Friday, January 29, 2010

A Mystery Macaron-Maker

I had a big surprise the other day. I did a Picture Yourself in Paris portrait for PB reader, Judi in Australia...
I discovered Judi is an expert macaron-maker. No wonder she wanted to be painted in Paris.
Judi wants to remain semi-anonymous. She's right to think we would all besiege her with orders for her superb macs. I know I would...
Bakers and pastry chefs are different from the rest of us.
They are precise.

And exacting. They don't throw things in a pot and pray for the best like some of us do...ahem
They are more like scientist experimenting over and over with endless patience until they get it right, just the way they want it.
In a word, they are perfectionist.

These photos are all by Judi of her macaron experiments in Australia.
Here's what she has to say:
I first tasted macarons in Paris at Easter 2004. I saw the lovely boxes in the window (I collect boxes) and went inside. Of course, when we took a bite I had to hurry back in to buy one of every flavour. A friend and I have spent the last month making our own and after a couple of very ordinary batches and a bit of experimenting with different recipes we have just about got it down pat. Our lemon, hazelnut/choc, passionfruit/choc and pistachio are terrific but it's hard to replicate any other flavours, mainly I think because the flavouring ingredients just aren't available here. We've tried making violet macs with Monin syrup and crystallised violets but they lacked strong flavour. I see there's a violette paste which we could obtain from Amazon but it only comes in 1kg jars and is prohibitively expensive. I have given some of our macs to friends who have never had the genuine article and they are very impressed, saying they are the best things they have every had, so I always tell them to go to Paris and be really blown away!
My husband and I were in London two years later and the first thing we did was have afternoon tea at in Harrods.
Here's another of Judi's pastry creations - lovely non?
Judi says: The further I get from my memories of the first macarons the more I forget what they were really like. A return trip to Paris in the future is a must obviously.
Don't you think we should all send Judi back to Paris?
Here is Judi's portrait sketch...
And her finished Paris portrait.
*By the way the Picture Yourself in Paris portraits until midnight January 31st deadline has been extended UNTIL FEB 28
Are there other PB readers out there making macarons?

I'd love to hear from you in the comments. Let's Talk.
Judi likes these macaron sites:
macaron tutorial PDF is in Tartelette's sidebar
Melanger Baking
Mercotte.fr
Syrup and Tang
Bonjour Judi in Australia et merci!

45 comments:

  1. I am beginning the process of macaroons now! I have done two batches and got them down to pretty darn good, but not perfect which is the journey I am on now. My second batch, that actually turned out, was a recipe from David Lebovitz's chocolate macarons. My next venture will be to play around with Tartlette's recipe as I think it looks like she's got it down and is also french so added bonus there. I'll let you know when I get it or you can check my blog sweetladysass.blogspot.com :)

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  2. Chapeau, Judi,
    I bow in awe!

    Merci, Carol,
    for this inspiring tale.
    xxx

    You know, of course, were I'd want my portrait to be taken. ;-)

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  3. Yes I nearly fell over when I found Judi's macaron photos just by chance...
    Though a baker I'll never be...
    Just a macaron-painter is all...

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  4. this might be your best post yet...beautiful pictures and such an inspiration..I've tried making them once and they weren't that bad..chewy at least...I'm going to make some more this weekend

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  5. They are so cute before they even become the macarons!

    Oh I believe you must speak a good french...

    I adore your series of breakfast scribbles...or whatever you call it, I love it so much!

    I am so sorry I could not order the painting now...would you still offer that in the next few years when I am more mature and have permanent placec to stay?:(

    I have just tagged you in my blog, please feel free to let me know if you do not want your painting to be displayed...

    mille baisser xx

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  6. I love seeing how the macarons look before they bake; I've always wondered how they're made. Thanks for this beautiful post.

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  7. Misha in Paris9:32 AM

    that makes "l'eau a la bouche"
    how do you say in american ?
    A+C+++

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  8. Mary Jane9:48 AM

    OOOHH!

    These macarons look fabulous!

