OF ITALY & FRANCE:  MACARONS & ÉCLAIRS

 

https://www.bbc.com/food/recipes/macaroons_16105

Sorry no link for the éclairs! It wasn’t there.

What you say – they both come from France. Maybe, maybe not. According to what I could find out while the éclair is accepted as an iconic French treat, believed to have been developed  by Marie Antonin Carême (June 1784 – 12 January 1833) in the early 19th centuary there seems to be some debate about origin of the Macaron.  Larousse Gastronomique cites the macaron as being created in 1791 in a convent near Cormery (central  France).  Some have traced its French debut to the arrival of Catherine de Medici, who upon marrying Henry II of France in 1533,  brought her Italian pastry chefs and the early form of the macaron with her. Either way thank you to whoever invented these delicious and oh so easy to create tasty treats.

This week I steered away from cake as the MOTH said he was “all caked out!” Initally I was rather put out by this remake before I remembered that the lovely neighbourhood ladies usually made him single layer cakes with or without icing, not 3 to 6 layers of  super rich cakes with multiple fillings!! Bless him! The MOTH had manfully managed to eat his way through 3 very large cakes (plus various other baked treats) over 3 weeks. He said he felt “a little bloated”, and “could you make something else”.

Hence my venture into making éclairs and macarons, and to save the MOTH further abdominal discomfort I would give away whichever turned out better. Hence I turned up at our local rest home with perfect bite size raspberry macarons (½ painted gold) filled with chocolate ganache.

I did have a near disaster when painting the macarons as I knocked over the bottle of   Rose Spirit  which you mix the gold powder with. This spread rapidly towards the finished macarons. And you can’t just sweep macarons out of the way or pick them up  as they as so delicate and crushable. Pansy hearing me yell and curse came running  to sit on my feet while looking up expectantly at me. She has learnt over the past 3 weekends that yelling and swearing means food is about to become available on the floor. Luckily only 3 macaron shells were beyond saving and yes Pansy made short work of them. Lesson always, ALWAYS put the lid back on bottle before starting to paint.

ÉCLAIRS

IMG_2305

The éclairs were fun to make and according to the MOTH delicious. He didn’t just eat one, he inhaled it all the while making little happy sounds!

Things I learnt:

  1. The choux pastry is the right thickness when you give the teaspoon a gentle shake and it drops off. I tried this and because my mixture more plopped off than dropped off I added a little more egg yolk. Mistake! Uh-oh! Result – instead of nice puffy éclairs mine looked run over.
  2. Pull them out of the oven after about ½ their cooking time and either prick them or poke a small hole in one end to allow the steam to escape which allows the pastry to dry out better. I did both – why take risk. I already had flat éclairs. I didn’t need soggy ones too.
  3.  Perfectly cooked but run over flat éclairs look better and taste great when filled with lots of home-made coffee or vanilla custard (I made both) and whipped cream then coated generously with chocolate ganache!!
  4. Chocolate ganache (YUM) covers a multitude of sins. And I am a whiz at making chocolate ganache.
  5. You can freeze choux pastry ready for when ever the need make éclairs or cream puff takes hold of you. Sadly I didn’t read this till after the fact. Dam!

My éclairs had a rustic homemade look to them – not at all like the picture perfect éclairs I saw in Paris in December last year with my daughter. We discovered these éclairs, by Christophe Adam of L’Éclair de Génieat the Galeries Lafayette Gourmet. His éclairs looked like pieces of art and came in an amazing arrange of flavours and colours. After much deliberation we each chose one. One raspberry,  the other citron. They were beautiful but pricey – 6 euros each ($10 NZ)! Sadly neither of us really like them. We didn’t even finish them!! Maybe they were just too sophisticated for us. I don’t know.

What I do know is that in less than 24 hours out of the 12 éclairs I made there is only 1 left and it too will be gone when the MOTH has his supper tonight. Happy baking!

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