The French macaron is a beautifully colored and flavored almond meringue sandwich cookie. The outer shells consist of almond flour, sugar and egg whites and are typically filled with ganache, buttercream or marmalade. The macaron, or macaroon in English, is often confused with the coconut rocher (French for rock), a moist, shredded coconut cookie.
The first macaron originated in Italy in the 16th century, perhaps by the chef of Catherine de Medici. The word “macaron” comes from the Italian maccherone (also where the term macaroni is derived) and means fine paste or dough. The original macaron was a simple, crispy almond biscuit.
The macaron gained popularity throughout France. During the French revolution in the city of Nancy in Lorraine, two nuns sought refuge in a secular home. To earn a living, they produced macarons and became known as “les sœurs macarons” or “the macaron sisters.” In 1952, the city honored them by naming the street where their operation was located after them. Macarons from Nancy are still sold in the same location today.
Pierre Desfontaines Ladurée of the famous Parisian tearoom and bakery, Ladurée, developed the concept of the macaron sandwich. In the beginning of the 20th century, Ladurée had an idea of joining the two meringue biscuits with ganache. Ladurée is known for its many flavorful macarons. Also well known for his macarons is Pierre Hermé, whose litchi, raspberry and rose flavored macaron named “Ispahan” is recognized around the world, contributing to the macaron’s international fame.
The worldwide fascination with the macaron makes this petit four an easy sell. It is delicious, subtle, and makes great finger food. The flavor combinations are endless, as are the possible fillings: jams or jellies, buttercreams, ganaches, fresh fruits, ice creams or sorbets, almond paste or caramel. This version features ganache flavored with Earl Grey tea. The shell remains stable for up to five days refrigerated or up to one month frozen.
Chef John Kraus, pastry chef and instructor at The French Pastry School at City Colleges of Chicago teaches his students the art of pastry that includes advanced bread techniques. In 2005 and 2006, Chef Kraus was named one of the Top Ten Pastry Chefs in the United States by a national magazine. For more information on The French Pastry School, visit www.frenchpastryschool.com.
Blue Flowers Earl Grey chocolate macaron
|Confectioners' sugar||12||340 g|
|Almond flour||6.7||190 g|
|Aged egg whites||6||170 g|
|Egg white powder||0.2||7 g|
|Cocoa powder (20-22% fat)||0.9||25 g|
|Total app. wt.||1||11.4||777 g|
Method: Sift the almond powder and confectioners' sugar. Add the cocoa powder. If necessary, use a food processor for a few seconds if the mixture is not fine enough. Whisk the egg whites, sugar and egg white powder until firm. Fold the dry mix into the egg whites. Fold until the mixture becomes shiny and somewhat loose (you should have to squeeze the mixture from the piping bag, not let it run). This process is called macaronner. Pipe 90 1-in. diameter disks onto parchment paper and let rest for about 30 minutes until they form a skin. Bake in a 300°F (150°C) convection oven for 2 minutes with the vent closed and 8 to 9 minutes vent open. Let cool and freeze immediately. Yields 45 sandwich cookies.
Blue Flowers Earl Grey ganache
|Heavy cream (35% fat)||10.2||290 g|
|Blue Flowers Earl Grey tea||0.5||15 g|
|Dark chocolate couverture 58%||9.5||270 g|
|Milk chocolate couverture 38%||1.8||50 g|
|Unsalted butter (82% fat)||1.8||50 g|
|Total appr. wt.||1||7.8||675 g|
Method: Bring the cream to a simmer. Add the tea; cover and let steep for 5 minutes. Strain the cream/tea mixture. Add cream to infusion to bring weight back to 10.2 ozs. (290 g) and simmer again. Pour the cream over half melted dark and milk chocolate. Add the soft peak butter, and emulsify using a mixer.