Friday, September 30, 2011



My son shakes his head in dismay and disappointment as he stares at the screen. “You are doing it all wrong,” he exclaims, speaking to me as if I was a wayward, naughty child caught with my hand in the cake batter, chocolate smeared across my face. He grabs the laptop and begins to scroll through other blogs that he has discovered, pointing out that I, too, need to reduce my words to the bare minimum and simply offer my readers recipes and only recipes, easy to make, easy to find, easy to access. “Who wants to read through long, rambling stories on a food blog?” I have heard, sadly I might add, the same or something similar from my husband and older son as well. “But what,” I ask them, my heart pounding, breath coming short and fast, “do I do with my stories? I am, after all, first and foremost a writer! I can’t just stop writing, can I? You know what they say… A writer writes….always!

And my darling, talented friend Nanette tells me that I am limiting myself too much, trying to contain my writing to food and that I should expand my platform. And maybe she is right. Yes, okay, Nanette is always right. But what’s a girl to do, a girl with limited time and limited finances?

So my solution is this: alternate my posts, every other one a story, every other one a recipe. More or less. And so it goes.

I have been away too long. New Orleans, Florida, Oman. Out of the loop. Behind. Shamefully behind. Deeba was left all alone to handle Mactweets but happily our little Mac Attack challenge was left in perfect hands. She selected and posted this month’s challenge while I was off wandering the world, watching American television shows about serial killers and enjoying myself. The theme she offered us was Seasonal Macarons and as we roll gently and lazily into my favorite season, autumn, this couldn’t delight me more. Thoughts of October in Tuscany, cooking and snapping photos in Italy and talking passionately about what I love the best, writing, is filling up every waking hour and dotting every conversation as we finalize details for our second From Plate to Page workshop. I have always loved fall the best, maybe because I grew up in a place where fall just doesn’t exist. I adore the cool, crisp weather, the clear blue skies, the gentle breeze that floats through the house when we throw the French windows open onto a beautiful autumn day. Strolls through the vineyards or a romp in the woods with Marty and JP are comforting and enjoyable. The trees turn rustic, mellow, gorgeous, fading from green to burnished reds and matted orange. Summer with just a hint of winter, the promise of holidays and my world turns into a place I want to stay forever.

And the food! Yes, I’ll miss summer’s cherries and plums, peaches and nectarines, but autumn fruits are beginning to show up now, teasing and tempting and inspiring thoughts of Halloween, Thanksgiving and the approach of the holidays. Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, highlights apples and sweet golden honey, almonds and hazelnuts, an abundance of foods of the earth in greens and golds, creamy browns and deep purple. Figs and pears and mushrooms of all sorts tumble from rough wooden crates lined up at the Primeur’s stall whispering to me, inviting me to take them home. And citrus. Oranges and grapefruit make their first tentative appearance and nothing means cold weather to me better than the oranges and yellows of citrus, my childhood rushing back to me with each glimpse of those fragrant heaps of fruit.

Yes, I love autumn best of all. But what do I love so much to inspire a seasonal macaron? The first thing that popped into my mind was orange and chocolate. This combination of flavors brings back family holidays with a bound: each year we offer ourselves elegantly beribboned sachets of chocolate-covered candy orange peel from the best chocolatier in Nantes, slowly savoring them one by one as we sit side by side on the livingroom sofa of an evening. Orange and chocolate together remind me of autumn as it slips into winter, as one Jewish holiday fades into another, bringing us closer together mother, father, sons and brothers.

And chestnuts. How I love chestnuts in both savories and sweets. A wonderful chestnut layer cake beautifully layered with chocolate-chestnut cream and covered in chocolate buttercream is a favorite dessert, astonishing friends who clamor for more. Who thinks of autumn or winter without thinking of chestnuts…roasting over an open fire, imparting a fabulous, earthy, woodsy scent, wrapping us in a blanket of memories?

