Tuesday, August 25, 2009

How To Eat a Macaron

Click here to watch how to eat a macaron from petites boutchées, a patisserie that specializes on macaron and cupcakes. So funny and utterly true! macarons are gifts from Heaven above!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Country Living

Now this is a kitchen-look I want...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Tongue-in-Cheek

Le Marron et Thé Vert Matcha a tribute to Pierre Hermé who created the original flavors.

These are photos collages from my trip to Paris, from the window display of Bon Marché department store to Marithé François Girbaud concept store somewhere in the right bank if I remember vaguely. It looks like a wall that's been vandalised by graffiti but still looks very cool with all the clashes of crazy colors. Another image is from le jardin du luxembourg, the prettiest public garden I have been in my life! and I saw that lady painting that sculpture and I was like oh my goodness I have to take a picture of that! Paris is so abundant with the spirit of art of la liberté.
Above is PH original Chestnut Matcha macaron with it's signature green tea paste centre. Since I haven't tried it (but will soon hopefully in September) I don't know exactly what it's made of, whether it's buttercream or ganache based. It's at times like this I wished I have his sell-out-out-of-production Macaron recipe book. His original is light-brown to complement the chestnut flavor, he then cut squares of matcha paste to add onto the half macaron shells and then piped the chestnut filling on top of it.

Mine on the other hand is green, but I like the green better and it's different that his. I used chestnut powder and milk to make the paste and combined the cream and white chocolate to make the ganache. The matcha paste centre is made from the chestnut paste combined with matcha powder. The contrast is very subtle between the matcha green and the chestnut brown filling. But taste-wise is a success because the chestnut flavor is pretty strong and the surprise matcha centre leaves a sorta oriental flavor and the sweet is an after-taste delight.

The matcha squares. Don't hesitate to ask me for recipes, it really depends on my mood if I want to write recipes then I'll write them...but sometimes I really can't be bothered. Sorry, but do ask me if any of you would like any of the recipes of the macarons posted here :)

chestnut matcha innards

New flavor of the day. Marron et Thé Vert Matcha, a tribute to Pierre Hermé, the master macaron chef. My chestnut is a bit too dark and taste v bitter but I really like it, not sweet at all so it's good for all those diet-conscious people...me included. I'm keeping the green colour, PH is beige-brown colour. I have to create a point of difference right...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

In The Mood of Jasmine

I miss Rue Saint Dominique in Paris, a close two minute walk from where I lived, with its little church and the small park surrounding it, what a comfort to walk past. On the opposite site chic boutiques and small artisan boulangeries pride themselves on having a street that faces to right up to La Tour Eiffel. On a misty Sunday morning, the silver tower lay hidden amongst the gray cloud and I would search for it when I walk to church, wondering where it is and why it has disappeared...
Paris in...May, on my Sunday walk. There the Eiffel Tower greets whoever sees its towering giant.

I would love to go back to Paris one day, somehow the air feels different than any city I visited. Oh well that's another story. Back to my macaron! Jasmine is bittersweet as it is, but with lychee cream it gives it subtle texture. I use white chocolate to hold the ganache and it's great that I can hardly taste it as I am not too enthusiastic of using white choc in all of ganaches.

The cream coloured ganache is from the jasmine leafs that was cooked in the simmering cream. Drain the cream to get rid of the leafs and add the white chocolate. I sprinkled bits of the leafs, looks prettier doesn't it? mellow mellow. With the colour, it's hard to explain what colour it is, I do hope it resembles a bit of a mix between jasmine and the creamy lychee, a few drops of blue and yellow creates that very very soft green/lime/yellow = creamy lime. Flavorwise, well I feel the lychees aren't pureed enough and needs to be dried longer to remove excess water. It's not very sweet so that's a positive I think, some flavors are meant to be as is, bittersweet right?

