Despite the laborious process that is macaron making, I can never stay away from these petite French confections for long. This time it was the glowing reviews on Pierre Hermeâ€™s Arabesque and Pistachio & Griottine macarons that Iâ€™d read on other food blogs that sent me off to the nearest supermarket for almonds, pistachios and apricots.
PHâ€™s Arabesque macarons (based on the various descriptions I found) are supposed to be pistachio dusted macaron shells with apricot cream filling and pistachio praline. Not being a big fan of pistachios, I left out the pistachio on the shells and replaced the pistachio praline with almond & sesame praline.
The texture of the apricot macarons was amazing â€“ chewy macaron shells with smooth apricot cream and crunchy, nutty praline. Iâ€™ll definitely be making these again. The only problem I had was that the macaron shells turned out somewhat on the flat side because Iâ€™d overmixed the batter.
The other PH macaron (pistachio & griottine) which I wanted to try recreating at home is supposed to be filled with pistachio paste and have an alcohol-soaked griottine in the centre.
I faced three problems in this quest. The first being that I had no idea how to make the smooth jade-green pistachio paste Iâ€™d seen in the few photographs of these macarons, so I improvised and made the pistachio paste with Â½ cup of finely ground pistachios, Â½ cup of confectionerâ€™s sugar and a few tablespoons of water, which I then blended together with some buttercream.
The second challenge is that griottines in glass bottles are impossible to find here in Singapore. Iâ€™d only seen them on supermarket shelves in Germany. The only things remotely close to the small sour cherries over here are canned dark sweet pitted cherries in heavy syrup. I didnâ€™t think that these syrup laden cherries would be a suitable replacement and went for a praline centre instead.
The last small problem I had was not knowing where to get powdered colouring (dark pink) for dusting the macaron shells and ended up using cocoa powder, which wasn’t the best replacement since it has a slightly bitter taste. [Latest Update: 13 May 2007] I’ve since been told that powdered colouring can be found at B-I-Y.
As an experiment, I used dried apricot bits for the centre in some of the pistachio macarons. I preferred the nut praline version - it went very well with the pistachio filling. The version with the apricot bits was a little strange - the apricot flavour was too intense and didn’t go as well with the pistachio cream.
Taste-test conclusion: The apricot macaron with its apricot and praline centre is something I’d definitely make again. I really liked the pistachio macaron with its pistachio cream and praline centre as well. Next time I’d probably experiment with a cherry centre when cherries are in season.
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