    I am also on the quest to make beautiful tasty macarons after visiting Laduree at Harrods in London. My next flavor to try is going to be green tea with lemon curd filling.

    Would Judi be willing to share a few of her tips? More macarons could only be better.

    Mary Jane

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  9. Yum! I have been wanting to try to make macarons--they don't sound hard, but finding a good recipe sounds important. Sweet painting of her--I can see why she'd really enjoy that! Fabulous! Judi's macs look delicious!

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  10. I recently tried the frozen box from Trader Joe and Burdick Chocolatier here in Cambridge, MA, but neither were anything to "write home to mother" about.

    Loved today's posting.

    Jean

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  11. I have a baking book with the recipe and always vowed that I would make some. As small as they are, they've always intimidated me, and I love to bake.
    Judi's are beautiful and inspires me to try them, since I cannot order from her ;) Thanks for the post. Maybe I will make some this Easter and take them to my mother-in-laws and give her a taste of Paris.

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  12. JUDI in Australia10:38 AM

    Surprisingly, Nigella's pistachio mac recipe in HTBADG is foolproof and delicious.
    ! ! !

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  13. JUDI in Australia10:43 AM

    Oooops
    Nigella's HTBADG =
    How to be a Domestic Goddess

    Merci, Judi

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  14. You Know I love to do and to eat macarons!!! These are perfect!!!

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  15. William Ternay, Jr.11:02 AM

    Wow again Carol. What a great post.
    And I'm not even into eating Macarons. Not only is that portrait "sweet," as Sue said, it has a Bresson- moment feel, as though she paused just long enough for you to catch that
    elusive moment.
    Wonderful.
    Bill

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  16. I am fascinated by the pastry process. I admire Judi's work! Delicious :) And the portrait is delightful. I know she's pleased.

    Happy Weekend,
    Jen

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  17. Lovely portrait...Happy weekend Carol, xv.

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  18. I love that sketch and painting - great post, Carol.
    Have a great weekend!

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  19. I am a bit obsessed with making macarons actually:

    http://www.eatlivetravelwrite.com/2010/01/to-australia-with-love.html

    http://www.eatlivetravelwrite.com/2010/01/mactweets-january.html

    and these, before I knew what I was doing:

    http://www.eatlivetravelwrite.com/2009/12/priceless-not.html

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  20. Judi's photographs are superb. Yes, to the exacting science of baking; one of my sisters was a pastry chef in another life (seriously, she does something else now but will still make a wedding cake now & again for her gift). I use the excuse of a not-great oven for my disasters.

    Good weekend!

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  21. She sounds great and I love the painting:)

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  22. Everyone must go to Paris and visit Laduree.....I have cute pictures of my daughter there, but I didn't get any of myself.....I have to look at more posts to see the cost of this...it might be the perfect Valentines gift for myself!

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    ReplyDelete
  24. Lovely post and photos and good to see fellow Aussie macaron appreciaters! I ate 3 macarons yesterday at the Lindt chocolate shop in Melbourne who make excellent macarons which they call Delices. The blackcurrant ones are my favourite and I tried a passionfruit chocolate one which was divine!

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  25. Anonymous5:31 PM

    Lindt are good but the best Melbourne macs are from Cacao in Fitzroy St, St Kilda.

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  26. Yes, I have made macarons... if interested in seeing go to my website and click on cookies in the category section.

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  27. Barbara7:12 PM

    Here is a link to a recent article in a local San Francisco Bay area newspaper re: macarons and where they can be found locally. It fits in nicely with today's topic about Judi in Australia.
    Barbara

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  28. Judi in Australia7:14 PM

    It's wonderful Carol!
    A lovely surprise to find when I woke up.
    Merci beaucoup x
    Judi

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  29. Bonjour,
    I'm one of Judi's lucky friends who get to sample her delights.
    Judi is fantastic!
    or for the French.......
    Je suis un ami de la chance Judi est qui il pour ses délices.
    Judi est fantastique!

