essence to the icing. Yum yum. Diane

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    1. Well done, Diane, they sound lovely. I'm glad the recipe worked !!
      I will think about making some buttercream filling myself next time.

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