art of the macaron

As the debate continues between which side of Paris reigns supreme, rive droite or rive gauche, so too does the question of ‘who makes the best macaron?’. The Paris pâtissier preference most often between the two macaron greats: Ladurée and Pierre Hermé. Who do I prefer? That is a matter of macaron, as each chef certainly does excel in particular flavors. I had quickly become a macaron fanatic upon moving to Paris and upon several dozen tastings, had accepted to adore (and indulge) in both. What I was really after was how exactly do you make these tiny tastes of heaven?

And so last Saturday my curiosity in the art of the macaron was satisfied. I signed up for a class at the reputable cooking school La Cuisine Pariset voilà! There I was ready to take on the challenge, filled with eager bakers (including my sweet confidant Delphine) and our pastry chef, trained with none other than Pierre Hermé himself.

With nary a moment to admire the glorious view of the Seine, we split into teams and got right to work. Sifting, measuring, mixing, boiling… Once in a while I did peek outside reminded that I was indeed in the heart of Paris learning to make the city’s most prized delicacy.

Our next step, and perhaps my favorite of all once I learned the technique, was actually making the perfectly round, just the right size, macaron shells. Not as easy as it looks!

Once the shells were formed and baked to perfection, each one was paired with it’s matching half.

From that point on it was all about filling our candy colored shells. The filling which I could have easily inhaled by the spoonful. We had made two very distinct and rich flavors, white chocolate mixed with a touch of espelette, a type of French chili pepper, and a classic praline. Délicieux!

And there they were. Our macaron masterpieces! Ready to be cooled and savoured, ideally the following day. I felt accomplished and though no easy task, I was even eager to try this at home. But until then, I will never again question the price of pleasure when it comes to the macaron.

La Cuisine Paris offers year-round macaron classes in both English and French as well as many other sweet and savory culinary adventures. I’m already looking forward to the next one…

If you live in Paris (or will be in town on February 10th) enter to win a free macaron class! Winners selected on January 31st. Bonne chance!