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  30. Anonymous8:07 PM

    I have been one of the lucky recipients of Judi's macarons - as well as looking beautiful, they taste divine.

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  31. What beautiful macarons!! I too live in Australia and yesterday made my first batch of macarons - it was a disaster -did'nt hold shape- melted into a big petal pink blob of sticky gluey mess I had to try and scrape off the tray!!
    Please Judi can you share your recipe with us would be macaronists!

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  32. Thanks everyone for the kind comments. If you're interested in making your own macs check out my friend Corry's blog for recipes and hints :

    http://bakeitoff.blogspot.com/2009/10/macarons-tips-tricks-and-how-to.html

    When she and I first started making macs we found the following sites invaluable...

    As Carol mentioned the macaron tutorial on the sidebar of Tartelette's blog : http://www.mytartelette.com/

    plus

    http://melangerbaking.com/2009/06/30/french-macarons-my-%e2%80%98how-to%e2%80%99/

    http://www.mercotte.fr/2008/03/20/desperatly-seeking-macarons/

    http://www.syrupandtang.com/200712/la-macaronicite-1-an-introduction-to-the-macaron/

    And don't forget they become easy with a bit of practice!

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  33. Nicole Mc10:40 PM

    Judi, Judi, where are you Judi?? So close, yet so far! I'm in Australia too and can't wait to get to Paris in 8 weeks time to sample macarons (every day!)....Fabulous photos and beautiful painting Carol. Love my dose of Paris Breakfast every day. xx

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  34. The painting looks fantastic and so do all the macaroons!

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  35. I am obsessed with those little delightful treats too...it's been 6 years since I had my last Parisian macaron...I have always wanted to learn to master the art of making them and I just got a new cookbook for Christmas completely devoted to Macarons...I am so excited.
    They are thrilling!

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  36. Anonymous3:02 PM

    Hi, you got me so inspired that I had the wish only to try some macaroons for myself. And guess what ? Today I just passed by a lovely patisserie in Munich that just opened a month ago. And my daughter and I had each three of them. And they were all delicious. You can become a fan of Clementine savoir vivre if you likeon fb. She sure be delighted to have some more customers...

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  37. Anonymous6:18 PM

    Thank you, with pleasure.

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  38. A-little-mexican-macaron-maker-girl7:44 PM

    Hi Carol , my name is Caror too nd im from Mexico ....i just wanna tell u that i love your web site , nd i´m a fanatic frenetic macaron lover , i work in the pastry department nd make them perfectly....

    so...hi to everyone

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    ReplyDelete
  40. Okay, now I MUST try my hand at macarons! The photos are gorgeous, Judi! And mouth watering!
    Beautiful portrait, my friend!

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  41. If Judi were in the US, I would not set Detective Oswald on the case, but would persue her myself! Alas, my intention to make macarrons for the 2nd time have come to nothing.

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  42. Oh my dear Carol, you have given me a whole new reason to look forward to our trip to Paris in May even more...Behold, The Mac! I was searching the web for what to wear to Paris in May and am now nursing a watering mouth just seeing images of these delectable delights! Merci, merci!

    Mervat (from Australia).

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  43. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

    Lucy

    http://businesseshome.net

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  44. What a wonderful story, and that watercolour is amazing. I am now coveting one myself! :)

    Judi's macarons are amazing. Amazing.

    I'm so glad she loves my blog, too - though don't think she needs any tips and hints from me! Great to find another fellow Australian that shares the same obsession.

    Judi is so right though. You do get blown away by the macarons in Paris. I am still trying to lose the extra kgs from my last trip there! LOL. Nothing in Australia that I've tasted to date, compares. Even my own macarons, I'm afraid to say.

    But that's a good thing in a way. Otherwise going to Paris and enjoying the patisserie treats on offer wouldn't be special, right?

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  45. I've tried many times to make macarons- they don't come out bad but they aren't perfect like Judi's!! I love your blog- so pretty and fun! Thanks for bringing a little Paris to a Texas girl!!!

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