*for nine days
Have you read a Laura Florand book? Have you met her chefs? Have you fallen in love with them? Which one is your favorite? Mine is Dominique, because he’s a burly badass with a molten, gooey center and some classic kitchen training (not just pastry) behind him.
Mmmm, I do love Dom.
I do not love Ms. Florand. Because Ms. Florand has RUINED MY LIFE! She, and Philippe, and these damned macarons.
Do you know what a macaron is?
I didn’t. Not really. I mean, I had seen them before. Who hasn’t? They really are little iconic cookies with their bright colors and pretty fillings. But I had never eaten one until a Mediterranean cruise in the fall of 2012. One afternoon we stopped in Cannes. After lunch at an Italian restaurant (as one does in France, bien sûr) a couple blocks from the pier, a friend and I wandered the little streets off Blvd. de la Croisette, the main road along the water. One of these streets held La Maison du Chocolat, a lovely little store with a gorgeous selection of chocolate. They offered small boxes of macarons, probably five or six per package, so I picked up one for myself and one as a souvenir for friends back in the States. I probably spent an entire paycheck on bite sized truffles and other chocolates as well, but that’s not the point of this story.
That was my first macaron. It was divine. Better than that perfect middle of the brownie pan where there’s a light crust and the just barely undercooked batter. Better than that, because EVERY SINGLE macaron is the ideal combination of crust and melt.
(Digressing: J’adore Google Maps. So much. I just found a business called “Sex and the kitchen” that’s listed as a wedding planner. It’s near the Marriott, if you want to check it out next time you’re in Cannes.)
So, for a little over a year, I’ve truly understood the transcendence of a macaron, that it’s so much more than just a pretty cookie. And then, this past March, I read my first book by Ms. Florand, The Chocolate Kiss. I adored the book. I thought it was sweet and beautiful and had the perfect touch of magic realism. It also made me want to learn how to make real hot chocolate. Not your average Swiss Miss with marshmallows or Starbucks Hot Cocoa, but chocolate. Melted. In a cup. With some milk. Milk infused with other flavors. And there’s the secret – infusing the milk. Also, not using cocoa.
Then Ms. Florand had to go and write a bunch more books about more hot, alpha/gooey pastry chefs. Damn her! And in each one, I read about more desserts I had heard of, some I had even tried, but none I had ever really considered making myself. Financiers? Oooh, I had one at Sequoia a few months ago and it was delicious. I should totally try to make that. All the chefs work with chocolate, and though chocolate isn’t my favorite, it does get the creative juices bubbling and it marries quite well with caramel, which is a favorite. Patrick does “sugar work.” What does that mean? I’m going to Google that. (Googling…) Oh, I’m not going to try that. That’s way beyond my capabilities.
But macarons. I can probably make a macaron. I understand they’re finicky and difficult and persnickety and a thousand other adjectives that scare people away, but it can’t be impossible. People make them all the time. It’s a cookie. I won’t let a cookie beat me!
I made my first batch last Saturday.