We had a scheduled chef meeting on Wednesday which was postponed from last week. The purpose of the meeting was to find out how well we’ve done thus far – we were given our grade out of 5, taking into account six or seven practicals. However, the session also included some time for us to give feedback to the chef regarding our experience in Le Cordon Bleu over the past few weeks. In turned out to be almost an hour of complaints (mostly). Le Cordon Bleu has its flaws. I knew this before I came to Paris and I’m sure it’s quite a well known fact. You just have to speak to a couple of students and you will hear the same things. Small lockers, chefs don’t speak English, chefs don’t give adequate feedback etc. I shall not make public my annoyance with certain aspects of school, because just as no one is perfect, no institute is perfect either. If you want my honest opinion, please feel free to ask me privately 🙂
After the meeting, we had a quick brunch at Starbucks before returning to school for our demo. We were taught quite a few recipes –macarons à la framboise (raspberry macarons), macarons à la pistache (pistachio macarons), moelleux caramel (soft caramel tea cakes), sablés orange amandes (orange and almond shortbreads) and sablés pochés (piped shortbread biscuits). I am pretty firm about my dislike of macarons. In my lifetime, I only remember two instances that I’ve ever liked them – the first time I ate a macaron was a rose-flavoured one in Singapore at the Grand Hyatt’s Mezza9, and the macarons that I ate at Pierre Hermé. Pierre Hermé has the best macarons in the world, at least to me. When I try a better one, I’ll let the world know! I didn’t fancy the macarons made during demo. I especially hate pistachio-flavoured desserts that use pistachio paste or essence. Guys, let’s agree that pistachios don’t taste like that. It’s just like almond extract; it sucks. I rather eat the raw pistachios and almonds! The caramel tea cakes were so-so, but both sablés were the best.
For practical, we had to make raspberry macarons and the piped shortbread cookies. We use the French method (#becauseFrance) for the macarons, which means whisking egg whites and sugar to a meringue and folding in the dry ingredients until the right consistency is reached – macaronage. The recipe we have is not a “tant pour tant” macaron base recipe (equal parts of ground almonds and icing sugar). We started by preparing our templates first. The chef gave us a few to trace onto baking paper. Then we started on our batter and piped them out onto the sheets, tapped the trays a few times, and allowed the macarons to crust before baking them. We then made our ganache à la framboise (white chocolate raspberry ganache) and our piped shortbread cookies with an chocolate praline filling.
When the macarons were out of the oven, I looked at mine and was extremely disappointed. I thought the colour wasn’t vibrant enough, and that they were flat and some misshapen. Some of my classmates had made their macaron batter too red by accident, but after baking they came out a nice fuchsia. Mine were a like browned pink – picture that. When it was time to fill them, my ganache had not cooled enough and we were running out of time, so I asked the chef for his opinion about the consistency of it. He told me to whisk it more so that it would thicken, but instead, the ganache split and it looked so lumpy and disgusting! What a disaster!
I think you can see how horrible they look. Actually, the photo makes them look better than in reality! I hadn’t realised that I had used a bigger template that we were not supposed to refer to. So although my macaronage was ok (according to the chef), it was only suitable for macarons which were smaller. He didn’t make any comments about my split ganache though. That was surprising.
Fortunately, my piped shortbread cookies were much better.
I love it when we use praline! We combined chocolate and praline for the filling and I really love this cookie. I think it is super simple to make and it isn’t too sweet. The texture is nice and crisp, and the filling just balances out the flavour really well.
Anyway, I went home super depressed about my macarons because the thought of me using the wrong sized template was just so ARGH! You would think that if there was one place where you would learn to make perfect macarons would be in a culinary school in France. HAH. A lot of people didn’t think that the recipe was good too. Disappointing…
I still don’t like macarons. Maybe I’ll go to Pierre Hermé to cheer myself up.