What Macarons have in common with the Gioconda

Read it in Italian

Here we go again, and this time it’s not even Napoleon’s fault.
Apparently even the macaron, sweets so loved also in Italy and spread all over the world as a French speciality seem to have Italian ancestry and were taken without patent to France by Catherine de Medici in 1500 at the time of her marriage to Henry II. Damn, give them back to us…  together with the Mona Lisa!

Well, no! My dose of vindicatory  italianofilia finishes here, and I rather go back to what I’ve always believed: if things really belong to anyone, they belong to those who can appreciate and evalute them and not to those who stumble in it by accident. Macarons are no exception.

Another thing that these works of haute patisserie have in common with the works of art is the cost. They cost a couple of euro each, but reading the recipe I’ve found that the reason lies in the preparation, and I’m pretty sure that it took less to Leonardo to paint Mona Lisa than what would take me or to any clumsy cook to produce  the recipe.

With the recommendation of ‘do not do it at home’ I try to summarize the matter:
Ingredients: sugar +  eggs (five albumens) + water + flour + almond meal flour + coloring +  lemons + butter.
A lot of butter.

Preparation of the meringue:
in a bowl, mix the almond flour with the powdered sugar, then pass the mixture through a strainer (What is a strainer?) to remove any lumps. In a frying pan add the sugar and water, stir on low heat; with a thermometer, check the temperature of the syrup which should reach 118 ° C or so. [I’m already in panic]
In the meantime – while the two other hands are doing the above mentioned things – whip up half of the eggs and when they are quite solid, slow down the speed of the whip and stir in, gradually, the sugar syrup. Then, stir in the food coloring you want (or alternatively one used in Chinese tanneries) and continue to stir until the meringue has cooled completely and will look dense, smooth and shiny.
So, call you neighbour because you will have lost the use of the arms and add the ground almonds and sugar in the remaining egg albumes and stir (always and forever, stirr) with a wooden spoon, until you get a sort of pretty solid almond paste.

Since the preparation of the meringue is still too long, and we’re still supposed to tell about the filling cream and since I’m not hungry anymore, go and read the rest of the recipe on allrecipes.com.

downloadHere I propose my own alternative:

Ryan or EasyJet flight to Paris, midweek stay for a couple of days and, without even looking after the Champs-Élysées, the Eiffel Tower and the rest of the city, go directly to Pierre Hermé with his wacky flavors ranging from exotic fruits to the goose liver. The address is 872 rue Bonaparte – just to make fun of the Italians, aware of the theft of recipe. Or you can opt for Ladurée, always on rue Bonaparte, but at number 72, more traditional but apparently a true safe haven. A cheaper and less touristy Macaron pusher  is located in 76 rue de Seine and is called Gérard Mulot, also great for those who, like me, does not like macarons but does not disdain the French pastries and more. With the same assumptions, I also recommended Paul Hévin at 231 rue Saint-Honoré, (and the address is already synonymous with quality).


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