I remember tasting my first French macaron. It was the mid-1980’s, and I was a poor cooking school student attending La Varenne École de Cuisine in Paris. At Christmas I visited the home of some French friends, and after dinner my indulgent host offered a plate of assorted macarons from Fauchon. I chose a hazelnut macaron with a chocolate ganache filling. Never before had I had something so light, yet so satisfyingly rich and flavorful. A crisp,
slightly chewy shell paired with a creamy, rich filling—genius! Well, it’s taken over twenty years, but macarons have finally begun to catch on here in the U.S. Yesterday I saw a beautiful assortment of extra-large macarons at a pastry shop called Financier in Grand Central station, and there’s a small shop near my office called
Macaron Café. They have a huge selection of macarons—everything from Caramel Fleur de Sel to Cassis to Raisin Rum (they got that one backwards, but, hey, who’s to quibble). My friend Florian Bellanger, formerly pastry chef of Fauchon NYC, opened MadMac a few years ago, a business entirely devoted to
madeleines (Mad) and macarons (Mac). They are excellent, and actually ship well, owing to his strategically designed packaging. Making macarons at home can be a bit tricky, but is relatively easy if you follow the directions to the letter. If you are a fly-by-the-cuff sort of cook, I suggest you stick to something less demanding in the detail department.
Chocolate chip cookies, for example. Macarons require your complete attention, a dry environment, and a bit of patience. After all, if they were easy to make, everyone would be whipping up batches at home, and they probably wouldn’t taste so heavenly, right?
P.S.: If you want to bump up the espresso flavor, add 1 teaspoon of espresso powder dissolved in 2 teaspoons of hot water to the buttercream along with the vanilla.