Firstly, a quick thanks to everyone who turned up at Asia House in London to hear me witter on about Japanese food last Tuesday. The event was a sell out, which was a massive and lovely surprise. So thanks again, especially to all those who asked really interesting questions, and stayed on afterwards to chat.
Now, as a kind of addendum to my thing in the Guardian today on how some foods just don't travel, how about this: a kit for a classic French patisserie, bought in Japan, and tested out at home this weekend?
I found it in the flagship store of Muji, in Yurakucho. It's part of a new range of products they are making to try and get families to spend quality time together. So, rather than buy a pack of ready made macarons, they thought it'd be nice to get parents and children to make them together (they also have a self-build cardboard chair).
I bought them because I was deeply sceptical that you could make macarons – the most notoriously temperamental of baked goods – from a kit.
The kit included two measured sachets of icing sugar, two of almond flour, one sachet of cocoa powder (to flavour the chocolate macarons) and one of caramel powder (to flavour the caramel macarons). There were also some chocolate buttons to make the ganache filling.
You have to provide the egg whites, whipped to soft peaks, plus a little milk or cream for the ganache.
A Japanese friend kindly translated the instructions for me, and I set to work. This is the result:
A little flat, perhaps (I must have over mixed the whites, cocoa powder, sugar and almond flour just a tad – told you they were temperamental), but otherwise I reckon it's pretty much the Platonic ideal of a chocolate macaron. Which, sadly, was not something you might say about the caramel ones.
Will macaron kits catch on? I could imagine so, being this easy, but I doubt Pierre Hermé is quaking in his boots just yet.