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I bought this book eventhough I know how to make french macarons already. I just want to add it on my collections. I truly love this book, great pictures and really have good filling recipes.
Anyway, I can understand why the others gave it a bad reviews. For you to actually learn how to make proper macarons, either watch a step by step video (has to be very detail), or take a class (which I did). There's some major technique details that you have to learn, and reading a recipe online or books are not going to help. Even when I took the class, I wasted 3 batches when I did it on my own. And if you are seriously wants to learn, invest on a scale. U.S. measurements aren't going to cut it. You need to measure in grams to get an accurate results. And from experience, Italian meringue method is better than French or Swiss meringue method.. And I agree with "Carmen Adorno". This is a very delicate cookie so "Repetition" is the key. I always take orders from my friends because it gives me practice.
I have been baking macarons for a few months now. I was excited to see that the Herme book would be available for the English market. First of all you must know that Herme uses the Italian method in making his macarons. No French, no Swiss. I don't particularly like handling boiling sugar, so this was a big disappointment to me. I prefer the French method which requires no soft ball stage boiling of sugar to make a meringue. Temperatures are in metric units, which doesn't bother me, but may bother some people. I have become accustomed to measuring in grams. There is no way around it in this precise art form.
This book is targeted toward those already familiar with baking macarons. It offers no trouble shooting guide. You are on your own if things don't turn out quite like the beautiful pictures in the book. The ingredients used in the recipes can be quite exotic to America. The resource guide in the back of the book provides names and websites of suppliers, but most are in the UK or France. The recipes produce impractical quantities of macarons. 144 shells = 72 macarons? That is 6 dozen macarons per batch! Be prepared to make only 1/2 or 1/3 the recipe. You don't want 6 dozen macarons that you decide you or no one else likes.
It's a beautiful book given its pictures. It can spark your imagination in producing your own recipes. However, this book is not practical for the novice. In addition, it has not been properly translated for use in the US market.
If you are looking for a book to begin your journey into the world of macarons, I recommend Les Petits Macarons by Gordon and McBride.
I've been working on making "proper" macarons for awhile, and have been eagerly awaiting the English version of this book. The book itself is beautiful and has amazing photographs and recipes ranging from traditional to way out there. I've made a few batches of the basic, plain shells and the result is great IF you already know how to make an Italian Meringue. I have made Italian Meringue many times, and know how to do so fairly well. However, Herme's instructions for doing so make absolutely no sense. I tried it anyway, with terrible results. Luckily I had several "sets" of eggs liquifying in the fridge. When I used my own method (which is well known and relatively simple, just Google) for making the Italian Meringue, the rest of the recipe was easy and produced awesome shells. So, the ingredients are there, but the instructions for making the meringue are ridiculous. Unless someone else's stand mixer and stove (and laws of physics) work differently than mine, I don't understand how this method could possibly work. Anyway, I look forward to trying many of the different flavors and fillings. But, you really need to have some baking experience to recognize the obvious errors and correct for them, or I imagine you would be very frustrated trying to follow the most basic shell recipe in this book. Good luck!
It took me a long time to get up the courage to tackle the art of macaron making. The methods here and flavor profiles are the real deal and yes, they are expensive to make. But the results make the complicated process and the price worth it. If your goal is trying to create some of the best macarons you'll ever eat, share, or sell, this book will get you there.
As other reviewers have noted, the description of making the Italian meringue is vague in the recipes, but the introductory section of the book explains in painstaking step-by-step photos how to make each element and what it should look like. Adjustments may need to be made depending on your ingredients and environment. The recipes for the fillings alone (which of course are the best part of the macaron), is worth the price of the book. Some favorites macarons from the book include Bitter Chocolate, Americano (grapefruit), Lemon, Coffee, Salted-Butter Caramel, Infinitely Chocolate and Infinitely Vanilla.
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The book is beautiful - positively stunning. Well photographed, (generally) great recipes, etc. Making macarons is truly not as hard as people claim it is, but it does require following directions, attention to detail, and if using these recipes - some level of intuition.
When I first bought this book, within minutes I found several substantive errors (items missing from the ingredients list, but referenced in the instructions, etc.). I actually wrote the publisher because the book was not inexpensive and I personally found it to be so disappointing. The publisher actually wrote back a friendly reply saying the first print had errors and would send me a second print once it was out. Well, to my surprise, they actually followed through! Unfortunately, while some issues were resolved, even the second print had some errors in it. As an experienced baker, I am able to use context clues and previous knowledge/experience/intuition to figure things out that aren't clear in the text, but someone with less kitchen experience probably would be very disappointed with the book.
If the book weren't riddled with such egregious errors, it would be a 5-star all the way. But to have numerous prints with substantive errors is really hard to justify, especially at over $30.
With all that said, the Italian Meringue method Herme uses is really good and described in great detail (even though some of the directions have improper timing associated with them - for example, when he says to begin beating the egg whites would not work with the timing he suggests, etc.) and yields good results *if* you are aware of how to make do with middling instructions.
As for standout recipes, well, the saffron peach macaron and pistachio raspberry were, bar none, the best macarons I've ever had. This book has the potential to be *the* best macaron book out there. But at present, it leaves quite a bit to be desired.
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