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French Fridays: Macarons de Saint-Emilion

St Emiion macarons by Mardi Michels on eatlivetravelwrite.comThe village of St Emilion in the Gironde department in Aquitaine is perhaps best associated with wine but did you know it’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site?

Criterion (iii): The Jurisdiction of Saint-Emilion is an outstanding example of an historic vineyard landscape that has survived intact and in activity to the present day.

St Emilion vineyards on eatlivetravelwrite.comCriterion (iv): The intensive cultivation of grapes for wine production in a precisely defined region and the resulting landscape is illustrated in an exceptional way by the historic Jurisdiction of Saint-Emilion.

View of St Emilion town on eatlivetravelwrite.comThere are so many reasons to visit St Emilion, none the least being it’s one of the most picturesque villages I have ever visited.

On the streets of St Emilion on eatlivetravelwrite.com Le Bouchon in St Emilion on eatlivetravelwrite.com Wine in St Emilion on eatlivetravelwrite.comBut actually, when I was there, a couple of summers ago, I had a mission beyond admiring the gorgeous scenery and ogling the wine…

Macarons Bernard Meysan on eatlivetravelwrite.comMacarons you say? Of COURSE I’m interested. But these are not the macarons you are thinking of, the pretty pastel sandwich “cookies” (for want of a MUCH better word!) made famous by Ladurée. The kind I have spent years working on perfecting. The kind I teach in my classes around Toronto. Nope, these look like this:

Bernard Meysay macarons de St Emilion on eatlivetravelwrite.comNote that these were a little worse for wear after their trip home – they got squished – but I am sure you see the difference. Mainly in that, well, they look cracked. They kind of look like the *other* kind of macarons look when they don’t work out. With just 3 ingredients (egg whites, icing sugar and almond flour), they are similar to the macarons we know today however, these are a cinch to make. These are supposed to have cracked tops – and are more like a chewy cookie than delicate airy macarons. These are more like macarons as they were originally made, back in the 1600s and 1700s in France. I first discovered these “imperfect macarons” a few years ago at Aurore et Capucine in Paris..

The history of macarons is a complicated one… It’s said they originated back in the late 1700s when Carmelite nuns baked sweet cookies with almond meal as a way of supplementing their meat-free diet.  According to the Larousse Gastronomique, these nuns followed Theresa of Avila’s principle to the letter: ‘Almonds are good for girls who don’t eat meat’.   During the French Revolution, two nuns in hiding in the French town of Nancy started making and selling macarons, becoming known as “Les Soeurs Macarons”. In 1952, the street where their bakery and store was located was named after them and macarons de Nancy are are still sold there today.  The original cookie was simply ground almonds, sugar and egg whites and not sandwiched together with ganache, like we know today and many parts of France claim to be the birthplace of the “original” macarons.  The macarons craquelés that I ate in Paris did have a thin filling joining two flat cookies together – which you can do to make these “plain” cookies just a little fancier.

Macarons de St Emilion in a box on eatlivetravelwrite.comMy favourite St Emilion version comes from Bernard Meysan. The box claims Ursuline nuns who settled in St Emilion in 1680 were responsible for the creation of this version – a certain “Sister Boutin” having shared the secret to making these with some families in St Emilion during the revolution.  The tradition has been carried on by numerous pâtissiers around the town to this day and, in fact you won’t go far without seeing a store that sells them, each claiming to be “true” St Emilion macarons.

The recipe I am sharing here today is my version of what I tasted. I don’t claim they are “véritable” St Emilion macarons but they taste pretty close to the rustic cookies I enjoyed whilst I was there. In any case, they are infinitely more do-able than the version you might have already tasted. Macarons for everyone? Now that’s a concept I can get behind!

macarons de St Emilion on eatlivetravelwrite.com

Yield: 30

Macarons de Saint-Emilion

Macarons de St Emilion in a box on eatlivetravelwrite.com

Rustic macarons that everyone can make!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes

