The French Macaron
March 12, 2011 § Leave a comment
I first discovered macarons (not to be confused with the Americanized coconut macaroon), the much-celebrated French cookie, in a shop in Paris. These delicate little pastel-colored treats were lined up by flavor in a glass box display; like edible art or a bouquet of flowers. Each flavor a different tone…the pistachio green, chocolate brown, vanilla off-white, raspberry a deep pink…almost rouge like…each completely irresistible.
The first bite –crispy, flaky outer meringue shell, followed by chewy inner meringue with subtle notes of almond flavor, followed by the cream center (buttercream) produces just the right amount of sweetness. It was with my first macaron that I fell in love with it, gained a particularly acute sense of what a truly good (one might say historically influenced) one should be – texture, taste…This romance has left my palette disappointed at times, especially in the United States where the cookies are too sugary and the texture too chewy. Even in France I have been disappointed. The French macaroon is either perfect or it is not, there is no in between. Thus, when I find a shop that makes a good one I take note and purchase several.
Recently, I was romanced once again. There they were, three lone macaroons sitting amidst a tray of other pastries – one pink, one green, and one cream. That they were not delicate in shape, but had attained that perfect chewy goodness, made them even more appealing to me– irresistible really. I went for the cream color – I believe it was almond/vanilla. What can I say? I’m a traditionalist, particularly when trying something for the first time; if the traditional is good, I may get more adventurous. Oh my Goodness!!! The texture was light, crispy, chewy and creamy as I bit down into the cookie. And the flavors were subtle, not overly sweet – perfection in one bite! This was one of the best macarons I’ve had in a long time, thus my inspiration to write about it.
To my delight, I discovered that these were made by a bakery in my own backyard…the Danish Pastry Shop in Watertown (and Medford). I’ll be visiting there shortly to pick up some more to satisfy my craving after writing this. I’m sure they have many more tempting bites – which I will discover on my visit. But for now, I am going for the macarons.
David Lebovitz wrote a wonderful post about the traditional French macaron. Here is the link.
Photo Maud Powell Pinterest page.