Category Archives: macarons

The macarons of Paris — 2008 review

Ladies and gentlemen, meringue aliens and hypoglycaemics, here is the second of two macaron review articles. It’s time we visited the home of the macaron de Paris, alas frequently called ‘French macaroons’. The macarons de Paris de Paris are plentiful and pricey, and not always superdooper (but mostly miles better than those currently found in Melbourne).

If all goes to plan, this will be my last article about macarons for a while. I can hear some of you sigh with relief! And there are others in Melbourne who are honing their skills as we speak…

To the review!

I ventured forth with Harry, my Parisian correspondent. We had a list of seven establishments to visit in one day.

First stop, Fauchon on Rue Saint-Antoine, near the Bastille. Shock! Fauchon had morphed into Lenôtre. A notch or two more stylish. The array of cakes was as tempting as a Brazilian gigolo on a dancefloor, but we maintained our discipline and only dribbled on the macaron cabinet.

Discipline was also needed in the number of macarons to be purchased per shop. With seven venues plotted on our macaron-crawl map, the danger of billiousness was considerable.

Three. So restrained.

lenotre_violette_a.jpg lenotre_coquelicot_a.jpg

Coquelicot – poppy, stunning colour but little discernible flavour, sweet
Chocolat à la violette – pleasant chocolate with a herbal note from the violet
Caramel fleur de sel – salted caramel, heavy and rich

They were quite dense. EUR 72/kg or 1.30 each. Large macarons: 3.50, crinkly surface.

Stop number two. Gerard Mulot’s newish shop near the Place des Vosges.


Mûre – blackberry with tea, pleasant, hollow shell
Passion – passionfruit, delightfully fruity
Pêche-abricot – peach-apricot, unexciting, crunchy
Chocolat – light, rich chocolate ganache, unexciting

EUR 68/kg or 0.85 each. Large macarons: 3.15, rough surface.

Next stop, Pain de Sucre, one of Paris’s most impressive small patisserie-boulangeries (I wrote about them last year). We resisted the wild strawberry tarts, the lime curd, the bread, the marshmallows…


In a break from tradition, Harry was permitted to choose a special, elongated macaron. The rather green, onomatopoeically named Krac-Krac (EUR 4.50) was about 15cm long, contained a green tea butter cream, a long sliver of white chocolate, and… pop-rocks. Lots of fun, but no flavour was particular assertive. Rather expensive.

Cassis – blackcurrant, discreet
Griotte-pistache – cherry shells with pistachio filling, interesting and complex
Menthe-chocolat – spearmint with a chocolate wafer, pleasant, delicate, but not exciting
Angélique-chèvre – angelica shell with goat’s cheese cream, unusual in that it’s a savoury macaron. An interesting experience, but probably not one I’d repeat.

In stark contrast to last year’s visit, this round of Pain de Sucre’s macarons were coarse and irregularly shaped. Disappointing. EUR 68/kg or 1.30 each.

At this point, just three stops into our research, neither of us was feeling particularly enthusiastic. Our tummies were filling with almond meringue and fatty fillings. We hadn’t yet exclaimed in joy about anything. Hmmm.


Citron – rather mild lemon
Bubblegum – oh my sweet childhood! Mind blowing, but a bit scary
Orange-rose – mild, pleasant
Framboise-amande – attractive taste


We weren’t impressed with the texture of these macarons. I suspected they weren’t fresh, as the shells were too soft. They also had dull surfaces and the fillings seemed too damp (perhaps contributing to the un-fresh impression).

EUR 1.60 each. Large macarons: 4.00.

Sadaharu AOKI is our fifth stop.

Pêche-canelle – peach-cinnamon, delighfully fruity, but a little delicate
Sésame – interesting sesame creation, nice sweet-savoury aspect
Violette – great appearance, but fleeting violet flavour
Umé prûne salé – salted plum, delicious (with violent disagreement from Harry)


Aoki’s macarons were the smallest of all that we bought, but only by a few millimetres. They were also the cheapest, at EUR 0.85, despite being the most creative. These were the first macarons of the day to use a rich buttercream in all flavours.

