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Friday 9 April 2010

Grapefruit and Lychee Macarons

Despite their flaws, I could weep with pride.

Do you remember me venting about my distaste for the obsession with macarons? And pointing out that even Parisian macarons are sometimes done badly? And that everyone is getting a little too obsessed with this over-hyped meringue? Well, if not, read this.

Today, I am putting the old 'if you can't beat 'em, join 'em' adage into practice. I don't plan on becoming obsessed with macarons, but I do like a challenge, and have decided to join the baking fray, as it were.

I have read more posts about macarons than I care to mention, and have weighed up the pros and cons of each method of macaron production accordingly. I think, after much consideration, the Italian Meringue Technique (capitalised for the hell of it - makes it sound important, no?) is the one for me, but as I have not a sugar thermometer, nor a stand mixer with a steel bowl, I am forced to use the French Meringue Method instead.

Quel dommage.

The recipe I decided to use, as eagle eyed comment readers will no doubt already know, is the one that Sarah at Maison Cupcake uses. Reading her macaron trials and tribulations, and absolute insistence that this was the perfect recipe for getting the elusive 'feet' on the temperamental cookies in question, I decided to do the right thing and cut to the chase - this was also the recipe that I would use.

But I wanted to flavour them in my own special way! And what a way it is, ladies and gents.

My inspiration is a cocktail I sometimes have with friends. I'm not telling you the cocktail's name, because, quite frankly, it's a naughty word, and I try not to cuss on this blog, but basically, the drink is a mixture of lychee liqueur and grapefruit juice. And it's rather special.

The lychee liqueur in question is Soho, which seems to be known as Dita internationally. We used to drink it with lemonade when we lived in France as students, so I have a soft spot for it. But let me tell you right now that it is amazing for adding lychee flavour to desserts. I think most liqueurs are - I use Cointreau a lot in cooking, and the Purple Rain Lamingtons would have been nothing without the Crème de Violet lurking in the back of the cabinet.

This was the moment my heart sang. Feet!

Again, I can't choose which photo I like best.

I think my texture is quite good for a first try.

For the grapefruit flavouring, I just added the finely chopped zest (I never grate - who can be bothered with that?) of one bright yellow fruit to the meringue along with the nuts and icing sugar.

So how do I think I did?

Well, in terms of flavour and texture (I don't want to say 'mouthfeel'!), I am going to give them an 8 out of 10; I am incredibly pleased with myself. But for appearance, I can only give myself a 4. The reason for this is that I must have under-mixed the batter. Because it was rather stiff, when I piped the mac shells out on to my baking sheet, they peaked like regular meringues. I assumed, wrongly, that they would flatten out and spread during baking. I would smooth them down with a pallet knife before baking if this happened again. They did have feet though, which is why I didn't only give them 2.

Did I enjoy the macaron experience? Yes. Will I make them again? Yes.

I think I have caught the bug. Heaven help us all!

By the way, I would like you all to say hello to my latest charity shop purchase. I couldn't resist these cups and saucers, and am sure they'll be in loads of my photos from now on! And in the fair hands of Mr. Other P's mum when she comes round - she likes her tea in a proper cup.

Grapefruit and Lychee Macarons

You will need:

110g icing sugar
50g ground almonds

zest of 1 grapefruit, finely grated or chopped
2 egg whites (60g), aged for 24 hours (just leave them on the kitchen counter, uncovered)
40g caster sugar

small dab of orange food colour gel

50g soft butter
125g icing sugar
45ml (3 tbsp) lychee liqueur

  1. Sift the 110g icing sugar into a large bowl, and mix in the almonds and zest.
  2. In another bowl, whisk the egg whites until frothy, then slowly whisk in the caster sugar until you have soft peaking meringue. Then add the dab of colour gel, and carry on whisking until stiff peaks form.
  3. Add the almond and sugar mixture, and fold in. You are supposed to do this in exactly 50 strokes, and turn the bowl 45° after every tenth stroke. I don't think it's of paramount importance - you should just have a smooth mixture. Read Sarah's post for more detail, she's got very good instructions.
  4. Put this mix into a piping bag with the end snipped off, and pipe circles about 2 inches in diameter and well spaced apart on a lined baking sheet. You should have between 28 and 30 blobs of mixture. Flatten with a moist pallet knife if they peak.
  5. Let them sit for 30 minutes while you pre-heat the oven to 150°C.
  6. Bake for 12 minutes on the bottom shelf. Cool completely on the sheet, and then remove using a pallet knife.
  7. For the filling: beat together the liqueur, 125g icing sugar and 50g butter until smooth and fluffy; use to put the macarons together.
  8. Eat. Weep. Think of more flavours to do, and schedule regular 'mac-off' time.


