Photo gallery: Flavours to savour for marvellous macarons
- Credit: Archant © 2013
The pastel rainbow of meringue shells sandwiched with their layers of delicate creamy filling on the counter at Macarons and More in the Royal Arcade in Norwich will soon be joined by some unusual interlopers. Join macaron MasterChef Tim Kinnaird as he prepares for Norwich's first Macaron Day.
They are perfectly pastel pillows of sugar and meringue, subtle jewels in the patisserie crown, showcasing delicate flavours such as pistachio, rose, vanilla…and now chicken tikka masala, Marmite and cheese and pineapple.
For one day only, Dr Tim Kinnaird's Macarons and More shop will be offering brave customers the chance to try outlandish flavours for a special Macaron Day being held on Saturday as part of the EDP Adnams Norfolk Food and Drink Festival.
With all profits from the day going to Norwich-based charity Home-Start, which helps support struggling families, Macaron Day pays homage to Parisian Pierre Herme, who started the annual tradition on March 20 1995 as a way for macaron makers to give something back to the community.
In addition to having the opportunity to try 24 limited edition flavours – supplementing the staple range of 16 tried and tested flavours – customers will also be given the chance to find a magical gold macaron which unlocks a fantastic prize: the finder will win their height in macarons.
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'We asked customers to give us suggestions for some wild macaron flavours and they didn't disappoint!' laughed Tim, who opened his shop in March and who also has an industrial kitchen in Watton.
'In the past, we've had suggestions like breast milk, but we decided not to go there. I think the weirdest suggestion we've had this year was 'ash and tears'! A little bit dark, we thought!'
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The list of customer flavour suggestions goes macaron, and on, and on…
Joining vanilla, praline, pistachio, salt caramel, cappuccino, passionfruit and milk chocolate, crème brulee, Norfolk lavender, lemon, violet and blackcurrant, chocolate fudge, rose, gingerbread and chocolate, peanut butter and jam, dark chocolate and mint and chocolate orange are a host of less traditional flavours.
Bacon, maple and blueberry, cherry cola cube, chicken tikka masala, Marmite, goats' cheese and red onion, cheese and pineapple, Baileys, sherry trifle, hot chilli and chocolate, fig and Pedro Ximenez, coffee and walnut, popcorn, gold, saffron and cardamom are amongst their number, alongside the rather scary-sounding pâté and brown sauce.
'That's a homage to my dad, whose Saturday lunch always used to be pâté and brown sauce,' said Tim, 'I'm not quite so sure it'll be as tasty as a macaron, but we'll give it a go!'
Macaron ingredients may be simple (ground almonds, egg whites, sugar), but the sheer number of troubleshooting tips on internet forums illustrate what an art it is to create the perfect macaron.
'I made my first ever macarons when I was in the middle of filming MasterChef and my initial batch worked really well,' said Tim, who was runner-up in the BBC competition in 2010.
'Sadly, the next few batches were absolutely rubbish. It's taken what feels like forever to find the perfect way to make macarons and it's very precise. Timings and temperatures have to be just right. That's why people are frightened of making their own!'
In the tiny kitchen above his Royal Arcade shop, and with a regal view of the stunning stained glass, Tim showed me how he makes macarons. 'It's easy,' he said, before admitting that to date, he's made 'countless thousands'. I, on the other hand, have never made a macaron in my life – I even struggled to turn the mixer on.
Tim also has an industrial kitchen in Watton where macarons can be produced at a rate of around 1,200 a day and he will soon share his pastry secrets in a new book, Perfecting Patisserie: Mastering Macarons, Madeleines, Meringues and More, which is due to be published in October.
'It's aimed at people who have perhaps watched Great British Bake Off – which I absolutely LOVE – and who have a bit of a clue in the kitchen but need a helping hand to progress further,' he said.
Tim's macarons are made with an Italian meringue which offers greater stability when it comes to squishy, delicious fillings – even the French, famous for their macarons, forgo French meringue in preference to the Italian version.
As we added the gold leaf to the macaron that will be the equivalent of Willy Wonka's Golden Ticket on Saturday, Tim said he hopes that Macaron Day will be a celebration of the world's most beautiful meringue, a chance to raise money for a good cause and a fitting send-off for co-worker Hannah Doncaster, for whom Saturday marks the start of maternity leave.
'It's been so much fun trying to create these mad flavours,' said Tim, 'I have a feeling that some of them may make a return by popular request once people have tried them!'
For more information about the EDP Adnams Norfolk Food and Drink Festival which runs until October 6, visit www.norfolkfoodanddrinkfestival.co.uk and www.edp24.co.uk/what-s-on/norfolk-food-and-drink-festival where you will find recipes, quizzes, interviews and more.