I hope Pierre Hermé is proud of me :D

la crème de lychee jasmin macaron

leaf leafy macaron
Originally uploaded by lady macaron
I love the scent of jasmine, it's sweet but at the same time it's quite bitter...that makes it so bittersweet.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Le Pamplemousse Tropical

At last after almost a two week macaron hiatus, I am back on the roll. Yes I still have a bit of nagging cough at the back of my throat, but my hands and mind are itching to bake macarons. Especially since I was recently inspired by Paulette rose macaron montage but I did mine using a paint brush, Paulette does hers by airbrushing the macarons. I just added a bit of water in my colour paste and lightly brushed the sides of the macaron in one go. Turned out pretty okay, quite sell-able but perhaps I would use a finer brush. Now I had a bit of fun with filling, I did use grapefruit obviously, and I also did a buttercream filling on the outside with an orange and grapefruit curd in the centre. The thing is if I use all the curd as the filling, it's too thick and heavy, so I thought the buttercream will balance it off and it does.

Sorry the photo is pretty blurry but I couldn't wait to show the insides, the filling hasn't cooled off completely, some of the buttercream went sideways, but I could taste the curd immediately and it spreads as well. Yum, I think I'll keep this flavour if I get to sell my macs. I have been experimenting with flavours and I have been resisting doing just vanilla or just chocolate cos they sound a bit boring, but I guess at the end of the day people wants to know what exactly they're eating, and mixing too many flavours does gives a confusing look? however this is the era of abstraction and avant-garde isn't it, so why not I say. Or has it moved to new age??

So I've tackled grapefruit, using a buttercream recipe from Melanger, and the grapefruit recipe I followed Cuisine Campagne lemon curd recipe but I substitute the lemon to grapefruit. If the curd turns a bit too liquidy, add a few tablespoons of almond meal so that it becomes pasty. Try it, it works for me.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

News & Events

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Pierre Hermé Minis

Wow I am loving 8tokyo.com it is a very cool website by (I'm pretty sure it's a girl) who loves shopping for sure, cakes, sweets and desserts and blogs it out in short forward writing. I am in craze of Pierre Hermé mini cake miniatures and macaron. Oh they are so petit petit petit I just want to collect them all. I'm gonna check in ebay see if they still have it, I have to have one!

Ah I can't stop staring at them...They're so tiny, so adorable.

A little bag for the little mini cakes. They are all mini representation of PH's signature cakes. In Japan, they sell the miniatures in PH shops as well as freebies from Lipton drinks.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Cute Macaron Boxes

From Ladurée in Paris to Paulette in San Francisco, macaron boxes is as important as the goodies inside. Christian Louboutin, shoe designer for stars with a long list of clienteles recently collaborated with none other than Ladurée to create three individual macaron boxes with Louboutin signature drawings. Available in September, I bet it'll be gone in a couple of days. Ladurée always work with other artists wordwide to unveiled a new box designs, sometimes they do a different theme for each season.

Their doggy collection is also very popular, in particular the character Fifi, there is even a bag with her on it that sells in Ladurée. For a couple of Springs ago, Ladurée did a box just for the flowery season. I think anyone who buys one of Ladurée macaron in their carton boxes which does cost more will always keep their boxes for keepsake, how could you throw such a cute little thing! I can't wait to collect them...

Pierre Hermé used to work at Ladurée as a consultant and made way for modern flavours. Then he opened up his own macaron shop and suddenly he's the new macaron god. I red a review of his book, and the writer said there is only two type of macaron person, a Ladurée person or Pierre Hermé person. Sadly...or interestingly....or dullingly...I am a Ladurée lover. I stand for classics and Ladurée caramel au beurre salé is to die-for! nothing beats french butter.

What an ingenious thing to do, Sempé or in full Jean-Jacques Sempé, who is a very well-known french cartoonist actually did the illustrations of Pierre Hermé macaron boxes. One of his most recent popular exhibition was of Le Petit Nicolas, a small boy character he made that eventually catapulted him into a super cult-icon of french cartoon.

Of course between the two famous macaron giants, there is always a rift competition and Pierre Hermé who has set up his own macaron shop in Tokyo for a few years, has also collaborated with Lipton to make some of his miniature cakes as freebies attached to Lipton everyday drinks! Call him a genious, or just plain marketing savvy. They come as keyrings, as you know Japanese girls love to decorate their mobile phones with cute little danggly sometimes sparkly things. Just makes me want to go to Tokyo even more now.

