I agree to be part of the beta test immediately. There is no need to twist my arm.
The email comes from Veronica’s Test Kitchen. “I’m sending macarons,” writes the proprietor of the blogosphere’s most prestigious center of culinary science.
How could I possibly refuse?
Veronica is my hero. She can give Harold McGee a run for his money. Her keenly insightful kitchen experiments have taught me a thing or two about organization, attention to detail and using your powers of observation in the kitchen. Her macaron marathon was a tour de force, and now she’s taken the enviable step of opening her own patisserie, Petites Bouchees, offering exquisitely-crafted French macarons to the city of Richmond, Virginia and beyond. Veronica is turning her passion into a delicious vocation.
As I wait for the delivery, I decide to research the elegant pastel-colored sandwich cookies that can be found in most pastry shops in Paris. A macaron is a small, round biscuit, made from ground nuts and meringue that is crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside. They can be sandwiched together with a variety of Grenaches and cream fillings. Various sources cite the spelling as macaroon, or macaron. Wikepedia reports on the difficulty of preparing macarons, and dates their origin to the French courts of the 18th century. They are traced to a place called Nancy, a commune in the Lorraine region of Northeast France. Larousse Gastronomique tells me that macarons emerged in Venice, Italy during the Renaissance. The name is derived from the Italian word maccherone and the Venetian word macarone, which means fine paste. One story says that macarons have been made in a monastery in Cormery, France since the year 791. There is even an intriguing story of two Carmelite nuns who during the French Revolution became famous as the “Macaroon Sisters.”
I can see why Veronica has taken to this grand culinary tradition.
The package is due to arrive on Wednesday. I check the front steps several times but nothing has arrived. On Thursday morning, I am racing from the house to catch a train, and I spy the delivery box on the front steps. It must have arrived after dark. I return to the house, deposit the contents of the box in the refrigerator, and catch the next train to Manhattan. During the work day I am driven to distraction. Visions of macarons are dancing through my head.
In the evening I arrive home and immediately take the precious contents from the refrigerator. The macarons have been packaged in a sleek, slender cocoa-colored box. It is tied with a teal ribbon, decorated with brown polka-dots. Carefully, I break the plastic seal, slide out the box and slowly raise the lid.
My eyes fall on a dozen pristine macarons, meticulously-shaped and packed in neat rows. I pick up a macaron and take a sniff – the aroma is nutty, sweet and fragrant. The soft, pastel hues suggest the French countryside: Vanilla filled with a sunny Madasgacar Bourbon Vanilla Buttercream, sea-green Pistachio filled with Chocolate Ganache, and wheat-colored Hazelnut filled with Salted Caramel Cream.
I taste a stylish Vanilla macaron. The outer texture is firm and the inside is soft and chewy. The buttercream filling dissolves in my mouth like rays of sunshine. I taste a second … a third … a forth. I’m beginning to understand Veronica’s obsession with macarons. In a short time, I have consumed eight macarons. I take my responsibility as a beta tester very seriously. Of course, this is purely an experiment to determine which variety is my favorite. It’s a tie. I love them all!
Could life be sweeter?
Tres magnifique, Veronica! Merci beaucoup!
©2008 T.W. Barritt All Rights Reserved