There is a very talented Facebook page called the Home Bakers Guild, and for the next four Tuesdays I am the Blogger of The month. Each tuesday, I will post a new recipe and boy, I am working on a deadline for the first time.
My theme for the next four Tuesdays will be – “Tropical French Cooking – Classic French recipes with mangoes”. Those recipes which we learnt in Le Cordon Bleu, Paris and I adapted them to include mangoes. Our best thing of the summers.
A little about how I went to Cordon Bleu:
So I started baking 4 years back, a little after I got married, and then a year later I started harbouring dreams of going to a culinary school. I researched and read and talked to a few people and but of-course Le Cordon Bleu and Paris grabbed my attention and made a little home in my heart. But I am a working Chartered Accountant, and I had no idea how I would manage the three month courses. So I whiled away some time. Then husband and I started thinking of a baby (although, it was me who was struck by the I-want-a-baby syndrome at first). So a baby meant I bid farewell to my Paris dreams, atleast for a good 3-4 years. I had been talking to one Mr. Abhishek, who is the LCB representative in India. He gently kept reminding me of the deadlines of application. But I had to make a choice. Starting a family and having a baby or going to LCB and postponing baby plans by a year. I was 27. Time was running out. I made the choice. Lets have a baby (or two) before we are 30.
Then came the twist in the tale. I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and the doctor advised to put baby plans on hold for a couple of months. When she said that, the first thing that came to my mind was, ‘Now I can go to Cordon Bleu’. 🙂 Like Paulo Coelho said in the Alchemist, when you want something badly, the universe conspires for you to get it. And that came true for me.
Immediately I started planning for a sabbatical. I decided to do the intensive Basic Patisserie course, of 5 weeks. I applied, waited with bated breath and did a little dance when I was admitted. Now, funds had to be arranged, leave had to be taken, visa had to be applied for; and I had exactly 2 months before the course began. And I did not speak a word of French.
In a frenzy, I started all the preparations. I was buzzing with energy, making a hundred to-do lists and learning some French in the evenings. And as the day neared, I felt very nervous. I hadn’t stayed without my husband for more than 2 weeks and it was always he who used to travel. While I used to be at home. This time I was going to go for six weeks, and I had never travelled out of the country alone. Yes, I was wary, but deep in my heart I knew I had to go.
And what a blast I had! In the school as well as in the adorable city of Paris.
Now I have a little baby and going back to school for doing Intermediary and Superior Courses seems out of question. But just the other day, Abhishek told me that the biggest campus of LCB in the world is soon opening in Paris in 2016. My heart has again started to flutter. Who knows? 😉
For all those of you reading this post and wanting to know more about LCB, the curriculum, schedule, where to stay, what to expect etc , stay tuned. I will write in detail everything you want to know.
And then ofcourse you can ask questions.
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And with that I am be posting a recipe of Macarons. Now there are two basic techniques of making macaroons. One is the Italian Meringue (IM) method and the other is French meringue (FM) method. The former is a bit technical and cumbersome. It requires a candy thermometer to cook sugar syrup to a certain degree and then pour it into the eggwhites. Pierre herme uses this technique and also requires the egg whites to be aged for a week.
The second one, the French Meringue technique is fairly simple and can be whipped up effortlessly, with very brilliant results. And I felt that this technique yields macaron shells with a much lighter texture. Plus its easy! These macarons which are sold in Paris at 2 euros per macaron, can be very well made by you at home. Voila!
What you will need :
- 75 gm egg whites (from about 2-3 eggs)
- 100 gm caster sugar
- 100 gm whole almonds
- 100 powdered sugar
I used mango jam for the filling here, but any buttercream or even pastry cream will go very well.
What to do :
- Preheat oven to 150C preferably in convection mode (fan on).
- Grind whole almonds (with the skin) and sift it twice to ensure a smooth powder.
- Combine powdered sugar with almond powder and again sift it once to ensure there are no lumps.
- Now put egg whites in a bowl. Beat them with an electric mixer to medium peaks.
- Add caster sugar slowly while beating the egg whites and whisk to stiff glossy peaks.
- Add desired color. I added a a few drops of yellow + a few drops of red.
- Now sift the almond powder and sugar mixture into the meringue.
- Fold it in with a rubber spatula. If you leave the batter for 30 seconds, the contours formed from mixing should even out.
- Now cover a baking tray with parchment paper or silpat.
- Add the batter to a piping bag fitted with a 10-12 round nozzle.
- Pipe small amounts of batter on the sheet. leave it on the countertop for a couple of minutes.
- Then bake for 12-15 minutes. Open the oven door one after 6-7 minutes so that any trapped humidity is let out.
- Once baked take the parchment paper or the silpat off the baking tray and let it cool for a couple of minutes on the paper. Then with spatula ease it off the paper.
- Fill in mango jam sandwiched between two macaron shells.
- The color in egg whites is suggestive of the filling. So since I used mango jam as a filling, I have used yellow + red color combination.
- Macarons lighten in color as they bake. So use a little more color in the batter.
- Do not open the oven door anytime before 6-7 minutes or the “feet” of the macaron will collapse.