Macaron from Amiens

Macaron d'Amiens

[Macaron from Amiens]

The French macaron seems to have gained international fame in the past few years, but I thought it was time to dispell a common misconception: the delicate confection, made of two rounds of shiny and smooth almond meringue sandwiched together by a creamy filling, is not the only type of French macaron one can enjoy. The one that benefits from the spotlight is the Ladurée-style macaron, sometimes referred to as the macaron parisien, and it is really the tree that hides the forest, if I may use a French expression.

Macaron confections can be traced back to the 17th century, and many French cities have made it their specialty: St-Emilion, Saint-Jean-de-Luz, Boulay, Montmorillon, Lauzerte, Nancy, Châteaulin, Massiac, Cormery, and the list goes on and on. Although there are slight differences between all these macarons, the basic idea remains the same: they are made from ground almonds, sugar, and egg whites, with the occasional addition of honey, sweet almond oil, bitter almond extract, or any secret ingredient that I wouldn’t know about because it’s, well, secret.

All of them have a round shape and a natural color, tan or golden. They are usually baked on a cookie sheet, which gives them a flattened disk shape, and some versions (the St-Emilion one in particular) are baked directly on sheets of ordinary (non-parchment) paper, from which the eater tears off each little macaron. Their surface can be smooth, grainey, or crackled, but in all cases they boast a crispy crust that gives way to a moist, chewy interior.

It’s not until the early 20th century that Parisian pastry makers started to create lighter, shinier, colorful versions, and assembled them two by two with a little blob of flavored ganache or buttercream in the middle (Ladurée claims the credit for that). This opened up new possibilities for flavor combinations, and brought the humble confection to a more sophisticated level, earning them a prominent place on chic petit-four platters.

The most recent type of old-fashioned macaron I’ve been introduced to is the Macaron from Amiens in the North of France, a sweet and thoughtful gift from Aude. It is quite different from the traditional macarons I had tasted before: these macarons are baked in molds, giving them a hockey puck shape, and they are individually wrapped in golden foil. They also have a denser texture, crusty but very moist inside.

I could perhaps describe them as an almond version of the coconut macaroon, and this gives them an altogether heftier and satisfying bite than their lighter cousins. Pure delight, and just perfect with a cup of coffee after lunch.

Macarons d’Amiens
Jean Trogneux
1, rue Delambre
80000 Amiens
03 22 71 17 17

Footnote: Those of you who like to know about the polysemy of words will be happy to learn that macaron is also, by analogy of shape, the name for a round military insigna, and for Princess Leia’s loopy braid hairdo.

Footnote 2 (I like footnotes): If you read French, you may be interested in this report of one of Hervé This’ molecular gastronomy seminars, which discusses the different textures and aspects of macarons, and the physical or chemical phenomena that lie beneath.

  • Pesql

    mmm LOVELY ! I found a recipe, obviously the secret ingredient might be apple jelly …

  • valentina

    Clotilde, I am a big fan of macaroons – the traditional ones were the first ones I had. This post has been great.

  • http://www.sweetdreamsbaking.com Penny

    These sound wonderful! I love all varieties of macaroons..
    Do you have or can you get a recipe for these” Macaron from Amiens”?

  • Heather

    I can’t believe there are so many places that actually specialize in macarons! Here the trend seems to be everything in one place. I think I need to find some way to get a job in France for a year and eat my way through the country.

  • http://chatnoire.livejournal.com rachel

    OOooh, those look and sound sooo delicious. I’m craving macarons now! I usually make the coconut ones, and I’ve got everything at home. Sounds like tonight is macaron night!

  • Penny from Santa Barbara

    I adore macaroons. It’s my first choice in cookie. I prefer the chewy type, but after seeing those by Lauduree, well, it’s a whole new world ! Secret Ingredient? I suggest Cream of Tartar, especially for those colorful macarons by Lauduree. To give them “rise”. Something is bubbly in the mixture. And to wait 2 days for flavor enhancement? Hmmm. Could I wait? Perhaps. Well, any ideas on what else besides cream of tartar could lift/bubble the dense ground-almonds+sugar+egg white dough without disturbing the taste?

