These days, people seem crazy about trendy French macaron, especially when we are in Paris – the gift box of colorful macarons is a must! To be honest, I’m not addicted to this delicate sweet, but I love to collect different stories about this eye-catching, tiny, fragile meringue cookies! Today I’m sharing not how to make French macaron but how delicate they are, especially at the famous store in Paris – Pierre Hermé (PH)
Who’s the best macaron creator in Paris? Hard to say, Ladurée seems very popular brand, their store in Champs Élysées is always crowded, long queue at the entrance but to many Parisiens or pastry professionals – Fauchon, Pierre Hermé…are ones on the top. I didn’t try all brands here, in Paris, but if I do, hard for me to say which one is better! I trust my group of friends at Le Cordon Bleu, many of them are good pastry chefs and all of them love Pierre Hermé.
Pierre Hermé – very famous French pastry chef, like a celebrity, a big figure in French gastronomic industry, he studied pastry since 1976, at his very young age at Lenôtre, another famous name in France and now in his late 50s, Pierre Hermé is definitively one of the best pastry master-chefs who built up successfully his brand name not only in France but also around the world.
The history of macaron
In France many sweet creations has their own history, long in the past, like a famous many-layers coffee butter cream cake “Opéra” or heavily rum flavor cake “Baba au rum”… All has their own history! Same with macaron! According to some trusted sources, macaron has been created back to 8th century in Venetian monasteries by nuns.
At that time it was simply tiny almond cookies without any flavors or fillings…only until 1958 some young Camille Studer, a pastry apprentice at the prestige pastry store “Sprüngli” in Zurich, came up with an idea to assemble two almond cookies together with the filling in between. They named it “Luxemburgerli” (burger?!) and now we call it French macaron!
Back to our times at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, from time to time we had a two-hour break between the theory and practical class, so instead of chit-chat at Starbucks we thought better for us to visit some famous pastry shops in the neighborhood. One day we went to Pierre Hermé store, each of us bought different macaron with exotic flavors…to taste and to exchange.
Not talking about the exotic, extravagant ingredients in the chef’s macaron recipe, but about the flavor and the color, the flavor is certainly No 1 but the color is also important. Without coloring macaron look far from good! All of these very eye-catching colors come from food coloring and you can imagine how much coloring we need to make macaron that beautifully colorful. It’s a lot!
Pierre Hermé shares his macaron creations in his book “Pierre Hermé Macaron”, very creative combination of colors, flavors and even some stories behind play an important role in his incredible imagination. The flavor could come from many elements that we never expect for a macaron like olive, asparagus, herbs, veggies from our backyard…
Pierre Hermé created a number of very classic recipes for macaron, some recipes become very popular around the world among the pastry professionals like Macaron rose inspired by Ispahan rose (with rose, raspberries and lychee flavor) or Mogador with milk chocolate and passion fruit flavor…
Hazelnut from Piemonte – the world famous hazelnut from Italy thanks to the traditional way of cultivation, the soil…and that inspired Pierre Hermé to create one of his very classic recipes for Macaron Infiniment praliné “Noisette du Piémont”, the master chef often uses the finest ingredients from around the world for his creations. Listening to his friend’s stories, to their passions, he is able to please them with a lovely surprise. Hope I will share that with you in my second part of this post – the special macaron named “Jardin sur la baie d’ Along” (Garden at Halong Bay) that Pierre Hermé created for his friends charity fund in Vietnam.
Pierre Hermé ables to find the idea for his flavors everywhere, even from the friend’s story or from his memories, his passion for something in the pass and now he comes up with a such incredible combination of flavors. During his walk in the garden somewhere in the countryside, early in the morning, he smells the fragrance from some rose bush, then the idea for Macaron Coing à la Rose is born, the combination of citron and rose flavors.
In my next post I will share some recipes from the Master Chef, I’m not sure who can do it because of the exotic ingredients, the technique that the chef used in his laboratory but there is one basic thing we need to know – most of macaron filling made of quality white chocolate “Ivoire de Valrhona”.
P.S: This post is so beautifully illustrated this time thanks to all photos made by Laurent Fau and Bernhard Winkelmann from “Pierre Hermé Macaron” book.