At this point we surrendered from exhaustion and blood sugar crises. The last two stops would have to wait til the morrow.

Ladurée is lucky number six. We arrived a little late. At 1pm the queue consisted of about fifteen people outside the shop and considerably more inside. It was raining. As luck would have it, a member of staff enticed us to another entrance, leading into the salon de thé, where we could buy some macarons away from the surging crowd in the shop.


Muguet – lily-of-the-valley, a new flavour for me, strongly floral, but not as assertive as rose (Harry hated it)
Rosanis – a subtle combination of rose and anise, very pleasant but could have been stronger
Citron – outstanding lemon (it was a special type, but I didn’t catch its full name in either French or English)

EUR 1.50 each.

Pierre Hermé comes last. No insult intended.

The rain continued. The queue outside stretched a short distance, perhaps ten people. On many Saturdays the queue is much much much longer. Only the hardiest devotees could withstand the rain. These devotees were about 80% tourists, most of them American. After quite some time huddling under our umbrella, we could at last cross the threshold. The boutique seemed brighter than I remember it. Most interestingly, the staff were markedly more friendly than on my last visits, two and three years ago. A sign of the dominance of the tourist trade and the need to present a warm face? My first visit to Pierre Hermé was marked by stiff hauteur. What a change.


Arabesque — apricot, peach and pistachio (if I remember rightly…)
Caramel salé — superbly delicious, a salted caramel butter cream
Jasmin — delicate, almost too faint

EUR 1.85 each.

We also bought an Ispahan, a tarte au citron and a tarte au café. Heaven. Pics can be found in my birthday deliciousness post.

There ends the crawl through the macaronic universe of Paris. To round up, prices ranged from EUR 0.80 to 1.85 (A$1.50-3.40) per piece — close to EUR 100 per kilo at the top end. For comparison, the typical Parisian bakery price is approximately EUR 40/kg (probably less than EUR 1.00 per piece), while an upmarket foodhall like the Grande Epicerie at Bon Marché charges EUR 60/kg.

There was absolutely no question in our minds about who does macarons worth travelling for. Ladurée and Pierre Hermé stand heads above everyone except, probably, Aoki. The three have in common that they often use rich (but not heavy) buttercreams, appear to have thought more about the success of flavours, showed product quality and consistency across their ranges and, most importantly, were the only ones which we felt we wanted to return to. The amount of filling varies from place to place, but Hermé and sometimes Ladurée clearly prefer more filling. I’ve even read a blogger criticise Hermé for having too much filling (I forget who, alas), but I must disagree. I definitely favour fat macs.

The crucial lesson learnt. You can joyfully make yourself ill on good ones, but

(wo)man cannot live by unremarkable macarons


Solstice 2008 cake – with a slightly Parisian touch

Phew! I’ve just finished making my Solstice 2008 cake, and not a moment too soon. Sunset is in nine minutes and Another Outspoken Female has demanded that all entries in her baking meme be in by sunset! Of course, it helps if I check my calendar better… I’ve just realised I’m a day early for the deadline. Don’t you just hate it when you bust a gut prematurely?!

I’m not sure if my entry will be regarded as legit. It’s a slightly Parisian take on fruitcake, if you get my drift.

I present to you my Solstice 2008 Spiced Macaron Cake:


The base is a disc of macaron flavoured with clove and nutmeg and dotted with currants (the first time I’ve used such large inclusions in the batter.

On top there are small macarons in two shapes, and two flavours. Some are the same as the base, while others are cinnamon and orange rind.

And sticking this all together is a butter cream with ground almond, brown sugar, allspice, cinnamon, mixed glacé peel and rum (I had run out of brandy).


I hope this brings out all the characteristics of a pagan festival cake:) Happy belated Solstice everyone (it was, after all, on the 21st, not today).