  • http://www.winosandfoodies.typepad.com/ Barbara

    Clotilde – you must check out the innovative variations of the coconut macaroon that featured on the Hay Hay Its Donna Day event this month.
    http://glutton-island.blogspot.com/2006/01/round-up-hay-hay-its-donna-day-2.html

  • French Toast

    I had never heard of macarons from Amiens. Thank you ! In Saint-Jean-de-Luz and the Basque Country, there’s also a smaller variety called “mouchou”, from “muxu”, which means “kiss” in basque. Paries, the local Ladurée (but not as good, I think), claims the credit for it… http://www.paries.fr

  • http://wiegottindeutschland.blogspot.com/ Véronique

    I like your footnotes too, especially no. 2. Thank you! BTW, those looking for Hervé This’ books in Germany will find that the author is Hervé This-Benckhard.

  • Eve

    I just recently stumbled across your blog and love it. I love to cook. Grew up in Sweden, lived in Asia and now in Seattle so I cook all kinds of stuff. I grew up with my dad cooking all day long so I have always wanted to write a recipe book since I have over 100 receipes I have already created and collected over time, your blog is very interesting to read. Maybe it will get me started. I just wanted to mention something, in some of your recipes you mention that you use kefir and I just wanted to let you know that you can get kefir in the US too. You just have to go to a more of a higher-end store like Larry”s Market, Whole Foods or Bread & Circus and they carry different kinds of kefir. So if you are ever trying to describe a recipe to a person in the US that you need that in you can get it here in the US. You can also get good European butter there too :)

  • Verito

    Hola, my name is Verónica, i am from Chile, today I discovered Ch & Z, and I love you!!! you are amazing… your recipes, your food, you deserve all the awards…

    Today I tray to search a really good bread in your recipes, you recommend which to me?

    muchas gracias, se nota que amas lo que haces…

  • christoph

    Thanks for footnote nr 2. This will keep me occupied during the weekend. All the essential questions are discussed here.

  • http://sweetnapa.blogspot.com/ Nina

    Thank you for introducing me to a new type of macaron. I discovered macarons at Laduree without any knowledge about them, and it was instant love! I hope that I’m lucky enought to come across macarons d’Amiens soon.

  • http://theunemployedcook.blogspot.com/ Mrs. C.

    How funny, I woke up yesterday craving Laduree macarons in the worst way, but lacking the motivation to make them. So, I whipped up a really wonderful batch of coconut macaroons, and they hit the spot. Feb. 2 must have been a macaroon sort of day.

  • Pépé le pew

    Ahh les macarons…

    IIRC, there was a recipe of Ladurée’s lemon macaroons in the NY Times 2/3 months ago .

    Anybody printed/copied it?

    The godawful NYTimes archive machine ate it since then…

  • jaycee

    great reporting, thank you! as a huge fan of the parisian macaron, i’ve always been intrigued by the french love of the much sweeter macarons. i live in asia, and though people love macarons (those that have had the fortune of tasting them) here, most complain that they are too sweet. luckily there are asian macaron shops that have adjusted the sweetness to be more suitable to asian tastes. bon appetit!

  • Mai

    I never tried macarons before (except coconut ones I made at home), really hard find good ones in the United Arab Emirates.And it’s really enlighting to read what you worte, and case I visit france again, your blog will be the place I read to know what/where to eat!

    keep up the good work

  • Jay

    Those Macaron d’Amiens looks delicious. Is there a store in Paris where they sell all those you mentioned?

  • http://nookbistro.blogspot.com shaz

    hi there. great blog. I am a foodie blogger from Singapore. I added your blog as a link on my site. I hope you don’t mind :) cheers and keep up the good work!

  • Jane

    Reading this blog from Paris, where my sister and I just sampled two Laduree macarons (one almond, the other caramel with fleur de sel) – the two boxes are packed for the trip home!

  • Embla

    Hi Clotilde,

    Thank you for this post. I was only aware of the Laduree-style macaron, and always assumed that it was the only type. It’s so wonderful and interesting to see how each of them differ!

  • http://www.homeyturtleg.blogspot.com genevieve

    fabulous post! i recently discovered pistachio macaroons at boston’s italian bake shop, mike’s pastry, arguably the boston “spot” for cannolis. the cannolis there are ok, but the pistachio macaroon is very, very good. it opens up new worlds – hazlenut macaroons? chestnut macarons? the possibilities!

  • http://www.sugoodsweets.com/blog Jessica “Su Good Eats”

    Thanks for the explanation of the different types of French macaroons. I always wondered if my macaroons were really French, because they look like the ones from St-Emilion. Now I know!

