Macarons

by Mark Broadbent

Mark Broadbent has enjoyed a food-obsessed career spanning three decades. He’s cooked in Five star Hotels, Two star Michelin restaurants, Gastro Pubs and Member’s Clubs, delivering unforgettable cuisine or acting as a consultant. London’s Bluebird was just one of his success stories. Under his creative direction, the restaurant achieved huge critical acclaim and was especially loved by AA Gill.

There are some dishes that fit so effortlessly into their surroundings, it’s almost as if they’re part of the furniture. Think fresh seafood served beside a Cornish harbour-side, roast beef in a Yorkshire gastropub, scones and lashings of clotted cream at a Devon tearoom: you get the picture.

So when we were asked to deliver something sweet and delicious to two of the hottest fashion houses in London – Burberry and Emilio Pucci – my mind instantly sprang to that most gorgeous of treats: the macaron.

Quite simply, there is nothing not to love about these delicate little beauties. And beauty really is the key word here.

No dessert carries a colour quite like the macaron: Arranged in neat rows in a kaleidoscope of shades and flavours, they are daintily dazzling.

It’s no surprise that something this gorgeous would have its roots in France, where their history can be traced back to 1855. Yet today’s macaron owes some debt to an Italian influence too – indeed the name is derived from the Italian work macarone, meaning meringue.

And that’s essentially what the macaron is, two meringue discs sandwiched together with ganache, buttercream or jam – with a whole variety of flavours and colours thrown into the mix.

Where a cupcake is too fussy and biscuit-based treats are too stodgy, the macaron offers the perfect balance: pretty, delicate, airy and light.

While looks are all-important to presentation, getting the right blend of flavours is a key requirement to serving a sumptuous selection.

Pistachio, lemon, chocolate and almond all old favourites which lend themselves beautifully to flavour the macaron, especially when perfectly colour-matched.

But it would be a mistake to think such a historical treat need receive the traditional treatment: imaginations can and do run wild when it comes to flavouring the macaron. American tastes have given rise to flavours such as peanut butter and jelly, candy cane and maple bacon, whereas the Koreans are rather partial to a green tea variety.

Varied, delicious and utterly gorgeous: the macaron truly is the showstopper of the patisserie.

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