When I was growing up, my mom always went crazy when baking cookies for the holidays. She baked the same ones every year, and it was something my sister and I always looked forward to. The exception: her macaroons. My sister and I complained so much that she finally stopped making them. These pastry nightmares were the size of a bloated golf ball and the edges of the coconut that made up 90% of its ingredients were browned, just shy of being burned. Sometimes she would top the mess with a maraschino cherry slice. I really do like coconut, and I truly love my mother, but these were just offensive.
Fast forward to the present where I have just opened a fresh box of Paulette macarons. Like magically puffy, pastel shaded Oreos, these classic French wonders melt in my mouth. Paulette bakery ships their fresh treats daily from Beverly Hills, but the origin of the recipe is heavily debated. According to the Larousse Gastronomique encyclopedia of gastronomy, Renaissance era Italy can claim creative rights to the macaron, however, some insist that a recipe from an 8th century monastery is the original. Regardless, macarons are the same no matter which country youre in (except for in my mothers kitchen). The basic recipe for macarons includes almonds, sugar and egg whites, modern adaptations include flavorings like coffee, pistachio, and cassis. My mothers infamous macaroons are a variation of the original recipe (no matter how far they strayed from the classic) and coconut macaroons continue to plague most American memory banks. The colorful, almond-based macarons are an entirely different pleasure.
If youre like me (a complete klutz in the pastry kitchen), you can order Paulettes decadent treats online, or head to Sarasota and feast at Le Macaron. If, however, youre adventurous and up to the task, arm yourself with a pastry bag and get to work!