National Macaron Day
Originating in Italian monasteries before extending to France centuries ago, the macaroon – a delicate sandwiched ‘cookie’ – has since gathered a significant following around the world. Loved for its unique sweetness and eye-catching appearance, it is now considered a truly covetable delicacy. It is fitting then that, over the last decade, in multiple countries, a specific day has been dedicated solely to honouring these colourful confections. The 31st of May has been declared National Macaroon Day, making it the ideal day to visit a local bakery and pick up a few of these treats. One such patisserie that has caught our eye for their quality, handcrafted offerings is the Deli at Asara Wine Estate and Hotel in Stellenbosch. With myriad mouth-watering macaroons on their menu, they are a perfect place to pop in to celebrate the occasion. To find out more about these delicious delights we chatted to Asara’s General Manager Pete Gottgens: These sweet treats appear to have two titles, ‘macaroons’ and ‘macarons’. Is there a difference? Both are meringue-based, but this is where the similarity ends. The macaroon has a dense, cake-like consistency and is often made with coconut. The macaron, however, is the ‘real deal’ made with three ingredients: ground almonds, egg whites and sugar. It is a lighter, intricately made confection, usually filled with ganache and available in a wide variety of colours and flavours. At the Asara Deli we make our own traditional Parisian macarons. Macarons have fast gained in popularity. What, do you believe, is their appeal? It’s definitely the thin, crisp shell with a tasty interior that explodes in your mouth. And, of course, the dazzling array of colours. Why did you decide to add macarons to your Deli offerings? They were simply a natural addition to our available host of freshly baked cakes, handcrafted chocolates and pastries. What makes your macarons special? They are baked in small batches on a daily basis, so are always fresh. Do you have any secret ingredients? Yes, the fillings will leave you begging for more… Tell us about the different flavours and colours you have available? We have mint green chocolate, white lychee, pink raspberry, yellow passion fruit, orange, lavender and apricot. Our pastry chef Pierre is also currently in the process of developing some exciting, unusual new flavours. Do you have any tips for readers who wish to make their own macarons at home?
- Follow the recipe exactly.
- Practice makes perfect.
- Invest in a quality digital scale.
- A number 13 plain nozzle for piping is very important, as is a non-stick mat for baking.
- Grind the almonds finely.
- Sieve at least two or three times, and do not over mix or they will emerge flat.
- Be sure not to bake them for too long.
- Once sandwiched, store them overnight in an airtight container so that they mature properly.
- Macarons can be frozen successfully after sandwiching.