Macarons

macaron2_lefermier_031215The Macaron appeared in Europe in the middle ages, made from sugar, almond and egg white from the very beginning. Some say that the Macaron was born in the VIIIe century in venetians monastery. They were introduced in France by Catherine de medicis for her wedding with the Duc d’Orléans. The macaron use to be eaten as individual biscuits and it’s not until 1830 that, in Paris, pastry chefs decide to stick two macaron together using ganache to create the “parisian” macaron which was later popularized by the very famous Ladurée.

They are now many different flavours of macaron like a mandarine and olive oil from Pierre hermé in Paris or lime and basil and even peach and rose! I have decided to add a festive touch to my macaron today by using Christmas spices to flavour my crème.

Watch the how to video below or visit my YouTube channel here for lots more videos

Macaron with a Christmas Spice Cream

Ingredients for the shells:

  • 210g icing sugar
  • 90g caster sugar
  • 130g egg whites
  • 150g almond meal

macaron4_lefermier_031215Method:

  1. Preheat the oven at 160 degrees Celsius and make sure all the ingredients are measured.
  2. In a food processor, blitz the icing sugar and almond meal until it is very fine. Make sure it is really fine otherwise the top of the macaron won’t be smooth.
  3. Sieve the almond meal and icing sugar to remove the chunky bits, and keep aside.
  4. Whisk the egg white to soft peak, then slowly add the sugar and keep whisking until it is all dissolved. Add the food colouring and whisk until combined.
  5. Using a spatula, incorporate half of the almond meal and icing sugar, mix, then add the other half.
  6. Gently work the mixture by folding it onto itself, making sure you scrape the bottom to get all the ingredients. Work it until it becomes glossy and form a ribbon when you lift the spatula (see video).
  7. Using a pipping bag with a nozzle, lay the macaron on flat baking tray lined with greaseproof paper.
  8. Leave them on the bench top for about 15 minutes so that a skin forms on the top. Check if they are ready to be baked by gently touching the top with your finger, if it doesn’t stick then they are ready.
  9. Bake for 15-20 minutes, then leave them cool down before garnishing them with the crème.

macaron3_lefermier_031215Ingredients for the Crème:

  • 2 free range egg yolk
  • 25 cl full fat milk
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 25g flour
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • ½ teaspoon ground clove
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ginger
  • 2 star anis
  • 1 orange peel
  • 1 lemon peel
  • 75g soft butter
  • 1 vanilla pod, seeds out

Method:

  1. Boil the milk with the vanilla ( seeds and pod) and the spices.
  2. Whisk the egg and sugar until slightly white and fluffy, add the flour and mix until combined.
  3. Pour the hot milk through a sieve, whisk to combined all the ingredients, and cook for about 3-5 minutes while whisking.
  4. Pour the crème in large dish, spread it as thin as you can to cool it down quickly. Once cooled completely, place it in an electric blender, whisk until it is smooth and add the soft butter. Keep whisking until the mixture is glossy and smooth.
  5. To put the macaron together, simply pipe a little bit of crème in the center of half of the shell and put a shell on top!

France Culinary Travel Diary – Paris

Le Fermier

France Culinary Travel Diary – Paris

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A relative who’s lived in Paris for 45 years once said that after all those years he still discovers passages which he’s never walked down, such is the nature of the City of Lights – there’s always more to discover.

As such, I find the best way to explore Paris is to get lost, and then wander the streets until you eventually find your way back home. Along the way, you’re guaranteed to stumble upon countless culinary treasures, some well known, others yet to be discovered, which makes for a trip with a true sense of “adventure” in one of the truly beautiful cities of the world.

To finish of my French travel diary series, here is a list of the places I’ve discovered and loved on my wanderings through the cobbled streets. If you have others, I’d love you to share them too!

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My top Paris dinner picks:

  • L’Etage de Pastavino : 18 rue de Buci, 75006 Paris

This teeny tiny place is situated above La Bottega de Pastavino and is accessed by a dark staircase at the back shop. The fare is simple Italian and price is mid-range. The atmosphere, the location in gorgeous St-Germain-des-Près, and the quality of the food make this my must-visit restaurant even though it’s not French! Bookings are essential. Paris1_lefermier_150615

  • L’Entrecôte: 20 rue Saint-Benoît, 75006 Paris

Just like the L’Entrecôte restaurant in Monpellier, there’s only one thing on the main menu here – Entrecôte. There are a few locations around Paris and it’s a great option for a low-fuss feed.

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  • Buddha Bar: 8-12 rue Boissy d’Anglas, 75008 Paris
  • PNY Marais:1 rue Perrée, 75003 Paris

Burgers are very on-trend in Paris and this is the third & newest location from the Paris-New York team. The menu has a great selection that is really well priced for the quality.

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My top Paris dessert picks:

  • Ladurée

Sightseeing can be thirsty work, and you’ll find the finest drop of tea at Ladurée. Their tearooms are very touristy, but sometimes cliché is fun, as long as you don’t mind waiting in the queue for a table. Their macarons and patisseries are famous and the décor is reminiscent of 18th century aristocratic salons.

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  • Pierre Hermès

Widely believed to be the maker of the best macarons in Paris, a visit to one of Pierre’s Paris boutiques is a must. The flavour combinations are exquisite like Olive Oil with Mandarin Orange and Passionfruit, Rhubarb & Strawberries. There is a range of other delights on offer too, including ice cream in the summertime.

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My top Paris lunch picks:

  • Frenchie to Go: 9 rue du Nil, 75002 paris

Unlike the name and the locale suggests, Frenchie to Go isn’t French at all, but American. This tiny but super hispter café serves delicious American-style sandwiches, like your classic Reuben or pulled-pork.Paris2_lefermier_150615  Paris3_lefermier_150615

  • Holly Belly: 19 rue Lucien Sampaix, 75010 Paris

Arrive too late in the day at this mecca for English-speaking brunch lovers in Paris, and expect to be wait before getting a table. Holy Belly has a reputation, and it’s well deserved. Owned by Frenchies, Nico, a gun behind the coffee machine, and his parter Sarah, who’s a whizz in the kitchen, expect to be warmly greeted and then treated to Holy Belly’s delicious fare.

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My top Paris coffee picks:

  • Holy Belly – as above

Knowing Nico’s coffee pedigree (he worked at Market Lane in Melbourne for a time), I expected good coffee here and wasn’t disappointed (neither was the Madame on the latte front). If it’s sunny, grab a takeaway, wander to the end of the street, and sit along Canal St Martin for a coffee with a view.

  • Matamata Coffee Bar: 58 rue d’Argout, 75002 Paris

We found this place around the corner from the apartment we stayed in, and it immediately became our morning go-to place on the way to wherever else we were exploring.

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  • Coutume Instituutti: 60 rue des Ecoles, 75005 Paris

Random location within the Finnish Institute but a great spot for a light lunch (they do delicious sandwiches and little desserts) and/or a fantastic coffee. Our favourite cup of Joe on the left bank.

  • Fondation Café:16 rue du Petit-Thouars 75003 Paris

A tiny coffee bar not too far from PNY Marais. On a sunny day this is a lovely spot to sit outside of and read the morning paper with a coffee in hand.