guest post: the journey to macaron perfection

As you read this, I’m either (a) relaxing by the pool at a fabulous hotel in Las Vegas, (b) window shopping for incredibly expensive shoes,  (c) trying to extract my husband from the craps table, or (d) recovering from a way-too-expensive but incredibly delicious meal. So, while I’m doing one or all of those things (and if you follow me on Twitter, you’ll probably know what I’m up to)  I’m happy to introduce you to a friend of mine from Twitter and the food blogging world – Mardi from eat.live.travel.write.  If you don’t know Mardi already, here’s your opportunity to learn a bit. And please, go visit her blog, eat.live.travel.write, sometime – you’ll be very happy you did!


I have a confession to make that regular readers of my blog, eat. live. travel. write. will not be surprised to read. My name is Mardi and I am obsessed with macarons. The quest for the perfect macaron began before I even knew it. When I lived in Paris, I would quite often go to Storher and buy one of these for my afternoon tea:

This was in the mid 1990s, long before the macaron was en vogue outside France. I guess I got used to them being available so it was kind of a shock to me when I moved to Canada in 2000 where they were nowhere to be found. I took advantage of our yearly trips to France to indulge my obsession and it never really crossed my mind to attempt to make them at home. Until last year.

My first attempts were not so promising (though the second batch at least had feet):

And of course there was the famous cimtière des macarons:


Desperate measures were required because all these attempts were only serving to frustrate me more and more. I took myself along to the Pavillion Elysée Lenôtre for a workshop last Christmas to learn from the masters.

With that knowledge under my belt, I returned “motivée” as they say in France, to succeed. I even bought some reading matter home with me:

My next two rounds were a success:

The third time was not quite the charm. In fact it took me FIVE batches to get them right…

But after that, I figured out the proportions/ ratios that work for me. And started to experiment with colours and flavors as my confidence grew.

I am by no means an expert and am about to tackle macarons as per Pierre Hermé’s method this summer so am expecting a LOT of trial and error there. But it’s been such rewarding journey so far. For no matter how finicky and temperamental they are, the feeling you get when you peek in the oven at the 6 minute mark just before you turn them around, when you see the little feet forming it is priceless. As they say, if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again (and maybe again!). Here is the recipe that finally worked for me – it’s from Hélène of Tartelette but is actually very similar in quantities to the one I used at Lenôtre. My notes are included there also.

Never tried making macarons? Intimidated? Go on – you know you want to. And let’s face it – they can’t be worse than some of my attempts!

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14 Responses to “guest post: the journey to macaron perfection”

  1. 1
    Daydreamer Desserts — June 18, 2010 @ 1:42 pm

    From one Macaron Obsessed Foodie to another, Brav0!! For your determination and dedication have surely paid off.

    PS: I loved “Le cimtière des macarons”…

  2. 2
    Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite — June 18, 2010 @ 2:06 pm

    Thanks so much for having me – I am honoured that you asked me to guest post on your beautiful blog!!!

  3. 3
    Ken — June 18, 2010 @ 3:06 pm

    Your journey gives me hope that trial and error is the key to success. I learn from my mistakes and thanks to you and other’s encouragement, I’ve gain more knowledge than I could imagine. Thanks.

  4. 4
    Barbara Bakes — June 18, 2010 @ 4:22 pm

    Gorgeous macs. I too love the anticipation by the oven waiting for feet. I’ll look forward to your next round ofmacs.

  5. 5
    bunkycooks — June 19, 2010 @ 8:15 am

    Congrats on your now beautiful macarons! Persistence has paid off.

  6. 6
    Jamie — June 19, 2010 @ 8:31 am

    I love seeing your journey and always love talking macs with you, sharing our joys and successes, our feet and our failures. When your macs work they are stunningly perfect and the flavors are always so creative. Here is to all the MacPassionates, MacAddicts out there! And I am looking forward to more baking macs with you in our virtual kitchen!

  7. 7
    Evelyne@CheapEthnicEatz — June 19, 2010 @ 9:41 am

    Wonderful guest post from Mardi. Having seen the attempts in each separate posts it’s cool to see them in retrospective, successfully

  8. 8
    Barbara @ VinoLuciStyle — June 19, 2010 @ 12:29 pm

    Macamaniac I say! I applaud Mardi’s continuous quest to find that perfect balance of ingredients, humidity, heat, patience…whew; it is not for the faint of heart!

    But nothing quite thrills a co-mac addict quite like the words, ‘Feet…I’ve got feet!’ – I’ve made the journey a couple of times and grew weary but you Mardi…you are a living example of patience and persistance; your results are now stunning and I’m betting delicious too!

  9. 9
    Fuji Mama — June 19, 2010 @ 9:22 pm

    It has been such a fun journey to watch Mardi!

  10. 10
    Geoff — June 19, 2010 @ 11:55 pm

    So, what actually is the attraction, Mardi? Is it the taste, the appearance or just the warm glow from being able to make them right?
    And, assume they were easily available in Canada and they were good, would you bother to make them?

  11. 11
    Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite — June 20, 2010 @ 7:12 am

    Daydreamer Desserts – it’s good to know I am not alone in my quest!

    Ken – I couldn’t imagine attempting these without the support and encouragement of my fellow mac-fiends ;-) Or the resources available on the internet, for that matter…

    Barbara – that anticipation is always exciting huh?

    bunkycooks – well let’s hope I really *have* cracked the secret at least to this method!!

    Jamie – thanks for having me over in MacTweets – I don’t know if I would be making this journey on my own!!

    Evelyne – it really puts it all in perspective looking at them together like that, huh? I do have a long way to go still but I have come so far already!

    Barbara – thanks so much for your sweet comment! I fear readers may grow tired of my attempts so you know I throw in a few fails every now and then to keep them on their toes – I WISH!!!! Thanks for all your support too!

    Fuji Mama – thanks to you I now have a recipe that is nearly failproof, as long as the weather and humidity cooperate!!

    Geoff (dad)- well since you probably know me better than anyone, you must know that it’s the fact that I hate to fail at anything so when I get my mind set on something, I keep on doing it until it’s right. They are available in Canada (though not in walking distance of us) so I guess I could go and buy them but really, whilst I like the taste and appearance, it’s the making them part that I really love! Plus, my neighbours are very happy to eat my attempts!!!

  12. 12
    Magic of Spice — June 21, 2010 @ 11:15 pm

    You look like an expert to me Mardi, and thank you so much for showing the mishaps as well…Gives us much hope as we are wading our way through:) They look fantastic!

  13. 13
    Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction — June 24, 2010 @ 5:01 pm

    Love all of the macarons… The are always so beautiful. Great post!

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