With less than a month before I go back to work full-time (this was back in Oct, so this post is really late), it was time to get all the baking in that I could.
WL and C came over to bake macarons (what else?) from the PH book. WL wanted to make the jasmine and olive oil with vanilla flavoured ones. These are two flavours that I’d probably never have tried, but I was happy to give them a shot, especially since I knew that WL had been wanting to make the olive oil flavoured ones for a long time now.
I was worried that the olive oil ganache would break since the recipe called for a large amount of olive oil to be emulsified into the ganache, but nothing really exciting happened. We did have to re-emulsify the ganache after we placed it into the fridge to cool to a pipeable consistency, but it wasn’t difficult.
The only thing I would have changed was the olive oil that we used. WL had brought a strong, flavourful oilve oil, which turned out to be more grassy than fruity, resulting in a ganache that tasted very strongly of olive oil with no vanilla flavour at all.
Interestingly, most people who tried the olive oil macarons actually LIKED them A LOT, despite the distinctly grassy flavour. I’ve since come across an Australian olive oil in the supermarket that sounds like a potential candidate based on the description on the bottle, but can’t bring myself to make this flavour again so soon.
The jasmine flavoured macarons were not particularly exciting. WL felt that compared to the one she had tried in Paris the macacrons we made weren’t as strongly flavoured and that the flavour would fade really quickly.
She also thought that the addition of a jasmine essence (which we didn’t have and is mentioned in the book, but not included in the recipe) would make a huge difference. I actually thought that the flavour wasn’t particularly weak and I could still make out the jasmine even after 2 days, although it was admittedly less obvious than on the day that we had made the macarons.
Still driven by the fact that it wouldn’t be long before I would literally have no time to bake, I flipped through the book for more non-chocolate flavors to try. I was immediately drawn to the vibrantly colored shells of the Montebello macarons, which is a flavor with pistachio ganache filling and a raspberry jelly center.
The batter for the Montebello was more fluid than the other macarons that I’d made from the book and I could make out a very faint salty aftertaste due to the amount of coloring I had to add to make the brightly colored shells. The flavor was otherwise fantastic. Who would have thought that pistachio and raspberries would make such a great combination? I was also pleasantly surprised that the small amount of pistachios I used could impart such great flavour. I’ll definitely be making these again.
The other flavour I chose to make was the Pietra macarons. I didn’t have Piedmont hazelnuts (I don’t know if they are available here) and used regular supermarket ones.
The brittle was easy enough to make (ok, so I did end up with a small sugar burn, but mainly because I used too small a pot for the hazelnuts and sugar), but the crushing part wasn’t. The instructions in the book said to finely crush the hazelnut brittle, but didn’t say how. I did consider using a blender, but thought that the brittle would just turn into paste. I ended up putting the brittle in Ziploc bags and smashing them with a rolling pin. Not the best method, since the hard brittle made many small holes in the bags, leaving bits of caramelised hazelnut all over my kitchen counter.
The buttercream was pretty standard, only redeemed by the crunchy bits of praline. Sadly, the crunchiness didn’t last beyond 3 days in the fridge. I also felt that the overall flavour was pretty one dimensional unlike the Montebello ones. I’m unlikely to make these again, except maybe for someone who LOVES hazelnuts.