Macaron masters

Patissiers in Paris

20 March is the day of the macaron. Odd to have this kind a 'day of' of course, but it is a nice occasion to talk about this particular biscuit. Or is it a pastry? We ask Cas Wolters. Known from the programme 'Heel Holland Bakt’ (the Dutch version of the Great British Bake Off.) He offers workshops on how to bake flans and macarons. Besides baking, he also teaches.

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History of the macaron

Cas loves baking these biscuits and has also delved into their history. 'A macaron is an almond biscuit originally from Italy. It was a bitter biscuit with almonds, adopted by the Parisians. Around 1862, the French confectioner Ladurée made it lighter and airier by adding protein foam.

To Paris with Eurostar

Cas Wolters took the Eurostar to Paris to visit the shops of famous biscuit makers. This was no hassle as he is a keen train traveller. He has seen all of Europe by train and finds it a nice relaxing way to travel. 'No stress, sit back and stretch your legs. The best part is seeing the landscape change as you go.'

Not quite what we are used to

'The macarons I tasted in Paris are different from what we are used to. Much less sweet. In the middle they are a bit tough and they still clearly taste of almonds. You put it in your mouth, taste the almonds first and then come the other flavours. Chocolate. Tangerines. Or olives. And then you get the overall flavour'. Cas tells it so tantalisingly that it makes your mouth water.

Patissier Ladurée

In the last century, the pastry shop was transformed into a tea room by Ladurée's grandson Pierre Desfontaines. He came up with the idea of putting two macarons on top of one another and adding a filling, ganache. That is chocolate with whipped cream or some other substance.

Ladurée has several boutiques with confections. The quality of the macarons is fantastic. A bag of macarons from Ladurée is a nice "souvenir de Paris!". You can find the bakery at 18 Rue Royale.

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Savoury macarons by Pierre Hermé

It is not all sweet, sweet, sweet. Pierre Hermé experiments with different flavours. Cas was unsure. 'Savoury macarons?! I had my doubts... but they are surprisingly delicious. Tangerine with olives turns out to be a really tasty combination.' One of the shops is at 72 Rue Bonaparte but there are shops like this all over the city.
List of Pierre Hermé shops

Making your own macarons

Cas says he looked at the recipes of the famous Parisian macaron bakers, Pierre Hermé and Ladurée. Remarkably, they have very few ingredients, roughly six. Far fewer than the macarons you buy packaged in the shops. 'I used their recipes and those macarons simply succeed, and are really delicious!' On Cas´s website, you can find a Dutch recipe for macarons. You can also sign up for a workshop 'baking macarons', for beginners and advanced.