The challenge for my last practical session at college was to produce a stunning centrepiece. Our lecturer suggested a creation in chocolate or sugar but I was keen to try and produce something impressive using macarons. Google images for 'Macaron Tower' and just marvel at the beautiful multi-coloured displays.
There are basically two main ways of presenting the tower - the first is to line up the macarons on their edges and display them on a tiered stand. The downside with this method is the cost of the stand and the vast number of macarons needed........way too expensive. The second method is to display them on a cone using cocktail sticks. After much searching I found the perfect polystyrene cone for about £4 in the fantastic Watson & Thornton haberdashery shop in Shrewsbury and I set about planning how many macarons and fondant roses I needed to make. I also found a cheap and cheerful pink glass cake stand in Tiger for the bargain price of £5.
If you read my earlier post on macarons you will realise that they are a bit of a faff to make and I decided that whilst I would make a few on the evening to prove I had the skills to produce the macarons, swiss meringue buttercream and fondant roses I would also have to pre-prepare a whole batch to take with me. The evening session at college is short enough without the fire drill they had arranged for Tuesday evening. Over the course of last weekend I prepared 75 tightly closed sugar roses and 120 macarons (about 3.5cm in diameter) as well as covering the cone and a small chocolate cake with fondant icing. I sandwiched the macarons together with swiss meringue buttercream ending up with 'around' 60 (allowing for a few breakages and taste-ages!).
On the assessment evening I made a few roses and a small batch of macarons but spent most of my time nervously assembling the tower. I inserted the cocktail sticks halfway into the cone then carefully positioned the macarons onto the point sticking out - trying not to squash the delicate shells. Half way through I panicked as it was looking a bit of a mess, time was ticking away, the fire drill was imminent and my lecturer was coming back to assess my work. I decided I had to pull them off and start again to get the pattern right. I really hate the sound and feel of polystyrene so did all this with gritted teeth!
I'm glad I did persevere as the finished article certainly had the WOW factor! My tutor was suitably impressed and insisted he take me and my tower on a tour of the college showing it to his chef colleagues and other catering students. It seemed a shame to dismantle it but Dave doesn't have a sweet tooth and although I would have made a valiant effort even I couldn't/shouldn't eat 60 macarons! I left a box at college to be shared out amongst the staff and took the other half into work the following day. They were light and tasty and went down very well. Some colleagues cheekily asked if I had bought them in a shop, with most macarons costing £1.50 to £2 each to buy, the box of 30 I took in would have cost me about £50 - my NHS salary doesn't stretch to gestures like that!!
|Macarons on sale in France|
So that's it - I have one more week at college to finish the remaining theory. Then my folder and photographic evidence will be assessed and hopefully I will get my NVQ certificate. In July we will leave London and return to Shropshire - I wonder if Shrewsbury is ready for me championing a macaron revolution!