All posts for the month of March will be devoted to my recent trip to France and Spain.
Just as I was writing this post about macarons I found out that March 20th, was Jour du Macaron or Macaron Day! Ok, so I’m a day late; but, where I’m from we celebrate things all month long!
The Macaron is an almond meringue, sandwich cookie. It’s light and crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. Traditionally they have a jam, ganache or buttercream filling. These cookies are not to be confused with macaroons, which are traditionally crispy, coconut cookies.
The macaron, as we know it, started gaining popularity in France during the 1800s. Now they are a staple in French bakeries. You can find macarons in almost every pâtisserie there.
The macaron is famously known to be a hard cookie to make. I set out to expand my knowledge on this popular French treat so that I could make them myself.
A Dream Come True
I first found the cookie in Paris, France at the Galeries Lafayette. Galeries Lafayette is a French department store. It is what we would call a luxury mall in America. We walked into the food section and there was what seemed to be miles upon miles of macaron shops. I settled on some from the shop Pierre Hermé Bakery:
The experience at Pierre Hermé was unlike any American bakery that I’ve visited. All of the attendants were impeccably dressed, cordial and attentive. They packaged my macarons with care. It was a luxurious buying experience. They even offered a catalog of their spring collection. I loved every moment of it!
The Pierre Hermé macarons were delicious; but, I couldn’t help but think there had to be a better macaron somewhere. I wanted to experience a small pâtisserie where the macarons were made in house. I got that opportunity when we reached Nimes, France. While in Nimes we stopped at a cute little pâtisserie named Boulangerie Croquants Villaret.
Boulangerie Croquants Villaret was filled with lots of sweets; but, most importantly there were in-house made macarons! I tried the Speculos and Salted Caramel macaron. I think I heard angels singing! They were so good that I took the tiniest bites in an effort to cherish the flavor. They were definitely homemade like I like it!
As a little girl, I imagined myself in Paris sitting by the Eiffel Tower, indulging in French pastries while a Frenchman in a red beret and striped shirt played violin in the background. I know, so cliché, but the keyword is imagine! Nonetheless, this experience was a dream come true.
I’ve mentioned my cookie obsession before. I’ve been known to liken myself to being a real, live Cookie Monster! When I decided to take a trip to France I knew that I had to taste a traditional French Macaron — but I didn’t want to just taste it. I wanted to make them too!
Prior to my trip to France, I had never tasted macarons; so, I had to try them before I made them.
I tried macarons from three separate places in Charlotte, NC. Check out my list from least to most favorite.
Least favorite: Trader Joe’s
Flavors: Trader Jacques Chocolate and Vanilla French Macarons
I found them in the frozen treats section. Compared to the ones I’d already tasted, these were like a Wal-Mart pound cake as opposed to your country grandma’s thick, buttery homemade pound cake. They tasted generic and flavorless. I would not recommend them, the end!
Good: Le Macaron French Pastries
Flavors: Lavender White Chocolate, Madagascar Black Vanilla, Colombian Coffee and Salted Caramel
The lavender white chocolate flavor stood out with a floral, earthy flavor. Fun fact, France was once the world’s largest producer of lavender.
Most favorite: Amélie’s French Bakery & Cafe
The Salted Caramel Brownie flavor was my absolute favorite. It’s like I tasted every ingredient used to make the cookies. Well done!
Armed with the knowledge of what a macaron tastes like, I set out to make my own. I combed through tons of food blogs, websites and instructional videos on how to a make the cookie.
The consensus among the topic of making macarons was fold, fold, fold your ingredients properly — but, not too little and not too much. Just until you have “the perfect lava consistency” or until your batter forms “perfect ribbons” that holds their shape for a moment. Also, the macarons have to have perfect feet:
Are you thinking what I’m thinking? That’s some bad and boujee cookie right? It’s a little too much!
I had all the ingredients lined out so pretty, plus champagne for guidance of course.
I just knew it would be perfect and they turned out like this:
It was an epic fail! Lol! The shells were cracked, lopsided, hollow and they didn’t have good feet. Plus I was going for a bolder purple color. After research, I found that I probably overmixed the batter and didn’t include enough food coloring.
Back to the drawing board.
The next time around was much better; but, not perfect.
I decided to go for a deeper, much darker purple color. I took extra care with mixing and allowing the cookies to set properly before baking.
And drumroll please…
Here’s the finished product:
A basic macaron with honey buttercream filling. It was delicious!
Here’s the recipe I used:
I’m sure that this wasn’t the best recipe; but, after combing through tons of vids it became the best by default!
Also, macaron templates come in handy. I found a good one here:
I have been completely obsessed with macaron research. I hope you enjoyed my foodie shenanigans!
Do you like macarons or do you have any recipe tips for me? Tell me about it by commenting below.
Thanks for reading and as always, see y’all soon!