Jill Colonna is mad about macarons. And she’s got a point – the meringue-y, almond-y, elegant little delights in delicious flavours epitomize French gourmet pâtisserie. But, they have a reputation for being difficult to make and, therefore, best left to the professionals.
Jill became a self-proclaimed macaronivore after moving to Paris as a young woman and participating in a macaron workshop at a local bakery. The experience left her with a passion for preparing and serving the perfect macaron and inspired her to write a book in which she places the perfect making of these luxurious little bites within the scope of the home baker.
The book is a joy. Colourful and beautifully photographed, carefully researched and full of personal anecdotes, the recipes have concise and clear instructions. It’s also full of options for gift-giving and packaging, lists of suppliers, and ideas and recipes for using up the remaining egg yolks after the whites have become macarons.
As a keen cook I felt well equipped to have a go. I rolled up my sleeves, lit the oven for a trial batch of chocolate macarons sandwiched with dark chocolate ganache – and fell at the first hurdle. In my initial scan of the book, I failed to notice that Jill urges you to ‘age’ the eggs by separating them and storing the whites in the fridge four to five days in advance.
I tried again. The only unfamiliar step was the macaronnage, where the batter is worked on with a plastic scraper to ensure a smooth, pliable mixture. As a frequent baker, I had the right scraper to hand and if you’re keen to make macarons, you’ll need one too.
They weren’t quite perfect, I’ll work on my macaronnage, but they tasted delicious (even when I couldn’t wait for the prescribed 24 hours in the fridge to pass) and I am sure that my next attempt would be better. Aging the eggs as advised means that making macarons is not an impulse bake but if you want to make them perfect, then this book shows you how to do it. Don’t forget, a French pastry chef would spend many months learning to get macarons to come out consistently perfect.
Popular Paris pastry blogger David Lebovitz said “A bubbly woman came up to me… here in Paris with a bag of homemade macarons and a book which she just published on the same subject. In the bag were the most lovely little macarons I’ve seen in all of Paris, even in the fancy places that churn out a gazillion of these cookies annually. “Mad About Macarons!” by Jill Colonna is lavishly photographed with lots of clear steps of the process for how to make classic macarons. If you like macarons, it’s likely you’ll love this book.”
I loved the book. Jill’s tips and insider information show real expertise. Her suggestions for exotic sweet and savory flavours are mouthwatering, and the dessert suggestions with wine pairings alone are worth the price. And even not-quite-perfect macarons are pretty good!
Read our interview with the Jill Colonna and find out her favourite patisseries in Paris.
Make Jill Colonna’s Sticky Toffee Pudding macarons – how can you resist?!