Monday, 2 July 2012

#MonthlyMiettes - June Round-Up - Parisian Macarons

Welcome to the 4th instalment of Monthly Miettes! This month we tackled Miette's version of the Parisian Macaron. The seemingly simple, yet notoriously tricky French delicacy.

I knew my day in the kitchen with macarons was coming, but in truth, I was hugely encouraged and inspired by a macaron class I hosted at work with pastry chef Susan Morrison at the end of May. Watching her at work and picking up some great tips, I figured I should make them while the information was fresh!

The Parisian Macarons found in the pages of Miette are a little different, however, so I had to try and mix and match the lessons from Chef Sue with the advice given in the book. Meg writes how, when they first started making macarons, they had no template to work with. Instead, they had just a memory of the beauties they had tasted and eyed while in Paris, so they began testing recipes and developing their own best practices. She says that her version was probably an eyesore to purists, at least at first, given how they ground their own almonds rather than using commercially ground, fine almond meal. This made for a more textured macaron, without that ultra smooth dome over the top. Eventually, people began seeking out Miette's unconventional macarons, with their delicious reputation preceding them. 

Personally, I have a bit of an affinity for the rustic, especially when it comes to food, so I quite liked the idea of these being rougher around the edges. Considering, too, that this was my first time making macarons, I suspected they'd err on the side of rustic, intentional or not. Such a diplomatic word! 

This month, 4 talented bloggers joined me in throwing down what Jasmine called the 'pastry gauntlet,' and I'm happy to report that this recipe was a resounding success, with excellent results across the board! This was the first time making macarons for 4 out of 5 of us, and for Lin, it was her first time even tasting a macaron! That they all turned out so well is not only a testament to the general savvy and know-how of the bakers I have alongside me, but also to a well-written recipe.

1. I absolutely love Jasmine's writing over at Cook That Book, and I enjoyed the introduction to her Monthly Miette post so much that I thought I would share part of it here! "My reaction to June’s Monthly Miettes challenge was a combination of elation and fear. Buckle up ladies and gentlemen…we’re making macarons! I knew the day would eventually come when our group would have to tackle these trendy treats, but I thought creator Aimée White of Food: Je t’Aimée would hold off until later. Much later. But here we all are, mere months into this fun project and Aimée has thrown down the pastry gauntlet. Gotta say I applaud her decision!" Check out Jasmine's awesome macs and the rest of her ever well-written, ever well-researched post here!
Jasmine's Macarons.

2. Despite the enviable array of cakes and confections Jing of Me-ette has successfully tested from this cookbook, this month's challenge offered Jing a crack at something new! Her excitement in her post is palpable! She opted for the almond macarons with a chocolate ganache filling, and aren't they sweet? Jing has also had the good fortune of trying Miette's macarons first-hand! Read about it here.

Jing's Macarons.

3. Joining us for the first time this month is the Queen of food blog challenges: Kate from Food Babbles! Kate was the only one among us who had attempted the mighty macaron before, and I'm very excited to report that this recipe got her seal of approval, too! Look at those lovely chocolate macs! She added chocolate balsamic ganache to the center. Wonderful. Read her post here.
Kate's Macarons.

4. Lin of LinsFood made a stunning THREE flavour combinations for this month's challenge: Coffee Cardamom with Coffee Buttercream, Pistachio, and Rose Geranium. Despite the fact that Lin dislikes the flavour of almonds, her macarons turned out perfectly, and there was still a winning flavour in there with her pistachio variety! Read her post here.

Lin's Macarons.

As for me?

I opted to make the original, almond macaron recipe - comprised of only coarsely ground almonds, powdered sugar, egg whites, and cream of tartar - and then filled them with the coffee-flavoured French Buttercream found on pages 188-89.

The cookbook suggested using an egg white, meringue-based Vanilla Buttercream to accompany them, or a chocolate ganache, and offered a variety of different flavour combinations from those bases. I figured filling a French treat with a French Buttercream - the version using egg yolks - wasn't so much of a stretch, and considering I only had 2 cups of butter (and not the 3 required for the recommended buttercream) I thought the French version was a better fit. The final, coffee-flavoured product was even better than I imagined: unbelievably silky, rich, and delicious.

My tin of piping tips from my late Aunt Gerri. They were especially useful for this project!

Almonds processed with icing sugar.
Piping has never been my forte, but I did my best!
Butter whipped with espresso powder.

Coffee-Flavoured French Buttercream. A dangerous addition to my life.

Just out of the oven and so thrilled! (Even if just a touch too brown on their bottoms!)

Despite appearances, these were actually bite-sized!

Given the humidity in the house the day I made these - a factor famous for the demise of many  a macaron - I was pleased as punch with how they turned out: chewy, delicate, and richly flavoured, and certainly earning their rusticity in looks. I'd definitely aim to refine them for the next batch, and there will be a next batch now that I know I can make them! I'd probably process the almonds a little longer than the recommended 30 seconds in the recipe, but didn't this time for fear of turning them into a nut butter paste, as the book warns. 

If you thought the macarons were tricky, July's challenge is a doozie! (I question my sanity sometimes!) It is strawberry season after all, and with all the summer BBQs, events, and gatherings, so I know it's the perfect time and perfect excuse to make Miette's gorgeous Strawberry Charlotte found on page 45.

The rules are simple!

1) Buy Miette. It will be the prettiest, daintiest addition to your kitchen/bookshelf.
2) Bake the challenge of the month and post about it on your blog/website by the 25th. Our challenge for July is the Strawberry Charlotte (p. 45) - due July 25th, 2012.
3) Grab a slice of this summery, beautiful cake for breakfast (as often or as seldom as you wish, but at least once!), photograph it, and enjoy this little morning ritual to the fullest.
4) Link back to the original post please and thanks! (And if you're tweeting about it, use #monthlymiettes.)

Leave me a comment below if you would like to participate and/or if your post is up!

Good luck!


  1. Yikes! The Strawberry Charlotte does indeed look like a challenge. I can't wait!! Yet I'm petrified :) Your macarons turned out beautifully and I love the addition of coffee buttercream. Yum!

  2. Hey Aimee, really having a blast doing Miette! You're absolutely right, I think Meg's recipes are so well written, they make our jobs that much easier! My macarons? You know it was beginner's luck!
    Really looking forward to the Strawberry Charlotte, this is why I'm loving your challenge, another creation I've never attempted! I know I'm repeating myself, but THANK YOU for coming up with this book!

  3. I can't believe we all had success with the macarons - yay us :) Thanks for the plug in your post! It was a fun challenge and I can't wait to tackle the Strawberry Charlotte!

  4. Aimee,
    I once again dropped the ball on this months challenge. I was headed to a wedding shower and needed to make dessert in the few hours I had. But I did, in fact, make the double chocolate cake from Miette! (It cooled on the car ride there!) It was moist and rich and wonderful. A total hit! But I will once again say I will try try try to get my act together this month. Besides, I'm pretty sure I'm going strawberry picking this weekend so no excuses right?!

    And wonderful posts by all. The macarons look incredible.

  5. Also loving the Laduree-like ribbon! Hmmm, yummers! Rita