A few days ago I was reading an article on The Wall Street Journal about macarons going mainstream. It seems that what once was reserved to indulge in at high-class French patisseries, macarons are becoming so popular that in France one can buy them at a popular American burger joint!
It does sound rather perverse – ordering a cheeseburger, fries and a macaron to go! Of course the French are not amused at the fact that macarons are being sold at several American outlets like Starbucks and Trader Joe’s thus being pumped into a mainstream unlike anything before.
Macarons for everybody! Well after thinking about it – why not? While I certainly am all for everyone having the opportunity to indulge in whatever the heart desires, I think there certainly is a difference whether you are sinking your teeth into a fresh delicate cherished Ladurée macaron or a mass produced macaron. Tastes differ. While some will turn up their noses at the macarons available readily at the local supermarket and only indulge in the up-scale pastries, there are others who are left cold and prefer the macarons available at supermarkets and bakeries.
I think it goes beyond that though. Walking into Ladurée is probably best compared to walking into Tiffany’s. You are paying for the experience, you expect the luxurious and want the best.
Now do not get me wrong – believe me I am definitely not a macaron snob. I am the type of person who would buy myself a macaron if I was craving it with my Chai Latte at Starbucks (provided they tasted good) but would also pay the extra Euros to experience a macaron at Ladurée. There is a difference. Just like Jimmy Choos are Jimmy Choos and everything else – well – are just shoes!
Macarons seem to have travelled the globe and I was surprised to see them so abundantly available in Dubai too. I went on a tasting spree, trying them at Paul’s with my latte, at Bateel, known for it’s date delicacies and several patisseries at the Dubai Mall. Macarons adorned their shop windows in a kaleidoscope of colors. In one such patisserie (and I am kicking myself because I have misplaced the card I was given) I had a wonderful experience of tasting macarons in a way that I have never before.Update - The shop was:
Forrey & Galland
The Dubai Mall, Lower Ground Floor
+971 4 339 8850
As I walked into the shop there was the incredible aura of Oriental charm mixed with French chic. Like in an expensive jewelry boutique, the macarons were encased in glass showcases. I slowly walked past, my hand brushing the glass, gazing at the colorful displays of macarons sparkling like precious gems. I stopped and looked a little closer and smiled. As the shop assistant came towards me I noticed he too seemed to be smiling at me. Without uttering a word I pointed at the ruby red macarons, tiny and delicate. He gently took one out of the showcase and placed it on a black velvet lined tray.
As I bit into it I was taken aback, fruity and nutty – Orient meets Paris. I looked at the assistant and gasped “Raspberry and tahini?” I think I surprised him – he was not expecting it but I had deciphered the flavor code. This seemed to be my ticket to get into the VIP lounge – a few red carpet colored stairs up and I was in a room lined with heavy red, green and gold fabric, in the middle a large circular sofa. I felt underdressed!
I looked down at Soeren who’s eyes were probably gleaming just like mine. Was this what Charlie was feeling when allowed into Mr. Wonka’s chocolate factory? We sat down and were brought a small tray with a variety of 4 macarons by the assistant. I took a small bite of each and passed the rest to Soeren. As I chatted with the assistant he told me about all the flavors offered in the shop. My questions seemed to intrigue him and soon we were exchanging dialogue without realizing that an hour had passed.
As we walked out again reality sucked me in and walking away from the shop I looked back one last time and patted the small velvet box lined with four delicate macarons.
I’ll cherish this experience and its all because macarons have gained on immense popularity that such extravagant high-end Parisian treats are available in the far-away desserts of Dubai.
I took an idea from that experience and brought it back to my blog, along with a few ingredients for these macarons. Rosewater and dried rose petals – a taste of orient – perfume the macaron shells subtly and ripe raspberry jam scented with a hint of rosewater adds a fruity, floral and sweet note.
March 20 celebrates macarons in Le Jour du Macarons – Macaron Day. While I do not need a specific day to bite into a macaron, my motivation to create new flavor combination comes from Mactweets, a monthly event that encourages us to make and perfect our macaron making skills. This month its all about Spring Fling and flowers. Flowers have been playing a big role in my life lately and I’ve been enjoying every little detail too.
Note: If you are making macarons for the first time please read my comprehensive collection of macaron tips. All the way from the prep work to removing macarons from the baking paper, you’ll find valuable tips and tricks for perfect macaron making.