Chocolate cinnamon macarons – cinnamon synonymous with baking, warm, toasty kitchens, scrumptious holiday snacks and lazy Sunday mornings – sandwiching a rich, creamy dark chocolate ganache. And more: in half the macarons I placed a dollop of tangy, sweet and bitter orange marmalade and in half I added a smear of chestnut cream. What flavors say autumn more than chocolate combined with orange or chestnut?


7.2 oz (200 g) confectioner’s/powdered sugar
4 oz (115 g) ground blanched almonds
3 large egg whites (about 3.8 – 4 oz/ 110 – 112 g)
1 oz (30 g) white granulated sugar
1 Tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
½ tsp ground cinnamon

Prepare 2 large baking sheets. On 2 large pieces of white paper the size of your baking sheets, trace 1 – inch diameter circles (I used the wide end of my pastry tip) evenly spaced, leaving about ¾ - 1 inch between each circle. This will be your template to help you pipe even circles of batter onto the parchment paper. You will be able to reuse these endlessly. Place one paper on each baking sheet then cover with parchment paper. Set aside. Prepare a pastry bag with a plain tip.

Sift the powdered sugar, the ground almonds, the cocoa powder and the cinnamon together into a large mixing bowl. Set aside.

In a standing mixer or with a hand mixer, whip the egg whites for 30 seconds on low speed then increase speed to high and whip until the whites are foamy. Gradually add the granulated sugar as you continue to whip the whites until you obtain a glossy meringue and all of the sugar has been beaten in. The meringue will be very stiff (turn the bowl upside down over your head and they shouldn’t move) and be dense like marshmallow.

Gently but firmly fold the whipped whites into the powdered sugar/ground almonds/cocoa, using a silicon spatula or the equivalent, turning the bowl as you lift and fold, making sure you fold in all the dry ingredients completely. When the batter is ready to pipe, it should flow from the spatula like lava or a thick ribbon. To test to see if you have folded it enough, drop a small amount onto a clean plate and jiggle it slightly. The top should flatten, not remain in a point. If it doesn’t flatten, give the batter a few more folds and test again. You can also fold the powdered mixture into the meringue if it is easier for you.

Fill your pastry bag with the batter. Pipe circles onto the parchment paper, using the traced circles on the template sheets to guide you, holding your pastry bag above each circle and piping into the center. DO NOT FORGET TO CAREFULLY REMOVE THE WHITE PAPER TEMPLATE FROM UNDERNEATH THE PARCHMENT PAPER. YOU DO NOT WANT THIS TEMPLATE TO GO IN THE OVEN!

Preheat your oven to 280°F (140°C).

Allow the macarons to sit out for about an hour or even longer if the shells are not ready to bake. The top of each shell should form a “skin” (it will feel like it hardened a bit when gently touched and not stick to your skin). Bake the shells for 15 – 25 minutes, depending on their size (when I touched macs that were not quite done, the top jiggled a bit as if there was still a bit of liquid batter between the top and the “feet” so I let it continue to bake another minute.) I turn the trays back to front halfway through the baking.

Remove the tray from the oven and immediately slide the parchment paper with the shells off of the hot baking sheet and onto a surface, table or countertop. Allow to cool completely before sliding the shells very gently off of the parchment by slipping a metal cake spatula under the shell as you lift it up or by peeling the parchment paper from the back of the shells. Be careful or the center of the shell risks sticking to the parchment.

When the macaron shells are cool, pair the shells up evenly, each with a matching partner. Smear a half teaspoon or more of either orange marmalade or sweetened chestnut cream onto the bottom shell of each pair. Pipe a dollop, about a teaspoon, of ganache filling on top of the marmalade or chestnut cream. Carefully sandwich the shells together.

Feel free to use a bittersweet or semisweet chocolate or any of the flavored chocolates now available – orange chocolate, for example, in your ganache.

