Ah, macarons. The quintessential French pastry that is as delicious as it is ‘grammable, and just as difficult to master if you’re thinking of DIY. As a pastry school grad, I’m all too aware of the technical difficulties that can occur. So when La Vie Ann Rose blogger Angie Niles invited InStyle to a macaron-making session with Laduree’s head pastry chef Jimmy Leclerc to promote her lovely new Paris guide book, Bright Lights Paris, I knew it was an opportunity not to be missed.
First of all, as a former fashion publicist who’s spent copious amounts of time in the enchanting city, Niles knows the hippest spots to eat, shop, and get lost. Her brain is an ideal one to pick if you have any curiosity or infatuation with the subject matter, and the book is filled with her personal faves, as well as those of her well-traveled pals like Blake Lively and Alexa Chung. I was excited to not only reminisce about my last spring visit to Paris, but also to ask her some burning questions for my next trip there, like where to find the best Croque Monsieur. (Answer: Café de Flore).
Secondly, it was an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to cook in Laduree’s Soho kitchen alongside their head pastry chef Leclerc. The workspace, in case you’re wondering, lies just beneath the magical pistachio green dining room. When I arrived for my cooking class, I was struck by how it is as French as is it is New York—insanely immaculate and smaller than expected. It was in this spotless room that Chef Leclerc gave us a step-by-step tutorial (shared with you below) on how to craft The Ispahan, a bonafide version of a traditional macaron sandwich. In addition to the basic components—a flavorful filling (in this case rose-infused buttercream) and almond meringue cookies—this dessert is elevated with fresh raspberries and lychee.
One thing to keep in mind: The trickiest step to this recipe is making the meringue-based cookies. Chef Leclac’s master tip? Be very gentle when mixing the egg whites with the ground almonds. You want the cookie to be as airy as possible and not collapse in the oven, so fold them together with a spatula quickly but carefully. “If the cookies don’t come out as beautiful as imagined, don’t stress,” assures Leclerc. “They will still taste amazing.”
VIDEO: How To Make Perfect Heart-Shaped Macarons With Dana’s Bakery
Godspeed and bon appetit!
Makes about 8
2 cups whole almond blanched
2 cups Confectioners sugar
½ cup of egg white
2 cups sugar
1/3 cup of water
¾ cup egg white
½ tablespoon red food coloring
1. Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line two baking trays with parchment paper.
2. In a food processor, grind the almonds with the confectionary sugar until very finely ground.
3. Beat the 1/2 cup of egg whites in a bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed, then increase speed to high and continue to beat until the whites hold stiff, glossy peaks.
4. Meanwhile cook the sugar and water in a small saucepan until it reaches 250°F.
5. Very slowly pour the hot sugar water into the whipped meringue, running it down the side of the mixing bowl, and mix for 1 minute.
6. Mix the 3/4 cup of egg whites with the food coloring and mix it with the almond-sugar mixture.
7. Quickly and carefully fold the almond-sugar powder mixture with the meringue.
8. Spoon the batter into a piping bag with a ¼-inch round tip. If you don’t have a piping bag, use a plastic freezer bag, pressing out excess air. Snip one corner to create a ¼-inch opening.
9. Pipe the macarons into 3-inch discs onto the baking trays: Starting at the center of the circle, guide the bag in concentric circles, keeping the tip hovered an inch above the tray. This will ensure that the batter that comes out of the tip is a perfect cylinder.
10. Bake for 15 minutes.
1 cup sugar
½ cup water
1 cup egg yolk
1 cup butter, at room temperature, whipped to a mayonnaise texture
¼ teaspoon rose extract
2 teaspoons rose syrup
1. In a small saucepan, cook the sugar and water in a small saucepan until it reaches 250°F
2. Beat the yolks in a bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed for 2 minutes, and then slowly add the hot sugar to the yolks, running it down the side of the mixing bowl, and increase the speed to high until the mixture becomes totally cold.
3. Mix in the butter and then the rose water together the butter and the first mix, and then add the rose extract and syrup.
1 pint Raspberries
4 lychees, chopped into ¼-inch pieces
Rose petal, optional
1. Using a piping bag or ziplock bag, pipe some buttercream in the middle of a cookie. Line up fresh raspberries around the edge, and add one in the middle.
2. Add a couple pieces of lychee in the space bewteen the middle raspberry and outter raspberry ring
3. Pipe a thin layer of buttercream onto the berries and top with another macaron cookie.
4. For the garnish, use the buttercream to anchor a raspberry and rose petal onto the top.