The Macaron Party
Les Macarons – these delicious, mouthwatering French cookies – are sold everywhere these days. You can find them even at Whole Foods… as a version of macarons but not the real thing. Our palettes must be evolving towards refined treats, and the trends are definitely keeping up. So, I organized a Christmas Macaron Party to enjoy, savor, compare and indulge in the art of culinary fun. I went to San Francisco and bought macarons from Chantal Guillon, La Boulange, Miette and Le Marais Bakery. There are many more stores that sell macarons, but I couldn’t go to every one, so I had to choose. I have to admit I love macarons. I can easily finish a box of 6 in a total of 2 minutes. I would keep going if it weren’t for my higher self reminding me that I’d better control my emotions and my gluttony and think about my waist line. Well, I could always use a corset to give the illusion that I am slimmer than I am. But – I have to admit – I love myself more than I love macarons. Macarons are made with eggs, almond flour, sugar and (usually) food coloring. For the most part, they are gluten free, which makes them ultra popular. They are also beautiful, delicate, dreamy, and come in interesting flavors. This blog link has a good recipe for a green tea macaron.
The round melting meringue-based confection is reported to have been introduced to France by Catherine de Medici’s private Italian chefs when she married Henri II de France. But nowadays the macaron is known as a French creation. It was brought back to fame in the early 20th century by the Parisian pastry shop Ladurée.
At our party, we found that Miette makes great macarons with the right balance of texture, taste, and sweetness. Miette uses only organic ingredients and no food coloring. Their macarons have natural colors and a short shelf life (up to 3 days). We tasted the rose macaron, which smelled like rose water. The flavor was present and consistent in the shell and the taste. The chocolate mousse was crunchy but firm, with balanced sugar and texture. The orange macaron had a hint of orange, with a fine and subtle taste. La Boulange is a pioneer in making macarons famous in San Francisco. We liked the texture of their macarons and their strong aromas. The rum raisin macaron was firm, crunchy, and flavorful. You could easily smell the rum. The Nutella had the taste of hazelnuts (as it should), was thick, textured and not too sweet. The Pistachio is one of my favorites. It tasted like vanilla, frangipani, and it tasted sweeter than the others.
Chantal Guillon’s lovely store is located on Hayes Street and is entirely devoted to the art of macarons. Her macarons are beautifully presented and packaged. We tasted her green tea macaron, which was delicate and soft. It had a subtle taste, but it didn’t taste like green tea. The Persian rose had a very strong rose flavor, but the macaron itself didn’t have the aroma of a rose. We found both macarons to be very sweet, and a sweet aftertaste lingered on our palettes. The caramel was pretty and tasted good. The aftertaste was saltier, which we enjoyed.
When I went to Le Marais on Chestnut Street to buy some macarons, it was the end of the day and they only had three left. So I bought the chocolate caramel. The macaron had a very distinctive texture. It was crumbly, a little chewy, with a strong caramel flavor. The feeling was smooth and gooey. We enjoyed it very much and regretted that we couldn’t taste any other flavors. According to staff, they only make a few flavors at a time, including chocolate mint. The delicacy of the macarons invites you to savor them one by one. We enjoyed every bite we took and had a lot of fun comparing and admiring them. If you have tasted other macarons in The City or beyond, leave us a comment. We would like to know about your experience.