Optional but highly recommended
A few tablespoons bitter or sweet orange marmalade
A few tablespoons vanilla-scented sweetened chestnut cream

½ cup (125 ml) heavy cream
4 ¼ oz (120 g) Lindt Excellence 70% Dark Chocolate (I used Doux) or your favorite chocolate

Chop the chocolate and put in an appropriately-sized pyrex (heatproof) bowl. Heat the cream in a saucepan gently until it comes just to the boil. Pour the cream over the chopped chocolate and stir until all of the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth and luxurious. Allow to cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. It should thicken to a spreading/piping consistency. If you need to, speed up the process by placing in the refrigerator until desired spreading/piping consistency, stirring occasionally.


Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

I've also been told the same thing by a friend (I understand her point, but with the long texts, my posts are soulless), but from the reactions I get people seem to like my rambling and if they don't then they can just admire the pictures and recipe! ;-P

Gorgeous macarons! I would love to taste them. Those also have to be my favorite flavors...



thelittleloaf said...

Chestnut cream and marmalade? Yum! I think chocolate macarons have to be my all-time favourites...and the flavours you've used here are so beautifully autumnal and interesting. Can't wait to see what next month's challenge will be :-)

Patricia Scarpin said...

These are precious! Your macarons look perfect. What a delicious flavor combo you chose!

Françoise @ ChocoParis said...

What wonderful, exquisite flavours. I love chocolate and orange together, and chestnut cream is one of my favourites! Beautiful macarons!

Aimée @ Food: Je t'Aimée said...

I think in every comment I've ever left you, I've said something about how much I love your stories and how they make me feel.

Please keep telling them! I come to your blog in equal parts for the recipe and for a story. I anticipate the story. I get a cup of tea.

I understand the point they're making, but... you're a writer! The stories make me feel more connected to the recipe. They make me more likely and desirous to try and replicate it! There are other blogs I visit in order to snag quick recipes...

All in my opinion of course... :) End rant!

Beautiful macs, Jamie. I, too, am compltely enamoured with fall and its flavours. I *will* try macs this winter - I will!

Jamie said...

@Aimée: Thank you! Thank you! Sometimes I need to hear that and it is so appreciated. Some people do not understand. And the writing is part of my soul and impossible to keep in!

Deeba PAB said...

Kisses to you my love, many of them! Don't let those 'men' cramp your style hun. This is a different ball game altogether; they know not! So good to have you back in the fold, doing the MacQueen thing. These are gorgeous as always, with flavours that steal my heart! Mmmmm

garden at nina place said...

I'll never get tired of macaron. Chocolate is family favorite, and I can go pretty much with any flavor. Yours look superb as always.

Barbara | Creative Culinary said...

You could almost get me to try making macarons again Jamie with this entry into the fold. They look and sound perfect. And remember, I said 'almost.'

Barbara | Creative Culinary said...

You know what, I did not comment on the 'men' and their opinions but in reading through comments and thinking of it a bit more, I feel I must.

I feel so strongly about this one thing. It is YOUR blog. Neither a husband, a father, a son, or a friend get to tell you what to do with it. When you start to listen to what others think it 'should' be, how authentic will it be. You need to write what is in your heart and head, whatever that may be.

I write because I feel I have to; it really is not what I love and it doesn't matter that I majored in English and 'can' write, it matters that with limited time that I prefer the creativity of the kitchen and the photo studio. (OK, the dining room).

So, I'm going to ignore the voices of those that say this medium belongs to writers. Or foodies. Or photogs. I think it belongs to US, ourselves, to channel and share and do what we want. If we start to do only what others tell us to do...well tell them to start their own damn blog. IMHO. ;)

Lora said...

Beautiful perfect macarons and I love the Rosh Hashanah inspiration. L'Shanah Tovah Jamie to you and your family and don't ever stop writing your wonderful long stories.

Maia said...

It can be quite painful when those who love you most "just don't get it." As tough as it can be to accept... they don't have to. Certainly their opinions have value, and there is a lot to be gained from discussing these things with them; but you above all others know what you have to offer the blogging community, and how to share your thoughts in a way that is true to yourself. That comes through in your writing! You can see by your growing readership and comments like the ones above that, even if your closest family may not "get it," plenty of others do! Anyway, the macs look great - delicious flavor combination!

