Special bakery almond macarons, a French/Moroccan treat
Macarons (I refuse to use add another “o”) have gone viral during the last 7 years. Since I grew up in a mixed Moroccan/French culture these sweets were not a discovery to me. Yes I love how Pierre Herme reinvented these almond sweets. I particularely love the generous filling and the imagination he puts in all of them. How can one not like it! But hasn’t the world gone overdosed with that?
The thing about Macarons is that all the Mediterranean coutries have their own version in a way or another, especially the almond-producing countries.
The other thing about Macarons is that they come in different shapes and textures than the trendy Parisian macarons which have invaded the web and the patisseries. Even in France, the early versions of these almond sweets depends on the region where it originated from. Sometimes, they have the same ingredients, only different in the look or the name. So yes, there is more to the macaron world than the sandwiched coloured ones with a filling.
Now, since Morocco is a former French colony, we happen to have some recipes which we grew up enjoying without thinking they were anything but not Moroccan. So we always had the classic trio of Parisian macarons sold in the posh bakeries (vanilla, chocolate, coffee).
One macaron that you find in Morocco, especially in the old Casablanca bakeries in the middle of forgotten streets is one that we all buy but don’t bother making. So I did my research and tried a few recipes which claim they deliver the same result. Until I tried a French recipe of Lenôtre (THE one and only) where he reproduces Saint Emilion’s macarons. It was it! The same texture, the same taste, the shape, except that we decorate ours with an almond while the French version does not ask for it.
Lenôtre’s website generously shares the recipe and only a few blogs really went on to try it (French ones). The version available in Morocco looks different and rather like this here only flattened and topped with an almond.
Let’s wait for the rest of the foodies in this world to discover it after they wake up from the Parisian macaron’s fever..They don’t know what they’re missing. It’s not that glossy is the coloured ones but they’re so tasty!
|Free-form way almond macarons|
The recipe I followed was adapted from Lenôtre page with a support from Chef Damien’s video which is self-explanatory regarding the method. However, I worked around it to get what the Moroccanized macarons look like.
The Moroccan version won’t have alcohol and I reckon they follow the staight forward method consisting of beating the egg whites, mixing and shaping. However, Lenôtre’s method make them last longer.
I reckon the old way of making it involved using a proper ground almond instead of almond powder. I tried this option and I didn’t need to add water as the almonds when turned to paste have a naturally perfect consistency.
Prep: 20 min – Baking: 15 min
- 200 g almond meal/ground almond
- 75g + 75g of icing sugar
- A pinch of salt (my addition)
- 4 drops of almond extract (my addition)
- 1/2 tsp of vanilla sugar (optional)
- I used 2 tbsps of water ( I replaced alcohol in Lenôtre’s recipe)
- 10g of honey (I used a neutral one)
- 60g egg whites (about 2 egg whites)
Grind the almond powder along with 75 g of sugar to a finer texture for 15 seconds.
In a pot with a heavy bottom, mix the almond/sugar ix almond meal, sugar, honey, half of the egg whites and half of the water. Place over low heat. Mix with the back of a spatula until you get a sort of a paste. This will remind you of the panade we make for choux pastry.
|The mix on the cooker, trying to break it and mix it|
Keep mixing for 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a cold glass bowl and add the rest of the ingredients. Mix for about 2 minutes to combine and cool.
|The mix after adding all ingredients|
Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Bring 2 small spoons and a glass of water on the side. I use the water to wet the spoons when they start becoming sticky but also when I give the final shape to the macarons.
|Not using a piping bag and keeping them “generously” plumped|
Make sure you stick your baking sheet to the baking tray with some dough mix in all corners.
|Using a piping bag|
Preheat the oven at 165 degrees C.
Somehow, make small quenelles with the two spoons, try to turn each quenelle to a sort of ball. Place each one on the baking tray, leaving some space in between.You could also use a piping bag!
Wet your fingers and go around each macaron to give it a nice shape. Flatten it a bit and place a whole almond on the top of each piece.
Bake for 15-17 min until lightly golden.
It keeps well for 2 weeks in an airtight container. You could also freeze them and thaw them 20 min before serving them.
Follow the method shown in Chef Damien’s video with his guest. You won’t fail!