In the interests of full culinary disclosure, I should admit that I’m no stranger to making macarons. Last summer in a mad frenzy of generosity/insanity, I made 400 of the little blighters for my brother’s wedding. Afterwards, I thought I’d never look at another French meringue again and the smell of icing sugar mingled with ground almonds was a sure fire way to make my stomach turn. That was until I came across Macarons: Laduree’s beautiful new recipe book.
The Parisian patisserie is famed across the globe for its pretty, pastel-hued confections and this rather lovely book gives readers a glimpse into the secrets of Laduree’s expert pastry chefs. Packaged as if it were a dainty morsel itself – complete with presentation box and tissue paper – Macarons invites readers to try their hand at rustling up the French sweet treats at home.
The recipe book is divided into themed sections, beginning with a brief history of the Laduree macaron, which explains that it was first created by Pierre Des Fontaines, a cousin of the company’s founder Louis-Ernest Laduree. Recipes for the classic macaron flavours follow and I thought the drink pairing suggestions (don’t thinking about popping a pistachio mac in your mouth without a chaser of black Ceylon tea) were a particularly nice touch.
The more adventurous and surreal recipes are spilt into beguilingly named chapters like ‘Flowery and Fruity’ ‘Incredible!’ and ‘ MMM…Chocolate!’ Each page is impeccably styled, the photography is wonderfully evocative and the text is peppered with titillating insights as to when and for whom special flavours were created, such as the guava macarons made for the marriage of Prince Albert II of Monaco in 2011 or the green apple flavour made exclusively for Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland film.
While I was tempted to make a beeline for the more exotic flavours – like the smoky Havana which is sandwiched together with a tobacco cream filling – after spending last summer losing my mind over macaronage, I decided to start simply with the classic chocolate macaron recipe. At first glance the recipes might appear labour intensive and overly specific but, once you’ve got the knack, the world really is your perfectly whisked egg white, and the results will give the poshest patisserie a run for its money.
The basic recipes at the back of the book are a lifesaver and are worth buying the book for alone, offering careful step-by-step instructions on how to make the ever tricky macaron shells. After a few successful attempts, I’m now dreaming of impressing friends and family with showstoppers like the triple decker caramel muscovado macarons or the impossibly cute heart-shaped raspberry and rose flavours. But I won’t be doing any more weddings…
Macarons is published by Scriptum Editions and available to buy online here.