The Magic of Macarons
From Paris to New York to Seattle, the French macaron continues to make its way into the hearts and minds of American consumers. This trend shows no sign of slowing down.
FP Patisserie, for example, is the luxury high-end brand from acclaimed pastry chef François Payard, featuring cakes, pastries, tarts, chocolates and confections made from only the finest ingredients. The flagship location of FP Patisserie is found on the upper east side of Manhattan, and is divided into three distinct sections: the pastry shop, the bar and the dining area.
From the sidewalk, window shoppers and customers alike may see the artfully arranged pastry displays and colorful macaron collection, thoughtfully arranged in custom glass display cases accented with the quintessential “Payard Orange” colored marble. Additionally, all of the merchandise is openly displayed on custom created dark wood bookcases, as if being featured in a library.
“My pastry menu is consistent with a market menu,” says Payard, who says his favorite flavor combinations are dark chocolate, caramel and salted peanuts (very American), passion fruit and raspberry, and pistachio and cherry. “When you use too many flavors, the identity of each flavor gets lost. I try to keep it simple,” he says.
Further evidence of the rise of the French macaron in American can be found at Ladurée. Today, there are eight US locations of the famed Ladurée, including stores in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and Miami.
The story of the Paris-born Ladurée macaron starts in the middle of the 20th century with Pierre Desfontaines, who first thought of taking two macaron shells and joining them with a delicious ganache filling. Since this time, the recipe did not change.
In September 1997, a new prestigious Ladurée address, both a restaurant and a tea room opened on the Champs-Elysées in Paris. President David Holder decides to bring back the great classics, which have contributed to the reputation of this "salon de thé," as well as to create an environment for gastronomic
creativity in Paris.
The newest Ladurée in America opened May 2 in Washington, D.C. The 1,100-square foot store serves dozens of colorful French macaron flavors inside a location designed to create the feel of a French salon.
“It’s not so easy to make macaron, so we really are super control freaks about what we use,” Ladurée USA co-president Elisabeth Holder Raberin says. “We have chefs training for years to make macaron. They wake up at 2 a.m. to bake.”
While making her unique “flower” macarons, award-winning baker Deborah Ott from France relies on white chocolate cream filling, prepared using heavy cream, white chocolate and cornstarch.
“What is very important in the macaron,” bakery owner Pierre Zimmerman says of the classic French dessert, “is the first bite is the key. The classic shell is meringue, which is very neutral. So there has to be a real explosion of flavor because there are only two bites. The key is to lower the sugar in the macaron filling, so the filling is not too sweet.”