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Published August 15th 2012
Macarons are the ultimate designer sweet foodie craze.
These delicate, multihued yoyo shaped delights lend themselves to the most absurd array of colours and flavours, turning the cake world upside down and inside out.
Balsamico -matt black biscuit with a kicking complex sweet and sour balsamic grape vinegar gnash. The caviar to the cake world.
They are limited only by a pastry chef's sinful imagination and expertise to intermingle unlikely flavours into one petite sweet cake. So exquisite; we happily fork out $2.50 a pop - quickly becoming the decadent caviar to the cake world.
The most discerning macaronaholic carefully inspects, chooses, scrutinises and sniffs before they slowly sink their teeth into just a third at a time. Leisurely rolling it around their mouth with their tongue, the taste buds begin their connoisseur judgement and verdict. While simultaneously inspecting the remainder portion in their hand as the brain tries to bond sight to taste.
Now heaven help anyone who has the audacity or stupidity to pop a whole macaron into their mouth, chews and swallows without a full most mortem. It's sacrilege and illegal! Any court in the land will oppose such actions giving you the right to terminate long term friendships on these grounds. It's simply an open and shut case.
Balsamico and Spicy Wasabi
Like a junkie always in search for their next hit, macaronaholics are always in search for the next new intoxicating wonder flavour to get their high. I have tasted my fair share of unlikely flavours at many patisseries around Sydney. It's my pursuit for happiness, my Shangri-La. I just have to find a flavour I haven't tasted and the more unusual the combination, the better. Why? That's like asking Hillary why he climbed Everest. It's the hunt. the thrill, the adventure, the addiction.
The perfect macaron are two petite cakes with a semi gloss fragile egg shell like crust with a soft, almost meringue texture mixed with finely ground or powdered nuts. Sandwiching 'that' decadent whipped smooth ganache filling.
My Latest Decadent Finds:
Balsamico – matt black biscuit with a kicking complex sweet and sour balsamic grape vinegar ganache. Spicy Wasabi - off white biscuit with a ripping nasal vapour wasabi pale green ganache. Honey Yuzu – buttercup yellow biscuit with golden honey and Yuzu - a citrus fruit hybrid cross of sour mandarin and Ichang papeda - giving and smooth, tangy citrus fruit ganache. From the newly opened Deux Peres Fine Patisserie at 437 Surry Hills.
Honey and Yuzu - a Korean citrus fruit hybrid cross of sour mandarin and Ichang papeda - giving an unusual honey, tangy citrus fruit ganache.
Humble Origins: I have done my research and know some of this is speculative and historically debatable. So please humour me and the validity of the varied information.
One thing for certain, they have always been a delicacy.
Although they are classed today as 'French Macarons', their origins trace back to Italy in the mid 1500's and known as 'Macaroons', made as a single layer cake roughly from egg whites, sugar and finely ground coconut.
One of the stories told is that Italian nobility Catherine de'Medici married the then French King, Henry II in 1533. As all girls do, she took her cooks and bakers with her, introducing a variety of Italian pastries to French Cuisine.
Over the centuries, macaroons evolved gaining notable attention during the French Revolution. In 1791, two Carmelite nuns in a convent near Cormery needed to support themselves during this time and began baking single layer cakes to sell. Made up of ground almonds, egg whites and sugar. Woman are so resourceful. Maybe Marie Antoinette was referencing macaroons with the 'Let Them Eat Cake' line. Before you jump on this, I know she may have not actually said this, yet like most supposed historical information, it makes a great story.
By the 1830's, macarons were being served in pairs with jams, spices and liqueurs. Still, no ganache fillings.
Laduree Patisserie in France where they bake 15,000 macarons per day! Wikimedia Commons
Around 1930 Pierre Desfontaines - the grandson of Laduree Patisserie fame, woke up one morning, probably with a champagne hangover and thought, "Hey let's make a double-decker macaron with a lucious ganache filling!" The how is speculative, however he did come up with the idea and hangovers are often when brilliant ideas come to mind. And so the present day macaroon was born.
Pastry chefs around the country and later the world began creating these masterpieces.
Enter Adriano Zumbo with his superb if not crazy ganache fillings heightening the craze in Australia over the past few years. This is a man with wicked vision and supreme talent for the most unlikely flavours. Naming them Zumbarons, he created 65 different flavours for 'Adriano Zumbo Macaron Day 2010' in his Balmain patisserie. On Australia Day 2012 two unlikely flavours included Vegemite and Week-Bix.
I am a thrill seeker with no limit as to what unlikely macaron flavour I will seek and devour.
Please share your 'what and where' is the 'Most Unlikely Macaron Flavour' you have come across.
So Sydney's Macaronaholics can get their daily fix.
The weirder, the better!
Sweet Infinity in the Strand Arcade is worth a try for the mini-macaron pack (8 pieces for about $13), in a variety of scrummy flavours. Not a fan of Zumbo macarons (too sweet for me - the sugar factor overwhelms the flavour, no matter how unusual it is), but I try and zip in here whenever I can for my macaron fix.