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!