Nelle coveting the box.
I’d been hearing people rave about macarons on food blogs for months on end.
I read about the intense passion, the pilgrimmages to Paris pâtisseries, the unprecedented cultish status of this French sandwich cookie, and I thought, "how good could it possibly be?"
Well, now I know.
Look at me! Yesterday, an innocent child chasing cupcakes. Today, a sophisticated mademoiselle of meringue! My eyelids are fluttering, my pulse ever quickens, my face flushes at the thought of yet another sweet encounter.
How do you say, "OMGthey’resodanggoodyouwannaslapyourmama" in French?
We got our sampler box from Michel Patisserie. Check out the flavors:
Of course, for the alphabet soup kitchen helpers, it was love at first sight. Such pretty colors! The promise of raspberry, chocolate, and caramel was almost too much to bear!
Some arranged tea parties,
others engaged in Olympic-style judging,
still others held serious macaron conferences, debating passion fruit vs. orange, mint vs. lemon.
Knowing just how rare and precious macarons are in this part of the world, I called in the troops for safeguarding,
but one clever ted managed to take off with a few before we could stop him.
I will say it was difficult deciding which one to taste first. I had waited a long time to try macarons, and I wanted my first bite to be memorable. I went with pistachio since green is my favorite color.
The base of the cookie has a ruffled circlet called "the foot."
The meringue wafer looks solid, and previous experience with other sandwich cookies like Oreos or sugar wafers made me expect a crunch.
But no – when you bite into it, you realize the surface is eggshell thin, giving way to a slightly chewy meringue/light cake texture that beautifully blends with the creamy filling. The flavor was phenomenal — intense but not overpowering. I thought, if angels bake, this is what it would taste like. Fairies must serve these at their tea parties.
And then and there, I reconsidered my longstanding allegiance to cupcakes.
Suddenly, cupcakes seemed gauche, messy, over-the-top. Macarons are sleek, sophisticated, elegant. They are a distillation of fine flavor, varied texture, practiced artistry, and so very French. Now I see what the fuss is all about. I also love that because of their size, there is much less guilt about eating them!
Divine dark chocolate!
Besides the pistachio, my favorites from the box were chocolate, vanilla and caramel. I’m not a coffee drinker, so the coffee flavor didn’t wow me, and I don’t care too much for mint in desserts. The passion fruit was a nice surprise, though, a literal burst of flavor that instantly transported me to my childhood in Hawai’i, biting into sour liliko’i. Len and I split each cookie, comparing our reactions. He is usually one to simply wolf down a dessert without too much thought. But with these, even he paused to savor, then contemplate each bite. Ultimately, he admitted he also preferred macarons to cupcakes — they’re not as sweet, lots of flavor packed into a small package, uncommonly delicious.
All weekend, as we watched our French movies, the thought of the next macaron lifted our spirits. Whenever we met in the hall, Len (who learned French while working in Algeria), greeted me with a big smile and pronounced "macaron" with a distinct roll of the "r," suitably accompanied by one or two devilish eyebrow raises. Oh, the power!
One thing: others have said the macaron wafer should have a smooth surface, attesting to the very finely ground almond flour that is used. These macarons had little bumps on the surface, and the bits of almond added a chewiness that reminded me of coconut flakes. So, were the almonds not ground finely enough — or did the bakers fail to sift out the larger bits? Is this characteristic of just Michel Patisserie macarons?
There’s only one way to find out. I must do a comparison tasting. I’m going to order a box from MadMac next! Such hard work, I know, but as I’ve said many times before, you are worth the sacrifice!
Dorie Greenspan has said one must go to Paris and fall in love with them there to fully understand the depth and breadth of macaron madness. I understand what she’s saying, and think that if I were to go to Paris, I’d need paramedics standing by, as I’m sure I’d be swooning all over the place. To think, the French have been savoring macarons for centuries, and they’re still just as, or even more passionate about them.
I can easily see why. Maintenant, I wish to marry a macaron.
But don’t worry. I’m not giving up cupcakes. We’ll always remain good friends ☺.
Jama and Len: Macaron Maniacs!
♥ To read my other post about macarons and their history, click here.
♥ Click here for a video demonstrating how Sucre in New Orleans makes their macarons.
♥ More 2010 Summer Soup here.
Copyright © 2010 Jama Rattigan of jama rattigan’s alphabet soup. All rights reserved.