Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Le Big Mac

Vincent Vega: "And you know what they call a... a... a Quarter Pounder with cheese in Paris?"
Jules: "They don't call it a Quarter Pounder with cheese?"
Vincent Vega: "No man, they got the metric system. They wouldn't know what the **** a Quarter Pounder is."
Jules: "Then what do they call it?"
Vincent Vega: "They call it a "Royale" with cheese."
Jules: "A "Royale" with cheese! What do they call a Big Mac?"
Vincent Vega: "A Big Mac's a Big Mac, but they call it "le Big Mac"."
Jules: ""Le Big Mac"! Ha ha ha ha! What do they call a Whopper?"
Vincent Vega: "I dunno, I didn't go into Burger King."

That's possibly one of my all-time favourite scenes from my all-time favourite movie - Is Tarantino a genius? Or is Tarantino a genius? I watched it for the nth time recently.

OK, enough preamble.
A tall, big (relatively speaking) macaron-inspired dessert. I'd made a batch of salted butter caramel macarons - hands-down my all-time favourite flavour, incidentally - and thought it would be fun to work a composed dessert around the caramel au beurre salé theme, featuring my all-time favourite ingredient quartet. Much beurre d’Echiré, fleur de sel de Guérande, crème fraîche d'Isigny and Madagascar Bourbon vanilla later...

Friable salted chocolate sablés are layered with caramelized milk chocolate ganache (I used Valrhona Jivara, which has beautifully pronounced burnt sugar notes. So rather than simply heating cream, the cream was combined with a deep amber caramel before pouring over the Jivara fèves. Once this mixture cools, it's emulsified with a goodly lump of softened salted butter). The macaron perched atop this crisp-creamy, sweet-salty tower is the business. I find the salted butter caramel filling utterly moreish. And will sheepishly admit to being capable of demolishing whatever is leftover from filling the macaron shells neat, straight from a spoon - no wonder my enthodontist loves me. A small scoop of crème fraîche ice-cream, a smidgen of vanilla-infused caramel sauce, and shards of macadamia-studded nougatine round things out.

The best part of it all? Leftover components to make simple-yet-scrumptious, spin-off treats, such as these sandwich cookies (salted chocolate sablés plus caramelized milk chocolate ganache, topped with a flake or two of sea salt).
I had a fair bit of extra ganache, discovered that it made for a magnificient macaron filling, and have been amusing myself at teatime the last couple of days trying to decide if I like the salted butter caramel macarons or the caramelized milk chocolate ones more.

PS: Speaking of macarons, this macaron and biscotti class is back! I will be teaching only 2 sessions of this demo class, held on 24 May 2008 (Saturday) and 25 May 2008 (Sunday) at Shermay's Cooking School. The May schedule has all the details; for inquiries, please call +65 6479 8442 or email