Hannah Tunnicliffe didn’t plan her novel, The Colour of Tea, she just started writing. But the more she wrote, the more she realised she needed to research. “It felt like pulling on a thread and unravelling a whole cardigan!” the first time novelist told MiNDFOOD.
Fortunately, however, with her novel centred around a cafe specialising in French macarons, much of Tunnicliffe’s research revolved around the kitchen.
With each chapter reflecting a different flavour of macaron, it was important for the author to get to grips with the process of making the delicate sweet treats.
“I learnt how to make macarons with a master pastry chef, and ate macarons in Paris.” Tunnicliffe says.
Recently, in an intimate event hosted by Sydney’s Books & Nooks, Tunnicliffe helped bring her novel to life. Along with Vincent Gadan, executive chef at Sydney’s Patisse, a small gathering of readers were treated to an intimate macaron masterclass, where they learned to master the notoriously tricky almond meringues.
Made with egg whites, sugar and almonds and decorated with bright food colouring, traditional macarons date back to 18th century France. Brought to the fore by Adriano Zumbo’s towering Croquembouche, showcased in last year’s Australian MasterChef, the modern macaron can carry a variety of daring flavours in the buttercream filling – or ganache – sandwiched between the two almond-based biscuits.
Indeed, the flavours used by Tunnicliffe in her novel are nothing if not daring. “Vincent taught us how to make incredible macaron flavours featured in The Colour of Tea” said Angela Purnell, founder of Books & Nooks. “We made macarons flavoured with sweet and smoky caramel with a salted, buttery cream filling; and gunpowder green tea with sweet mandarin butter cream.”
If you’d like to spice up your afternoon tea offering, here’s our recipe for a simple chocolate macaron.
RECIPE: French Chocolate Almond Macarons
2 egg whites
pinch of salt
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup pure icing sugar, sifted
2 tsp Dutch Cocoa (or cocoa)
½ cup almond meal
2 tsp plain flour, sifted
½ cup thickened cream
100g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
1 Preheat oven to 160C. Line 2 large baking trays with baking paper. To make meringue, using an electric beater, beat egg whites and salt until soft peaks form. Add sugar, a little at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla. Beat until thick and glossy.
2 Add icing sugar, cocoa, almond meal and flour to meringue. Gently fold into meringue until well combined. Drop 40 x 1 tsp amounts of meringue onto prepared baking trays, allowing a little room for spreading. Bake for 10 minutes or until shiny on the top and crisp. (Do not open oven door while biscuits are cooking, as this will affect their texture.) Allow to cool on trays.
3 To make ganache, heat cream in a small saucepan or microwave until hot. Put chocolate in a bowl. Add hot cream and stir until smooth and thick. Allow to cool at room temperature until spreadable.
4 Spread a small amount of ganache on a biscuit. Top with another biscuit. Repeat with remaining biscuits. Serve macarons with coffee.
For further information about Books & Nooks packages please visit www.booksandnooks.com.au.