Macarons have become uber-popular in the past couple of years. Both France and Italy claim to be their creator (France claims that they were created in a convent in 791, while Italy claims being the first to make them in 1533). The current macaron, 2 almond-paste based meringue cookies sandwiching cream, was created in the 1800’s.
Macarons are notoriously difficult to make and require much skill and expertise, as the meringue cookies are extremely delicate. A good macaron will be smooth and round on the top, and will have feet on the bottom. I actually attempted to make these back in March for the “Sparkling wine” tasting I hosted, as macarons and Champagne make an excellent pair. I spent at least 5 hours trying to make them (most of which was my attempt to ground raw almonds into a powder fine enough that could be sifted). It is actually not the best idea to make something that you have never even tasted before, because you don’t know how close (or far) your creation is from the original. I ended up throwing them away–something I now regret!
Anyhow, I enjoy my first professionally-made macaron yesterday. I made sure that I went to a reputable patisserie, as pretty much any and everyone (including McDonalds in Paris) is mass producing these right now, and sacrificing quality as they do it.
I tried three flavors–a more traditional bourbon-vanilla, passion fruit-pineapple, and strawberry-basil (a flavor combination that I’ve never tried). Macarons are truly a luxurious dessert. The delicate meringue cookie crumbles into your mouth with the first bite. Though the sandwich cookie is tiny, each bite is meant to be savored. The bourbon-vanilla was as delicious as it was traditional, while the passion-fruit pineapple packed a punch of tangy from the sourness of the cream between the cookies. The strawberry-basil was not my cup of tea, but I look forward to trying the numerous flavors. The cost from a “haute” patisserie in the wealthiest neighborhood in Paris? Only 1,50 Euros per macaron.