It seemed time for a little Christmas spirit, though most of it seems to be passing me by at the moment. On the occasion of a little lunch at my place for friends, I wanted to serve some new flavours of macarons to my faithful tasters.
Christmas flavours? What could I do? Christmas makes me think of fruitcake and Christmas pudding, spices and nuts. I've done a macaron filling with inclusions before (the Winter Solstice event) and wasn't so convinced of its success. Part of the delight of a macaron is the flavour and unobtrusive texture of the filling when married with the light, just slightly crisp shell. Sometimes I've seen small nut inclusions which have worked, but nothing else.
I have a jar of Mother's Fruitmince (one of those strange brands which differs from household to household, if you know what I mean), but I couldn't see how to successfully build that into a filling without a lot of experimentation. Instead, I went for two options:
1. Christmas spices and citrus
2. A berry summer flavour which would bring back memories of childhood summers (meaning Christmas in Australia!)
Ladies and gentlemen, I present:
Orange and Christmas spice macarons — macarons à l'orange et aux épices de Noël
The gerbets (small ones) feature a white chocolate ganache incorporating some fantastic Seville orange marmelade which has featured previously in my macarons, cinnamon, clove and nutmeg. The result: warm woody spice notes and a lingering bitterness from the orange. Very much a Christmas macaron.
Strawberry and musk macarons — macarons fraises musquées
The larger macarons were filled with a mixture of strawberries softened in sugar over low heat and then puréed, combined with white chocolate to make a pseudo-ganache. The final touch, which might make some Australian hearts flutter: a few drops of musk. (Many of us grew up with 'musk sticks' as a childhood confectionery item, unfortunately increasingly hard to get now.) This filling was sweet (a little too sweet for some) and really wonderful, even if I do say so myself.
To add to the specialness of these macarons, I used a gel colouring, rather than the often inadequate domestic liquid colours, and on top of them all are beautiful edible sparkles! I need to work on my star shapes though;)
And one tip for those who want to make macarons… do not make macarons when it's raining or very humid. Macarons absorb moisture very very quickly, so they will start softening as soon as they're cool or out of their storage container. A simple observation: if condensation forms instantly on a container taken out of the fridge, your macarons are likely to have a short lifespan in best condition (less than a day).