In today’s crowded market I think all of us as consumers want to understand the difference between similar products and to understand what makes a product special and worth paying that little bit extra for. I don’t think macarons are any different in that respect – other than maybe the market isn’t that crowded although those little almond meringues are becoming a little easier to find.
So what make a Medici Macaron so special?
1. Flavour – first and foremost. People’s first reaction when eating one of my macarons is ‘Mmmm…’ I call it the Medici Macaron Moment. At a recent wedding fair a father of the bride nonchalantly took one of the macarons – I wish I had a camera to capture his face as he realised that he was eating something very special. He said it was ‘one of the most amazing things he’d ever eaten’ and that his expectation was for a hard meringue with very little flavour. Instead what he experienced was a soft chewy meringue with a buttercream filling that was as he put it a ‘flavour explosion’.
The intensity of flavour I manage to bring to my macarons comes from using quality ingredients. With my signature ‘Secret Centre’ it comes from growing my own fruit or foraging for local fruit (such as bilberries, blackberries, elderberries). Its also about making my own preserves with slightly less sugar to intensify the flavour of the fruit. You just cannot get that flavour from mass produced jams and jellies. All this takes time – growing, foraging, preserving – but I think its worth it because it means I produce a macaron that is very special.
2. Attention to detail. I want to make macarons that not only taste wonderful but look beautiful too. Macarons should have a smooth shiny outer domed shell. If the almonds are not reground you get a gritty looking shell. Regrinding the almonds is an additional time consuming process but I think its worth it. If a macaron batter – known as the macaronage – is under mixed you get a ‘nipple’. A macaron with a nipple doesn’t taste any different but I think it spoils the aesthetic of what should be a shiny, smooth shell. If the batter is over mixed you get flat, dull shells.
At Medici Macarons I have strict quality control -undermixed and overmixed macarons will not make an appearance. I also spend time matching shells so they are the same size, I pipe my filling in the middle of the shell. Everything I do takes extra time – its all done by hand and is all to ensure that each macaron is worthy of its place at either a wedding or celebration.
My family and friend’s say I am an obsessional perfectionist – I think they exaggerate (a little!). What I do want to create however are macarons that are that little bit different from the main stream and I know I achieve that and that’s why they are extra special and worth that little bit more.