  1. Wow they look fantastic Mr P. My mouth is watering at the thought of that flavour combination. Think you are being a bit hard on yourself scoring wise!

    Love the cups and saucers - divine:}

  2. simply amazing clicks and awesome recipe.

  3. They're lovely Peter - well done. To avoid the little peak on the dome, you should pipe the macaron with the nozzle of the piping bag touching the tray at all times and don't make a circular motion at all - I learned this at Lenôtre and it works a treat every time - well, when the recipe works.... Even if you *think* you've found the recipe "for you", chances are that the next time you go to use it, they will be flat or won't have feet or some such other macaron issue. Temperamental little things they are!! But I give you a 10/10 for this attempt - beautiful flavours and colours!

  4. Brownieville Girl - Give some a try! Like it or lump it, it seems to be a rite of passage for food bloggers. I resisted at first. But resistance is futile!

    Simply.Food - Thank you! I wish it were original...

    Mardi - I had a feeling my feet were beginner's luck! Thanks for the tip though, I'll give it a go. When I finally get another chance to make them. Kitchen is being re-fitted at the moment. Plaster everywhere and no chance to cook at all!

  5. Well hello.. thanks for the mention! Delighted to see you dipped your macaron toes in the water and came out with lovely feet.

    In all honesty, the main reason I got in such as mess was a simple misunderstanding about which sugar to use when translating an American recipe. Having said that I did get plenty of practice mixing and piping.

    I seem to be getting a reliable shape and appearance now but I am not 100% happy with my texture, yours look much softer, mine are a bit dry so I need to experiment with mixing less/baking less etc.

    Every month doing Mactweets.blogspot.com (and you should send yours there if you aren't already by the way) I tell myself never again but then I'll end up with some spare egg white somewhere and think what the hell let's go for it.

    Your colour looks fantastic too, I need to add more to mine as they seem to fade a lot in the oven no matter how much I put in.

    And I like the crockery too. I have various bits of vintage Grandma crockery that pops up in my posts now and again.

  6. These look and sound delicious, Mr P - and such classy presentation too !

  7. I'm sorry darling, I'm kind of obsessed with macarons myself. Mmmmmmm.

  8. Look at those insides! Gorgeous Macs, P. You're a natural.

  9. Not bad! As you say, you managed to get the elusive feet on your first go, I was kind of anti-macarons till I went a crop of the ridiculously expensive Mr Hermé's macarons and thought they were quite nice, but that's about it, can't say I'm sold enough to make them...yet...;)

  10. they look great and i love love the new flavour!! (almost exoticly summery)
    but you gave in to the hype!! :O

  11. i just want to say, i discovered your blog today via epicute.com and i love love love it! will visit often x

  12. Your macarons are lovely, Mr. P. And so are your new cups and saucers! I, too, like my proper cup of tea in a proper cup. Love that pattern. I'm resisting jumping into the fray with the whole macaron thing because I'm not that fond of meringue; but I would probably eat several of these lychee and grapefruit ones with a nice cup of tea or three.

  13. This looks amazing! My mom would love these, she is obsessed with anything grapefruit. I know from Mrs. Humble's adventures that creating good macarons are an emotionally draining experience LOL. I don't know if I could commit to such a project. I guess when I make it over to the UK in September the first order of business is having a weekend trip to Paris and stopping at Laduree

    I can't believe I could potentially do that. Without saving thousands of dollars and flying for 10 hours across the atlantic :)

  14. SUPER MR. P! ....when are we going to have a ""Mac off""?..:)

  15. So, now I want to Google this naughty word drink using the mixture as keywords, but I'm afraid to since I'm at work. Can't believe I'll have to wait until tonight... Ugh!

    BTW - SO proud of your gorgeous 'rons!

  16. Yay! Gorgeous fluffy macarons. Mr. P - these look and sound divine - great flavour combo! Great cups and saucers too =)

  17. Great combination of flavors. Nice macarons. Thanks for sharing the baking experience.

  18. ALL of the photos are the best! What works of art--and they look delicious.

    And go ahead, cuss. It feels so good.

  19. you did really great for a first go, i seem to remember mine were a disaster, and i love the flavour combination

  20. wow! that must take like heaven...

  21. I don't like macarons, but those sounds delectable. What a great flavor combination!

  22. Mr. P!
    I am absolutely dying to try those grapefruit/lychee macarons! And then, the Creme de Violet! And then the Mango/Jasmines! I live in the US - WHERE can I buy the key ingredients such as lychee liqueur, or violet creme liqueur?!

    thanks so much for your delicious and beautiful posts! I can't express how thrilled I am to follow your blog!



That's what he said.

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