Melbourne’s not so great macarons, plus rubbish in Epicure

Regular readers of these pages are very familiar with my obsession with Parisian macarons. Although I’ve recounted my baking traumas and occasional joys, described in considerable detail ways of making macarons and the hazards to psychological health, and told of encounters with the products of many Parisian patisseries, I haven’t done any product reviews. Things are changing!

This, ladies and gentlemen, meringue aliens and hypoglycaemics, is the first of two macaron review articles. This one is local.

Here are the results of the Syrup & Tang jury. Pierre Hermé of Paris, douze points. Melbourne, null points. Oh, okay, six points. I’m sorry for cutting to the chase so quickly, but Melbourne’s macarons can be summed up as somewhere between middling and utter rubbish.

Before I continue, I must digress a little to address something up-to-the-minute: I’ve held off publishing this article because I knew there was also something coming in Epicure soon. You see, I was interviewed for it. Epicure had commissioned someone to write a piece about macarons. (Let’s put to one side that I’ve written for Epicure before and you’d think I might have been the obvious person to approach to actually write about macarons. No?) That article appeared today, Tuesday 17th June, and there is no mention of me. That’s a little odd, but I could grudgingly accept that if the article were factually okay. I’d like to correct a few points:

‘a macaroon, a close relative of the meringue’ — the standard concept of a macaroon has little relation to a meringue. There is no similarity in the key processes. That’s why the common macaroon and the macaron are quite different beasts.

‘Macaroon purists insist the French petit four is called a “macaron”‘ — macaron purists do, perhaps. But they also know the difference between Italian almond macaroons, coconut macaroons and the Parisian style of macaroon. The latter is often called a ‘macaron’ for preference, so as to reduce the confusion which arises (or is spread).

‘Macaroons are the poor cousin, an English, coconut-based biscuit that is larger, much clunkier, and somehow offensive to macaron enthusiasts.’ — Macaroons are not English. Coconut macaroons are probably Scottish in origin and probably most popular in the US. Almond macaroons are widespread in Europe and seem to originate in Italy. I’m not aware of any macaron enthusiast who poo-poos the other macaroons. They are entirely different products.

‘the macaro(o)n, which dates back to the late 17th century’ — Rubbish. The Parisian macaron in its familiar form is less than 100 years old. It’s appearance in the film Marie Antoinette provoked derision because it was historically impossible.

‘”If I had a shop in Paris I would only sell macarons,” says [Laurent] Boillon, who first sold macarons in Australia in 1993’ — okay, but maybe he should read the review below beforehand. (Not the journalist’s fault.)

I could write more, but hey, I don’t get paid for it!

Now, back to Melbourne’s macarons. Let’s start at the bottom of the barrel and work our way up.

Laurent. Or perhaps more precisely Laurent Boulangerie Patisserie. I’d seen their macarons. Frequently misshapen. Sometimes for sale despite being broken and mutated. I am not exaggerating. Indeed, I regret not having had a camera on me when I saw the pitiful display at their Glenferrie Road shop. Macarons that should have been given away free or trashed.

Still, I try to have an open mind. Malvern correspondent, Josh (formerly of the Expanding Man blog), and I sat down to, um, consider the macarons at the Laurent shop in Albert Park. There were five flavours on hand. The macarons were flat and dull, with flat frilled feet extending outwards from the colourful shells. There was no visible filling.


Leftovers. We didn’t want them!

Deep inside the macarons we discovered what seemed to be a marzipan paste. In all(?) of them. Regardless of flavour. A flavoured paste for each one. A modest, thick dollop, insufficient to reach the edges of the macaron. They were very chewy. We didn’t want to finish them. Flavours were unremarkable and the pistachio seemed to have been pepped up with a strong dose of almond essence. As ‘rustic’ almond macaroons of some sort, these might pass muster. As macarons, they’re pitiful, based on what we were able to purchase. Would we cross the road to buy one? Hell no! They could throw them at me and I’d swat them away. Josh was even more scathing. Shame, Laurent.

