Saturday, August 23, 2014

Macaron Advice

The grand window display at Bon Macaron in Victoria, B.C.

This tower of macarons was also on display in a second window of the small macaron only shop at 1012 Broad Street.

The shop carried 24 flavors of sweet macarons and 12 flavors of sweet and savory macarons. Eleanor and I had a hard time settling on three to try. In the end we chose White Truffle and Sea Salt, Cantaloup and Sour Plum. The Cantaloup was our favorite.

My daughter Eleanor and I unexpectedly came across a macaron shop on our recent trip to Victoria, B.C. and in addition to tasting some delicious macarons, I was able to glean some valuable information from the chef.

Eleanor and I were just walking one evening when I saw the macaron window displays of a small shop called Bon Macaron and shrieked with delight. The shop was closed for the day but we went back the next day for a taste and I got a chance to speak briefly with the chef.

I asked him what was the base of the filling of the delicious White Truffle and Sea Salt Macaron I had just tasted.  He said cream cheese so I asked if his experience was similar to mine that cream cheese filled macarons don't last as long. He agreed that cream cheese filled macarons don't last as long as buttercream filled ones because of the cheese's higher moisture content.

He said cream cheese filled macrons are best eaten one to two days after they're made and buttercream filled ones last three to four days.

What I have found can also cause a macaron to not last as long is the addition of fresh fruit to a filling. I think the taste of fresh fruit is preferable to preserves because it's less sweet but it also contains moisture that can cause the macaron shells to soften and gradually dissolve. When this happens, the taste is still great but the texture isn't. I've tried to combat this problem by cooking fresh fruit first to eliminate moisture but it doesn't always work. Strawberries are especially troublesome and I might just have to resort to using a low-sugar preserve.
Knowing how different fillings affect how long a macaron will last is very important when it comes to deciding what flavor to make. Because there are so many variations possible, there are so many variables that can affect the outcomes. This unpredictability is part of what makes macaron making exciting but it can also make it stressful, especially when you're making them for an event.

It felt good having my experiences confirmed by a macaron professional. If I ever get back to Victoria, I want to go back to Bon Macaron — There are still 33 flavors I haven't tasted like Mimosa, Pineapple & Basil and Siracha. I'm definitely going back!

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