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Macarons: The affordable luxury

Published Jan 05, 2013 10:36am

290-Macarons
-Photo by author.

A bite that instantly explodes in your mouth with a varied sensation of velvety smoothness and crumbly crispiness is called a Macaron. The intricate balance of texture and taste is married with great care and effort bringing forth an experience that traces back its roots in France. Essentially born in Italy, it is a petite treat that established itself in France and since then has evolved manifold.

Macarons – melt-in-the mouth fruity, nutty, tangy, creamy confections with more than a hint of sophistication are now the indulgence of choice in most tearooms and patisseries the world over. Primarily made from almond flour, finely ground sugar and egg whites it has retained its round form since its inception. Once baked as a nutritious substitute to meat, it has now become a sophisticated indulgence.

In simple words, this is an almond flour meringue shell, sandwiched together with a creamy luscious filling. The ‘macaronage’ process is integral to the success of these scrumptious little creatures. The egg whites are whipped with icing sugar to a pillowy, gleaming and fluffy texture, deftly folded in with sifted almond flour and icing sugar, piped onto baking sheets and is then left to dry. The two-fold procedure of mixing the wet and dry ingredients, and mixing them just about enough is the most crucial part of making macarons – a process that transforms the meringue to macarons.

The varicolored parade of these delectable goodies now comes in a variety of colors and flavors. From the sensuously filled chocolate ganache, to a hint of sea salt and caramelised sugar, from the simplest rose-infused heaven to the ultimate fruity decadence the possibilities are endless.

Pierre Herme, the living bible of pastry making is responsible for the eruption of these palatable little jewels. The thin layer of filling was replaced by a plump filling, which appealed to sweet teeth the world over. And macarons became an affordable luxury. They are certainly not easy on the pocket simply because of the time, effort and precision that goes in making them. The flavor essentially comes from the thick seal of buttercream, ganache and/or pastry crème. If there is precision required making the shells, the filling demands greater exactness.

Chef Christophe Grilo runs the most popular Canele’ Patisserie in Singapore and expertly claims that “macarons cannot be compared with cupcakes”. A similar stance is taken by the famous Chef Steven Ong of Centre PS bakery in Sinagpore when he says “macarons cannot be put together next to cupcakes; their league is much higher and different”.

Running successful bakery houses, both of them have devised their own recipes to ensure success with the local market. They admit that Europeans have a richer sweet tooth as compared to people in this part of the world. As sugar is an integral ingredient in the shell, they have tried to reduce the sugar content in the filling to assume a smooth transition to the local palate.

Already a sensation the world over, macarons have slowly but surely made their imprint on the Pakistani palate. “Macarons have a very promising future” comments Lal Majid, running Lal’s Patisserie – the only one in Karachi selling macarons. “It has all the qualities and much more of a successful pastry – the delicacy, sweet, chewy taste and brilliant colors,” she adds further.

A favorite of children and adults alike, an array of small delicacies, a common feature of tea salons world over, a chic gift to present, an ideal breakfast treat, this has unpretentiously become one of the most coveted cookie around. And beware, this little jewel is here to stay.

Recipe by Chef Steven Ong

Base

 200g  Egg Whites
 60g  Sugar
 430g  Icing Sugar
 250g  Almond Powder
 25g  Cocoa Powder
 1 drop  Red Colouring
 A pinch  Salt
Sift together the icing sugar, almond powder and the cocoa powder. Whisk the egg whites, a pinch of salt and some sugar. Add the rest of the sugar and whisk until stiff. Slowly fold in the dry ingredients and mix until the mix is smooth and shiny. Pipe with a round nozzle into a silicon mat and rest for approx 15 to 20 minutes. Bake at 140°C in convection oven for approx 11 minutes.

Chocolate Filling

180g Unsalted Butter
90g Sugar
90g Glucose
300g Cream
300g 55 per cent Dark Chocolate
Bring the cream and the glucose to a boil. Slowly pour the liquid over the chocolate little by little, until all the liquid is incorporated, stirring from the center out, using a plastic spatula to obtain an elastic and shiny texture. Add the diced butter to homogenise the ganache. Use a hand blender.

Assembly

Sandwich two macaron “shells” with a good amount of chocolate filling. Macarons are best served after 24 hours.

 


80-saadia-tariq
The writer is based in Singapore loves to write and photograph and runs a blog. Essentially wants to draw attention to topics that are relevant but never detailed upon.

 


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