They sell them now in Ebay and I am itching to get them...but oh they are free when you buy Lipton drinks in Japan...They look pretty real don't they, ohh even the pink macaron with the rose petal, called ispahan, looks so real...gosh and they're freeeeee.... I bet all those Jap girls are buying dozens of Lipton drinks just to get the key rings, I would...

Oh now I'm going to sleep knowing I'll dream of macaron in Japan. Yikes!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Sydney Macaron Hunt

My four-day macaron hunting Sydney has left me with a very bad cough, a blocked nose and a dizzying headache...and half a dozen boxes of macarons from all over Sydney stuck in the fridge. Yes I am terminally obsessed with macarons, but I should be if I want to be serious about it. The Ladurée macarons I brought back from Paris have long been gone and I am waiting for a friend to bring them back in September. Although Sydney's macarons were slightly better than Melbourne, none of them are even close to Parisian macarons, sadly.

My first visit was to Adriano Zumbo was on a Monday afternoon at 3pm, little did I know that he is already a cult-icon in little town Balmain. His café chocolat had to shut early because everything was gone just after lunch hour. His little bakery less than 50 metres away painted a sad grin, his entire goods were basically all gone, what was left behind was a few pieces of rustic breads. I was pretty shocked to be honest, so we promised to come back in the early hours the next day.

Next was Lindt cafe in Sydney's George Street and a second location in Martin Place. They have the best filling in the terms of taste. Although they looked visually appealing with high feet, nice pastel colours and smooth tops, none had the chewiness that of french macarons in Paris. I like their vanilla and dark chocolate best, vanilla because I can taste their signature ice-cream flavour in the ganache, and dark chocolate because Lindt chocs are pretty good.

La Renaissance Café Patisserie is located at The Rocks, a small french bakery, this tiny gem has a colourful selections of macarons. Eventhough texture-wise they were crunchy, their passion fruit with milk chocolate ganache using Valrhona chocolate is refreshing. I can definitely taste the passion fruit.

Finally it's Adriano Zumbo, yes his macarons has a very abstract after-taste. Evethough it might say pistachio or pinenuts, there is definitely a grey area. Meaning he experiments with flavours and I have to give praise for that. He does not just stick to making a pistachio ganache out of a pistachio nut. He is definitely leading the way in Australia's dessert world and Balmain will never be the same again.

Adriano Zumbo
296 Darling Street, Balmain
Café Chocolat
308 Darling Street, Balmain

53 Martin Place
259 George Street

La Renaissance Café Patisserie
47 Argyle Street The Rocks Sydney

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Lady Macaron Café

Once upon a time, if I have a small cafe on my own it would be pink, as clichéd as it sounds I spent my entire childhood until I was about 10 playing polly pockets and barbie dolls. I keep my polly pockets in a glass cabinets in my room and always imagine myself living in one of their little pop-up houses. So it would be naturally easy for me to pick a wall colour or a little sign with pink lightbulbs and decorate my interior with lacy countertops.

Polly Pockets I've collected since I was about three years old. I still buy them if I see one in markets and garage sales, though prices have skyrocketed.

When I was in Paris and bakery-hopping, I found many boulangeries that were almost a decade old, still with their painted cherubs ceilings and ancient looking counters. It would be a cool idea, something I've been thinking, to open a little cafe in a restaurant, a concept whereas a fake façade is installed in a small area inside the interior of the restaurant or bistro. Guests would have to enter from a fake door and they would feel a totally different ambiance.

A beautiful tea room called Crown & Crumpet situated in the well-known Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco is the epitome of my idea of a very chic cafe. The space used both as a sitting room and a modern shop, it is filled with items for sale as well as for decoration. I especially love the pink and white chested floor and old English paintings of children on the walls. It is a forward interpretation of an antique English tea room, and as it specifically said in the website: There is no ‘Granny’s front parlor’ look for Crown & Crumpet.

I believe that macarons are best devoured with a cup of black coffee or tea, and in the company of good friends and family....or simply alone. Whichever suits you, I can't wait to have my own macaron café!

Ref: First, third and fifth image from Crown & Crumpet website.