Macarons - not to be confused with macaroons, the chewy coconut cookie that has a texture that's almost like a cake - are confections made from egg whites, sugar, ground almonds, flavorings and food color. It's a recipe that has to be followed fairly diligently or the shape and texture will be unsatisfactory. Some recipes call for cooked italian meringue, but most traditional recipes use cold meringue. Either way, the focus is on achieving a crunchy shell that gives way to a more moist bottom layer. A "foot" around the bottom edge is essential. Many things can prevent this frilly part from forming, so it's tricky to get it right. Without the foot or pied, it's not a true macaron. Though there is some controversy over the origins of the sweet treat, it has generally been accepted that the French made it famous. The first macarons were made without any fancy flavors or colorings. In the 1900's Pierre Desfontaines of the famous Laudree pastry shop in Paris upgraded the macaron to what it is today. He added a cream filling between two of the meringue cookies.
Since I have given up chocolate, I have been looking for other treats to keep my sweet tooth from screaming out in anguish. I've tried yogurt and carob covered fruits and nuts, but none are quite the same as a good dose of chocolate. When a lady I know mentioned that she was starting a new business selling macarons, I knew I had to give them a try. There are some websites that are more fun than others. For example, I've always loved DeBrand's website, because it's interactive. You can actually virtually take a bite of the chocolates to see what's inside! The website for Mageline's Confiserie is beautifully done with lots of intriguing images and a nice sampling of the products available. I ordered a box and was thrilled when an elegant package similar to the one below arrived with a thank you note enclosed:
|Box of macarons from Mageline's Confiserie|
Once past the delightful packaging, I noticed how appealing the macarons are. The colors are festive and even, and they are well formed. The smooth, light and crunchy shell that surrounds a soft, slightly chewy, cookie-like almond-flavored layer is not too thick and allows you to bite easily into the macaron to reach the creamy filling in the middle. The three layers are superbly balanced with the cream filling providing a nice smooth texture in contrast to the more crunchy and chewy outer layers. There was just enough filling for these to be creamy without getting close to mushy. Living in Boulder, I'm not accustomed to very sweet things. Everything here is sweetened extra lightly with agave, stevia, honey or fruit juice, so having real sugar, which is essential in making macarons, was a bit of an indulgence. Still, the flavors, while subtle, grew on my palate and lingered nicely. The near perfect texture of these treats made me crave more. They are quite addicting!
These little gems would make ideal gifts. I highly recommend them. I will definitely order again and think that these served at special occasions would be an excellent idea. I can't wait until I can have chocolate again, because I can only imagine how delicious the chocolate flavors are!
|Macarons from Mageline's Confiserie|