Try Nancy When Seeking Macaron Mecca
Is Nancy. Paris or Vancouver the true Mecca of the Macaron? Thanks to Marguerite Gaillot and Marie-Elisabeth Morlot, two sweet-toothed Bénédictine nuns from the Dames du Saint-Sacrement order, Nancy can claim that crown.
But Paris has since upstaged its Lorraine rival with a silky smooth ganache upgrade coupled with classy, gourmet-tailored touches, while Vancouver has enthroned them globally with enthusiastic support for International Macaron Day (March 20th to be exact) and paens of praise for the perfect Parisian Macaron
It should however be remembered that the Nancy macaron differs distinctly from the Gaudí-like gaudiness of the Art Nouveau-coloured cream-filled cookies newly rebounding all over France and most everywhere else these days.
For the two Saint-Sacrement nuns who first created the cream-free Nancy macaron did so to conform with strict dietary habits – nunnery rules meant no meat could be served (which as readers of this paper know leaves today’s redblooded French puzzled and perplexed). It was partly for this reason that the Benedictine sisters began to make pastries and ended up baking their famous Macaron.
The result is a widely-lauded chewy, almond-flavoured delicacy that few among the 2.3 million Lorrains will fail firmly and proudly to insist is part of their delicious pastry heritage — if not actually unique terroir .
Paris being a capital filled with inventive Maîtres cuisinier, plain chewy macarons just would not do. Thus over time there evolved a colourful, ganache-filled cookie. It is this that every patisserie elegantly displays today – in an array of heart-melting colours and range of avant-garde flavours that include lemon basil, mirabelle, lavender, pistachio, coquelicot and even — roi de la royaume salées – Pierre Herme’s ketchup macarons.
If a ketchup macaron is just a taste too far well one could always try a grapefruit variety perhaps?
As any true Macaron trooper will tell you no visit to Nancy is complete without a pilgrimage to Nancy’s monument to the Macaron: Maison des Sœurs Macarons at 21 rue Gambetta 54000, Nancy Phone : 03 83 32 24 25 Website
For the legendary macaron dates back to 1792, when our two Carmelite nuns took asylum in Nancy during the French Revolution.
The recipe for Véritables macarons de Nancy is a closely guarded secret held today by Nicolas Génot of the Maison des Soeurs Macarons and handed down in a direct line from Elisabeth Muller, a niece of the Soeurs Macarons.
Since the late 18th century, Nancy’s famous Macaron recipe has remained unchanged and today perhaps its best example is according to Le Point magazine found at Maison des Soeurs Macarons.
Nancy owes its fame for the delicacies to Catherine de Vaudemont, daughter of Charles III and the abbess of Remiremont who founded the Benedictine order of Dames du Saint-Sacrement. Two nuns Marguerite Gaillot and Marie-Elisabeth Morlot had the idea of baking macarons both to please their Mother Superior but also to sell and help the order support itself.
In 1857, Bergamot another Nancy specialty became widely-known to local residents thanks to Godefroy Lillig, a confectioner who had the happy idea of adding essence of Bergamot to sugar used in baking. This perfumed sugar was mixed into the secret macaron recipe which is closely guarded still today by the direct descendants of the two nuns. Elisabeth Muller handed it down to her son who passed it on to subsequent generations of Mullers.
The famous Nancy macaron patisserie has been in the family since 1854, run from 1854 to 1876 by Elisabeth Muller herself; from 1876 to 1903 by Hector Moinel; from 1919 to 1935 by Alfred Moinel; from 1919 to 1935 by Georges Moinell; from 1935 to 1966 by Georges Aptel; from 1966 to 1991 by Roger Aptel and since 1991 by curent owner and macaron recipe guardian — Jean-Marie Genot.
In the 1900s Pierre Desfontaines of Ladurée in Paris filled the macaron with a ganache to give birth to the Parisian version.
Pierre Hermé and Ladurée are names to remember when seeking out the Mecca of Macarons since they were the first to introduce the idea of innovative and gourmet versions. Pierre Hermé came first, but both are of course world renowned. Visitors to Paris after a sugar rush should not miss either of them:
21 Rue Bonaparte, Saint Germain des Prés, Paris which offers Salted Caramel, Colombian Chocolate, Pistachio flavours; and
72 Rue Bonapart, Saint Germain des Prés, Paris where delights include Creme Brulée, Venezuelan Chocolate, Salted Caramel.
Story: Ken Pottinger
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