  • http://exploringsilverspoon.blogspot.com Sara

    It was fascinating to learn about the different types of macarons – thanks for the post! I’d love to try to learn how to make the various types.

  • http://www.bellascookies.typepad.com Mark

    I’ve always wanted to do a macaroon, and now you’ve opened my eyes to a whole new world of possibilities.

    Thanks

  • http://epicesetcompagnie.blogspot.com aude

    coucou Clotilde ! Contente que ces petits macarons t’aient plu ! la prochaine fois, je t’apporterai peut-être des macarons de Cologne… reste plus qu’à les inventer ! bises.

  • yasmine tannir

    i seem to have missed the recipe for the macarons…
    or is it the coconut one that everybody is mentionning?
    i would like to try to bake macarons at home_ will that be difficult?
    merci et bisous!

  • cuiremk

    clotilde-
    thanks so much for the second post-script with the link to molecular gastronomy of the macaron parisien. i make a version with meyer lemon every year for my holiday party and they are one of a few things that people request to be on the menu year after year. partly because most are unfamiliar with that type of cookie prior to experiencing my version and partly because the citrus flavor is a great foil to the chocolate and other sweets that dominate the dessert buffet. to be honest, i first discovered – and fell in love with – this kind of cookie at boulangerie bay bread in san francisco (at pine and fillmore; i made a great tarte au chevre from their cookbook the other night that was spectacular). but i do have a weakness for la duree’s rendition. thanks again. and keep up the great work. can’t wait for the book!

  • Sandy

    Clotilde
    Your site is wonderful…amazing, I love it. Your post on macarons was timely as I recently visited the new Laduree coffee shop in the Harrods store in London for afternoon tea and had some of their amazing colour range of macarons, blackcurrent, pistachio, coffee…. can’t wait to go back. Thank you for a marvellous blog which takes me from a rainy day to Parisian sunshine.

  • marsha carlin

    I just discovered this wonderful site after searching the web for a macaron recips since last week I had my first ever Laduree macaron on the streets of Paris. Did anyone ever find the recipe for the kind they make!? That would be great. Thanks.

  • Alton Pezzoli

    This website has Ladurée-like macaroons that I am probably about to mess-up making.
    http://www.alacuisine.org/alacuisine/2004/11/macarons_imbb_1.html I only hope that you can do the same in the not too distant future.

  • Jenna

    found the NY Times Article…enjoy…

    Parisian-Style Lemon Macaroons

    For the lemon-curd filling:

    4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter

    1 cup superfine sugar

    3 large eggs, beaten Zest of 2 lemons

    Juice of 2 lemons

    For the macaroons:

    1 cup almond flour

    1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar

    3 large egg whites, at room temperature

    Pinch of salt

    * cup superfine sugar

    10 drops yellow food coloring.

    1. Prepare the lemon curd: Melt the butter in a double boiler over low heat. Gradually whisk in the remaining ingredients. Continue to whisk until curd is thick enough to hold the whisk’s marks, 6 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, cover the surface with plastic wrap and cool in the refrigerator for about 1 hour.

    2. Preheat the oven to 320 degrees. Place one cookie sheet on top of another and line the top sheet with parchment paper or Silpat. Sift together the almond flour and confectioners’ sugar into a large bowl. In a mixing bowl fitted with a whisk, whip 2 of the egg whites and salt to stiff peaks.

    3. Combine the superfine sugar and 1/4 cup water in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir over medium heat and from time to time brush the edges with hot water using a pastry brush. When the syrup reaches 241 degrees or the ”soft ball” stage on a candy thermometer, whisk the syrup into the stiff egg whites in a thin steady stream. Continue whisking until the meringue forms soft peaks.

    4. Using a fork, work the remaining egg white into the almond flour-sugar mixture to make a smooth wet paste. Stir a quarter of the meringue into the almond paste to moisten, then gently fold in the remaining meringue and the food coloring. Using a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round tip, pipe 1 1/4-inch rounds on the cookie sheet. Gently tap the pan on the work surface to settle the meringue peaks. Let stand until a skin forms, about 20 to 30 minutes.

    5. Bake with the door slightly ajar for 12 minutes; rotate the pan then bake for another 12 minutes. When cool, sandwich two macaroons together with a dollop of lemon curd. Let stand in the refrigerator for 12 to 24 hours. Makes 35 to 40 macaroons. Adapted from Will Cotton.

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