Rosewater and Raspberry Macarons
Printable version of recipe here
For the macaron shells
Recipe for macaron shells adapted from Ottolenghi - The Cookbook
110g icing sugar
60g almonds, very finely ground
60g egg whites, (about 2 eggs) aged for either 5 days in the fridge, then for 24 hours at room temperature or a little over 24 hours on the countertop
40g castor sugar
1 teaspoons rosewater
1/2 teaspoon dried rose petals
a few drops of red food coloring
For the raspberry rosewater jam
Makes 2 x 350g jars
500g raspberries, fresh or frozen
600g fine sugar
2 teaspoons rosewater
For the macaron shells
- Prepare your baking tray and baking sheets with a stencil of circles. Draw circles on some baking paper using a (mathematical) compass about 2 cm in diameter. Then place some white parchment paper on the baking tray and flip the baking paper back around. Or use this macaron template.
- In a large mixing bowl mix the egg whites with an electric hand beater (alternatively you can use a stand mixer with the whisk attachment) until it is thick and frothy. Gradually add the granulated sugar and rosewater, whisking all the while, until the mixture turns into a thick glossy meringue. The consistency of the macaron batter should be similar to hair mousse or shaving foam. Make sure the meringue is not over-beaten or else it will be too dry.
- In a food processor pulse together icing sugar, dried rose petals and almonds until the nuts and flowers are finely ground and powdery. Sift the mixture 2 or 3 times to make sure there are no lumps.
- Place the dry ingredients into a bowl. Add the meringue in three portions, giving it a quick fold using the macronnage technique described in my macaron tips section. Add a few drops of red food coloring to get the desired color tone. Fold the mixture a few times to break the air. Continue until you get a smooth and supple mixture, thick in consistency so that when you lift the spatula it flows back in thick ribbons. Test a small amount on a plate – should the tops fall back and flatten by themselves then it is ready, if not give it a few more folds.
- Fill a piping bag with a plain tip with the batter and pipe small rounds (2 cm in diameter) on your prepared baking paper. Leave the macarons to rest and dry for about 15 to 30 minutes.
- In the meantime preheat the the oven to 150 degrees C. When the macarons are ready bake the shells for 12-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Use a flat offset spatula to gently remove the shells from the baking paper and allow to cool further on a rack.
For the raspberry rosewater jam
- Place raspberries in a saucepan and heat slowly, then gently bring to a boil. Continue to boil for 5-6 minutes. Reduce heat then add sugar and rosewater. Stir mixture until the sugar has dissolved.
- Turn up heat to bring the mixture back to a boil and boil for approx. 10 minutes. The mixture should thicken considerably.
- Remove form heat and skim off any bubbles on the top then ladle into sterilized jars and seal. Store in cool dark place for up to 3-4 weeks.
Assembling the macarons
Using two spoons place dollops of the raspberry rosewater jam on one of the shells and gently cover with another shell. Do not press. Continue to do this until you have used up all of the filling and shells.
If you are not going to be using them right away you can store the shells in an airtight container at room temperature for 2-3 days.
They freeze well too but it is recommended to freeze them unfilled. To fill them take the shells out of the freezer 48 hours prior to serving and without defrosting fill them. This way the flavors will be allowed to blend as they thaw.
Macarons taste best the next day. Prepare and fill them, then keep them in an airtight container in the fridge. This allows the flavors to intermingle with each other. Enjoy them at room temperature the next day.
The light perfume of roses lingers in the air when the box opens promising flavors of far away Orient and fruity raspberry brings on the yearning of Spring. An ethereal combination coming together in a delectable bite. Gaining on popularity? I hope so because only this way can we have the pleasure of indulging in such exquisite treats.
Monthly Mingle Reminder
Don’t forget that I am celebrating four years of What’s For Lunch, Honey? with lots of bubbly. So, I am really looking forward to having you all over for this party. I’ve already gotten a few sparkling champagne creations and hope to see yours too.
Party deadline is March 16th. Hope you’ll make it
Have you all heard the latest? Food Blogger Connect 2010 is now open for registration! London will be rocking this June with the hottest food blogger event in Europe. We’ve got a fantastic line-up of incredible speakers and the itinerary promises fun, networking and a lot of great presentations. Don’t wait any longer to register – tickets are going like hot cakes! Looking forward to seeing you all there!
More macarons from WFLH:
|Lebkuchen Spice Macarons with Quince Jam and Candied Ginger||Spiced Chai Latte and Salted Caramel Macarons||Pistachio and Lemon Cream Macarons|
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