A macaron, but not as you know it! By now we are all pretty used to the delicate little jewels known as macarons: twin almond discs, light as a feather, sandwiched with a silky luscious filling – Adriano Zumbo style .
But did you know that the macaron we know and love started out life as a very different treat? The original macaron was first baked within the walls of Les dames du Saint-Sacrement Convent where the Sisters used to bake many pastries as meat was prohibited within the Convent.
During the French Revolution in the late 18th century, religious orders were dissolved and two Sisters from the Convent were taken in by a Dr. Gourmand who lived in the town of Nancy. To thank the doctor for his hospitality and to contribute income to the household, the two Sisters, Marguerite and Marie-Elisabeth began to bake the little almond macarons, known today as the famous ‘Macarons de Nancy’ or ‘Macarons des Soeurs’ (Sisters’ Macarons).
Of course, the original recipe is a closely guarded secret. There are many different recipes around the internet, and many a pastry chef has spent time in the kitchen trying to replicate the macaron but I think it is safe to say that no one really has nailed it. If you really want to try these lovely little macarons you will have to visit Maison des Soeurs Macarons in Nancy where the secret is currently kept by Nicolas Génot…
If you can’t do that, then give this recipe a go, adapted from Gille Pudlowski. It is not a perfect replication, but delicious nonetheless with the interesting little twist added by the hard crack sugar syrup… but you’ll have to try it to find out!
- 150g almond meal
- 270g caster sugar
- 3 egg whites
- 2 tablespoons water
How to do it
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celsius. In a bowl, mix the almond meal with 200g of the sugar and the egg whites. Set the almond mixture aside until needed.
Place a saucepan on the stove over a medium heat with the remaining 70g of sugar and 2-3 tablespoons of water. Heat the sugar mixture to the hard crack stage (that is just before it turns to caramel or to between 148-154 degrees celsius using a sugar thermometer).
When the sugar mixture reaches temperature, pour it over the almond ingredients and mix well. Try to avoid the edge of the bowl as the sugar mixture sticks and turns hard! As you mix, you will find you have little lumps of hard sugar in the batter.
Place spoonfuls of the mixture on a cookie sheet covered with baking paper and cook in the oven for 3-4 minutes or until the outside is a light golden brown (I found this took a bit longer than the 4 minutes).
Cool and enjoy with a nice up of tea!