Ingredients

  • 150g almond meal
  • 175g granulated sugar
  • 3 large egg whites

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 300˚F.
  2. Prepare 2 baking trays with parchment or silicone mats.
  3. Prepare a 14" piping bag fitted with a plain tip (I like to use Ateco 803)
  4. In a medium bowl, combine the almond meal, sugar, mixing to combine well with a wire whisk.
  5. In a separate metal bowl using an electric hand mixer, whip the egg whites to soft peaks.
  6. Combine the dry ingredients into the egg whites, mixing to completely incorporate the dry ingredients. The mixture will be fairly stiff.
  7. Transfer mixture to the prepared pastry bag fitted and pipe out circles of the mixture, approximately 1-2 inches in diameter.
  8. Take a damp piece of paper towel and smooth the tips of the cookies over.
  9. Sprinkle the tops of the cookies with icing sugar.
  10. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the cookies are just starting to colour (golden brown) around the edges. The cookies will crack on top and they will still be a little soft when you remove them from the oven.
  11. Cool completely on a wire rack.

St Emilion macarons on eatlivetravelwrite.comNow, these are macarons EVERYONE can make, right?

Happy (French) Friday!

 

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10 Responses to French Fridays: Macarons de Saint-Emilion

  1. Mr. Neil January 15, 2016 at 07:39 #

    It must be said, there was a temporary bit of alarm in the ELTW household, as one member (and that would not be Cleo) almost ate the entire box contents – thereby ruining the photo op.

    Luckily (ahem) the photographer jumped in to avert disaster.

    Another box, please. 🙂

    And St. Emilion is a must-visit for anyone close to the town. Best piece of advise: if you’re there in summer peak season, arrive as early as you can stomach, so you can wander before the crowds. And of COURSE, do le Petit Train. 😉

  2. Geoff January 15, 2016 at 18:55 #

    Yeah, they look very moreish, Mardi. Lovely pics of the village too.

  3. Cathy January 19, 2016 at 16:47 #

    Absolutely do Le petit train!! St Emilion is also memorable for the steep paths and tower to climb!
    I also recall well the afternoon of the macarons craqueles in Paris!!

    • Mardi Michels January 20, 2016 at 12:34 #

      Ah yes, the macarons craquelés! And indeed, le petit train, no matter WHERE you are visiting – is a must!

  4. Ruth Finley July 3, 2019 at 00:30 #

    Are these macaroons sold anywhere in the United States? They are delicious My daughter brought me a
    Box as she visited France

    • Mardi Michels July 5, 2019 at 00:31 #

      You know, I am not sure they are sold in the US (though they have to be). But hey, I’ve included a recipe so you can make them yourself!

  5. Trevor Clune March 29, 2020 at 13:18 #

    Thanks for the recipe! When my wife and I visited Sante Emilion on our honeymoon I regretted only getting one of these macaroons and not a whole box. We tried the recipe and it didnt come out well, but we are sure the cookies we made will go well with goat cheese and jam. I am wondering, though, what we did wrong. I think maybe we under whipped the egg whites and maybe using fresh ground almonds instead of almond meal caused them to be pitted instead of cracked? If you have any thoughts I’d be happy to hear them.

    • Mardi Michels March 29, 2020 at 16:13 #

      Hi, thanks for trying the recipe. But it’s hard to know what went wrong if I don’t see a photo? Almond meal = ground almonds so unless you overground them and they were oily, I doubt it was that. You don’t need to whip the egg whites very much with this recipe but that could be it.. As I say, hard to tell unless I see them…

  6. Giavanna August 25, 2020 at 04:39 #

    I first found these kinds of Macarons in a little Macaron kiosk at a mall in Long Island, NY. They called them “old fashioned macarons” and they were delicious!
    My family has celiac and must be gluten free, so good cookies are hard to come by, so I went on a mad hunt for a good recipe to replicate these as soon as we got home. It took me a while to find them, bc I was searching for the wrong name of them, but then I finally found this recipe of yours and it looked the most like the cookies that we had tried.
    Well…I just have to say a very big THANK YOU! These are stellar and absolutely perfect for someone who loves French macarons, but doesn’t want to spend months trying to perfect them. These are now our go-to family treat and we tweak them sometimes with some vanilla, almond, or cinnamon extract just for fun.
    Now I just have to find a rich vanilla buttercream recipe to compliment them!💗

    • Mardi Michels August 25, 2020 at 06:14 #

      Oh I’m SO glad! I love these little cookies as well – so much more accessible than the fancy sandwich cookies!!

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