Next on the list is Baker D.Chirico, perhaps Melbourne’s most successful artisan baker. Alas, the macarons, though miles better than Laurent’s, aren’t great. Flavours were unnuanced. The shells were okay, but texturally less-than-perfect, and with spread feet. Would we cross the road to buy one? Nup. But others might.


Some were broken or hollow. Many weren’t.

We headed for Noîsette in Port Melbourne (yet another Melbourne establishment with an erroneous and irrelevant cîrcûmflêx în îts nâme), mentioned very positively by Stickyfingers in comments previously. No macarons. ‘When does he make them?’ ‘Oh when he feels like it.’ Fine. I attempted a follow-up visit six weeks later, but had the prescience to call in advance.

Me: Do you have any macarons today?
Them: What do you mean?
Me: Do you have any French macarons today? Last time I came past you didn’t have any.
Them: Which ones? Do you mean the meringues?
Me: Maybe. I mean the French almond macarons sandwiched together with a filling.
Them: Oh no, don’t have any.
Me: Can you tell me when you’ll have some?
Them: Hang on. … Oh, they’re only making them to order now.


Onwards to La Tropézienne in Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn. The owner, Guillaume, left a comment recently in one of my macaron articles.


Macarons from La Tropézienne, June 2008. (Note that the broken shell was my fault.)

I first tried his macarons back in November. They looked great, but the shells had been left to crust for a long time before baking and were thick and too crisp. The filling was a heavy buttercream, weakly flavoured. The second visit, a fortnight ago, saw macarons which looked less attractive (see above — not quite within Parisian standards). The flavours were interesting on paper (orange caramel, raspberry, chocolate), but while the chocolate was a pleasant ganache and the orange caramel was strongly flavoured, the raspberry was an underflavoured buttercream. Disappointingly, the macarons didn’t appear to be fresh. The shells were almost soft (offering no resistance at all) which indicates humidity or staleness. The potential is there for a good product, but with such variation between November and June, I don’t know if they are achieving a consistent product. Would I cross the road to buy one? No. Other people do and should when the macarons are fresh.

And finally, my almond-crunchy friends, it’s time for Vue de Monde. Yes, Melbourne’s most written about French restaurant brand sells macarons in their Café Vue. At least, that’s what I’d been told. I sent my sister on a purchasing mission.

Sis: Do you have any macarons?
Them: Any what?
Sis: Do you have any macaronnzzz?
Them: Ummm… do you mean the macaroooooons?
Sis: {Sigh} Do you have any?
Them: I’ll go and check. {Laughter is heard from the kitchen.} They’re not ready yet.
Sis: I’ll come back.

When my sister returned she was told that the pistachio ones hadn’t worked (alarm bell number one) but there were chocolate and orange ones. She bought two for me.

Let me explain the alarm bell: What hadn’t worked? Macarons aren’t sold on the day they’re made – they need to mature for a day or two. They aren’t filled on the day of sale either. What hadn’t worked that morning?

My sis hefted a large red box to the rendezvous point. Inside were two mammoth, weighty macarons. I looked inside. The surface of the shells was porous (alarm bell 2) and uneven (alarm bell 3). These are being sold as macarons? (no, sorry, ‘macarooooons’)


Crunchy, heavyweight oddity from Vue de Monde.

Vue de Monde’s macarons are very heavy. As a snack, they’re very rich and filling, possibly overly so! They’re quite tasty. I’d buy them as a weird sort of cake. There’s nothing wrong with the diameter — large macarons are common in France — it’s their tenuous resemblance to a good macaron which disturbs me. At A$3 they’re a good deal, especially compared to the crap brownies you can buy for the same price or more elsewhere. But as macarons, no. Would I cross the road to buy one? Possibly, if I felt like cake.

The shell was thick and crunchy. These babies had been left to crust for hours, perhaps a day. The fact that piping marks were clearly visible indicates the batter was too thick or otherwise flawed (and might never work for a real macaron). And despite the crust and thickness, one shell still showed a fissure.

