Last Thursday (remember how full my weekend was? Yes, this is why this post was delayed) I ventured off again with something yummy as my guide. My trek was a bit more formalized this time, though, as I had signed up for a workshop through the school that was, in essence, a behind-the-scenes tour of Gerard Mulot, a well-known patissier-chocolatier in Paris. The only negative about a scheduled adventure is you better know where you are going and how long it’s going to take to get there. I’m not one to enjoy being late so I think the pace of my 4-mile run to the store was a bit fast. Probably good for my heart but not good for my anxiety.
If someone were to list the best macarons in Paris, Gerard’s would almost always make the cut. His are known as the “everyman’s macaron”, not as expensive as Ladurée and Perme Hermé. But just as good.
Do you know what a macaron is? Here is some information straight from wikipedia because, honestly, why should I rewrite it?
A macaron (French pronunciation: [makaˈʁɔ̃]) is a sweet meringue-based confectionery made with egg whites, icing sugar, granulated sugar,almond powder or ground almond, and food colouring. The macaron is commonly filled with ganache, buttercream or jam filling sandwiched between two cookies. name is derived from the Italian word maccarone or maccherone.
The confectionery is characterised by smooth, squared top, ruffled circumference (referred to as the “foot”), and flat base. It is mildly moist and easily melts in the mouth. Macarons can be found in a wide variety of flavors that range from the traditional (raspberry, chocolate) to the new (foie gras, matcha). The fillings can range from jams to ganache to butter.
Since the English word macaroon can also refer to the macaroon, many have adopted the French spelling of macaron to distinguish the two items in the English language. However, this has caused confusion over the correct spelling. Some recipes exclude the use of macaroon to refer to this French confection while others think that they are synonymous.
So, there you go.
The best thing I learned on my little tour was that the flavoring is only in the filling. The outer cookies, while all different colors, actually all taste the same. It reminds of when I worked at Malt-O-Meal and we would blind-fold new people and ask them to guess which Fruit Loop (or in our case, Tootie Fruity) they were tasting. It was great to watch them pop an “O” in their mouth and exclaim, “That’s, for sure, strawberry.” Sorry, my friends. The flavor is sprayed on all the colors at the same time; they are exactly the same. I hope this doesn’t come as a big disappointment to anyone.
I loved watched the gentlemen whip the egg whites, sugars and almond powder together by sticking their entire arm into the huge bowl. All hand mixed, no machines. They said it gives them the ability to “feel” when the batter is perfect, otherwise it could be undermixed or go flat and runny by too much mixing.
I have to say, being able to sample macarons straight from the pan…well, they were a delight. I had pistachio and then coconut. And another pistachio for the kids which was a bit flat by the time I ran home.
We also watched them make shells for filled chocolates, sampling different pieces of chocolate as they taught us that good chocolate will never taste bitter even with a high cocoa percentage. And they were right. There were two people cutting huge slabs of different colors and flavors of marshmallows. It looked like it would just wiggle right out of their hands but they were pros. They sliced them up with a thing called a guitar because of the look of the “strings”.
The 4-mile run home was a bit more relaxing and I was coming from a direction I had never been so had this great view from a completely new perspective. I love that. I decided on that run that it might be fun to do my own little “Pepsi Challenge” with the Paris macarons. Perhaps my friends Julie and Jody would be interested in being fellow judges when they are visiting in March.
As for further details, I’ll let the pictures tell the story. Enjoy!