Charlotte Druckman on Macarons

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As I just left Paris and with that, my weekly dose of macarons, I begged New York Times Style Magazine columnist Charlotte Druckman to share the research she did to in order to write one of the best write-ups on macarons ever for Departures magazine. It’s so thorough, it will make your head spin; there are just so many gorgeous spots across this planet where you can grab (or order via mail) a fresh, soft macaron. Below, she gets into the details. (The above photo is by by manda)

Tell me all the research, sugar, weight gain/loss involved with writing this glorious piece for Departures magazine.

Oh boy. Well, I have a sweet tooth. Whenever I’m in Paris, I will walk into any bakery that catches my eye/nose and try something. I only feel compelled to finish it if I really like it. Otherwise, I just keep tasting, as though I’m in search of some holy grail.


Photo by Yuichi Sakakuraba

Truth be told, my favorite French pastry is the Palmier (that caramelized puff pastry confection also called an elephant ear). I’ve been known to gather Palmiers as I walk. I look for the dark, well-caramelized ones. No anemic ones allowed.

Anyway, I wasn’t particularly sold on the macaron (they’re super sweet), and I’d tried the Laduree ones–the caramel with salted butter, strawberry, and when they have it, almond are best. I liked them, but I wasn’t hooked. Then, I went to Pierre Hermé.

Photo by Yuichi Sakakuraba

Were it not for Hermé, I’d be unmoved by the macaron. His won me over. Later on, I was assigned that story, because they knew that I’d either already tried those macarons, or that I would go to any lengths to do so. It was such fun. I had to order lots of things overnighted, because I was back in the states. You’d be surprised how many people were willing to facilitate that research (bakers and tasters alike). I was staying at my parents’ house, coincidentally, because my apartment was being repaired, so, I had people to help me judge. People I trust. I think I paid them back for their hospitality and patience in macarons. Mom and I decided to revisit my childhood and bake together. We made macarons, of course, for research. They weren’t very successful, but I know why. I got lazy with the egg whites.

I tasted as much as I could. There were two instances where the bakeries were unwilling to ship–one in London, the other in San Francisco. I had two good friends and fellow food-crazies taste for me and take notes so I could make sure we had an accurate, fair account.

Photo by jinquon luo

Now go take a peek at her exhaustive macaron list to find your nearest sugary treat to enjoy with your next cup of tea, coffee, or perhaps, champagne!

Charlotte is currently co-writing Anita Lo’s first cookbook with her, and just wrote the article she’s been waiting to write for a few years, on women chefs for the 10th anniversary issue of Gastronomica. This is the fifth in a series of blog interviews with Charlotte. Read part 1, part 2, and part 3.

Photo by Maggie Battista

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