A few years ago my husband and I were shopping on the fashionable rue Saint-Honoré, an ancient street in the 1st arrondissement of Paris, known for its high-end boutiques, cafes, and hotels, when the skies opened and a veritable ocean of water poured down. It was a bit of a disappointment as we had planned to spend a leisurely morning window-shopping, or faire du lèche-vitrine (literally translated from French to mean window-licking).
It was my fourth trip to Paris, my favourite city in the whole world, and as soon as I got there I was jumping out of my skin with excitement. I wanted to cram every second of the day with shopping, eating, wandering, something - anything!
Rather than let the rain dampen my spirits or grab a cab back to the hotel, I grabbed my dripping husband and we ducked into a chocolatier - pâtissier's shop where I purchased a few truffles and one, single, perfect macaron. I ate it standing, and soaking, on the street corner in Paris. It is one of my favourite memories of that trip, perhaps even beating the time I got drunk on beer in our Christian Lacroix-designed hotel room and sang "Caramels, Bonbons et Chocolats" while looking out onto the street in the Marais district.
Let's be clear here, a macaron is NOT a coconut macaroon. It is a French confectionery made of almond flour, egg whites and sugar; and it's delicate, shell-like crust yields to a moist interior. In the first bite, it manages to be enchanting, remarkable, and unexpected all at once. It is also extraordinarily difficult to make and relatively expensive. One macaron will set you back anywhere from $2 to $5 and up, depending on where you purchase it, and it is one of my biggest indulgences. I have been known to unabashedly buy a few and hide them in my house.
This is not a sweet treat you can chomp on while sitting on your sofa watching "The Bachelor." Small and fluffy as they are, just a couple are enough to fulfill your fix. While macarons have become somewhat of a trendy confection in North America over the past few years, I have sampled several macarons in Toronto and few of them measure up to their French cousins.
But I was lucky enough to stumble upon a Toronto-based company, Bakerbots Baking, while researching designer cakes for my son's baptism. Lo and behold, Rosanne not only made gorgeous cakes but macarons as well - delicious, moist, airy, heavenly macarons. In the photo at the top (courtesy Bakerbots) you can see the tower of 150 pistachio, vanilla bean, coconut with lime, and caramel fleur de sel macarons that she created for Baby A's baptism this past weekend. My guests seemed as thrilled as I was to sample something new and I was happy to share one of my favourite indulgences with them. I know what you're thinking. What about the cake? More on that to come in another post.
It was stunning.