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Make Macarons
Like the French
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Discover the decadent fashionable Pâtisserie: The Parisian Macaron (pg. 2)

by Jill Colonna

Over the last 20 years, I have seen the macaron rise from a mere trend in several fashionable Parisian establishments – with poodle under the table and macaron sur la table amongst the 16th Arrondissement ladies who lunch – to a veritable Parisian star mania spreading to the rest of France. French food bloggers excitedly talked about le challenge du macaron, posting their successes and failures.

Host Celia Nogues conducts a tour and taste
test at the Stohrer pastry shop in Paris (2e).

Cookery schools have jumped on board with – albeit pricey – macaron workshops. Now the craze is sweeping the globe outside France, hitting the glossies and jet-set bustling boulevards from Beverly Hills to London, to Sydney as it continues to take the world by storm.

Let’s face it. Eating a macaron is like no other cake or pastry. Biting into one is not like wolfing into a cake with a ton of buttercream frosting on top. It’s much more refined and delicate. Its outer meringue shell of almonds and sugar is sandwiched together with a velvety voluptuous centre that can take the taster to toe-curling heights. En plus, being gluten-free and with considerably fewer calories than a cupcake, the macaron definitely gets the thumbs-up as a much healthier treat.

I have always been fascinated with macarons. But, as they were a dangerously expensive tasting habit (between €1 and €2 each, depending on the store), it was time to find out more. Were they really so impossible to make at home, as so many people said they were? I also wanted to rise to this macaron challenge but, as a lazy gourmet, I wanted to find easier ways to make them in my own kitchen.

In Paris we’re spoilt for choice with good suppliers of pâtisserie equipment and ingredients so I had no excuse to shy away from giving them a go. I have my personal favourite store, MORA, on rue Montmartre, which is open to the public as well as to professional pastry chefs. They stock every size imaginable of piping bags, nozzles, food colourings as powders, sprays, metallic lustres for decorating, plus some handy flavourings to give that added je ne sais quoi to concentrate the macaron flavours. All the other ingredients can easily be found in our local supermarkets.

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There’s nothing more satisfying than discovering that you, too, can make macarons at home. When their little characteristic “feet” ruffle up in the oven after a few minutes, it’s difficult not to squeal with excitement and perform a macaron ritual dance in front of the oven door before assembling these beauties with perfumed fruity buttercreams or rich chocolate ganache fillings.

After making these gluten-free confections at home, though, it was flattering when friends started ordering macarons from me. I couldn’t keep up with demand and ended up saying: “but you can make them yourself!” That’s how the macaron book was born.

The beauty of making your own macarons is that you can play with an empty canvas. You can create your own macaron flavour combinations. I concocted a nut-free macaron and even experimented with mini savoury ones. Fancy a Tikka Macsala Curry Macaron, to whet the appetite before dinner with a chilled glass of Gewürtzraminer from Alsace? It may sound rather crazy, but you’ll see. It’s addictive making as well as eating macarons – and perhaps it’s not difficult to tell I’m crazily mad about them!

So why not add a touch of Paris to your baking, relive the Paris dream at home and discover your own macaron creations from the City of Light with a pot of recommended Darjeeling or Oolong. The ooh-là-là factor is assured from family and friends and, who knows, they may even think you’ve bought them. Shh. Just don’t tell anyone!

Jill Colonna

Jill Colonna was born in Edinburgh, Scotland; she met her French-Corsican husband while studying in Glasgow. Since 1992, Jill has lived and worked in France as a marketer, musician and teacher. She invites you to share her macaron tips and ideas in "Mad About Macarons! Make Macarons Like the French" (released December 15, 2010).

Image sources: Boulangerie Pâtisserie du Moulin de la Galette storefront depicted on shopping bag, design by Gilles Guérin (photographer), sold by Paris France Products. A box of heavenly macaron treats from Ladurée, by Daniëlle (photographer, 7 March 2011), from Flickr. Assorted photos of macaron displays (23 thumbnails in slideshow and corresponding enlarged images), © 2010- Jill Colonna. Jill Colonna at the Louvre, bearing a platter of macarons, by Inez Forbes (photographer). Hugo & Victor storefront, Paris 7e, photo by Agence Le Goff et Gabarra (Paris), from Paris Pâtisseries (a blog by Adam Wayda). – All Rights Reserved.

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