wanderlust wednesday :: french macarons

My love for France and the French culture didn’t come alive until after I visited.  Previous to traveling there, I was indifferent to Paris and France.  I knew it would be a great experience, but it wasn’t on my list of must see countries (like Iceland, Uganda and New Zealand). I thought the whole “Paris” nonsense was overrated and overdone.

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Fast forward to May 2012.  I ascend from the pink line metro, Palais Royal/Musee du Lourve stop, after devouring a croissant at the corner bakery near my hostel.  The Lourve immediately stares me straight in the eye; elegant and poised.  ‘Magic’, I breathed. The entire day after that felt like a wonderful intoxicating haze as I wandering down Champs Elysees and weaved my way up the staircase of the Eiffel Tower. Something about this city found its way to a part of me I didn’t know existed. I caught the Paris fever.  I understood all the fuss.

One part of France that I have taken with me is my love for French macarons and the challenge that comes along with making them.  After visiting Laduree on the Champs Elysees, I fell in love.  They aren’t difficult, persay, just finicky.  You have to complete the steps pretty close to perfect in order for the macarons to look pretty.  They pretty much always still taste good, but getting that perfectly rounded top and risen foot on the macaron prove to be a bit more challenging.

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One of the biggest challenges for me was working with my oven.  Each oven heats a bit differently and the heating can often be uneven. Macarons are very sensitive to the baking process.  It takes a few batches to find the right oven temperature and bake time. You might need a lower heat (300 degrees) and a longer bake time (18 minutes) or a higher heat (325 degrees) and a shorter bake time (15 minutes).  It is just whatever works in your oven, and usually you don’t get it right the first time. (Lucky you, if you do, and also I mildly despise you…)

Macarons

Also, there are two different wats to make the meringue, which is the base of the macaron. There is an Italian and French method. The Italian meringue method is a little more difficult but produces much more consistent results because technique factors don’t affect it much.  The French meringue is very sensitive to mistakes and harder to reach perfection. It is almost necessary to age your eggs whites in the French meringue method, which requires some planning ahead. (I’ve only tried the French method and have gotten some great results)

These are a couple recipes that have helped me along in the process:

Macaron 101 w/ Tartelette

BraveTart Macarons

And some helpful tips:

Macaron myths

Macaron Troubleshooting Guide

Ten Commandments

Good luck!  Also, beware, macaron making is addicting.

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