Macarons - Fluffy Little Cloud Cookies
My mom was robbed at Ladurée.
Founded in 1862, Ladurée was the first to create the ubiquitous double-decker macaron, and the Parisian tea-salon has since become synonymous with luxury, style and attention to detail. So it’s only natural that my mother and I spent one summer frequenting the gorgeous maison on the Champs-Élysées - taking in the lavish decor, sampling their tea sandwiches, pastries, and macarons. One such afternoon as we gathered our things, we realized her purse (which she’d hung on the back of her chair) had gone missing. The next few days became an exercise in French bureaucracy - filing police reports, wiring funds, replacing credit cards and passports. We both laugh about it now, but I can never eat a macaron without remembering our wild little travel mishap.
That being said, I still love them ! I see beautiful little macaron shops popping up in the trendiest neighborhoods as a testament to how popular they’ve become stateside. Executed perfectly, they are indeed a delight - two soft macaron shells filled with a subtle, creamy ganache. While I gravitate towards the more traditional vanillas, raspberries, and pistachios, flavors can be as unique and exotic as passion fruit and lavender, orange blossom, earl grey, or sea salted caramel. Best eaten fresh, I like to think of them as delicate little cloud cookies that melt in your mouth.
Although I enjoy baking, I would never dream of butchering the beauty of a perfect macaron and typically buy it from a local bakery. Over the years I’ve realized that many French women, while excellent cooks, buy dessert for their guests. I’ve been invited to many four-course, home-cooked meals only to discover that they end with a platter of store-bought confections. The pâtisserie versions will always be more polished, and the cook can instead pour their energy into perfecting the main course and appetizers. There is nothing prettier than presenting one’s guests with a colorful spread of pastel macarons, topped with salts and spices, toasted nuts and embellishments of gold.
Wine Pairing Tip
Traditionally I take my macarons with Darjeeling or English Breakfast because it reminds me of leisurely afternoon tea sessions with my mother. But one fun thing to do is buy an assortment of macarons and get really creative with your wine pairings - a crisp Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc with citrus flavors, a light rosé with strawberry or raspberry, a Sauternes or Riesling with coconut. When in doubt, a sparkling rosé would probably complement most flavors.