Jill Colonna from Mad About Macarons

by Maureen Shaw

Jill Colonna from Mad About Macarons

I heard about Jill Colonna of Mad About Macarons from my friend Jamie Schler of Life’s a Feast ages ago on her blog and on Twitter.  Some of you might remember my ongoing saga with my quest to make a successful batch of macarons.  I avoided trying for years and then had several fails – you know the kind, where you scrape the shells off the sheet with a spoon and eat them while standing in the kitchen hoping nobody walks in to catch you?

Enter stage right, Jill Colonna and her unforgettable book, Mad About Macarons.  I decided that if I couldn’t sort it out on my own, then I’d buy the book and learn from an expert.  And an expert she is.

Jill is from Scotland and more than 20 years ago, moved to France to work, met and married Antoine and they have two daughters.  She ate her first macaron shortly after moving to Paris and has been smitten ever since and that’s where the name of the blog and the subsequent book originate.

Jill is a woman who can wear many hats.  Who knew that she was an accomplished flute player.  I wrote it that way because is it flutist or flautist where you live?  I’m never sure so it’s flute player.  Anyway, Jill played flute for “the living legend of the flute”, Sir James Galway.  She studied marketing at university and I’m not sure how but according to her blog, wine consumption was involved in this degree.

Fancy a walking tour of chocolate and macarons in St Germain-des-Prés?  Another hat of Jill’s and a tour I’d love to take with her.  Hearing her speak French with a Scottish accent just tickles my fancy somehow.

This interview with Jill was not as easy as most for me because I had so many questions swimming around in my little head that whittling them down to a manageable amount – and keeping the right ones was tough.  Jill has a successful blog, provides walking tours of chocolate and macarons for a travel company, has two editions of her very successful book in its FIFTH printing, has a busy family life and she makes time for interviews on TV, magazines, newspapers and online – how do you fit all that in 500 words?  Fat chance.  I was so pleased she had time to answer my questions.

    • I’ve been following you since I saw your name on Jamie Schler’s blog ages and ages ago. How important are your blog friends and do you actively seek out friendships and in what ways do they help?

      Gosh, is that how you found me? I find the web fascinating and even although I find it totally overwhelming, it’s comforting to see that so many bloggers know each other and have a wonderful, supportive community spirit. I know we’ve heard all that before, but it’s so true; I actively seeked out Jamie, who hosted MacTweets (a monthly macaron challenge) since a blogger friend commented I was crazy not to get involved with it. I did, then realised just how much I loved her blog, the macaronivores who followed her, plus we have much in common. The biggest treat is when you get to meet the bloggers in person. I’m looking forward to meeting her soon. So, when are you coming to Paris, Maureen? I love an excuse for a drink along the Seine!

    • I’ve told the story about my macaron disasters on my blog at orgasmicchef.com and then got your book and with the first batch I was a hero. Do you get that reaction a lot?

      Yes! I’ve been bowled over when someone takes the time to write a lovely review or post their macaron successes on Facebook or Twitter. I wrote the book not for myself but because I was so frustrated at the number of friends that were too scared to make them in the first place. So I wanted to spread the word: make my recipe easy with clear step-by-step instructions and share in that glowing, feel-good feeling when friends can think you’ve bought them! You know what I’m talking about, don’t you, when I ask if you did the macaron foot dance? When I returned from holiday last summer, I loved seeing your gorgeous chocolate macarons. I felt like a proud Mac Auntie and, coming from the Orgasmic Chef, was speechless!

    • How long did it take to get the book written, photographed and off to the publisher? It’s in its 5th printing so it must have been worth all the sweat and tears.

      I was lucky. I had written out the recipe in detail for friends and then somehow kept adding other flavour combinations on and off over a couple of months until I had a manuscript on my hands. I’m so thankful to Waverley Books for taking me on. After signing the contract in February 2010, testing, adding recipes, then taking photos and sending them by CD, it took 4 months to get it finished on my side. We missed the print date and so a September launch ended up being mid-October 2010. It was the most incredible learning experience! It’s now in its 2nd edition (aimed more at the American market), translated into Hungarian and Dutch and I understand a Spanish version is coming out this year for the Mexican market.

    • In addition to being the queen of macarons, you are also an accomplished musician. Do you play much now or does macaroning and family take up the majority of your time?