I don’t know if this was an aberration, not having seen other exemplars, but given the multiple problems, I wonder if they know what the product should actually be like. Permit me to assist:


Orange macaron with chocolate and seville orange marmelade ganache.

Making macarons isn’t easy, especially for home cooks. But it isn’t horrendously difficult for pastry chefs working in professional kitchens. I doubt that Melbourne lacks the talent, so I’m left wondering if some of these businesses are content to assume that punters will still buy mediocrity for lack of an immediate comparison. Excuse my cynicism.

For the closest thing to a serious macaron, go to La Tropézienne. For an entertaining, crunchy, rich cakey thing, go to Vue de Monde.

(Thanks to Josh for planning the first part of the macaron crawl!)

All I want for my birthday is …

All I want for my birthday is one of these:



Pierre Hermé: Tarte au café

and one of these:


Pierre Hermé: Ispahan

Actually, make it two of each. Burp.

Now, if any reader can point me in the direction of someone in Australia making pâtisserie of this quality, I’d be much obliged. I wonder if I’ll be deafened by silence. 🙁

Those Melbourne bloggers met again, ate again, left again

Bloggers aren’t always quick off the mark. Heavens! It took Melbourne’s community a whole evening and maybe a night to put up the first post about yesterday’s second Bloggers’ Banquet. And to think we had been joking about everyone running home to post about it first!

The two-and-a-half-hour trek on public transport from Melbourne to Dromana was worth it. Ella and Furry had a lovely venue for a bayside gathering and we listened to the parrots, breathed sea air and, um, cried through the wood-fired oven smoke. Call me smoked sausage. The gathering was more modest than the first banquet, but it was great to be able to sit around in the garden and stand around in the kitchen with many conversations flowing.

Jon of Melbourne Foodie is the first-post winner and has a number of captioned photos, so you might want to pop over there for a little more info. Here are my photos. I’m afraid this isn’t a comprehensive catalogue as some photos weren’t good enough.

The Where’s the Beef? soy bombs (frightening name) saved the day when hungry hordes needed immediate feeding! Where’s the recipe? Here. Delish.

Agnes and Alistair from Off the Spork brought these tasty treats:

Jon of Melbourne Foodie filled tarts with an excellent choc-orange ganache:

And viviacious Vida had us groaning with condensed milk delight at these oblatne filled with walnut and chocolate dulce de leche:

There is a slight obsession with photographic documentation of food:

And last but not least, my contribution… Two flavours of macarons. Rose/lemon and Violet. I had contemplated doing an entirely different dish, but anticipated a wave of ‘no macarons?!’ exclamations. 😉

In addition to the people mentioned above, it was also good to see Thanh and Claire and to meet Ella’s Québecois friends Marc and Lilian. Another great Melbourne Bloggers’ Banquet!

La Macaronicité 5: macawrongs and macarights, macarons day and night


Thirty-five degrees Celcius and counting. What better way to sweat to death than whilst writing about macarons de Paris? Again.

I can’t make macarons today because the heat in the kitchen would make me droop like Safeway’s out-of-season asparagus. It’ll be 40C by lunchtime (that’s about 475F for dark-age foreigners). At least the humidity ain’t so bad.

This has been my month of the world’s most temperamental type of macaroon… La Macaronicité at Syrup & Tang, as I dubbed it, which tried to cover almost everything one might need to know without me actually excising the reader’s creative spirit. Time to squidge everything together with scrummydumtious fillings and go on a picnic.

A few others joined in the fun and folly and spoke of it to me

* Vida was brave/impatient enough to accept my challenge to try out Shannon Bennett’s recipe in his book My Vue. I didn’t think it would work (too cool, too damp) and brave Vida confirmed privately that chef Bennett’s restaurant hats (stars) ought not apply to his macaron recipe… disaster.

