Menu Picardie: Chocolat-Caffè Macarons

This was the least exciting regional menu we’ve done. I was still hungry after our five courses as I was so disappointed and was craving KFC. It was just my sodding luck that I’d invited N&D along for lunch at school when we had prepared the dullest menu ever.

There were of course some bits and peices that were nice. Not sure if anything stood out massively, but I was super-chuffed with my macarons. I was all over the pastry kitchen, jumping, high-fiving, air-kissing. I had feet! Proper pretty coquiles, unlike the Provence Menu’s crappy little things. As I wasn’t too enthusiastic about tainting them by coffee I mitigated the coffee-ness by using way more chocolate in the ganache mix. Clever me. As for N&D and I, though they were mocha flavoured, they were the best part of the meal(even if I may say so myself).

Chocolate Coffee Macarons

Goyeres et Minis Flamiches

Goyeres et Minis Flamiches

Stuffed puff pastry with Maroilles cheese (stinky stinky cheese) and a leek tart. The puff pastry was very light and airy but there wasn’t enough cheese which was a minor disappointment. The leek tart was fantastic. It was almost sweet and savoury. I wish I was given a bigger portion as I would’ve had a whole tart to myself and quite happily skipped the following courses.

Creme de Chou-Fleur aux Moules de Bouchot

Cauliflower soup with mussels

I like cauliflower and I thought this dish was pretty. Wasn’t mind blowing though, which is understandable since it is just a cauliflower soup.

Parmentier de Kippers

Parmentier de Kippers

Mash and kippers. I was having a tough time with this one. I deteste kippers, anchovies, sardines, and all those pesky little fish that taste and smell so pungent. By the time I got around to eating it it wasn’t very warm either so the mash wasn’t helping my palate. The sauce was made by infusing kipper bones. Sounds gross but it was surpringly very tasty. Not something I’d be rushing to make at home in any case.

Carbonnade de Boeuf à la Flamande

Carbonade de Boeuf à la Flamande

Braised beef with endives and apples. Tangy tasty. If my bowels weren’t a concern I’d be all over this. Ever since this whole non-veg development came into my life my digestive system has been deranged. I’m not a beef lover. Beef does not love me either. But this beef was very tender, flavoursome, dense.

Assiette Tout Caffè

All-Coffee dessert plate

I’m always ranting about the Parisians loving all things coffee flavoured. I don’t get it. Do they not get enough coffee in their diet throughout the day anyway? I’m surprised they aren’t going nuts over cigarette flavoured things.

The sorbet was made from cherry beer. It was sweetly cleansing. But the idea of making cannells and freezing them beforehand to make plating easier was disastrous. The shapes were pretty turdish and the centre got a bit icy. Chef definitely didn’t think it was particularly clever.

The parfait was like a coffee flavoured ice-cream. Again, they had been pulled out of their moulds and frozen in order to save time when plating but the bottoms melted and started looking ugly. This may not have lightened the Chef’s mood either. So he went about dusting the tops with cocoa powder and they did look a lot better but when it came to having a bite of the parfait I was coughing so much I felt like my lungs were going to be regurgitated. Unfortunately, there was enough cocoa powder to make me hack but not enough to mask the coffee flavour. Bummer.

The Creme Brulee Arabica was a coffee creme brulee. Had a bite. Hated it. The Kahlua coffee espuma was not much of a treat either.

Amidst all the coffee-flavoured detritus rose the Chocolat-Caffe Macarons, like a phoenix. It was very faintly coffee, and rather dangerously chocolatey. Luckily I dashed into the garde manger just in time to procure a few more for the weekend as shortly after the case of the disappearing Cannelés was repeating itself.

Chocolat-Caffè Macarons
300g almond meal
300g icing sugar
110g egg whites, aged
15g coffee extract

300g granulated sugar
75g water

110g egg whites, aged

400g liquid cream
380g dark chocolate
20g ground coffee

1. Sift the almond meal and icing sugar together. Mix the coffee extract and first measure of egg whites together. Pour the egg white mix on the almond meal / sugar without mixing.
2. Bring the granulated sugar and water to a boil until 118C. When the syrup is nearing 115C, start beating the second measure of egg whites in the mixer over medium speed to make a meringue. When the syrup reaches 118C pour into the meringue and keep beating.
3. When the meringue mix comes down to 50C, fold in the almond / sugar / coffee extract / sugar mixture. Be careful to keep the number of long folds under 50. This step is crucial!
4. Pour into a piping bag with a nozzle (number 10 is ideal). Pipe out 3.5cm circles, spaced out adequately over baking parchment paper or a silpat placed on a heavy based baking tray. Tap the tray against a work surface a couple of times to removes any air bubbles. Let rest for 30 minutes to form crusts. Sprinkle some ground coffee over the shells using a sieve.
5. Bake at 180C for 10-12 minutes.
6. Once cooked, let cool for 5-10 minutes. Remove shells and place on wire rack.
7. Boil cream in a saucepan. Add the ground coffee and let infuse for a few minutes. Pass through a fine sieve.
8. Melt chocolate in a bain-marie. Add the cream into the chocolate in three additions and mix well between each. Let chill.
9. Put the ganache filling in a piping bag with a number 10 nozzle and pipe generously onto half the shells. Sandwich. Put in the fridge to chill ideally for 24 hours (and if you really can’t wait then at least 2 hours).

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