      Och, I’m no queen. I just have fun in the kitchen. In another chapter, classical music was my life and I’m lucky to have played and travelled with some incredible musicians. I gave up being a professional when I went back to school and met Antoine, although I still try to keep the fingers exercised by teaching piano and flute.

Rose, Raspberry and Lychee Eclairs

Rose, Raspberry and Lychee Eclairs

    • What’s the inspiration for new macaron flavors?

      Living in Paris, surrounded by the Haute Couturiers of Pâtisserie, you’ll find no end of inspiration. On occasions when I eat out, I can be inspired by a chef’s dessert. For example, William Ledeuil of Ze Kitchen Gallery makes an incredible wasabi and white chocolate ice cream dessert with a green tea sauce and so I translated it into a macaron (it’s in the book.) More often, it can be a simple flavour combination from a posh packet of tea!

    • Is there such a thing as a typical Sunday afternoon and if so, where would we find you?OK. I confess. I’m often in the kitchen. With so many weekend activities and homework, we avoid big Sunday lunches (in France you can still be at the table at 6pm, can’t you?) Instead we hang on until goûter and so you’ll find me making something sweet to tide us over until dinner, when I love to try different dishes and learn to find their perfect wine match.
    • How involved is Antoine in your business or do you go it alone?

      He stays well out of it and so I have to go it alone, as he has much more important things on his mind at work.

    • Like me, you’re a transplant and you’re living in France. Do you ever get homesick for all things “Scottish”?

      After being here for 20 years, my list has become so much smaller when I go to Scotland. When I was there last month I put on a couple of kilos after all the cakes and scones I ate, so it’s probably just as well I don’t crave them too much! If there are two things I miss desperately, it’s good teabags and Stornoway Black Pudding. Ask my eldest daughter, Julie, though. She now craves Irn Bru and her list is growing!

    • What’s coming up for you and the blog and what shouldn’t we miss?

      Well, I hope you didn’t miss that American Express mini video. That was so much fun and an amazing experience, just seeing how long it takes to film for such a short video. These guys were so talented, although I could have done with some make-up in sub-zero winter Paris temperatures! At the moment, I’m playing with different manuscripts for the next book(s). Hopefully I’ll have something sweet to share with you soon!

The only thing wrong with this video is that we don’t get to hear Jill speak. I could listen to her all day long.

Funny – when I asked for a recipe I was 99.9999% sure it was going to be something using egg yolks. Anyone who uses all those egg whites in macarons every day would have a bucketload of egg yolks to use up. She didn’t disappoint and sent along a recipe for her favourite Lemon Ice Cream. Notice I spelled that with a u to let her know I was thinking of her. Although I’ve lived in Australia nearly 20 years I still spell like an American.

Lemon Ice Cream

Lemon Ice Cream

5.0 from 3 reviews
Lemon Ice Cream
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Use egg whites to make macarons from Jill's cookbook, Mad About Macarons and use the egg yolks in this fantastic ice cream!
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 300ml whole milk
  • 200ml whipping cream
  • zest of 2 lemons (untreated)
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 8 egg yolks (organic)
  • 1 tbsp dried milk
  • 1 tbsp Limoncello
  • few drops of yellow food colouring (optional)
Instructions
  1. Cool a bowl in the fridge until step 5.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat together the milk and cream with the lemon zest and yellow colouring, if using.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar, dried milk and yolks until pale and creamy.
  4. Pour the warmed cream over the mix and return to the pan over a medium heat, whisking constantly until the cream thickens. It’s ready when it can coat a spoon.
  5. Pour the mixture into the cooled bowl and leave to cool in the fridge for at least a couple of hours.
  6. Once chilled, transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker and churn until ready. Spoon in to an ice cream carton and freeze for at least a couple of hours.

 
If you have struggled to make the perfect macaron – what am I saying?? If you have struggled to make a macaron with feet that don’t look like a dog’s breakfast then you should get Jill’s book, Mad About Macarons.  It helped me and I’m sure if you’re struggling, it will sort you out too. 

Jill is on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest – why not follow, she’s very friendly.

 

Maureen Shaw
Maureen is the owner of OrgasmicChef.com, EasyRecipePlugin.com, Fooderific.com and shares FoodWriterFriday with Helene Dsouza from MasalaHerb.com. She loves to cook and really loves to eat and entertain. She's on a quest to prove there ARE recipes better than sex. She's come close a time or two so she's still searching.
Maureen Shaw
Maureen Shaw
Maureen Shaw
Maureen Shaw

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