|30 flavors baby!|
The macarons came from Christian Michel, an accomplished pastry chef from La Maison du Macaron located in Broglie (Normandy). His palette of macarons was truly exceptional, I got to sample: Cointreau, violet-wild berries, Tibet tea, apple, cherry, orange-cinnamon, rose, pineapple, coconut, licorice, to name a few... To my surprise, I particularly liked the banana, vanilla, cassis (always one of my favorite), coconut and violet-myrtilles (no translation for "myrtilles", just to give you a visual, it is a sort of a wild mountain blueberry). All the fillings for the macarons were made of a rich buttercream. I limited myself to six macarons on the first day, you can get an idea of what I ate after that :)
I also got to get in touch and have a conversation with Chef Patissier Christian Michel. It was nice to see how he started and how his business evolved. He built his own kitchen, or lab (as he calls it) in his home garage (can you imagine, an impossible option here in Connecticut!) and supplies renowned pastry shops and restaurants in Paris. I found out (this is for Cherie) that he uses egg whites in bricks (same packaging as Parmalat milk). The eggs are pasteurized and work very well according to him. This came as a huge surprise as I always read to use fresh eggs only, I guess I'll have to give it a try and see if it works for me. So far, I wasn't able to find suppliers in the US; Australia had some cool stuff but it is a bit too far... Should I give the supermarket product a try?
I took advantage of my hubbys' business trip (once again, moohoohaha!) to order some products that are difficult to find in the United States: fancy essences, special thermometer, flower syrups and some copper molds for canelés. These little cakes have become very popular in France and many boulangeries carry them. Many recipes don't carry a tale; the canelé carries many. One of the oldest refers to a convent in Bordeaux, where, before the French Revolution, the nuns prepared cakes called canalize made with donated egg yolks from local winemakers, who used only the whites to clarify their wines. Any records that might verify this were lost in the turbulent revolution, thus relegating the convent story to legend. But the alternative tale may be even better: residents of Bordeaux, who lived along the docks, gleaned spilled low-protein flour from the loading areas, then used it to make sweets for poor children. The small canelé molds, fluted and made of copper or brass, were nestled in embers to be baked. I've never had a canelé in my life! I left France in 1994 and it's always amazing to go back and discover how some pastries are "à la mode"! My first try wasn't a total success; at first, canelés need to be cooked at a very high temperature (530°F) for a short period of time, then the oven's temperature is lowered (480°F) and the cakes bake for half an hour to 45 minutes . Unfortunately, my home oven doesn't seem to go pass 500°F. My canelés were either burnt or undercooked. This will definitively something to work on in the commercial kitchen I use with a professional oven... Oh well, when I have time!
|Finished product - still needs some work...|