While most of us are familiar with the macaroon, a baked coconut confection that we associate with little old ladies who play Bridge, not everyone has had the pleasure of experiencing the macaron (say it with the snootiest French accent you can muster and you’re pronouncing it right). The latter is a delicious little meringue cookie with delicious jam, ganache, or buttercream sandwiched in between. Common flavours are chocolate, raspberry, blackberry, peach, or my all time favourite, pistachio, and they dot the windows of many a Parisian patisserie in a stunning rainbow of colours.
I absolutely love both varieties, but as it seems that overnight the macaron has become en vogue; the ‘it’ cookie amongst ‘people who are people’ (the Vancouver Sun recently called 2012 the Year of the Macaron), I decided to make my own.
I knew mine wouldn’t be as good as the ones I had in France, or even the ones you can get at Thierry here in Vancouver (which I highly recommend). But since it’s almost Valentine’s Day I couldn’t resist the temptation to make dainty little pink cookies. I don’t celebrate Hallmark holidays, I just use them as an excuse to bake!
Macarons are a funny business. You have to get your meringue just fluffy enough, and grind up your almonds into a very fine powder, and then you have to let them rest. I’m absolutely convinced that the rest of of it is up to the food gods. I agree with the Vancouver Sun article that the weather plays a huge part in how your macarons turn out. I made this same recipe a couple of years ago and got fluffy cookies. It was raining and they turned out with a bit more crunch than I expected. Still they are yummy and the dark chocolate ganache melts in your mouth. They didn’t last long in my office today; my colleagues didn’t seem to mind the fact that they weren’t 100% perfect.
The recipe I used is from Epicurious: Raspberry Chocolate French Macarons. But I think I’d like to find a new one for my next attempt. So in the spirit of Marie Antionette, who loved her cake, I’d like to one day turn out a sheet of beautifully puffed, 100% perfect macarons. I’d love your suggestions and road tested recipes.
And if you’re still searching for the perfect Valentine’s Day dessert, give these beauties a try! If you can’t make it to the City of Lights, it’s pretty much the next best thing!