HI Cookery said...

Wow, looks like at least 3 of us did the choc cinnamon macs! :-) Can't go wrong with that combo. I liked how you dusted the tops with cocoa powder--adds a delicate finish to them. Beautiful job as always!

Anna said...

Thanks for the macaroons recipe...I will be putting them in my big glass container with little colorful accessories and it can be a centerpiece in my table...for my daughter's bday party!

Barbara Bakes said...

Chocolate macs are my favorite and the orange marmalade must be a heavenly addition!

Sukaina said...

Oh what does the son and husband know! I think you should stick to what you're doing.....and doing well....very well! If I'm very honest, I come here for the writing first and foremost! Lovely macs- must try y hand at amcs sometime soon before they go out of fashion!

Sanjeeta kk said...

One reason for complain could that be you might have reduced baking goodies at home. Pamper your men with all the good food but please don't let us starve from something which we all come here for :)
The Macs look lovely.

Ken│hungry rabbit said...

You've just reminded me how much I love chestnut, but yet I have not made any chestnut dessert in the recent years. Your precious bite-size gems are lovely as always.

Eggs on the Roof said...

I think you can guess what I'm going to say. What would a food blog be without the stories? It would just be a list of ingredients, and who wants that? Keep writing your stories and we will always read them x

Nancie McDermott said...

You know where I land in terms of the fence between RECIPES! RECIPES! RECIPES! and a feast of words, ideas, and inspiration. I'm over here in the greenest pastures of words, and you are so brilliant to do both. Recipes planted amongst the words: I love it. And how beautifully you present the recipe --- your photos instruct me in the process while appearing to be created solely for beauty. I have never made macarons,and considered them beyond my baking ken, until this post. I think I will make some as part of my holiday baking this year.

Jan said...

Your macarons are beautiful!
I think, that if you like to write your stories, then you should write/post them. This is your blog. And obviously, you need to appeal to your audience, but at the same time, I'm sure those not interested in reading, won't read even if you write 2 lines, and will just scroll ahead to the recipe.... Well, that's just my opinion (from somebody who probably writes a little too much sometimes as well).

WiseMóna said...

We had a beet macaron last night as a canapé before supper. The Chef said he was going to try to make them - and he is not a macaron fan at all. We just saw your recipe and he is going to try it out next week sometime! He loves chocolate. As for the men in your life....well, listen to your heart Jamie. My Mum and the Chef offer constant criticism or helpful advice ( call it what you will) all the time. Half of it goes right over my head and the other half I take on board. It is so hard to take advice from those we love and live with. But they mean you no I'll Jamie. They love you are are just offering advice because they want you to be the best that you can be. My average blog post is 1500 words and I think that is a bit too long so am trying to limit myself to 1,000 words for a while and see how it goes.

Love your stories, long or short xxxxx

Jamie said...

@WiseMona: I don't think you should limit your words either so maybe post your stories separately (I think you already do) and allow us to sink into your beautiful words. I need to create a website like you have with categories. xo

Jamie said...

@Eggs on the Roof: I saw your name pop up as a comment on this post and I knew what you were going to say before I read your comment :-) We think alike. Want a recipe just open a cookbook. We want the stories behind the food. Or even without food at all. Right? Write!

Jamie said...

@Nancie McDermott: Ah, you inspire me! Yes, you do! I love words as much as you do (many here do) and when my friends encourage me with such lovely compliments then I can only write.

Sally - My Custard Pie said...

My 13 year old daughter does this to me too! She's started to bake macs so I'm passing this onto her.

A Spoonful of Yumm said...

jamie i enjoy the stories always. i love reading every post of yours. though alternating seems like a good idea. you weave magic in every word you write :-) happy writing !

Rossella said...

