With all my pastry affairs, it’s surprising I’d never hooked up with a French macaron. I mean, I’ve gone hot and heavy with everything from homemade Twinkies to Lady Baltimore Cake. It was high time I experienced the lusty passion of the French Macaron.
The encounter takes place at the Institute of Culinary Education during their “Macaron Mondays” program. Chef Instructor Kathyrn Gordon is the co-author of “Les Petits Macarons” and knows the allure of the perfectly French sandwich cookie. She’s spent years researching and baking macarons.
Chef Kathryn walks us through the basics of macaron amour. It’s actually a simple set of four ingredients – almond flour, confectioners sugar and granulated sugar, combined with egg whites whipped into a meringue. Yet the conditions have to be right. Too much whipping, too much baking, or too much humidity can destroy the relationship. Subtlety is key to any relationship
She quickly pipes out some quarter-sized macarons decorated with Jackson Pollack-style splashes of color, and explains that during the French Revolution, nuns baked macarons as a nutritious alternative to meat. Sounds like my kind of religious order.
You’re looking for a classic figure in a macaron – a shiny, thin shell, with a “foot” around the shell – that slightly rough edge that meets the filling.
I team up with a woman named Laura who I’ve just met and we get to work. We have our choice of colors and fillings, and she makes a passionate plea to color our macarons hot pink and fill them with strawberry guava filling. It’s just a little frou-frou and a very Pop Art choice, but when it comes to macarons, you might as well go all the way.
Perhaps I’m besotted, but I think our macarons are some of the prettiest and shapeliest in the class.
So here’s the thing about baking macarons. You have to be ready for a long courtship. A freshly baked macaron tastes hard and crunchy. You must “age” macarons in the freezer. The cookie and the filling need time to meld and develop that characteristic soft, chewy texture. It’s only a temporary delay. The deep freeze does nothing to chill the desire.
This is not a one-night stand. I’ll be back for more. Love.
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