* Thanh of I Eat Therefore I Am was the other impatient soul who launched into the task with gusto. He tried the simple recipe (French meringue) and was disappointed, almost throwing in the towel. Then he tried the advanced recipe (Italian meringue) and his cries of joy could be heard from afar. Then he was overcome by Christmas pressures and almost had a nervous breakdown as he juggled macaron mixtures after midnight.

* Towser at Spot4Nosh emailed me and subsequently published his adventures with macarons and, teething problems aside, also produced some lovely macarons.

I hope more will take up the challenge. I know there are others in Australia who make macarons independently of my exhortations, including Ellie at Kitchenwench who has also written about them, Mellie at tummyrumbles who has also made them and Y at Lemonpi who apparently makes them in her dayjob occasionally but doesn’t actually love them in the way some fanatics (little old me) do.

In the other parts of the La Macaronicité series I’ve linked to bloggers/sites elsewhere who offer inspiration and useful information. You can surf the web and you’ll find more writings. I’ve probably missed one or two really good ones, perhaps forgotten a classic here or there, but I’ve also deliberately omitted some because they don’t acknowledge whose recipe they’re using (which I think is very bad form).

I haven’t written about chocolate macarons. I originally contemplated a special article on them but decided there wasn’t much point — although the internet shows many comments claiming chocolate macarons are the hardest to make, I simply can’t agree. I’ve had no problem making them with the Italian meringue method (just reduce the other dry ingredients slightly to compensate for the cocoa) and even the French meringue method worked well for me (and David Lebovitz has had many complements for his recipe).

One of my commenters, DC, mentioned that there are now a number of books in French about macarons (I think I saw four earlier this year in Paris), and more interestingly, he saw one addressing the issue of failure. I think we all know by now that making macarons involves a certain amount of wastage, with singed edges, soggy middles, wrinkles and more (including tears). I wrote about an alternative use at the end of the second part of La Macaronicité and look! I now have pics:

mactrifle1.JPG mactrifle2.JPG mactrifle3.JPG


This was Christmas pudding-ersatz (my mother’s kitchen is under renovation so it was a slightly alternative Christmas dinner this year). Macawrongs + port + morello cherries + cherry juice + lightly whipped cream.

Thanks to everyone for their comments and questions. Don’t hesitate to add more as time passes.

The delicate divas have left the building… (wearing sunscreen and floppy hats to ward off the sun).

Can you guess what flavour the macaron below is?


You can also read La Macaronicité 1: an introduction to the macaron.
La Macaronicité 2: basic technique and simple macaron recipe.
La Macaronicité 3: the more reliable macaron recipe and a few tips.
La Macaronicité 4: fillings, flavours, frippery.



La Macaronicité 4: fillings, flavours, frippery


Dear meringue shell crazy people,

It’s time for fillings, flavours and frippery!

This article will be shorter than the others. I feel that the filling is where the cook has the opportunity to show their initiative and creativity and I want to communicate general principles rather than fine detail.


There are probably five main types of filling:

  • jam (probably the original filling) — confiture
  • ganache
  • butter cream — crème au beurre
  • thickened creams
  • caramel

I won’t say anything about jam, but will comment on the other types below.


A cream, chocolate and butter mixture, ganache can provide a strongly flavoured counter to the sweetness of the macaron shell. It can also act as a milder carrier for other flavours. White chocolate ganache is often combined with acid fruits such as berries — a nifty way of getting popular fruit flavours while countering the tang of the fruit, but can sometimes end up too sweet and cloying.

Butter cream

Simplest of all is a mock cream, made by whipping butter and adding icing sugar. Almond meal is frequently added as it improves stability and absorbs some moisture. Mock cream can sometimes be a little gritty.

More flexible than a ganache, a butter cream is a fairly neutral canvas for flavouring and colouring as you please. A basic rich butter cream (egg yolks, sugar syrup, butter) is simple but easily too rich. When cold it can be too firm for immediate eating, and when at warm room temperature it can begin to feel greasy when eating the macaron.

