What do Blair Waldorf and Marie Antoinette have in common?
A guiltless love affair with macs. I’m referring to the luxurious, tantalizing, softly hued tiny almond meringue cakes in an assortment of flavors (such as vanilla, raspberry, strawberry, mint, salted caramel, pistachio, coffee, chocolate, almond, caramel, rose, basil, etc.) filled with ganache or buttercream.
Not to be mistaken with the coconut pastry called macaroon, the Paris macaron, spelled with a single o, also called the Gerbet in yesteryears, traces its roots in Italy and reportedly arrived in France with Catherine de Medicis, in 1533, to marry the Duc d’Orleans, who later became King Henry II
Credit goes to the Ladurée family for popularizing the macarons. In 1862, Louis Ernest Ladurée, a miller and an outspoken social reformist, put up the Ladurée bakery on the elegant 16 rue Royale in Paris. Following a fire during the Paris Commune uprising in 1871, the bakery was transformed into a pastry shop. At the beginning of the 20th century, Louis Ernest’s second cousin, Pierre Desfontaines, put color and joined two macaron shells with a delicious ganache center. He also created the idea of putting a tea salon at the pastry shop to cater to women, who at that time were not a welcome sight in cafés.
Ladurée (pronounced lah-dew-ray), who has set the trend for upscale tea salons, reached new heights via Sofia Coppola’s film Marie Antoinette, in which eye-catching pastries were provided by Maison Ladurée. In 1993, the Groupe Holder took over Ladurée and expanded to a few other locations in Paris. By 2005, Ladurée has expanded beyond France. First to London, then to Monaco, Switzerland, Japan, Italy, Lebanon, Turkey, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Luxembourg, Kuwait, Ireland, Brazil and Dubai.
And the fashionable Madison Avenue. People line up for the $2.70 per piece macarons. Watch a scene on Gossip Girl…
image by shell belle
images by elle525235
The other big names in the macaron business:
There’s Pierre Hermé, a celebrated French pastry chef, who has a loyal following raving about his macarons.
image by Akane86
And famous purveyor of macarons, Gérard Mulot, said to be among the best things about Paris.
images by roboppy
Macarons in the Philippines
Huge thanks to Bizu Patisserie for introducing macarons in the Philippines. (Read my story here.) Vanilla and pistachio bring me to heaven.
In my own hometown, Laoag, I was surprised to see strawberry-flavored macarons at RedDot’s Polka Dot launch.
The meticulous baker is too shy to be identified at this stage. She says, she wants to make the real thing. Hope perfection sees the light of day. Hello, Miss J!
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