“Who wants to read through long, rambling stories on a food blog?”
Me :)
I agree also with your friend. You way of writing is great, I love it. You're able to tell stories and emotions with lucullian macarons and without. I'm sure.

Sarah, Maison Cupcake said...

Jamie, I think I have the solution for you; start a separate blog and publish the story there but the recipe here. Then you link from one to the other so everyone can take a bite of both bits or just the one they like. Then you'll have TWO fabulous blogs instead of one!

I love these macarons (choc orange is my all time favourite flavour combo) and I'm dying to get back into Mactweets now - we MUST catch up ASAP now I'm bit freer again. xx

heidi said...

Jamie, I would be PLEASED to read more of your stories, peu importe le sujet, it´s YOU, your `company´, your writing and of course your recipes on food and life what I truly enjoy.

Listen to your gut and go ahead girl!.

ps. I would love to taste those chocolate cinnamon macarons. 3 of my fav flavors/french sweet confections altogether!!. Can you send some over?

warmvanillasugar said...

What a great idea! Yum!

bunkycooks said...

Never lose your stories. That is what sets you apart from the countless recipe blogs. BTW, I had to laugh when you mentioned watching the serial killer shows while in the US. We are a pathetic mess over here...Anyway, love these perfect fall flavors and your photos are beautiful! :)

Lisa said...

A comment from Jamie is like a ray of sunshine breaking through the clouds :)

I have loved chestnuts since my paternal grandma would always roast and serve them with fresh fruit in the living room, about an hour afte dinner and loaded cakes and pastries. What a stunning and delicious macaron. Chocolate ganache, chestnut cream and orange marm in a cinnamon-chocolate shell looks and sounds delectable.

As for your blog, you own it, it's your thoughts, creations and dreams - no such thing as doing it 'wrong'. March on little soldier :)

Jamie said...

@Lisa: You don't know how I miss you and think of you often :-)

Laurel said...

I still have not made macarons! Thanks for this recipe. I will have to give it a try.

Carolyn Jung said...

Chocolate with warm cinnamon in a cute little cookie that's crisp and chewy. Dessert doesn't get any better than that. ;)

Renata said...

Hi Jamie, first of all, thank you so much for visiting and for your lovely comment on my first macarons. Coming from you, a queen of macarons, is an honor to me :o) Thanks for inviting me for the mac tweets, I don't know if I can handle it yet, but I will definitely take a closer look.
And your writing... please don't change it! There will obviously be people who don't have the time to read it all, but it will be there for those who do. Your words come in like music to the ears, you write beautifully!
Your themed macarons are gorgeous, and the flavor combination is so intriguing, I'd love to try that!

Jill @ MadAboutMacarons said...

Oh Jamie, I loved the story part that came with the macarons. Now that is a wonderful idea to alternate stories and recipes if it's to keep family happy. We're perfectly happy with stories AND recipes :-)

Your macarons look too tempting, especially with favourite combinations. The orange part made me think of Scotland, coming home from school as kids - absolutely frozen to the bone - and Mum would brisken our walk by saying there were oranges by the fire.

And who could resist these macarons? Love the touch of chestnut and chocolate together. I must try this - would keep Corsican-chestnut-lover-hubby happy!

Jeanne @ CookSister said...

If a friend walked into your lounge and said "you shouldn't have a green sofa, you should really get a red one" - would you do it? Probably not - and the same goes for your blog! It's your online living room and there you get to do what YOU want!

Autumn is one of my favourite times of year too - and I LOVE the chocolate-orange combo!

mlaiuppa said...

Chocolate and orange is my favorite combination.

Baskin and Robbins used to have a wonderful flavor called Mandarin Chocolate Sherbet. It looked positively black and tasted positively decadent. They did away with it. I heard because the dye they used was outlawed by the FDA, then because it wasn't a popular flavor, then because it was too expensive to make. Who knows?

But it was wonderful.

Hey, it's your blog. Don't listen to anyone. Do what you want. Write your stories. Post your recipes. We're here because we like your blog, just the way it is.

ec said...



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