Another option is a lighter butter cream, where Italian meringue (yet more sugar syrup!) is added to the basic butter cream. This is a popular option amongst some bakers.

And finally, another simple butter cream: with whole eggs and sugar heated in a bain marie, beaten until thick and then with butter added. Also popular and less inclined to seem greasy.

All butter creams tend to be disappointing in a macaron which is served cold. The textures don’t match and the flavours are muted.

macarons pink and yellow
Pink and yellow shells, filled with rose and apricot butter creams.

Thickened cream preparations

Many of the classic French creams are given some structural reinforcement by adding some gelatine. Most of these (chiboust, bavaroise, etc) are suitable if prepared to a consistency which can be happily piped when cool. These thickened creams, and also standard crème pâtissière, are often used in larger macarons and macaron cakes, probably because they hold their shape better at a range of temperatures and under different loads.


And this is where this article series sort of started! The response to my salted caramel macarons provided the impetus for a comprehensive look at macarons. I make a simple sugar-cream-butter caramel and add salt. It’s inspired by the salted butter caramel popular in the north of France (Brittany and Normandy), but rather than using salted butter, I like the sensation and variation in flavour experience created by crystals of salt.

Other caramels are fine too, of course, though the sweetness can be overdone. Flavoured caramels are probably more interesting.

macarons with caramel
Uncoloured macarons filled with salted caramel (a little too fresh and runny!).

Salted caramel

  • 50 g sugar
  • 23 g cream
  • 35 g butter, cold, in cubes


  1. Place one third of the sugar in a small saucepan and heat very gently. After some time it will suddenly start to melt and go brown.
  2. As soon as the sugar is liquid, add another third of the dry sugar and melt, stirring gently.
  3. Repeat with the remaining sugar.
  4. When the liquid sugar has reached a rich caramel colour (perhaps very soon after melting),add the cream in a thin stream. The caramel will bubble vigorously, so be careful.
  5. Stir and measure the temperature promptly. When the caramel reaches 108-110 C (this can happen very quickly!), remove from the heat and immediately add the butter.
  6. Stir well (or use a handmixer) until the caramel is smooth and has cooled somewhat.
  7. Refrigerate the caramel. It will firm up after an hour or two.

There are many other things you could make to fill macarons, but I’ll leave that to your imagination!

Colours and flavours

Beyond the basic creams and other fillings, it pays to think about how you can enhance the flavour sensation of these pâtisserie divas. Coarse nut pieces and other textural elements can be fun, as can an interplay between the flavour of the shell and the flavour of the cream inside. Most pâtissiers don’t play with the shells’ flavour because it makes it harder to deploy the batter for a range of macarons. I love flavouring my shells with citrus zest and then using a filling with a complementary flavour. Some of the better producers spray the inside of the shell with an aroma (such as a flower water or flavoured syrup) and then use a differently flavoured cream.

Liquid colourings are the most obvious choice for home cooks, but professional powder colourings are often used and I’ve read of some bakers using powdered fruit which is a fun idea. Whatever the colour, I feel the shell should entice. Too often when trying to not overdo it, my shells have been the faintest pastel colour, barely here or there. You need to be bolder! On the other hand, some disappointing producers go for maxi-colour, beyond bold and into lurid. If the colour evokes, say, the fruit in the filling, that’s great; if it looks like an accident with rotten raspberries or an ageing banana, well, no.

trio of flavours
Chocolate shell with chocolate-cinnamon ganache. Lemon shell with ganache. Chocolate shell with lemon-basil cream.

Part of the allure of these divas is that they’re a visual treat. They can be beautiful in their naked simplicity, or they can be a painter’s canvas.

Think about what you want to achieve. Experiment. Enjoy!

You can also read La Macaronicité 1: an introduction to the macaron.
La Macaronicité 2: basic technique and simple macaron recipe.
La Macaronicité 3: the more reliable macaron recipe and a few tips.
La Macaronicité 5: Macawrongs and macarights, macarons day and night.

– DM