Everyone has their weaknesses.  For some it’s drugs.  For others it’s drink.  For still others, it can be something as seemingly innocuous as surfing the internet, head massages, or shirtless albino guys.  For me, it’s ice cream and macarons.  I’ve never been much of a drinker and, to be honest, golf and drugs hold equal non-appeal as both expensive and uninteresting, but there’s nothing like the rush of partially melted vanilla Haagen Dazs ice cream with a spoonful of Nutella or the exquisite delight of a Pierre Herme pistachio macaron.

I’ve been a lifelong ice cream addict but it wasn’t until five years ago that I made the leap from casual user to manufacturer.  At first, it started with those quickie frozen dessert recipes I’d found online.  I soon graduated to actual ice cream makers with special freezer storage components,  motorized units and built-in timers that would allow me to produce 2 liter batches at a time.  I went beyond the gateway flavors and began experimenting with unique particulates and liquors: caramel popcorn vanilla-galliano, maple butterscotch schnapps bacon, bananas foster.  I tried to get my friends hooked, mass-producing three, often four flavors a week and bringing them into the office for lunch on Fridays.  I was out of control.

My wake-up call finally came on the evening my ex hosted a dinner party in which I served 13 different flavors of home made ice cream. Of course, I had to sample them all.  As if that wasn’t enough, one flavor so impressed, it proved to be my undoing because one bowl of the Michel Cluizel premium milk chocolate with crumbled Flake chocolate topped with Advokaat (eggnog) liqueur just wasn’t enough.  Neither was two.  I hit the wall at three – but only because I’d already sampled those thirteen other flavors.  By the time the party wrapped, I was physically ill.  I’d hit rock bottom.

Fortunately, with the support of friends and family, I’ve been able to overcome my addiction.  I still make ice cream, but rarely more than two flavors at a time, and now limit myself to a mere five bowls a week.

As for macarons, my passion for the little meringue and buttercream/ganache confections began during a business trip to Paris. It’s there I sampled one for the first time – the  Pierre Herme pistachio that still ranks as my favorite.  Since then, I’ve become a little obsessed, tracking them down in every city I visit, sampling flavors ranging from straight vanilla bean (revelatory in its simplicity) to foie grass and white truffle, and now – progressing to the obvious next step – making them myself, again graduating from recreational user to manufacturer.

First things first though.

THIS is a macaroon:

April 10, 2012: Getting My Macaron Fix!  Full Preview Dark Matter #4!

And THIS is a macaron:

April 10, 2012: Getting My Macaron Fix!  Full Preview Dark Matter #4!

They’re two very different things and yet people confuse them all the time.  They sound very similar, so I suppose it’s forgivable for someone who doesn’t know any better to refer to a macaron as a macaroon, but what drives me nuts is when professionals (a.k.a. people who SHOULD know better), can’t distinguish between the two.  In a recent episode of Top Chef Canada, one of the competing chefs won a challenge by making what he called a “macaroon” that was actually a “macaron”. When it came time for the judges to weigh in on his creation, not one of them corrected him.  In fact, head judge Mark McEwan even called it a macaroon!   On another Food Network show, Cupcake Wars, one of the judges (a pastry chef and Frenchman no less!) is introduced as the owner of Mad Mac Macaroons.  A 2010 Wall Street Journal article on the macaron’s rise in popularity concludes with a quote from yours truly. Asked if I saw a silver lining to its popularization, I answered: “”Maybe people will stop calling them ‘macaroons.’ ” [Macarons New Popularity Worries Fans – WSJ.com].

And then again, maybe not.

I was surfing the net a couple of weeks ago in search of untested macarons offerings in Vancouver, when I happened to come across the website J’adore les Macarons – French Macarons & Macaron Baking Classes …, a home/online business that not only sells macarons, but offers classes in macaron-making as well!  I signed us up and, yesterday, Akemi and I attended the class.

We were told to bring a big container to hold the 20 (in our case, 40) macarons we’d be making over the course of the four hour lesson. “And an apron,”Akemi suggested before we left the house.  I assured her that aprons weren’t required, but she brought one anyway – along with her fluffy dalmation slippers.

We arrived for our lesson five minutes early, met the two women who would be taking the class with us, one a parole officer (Great connection.  You never know.), the other the owner of her own custom cake pops and cupcakes business (Beautiful creations: http://www.carmensediblecreations.com/).  We were instructed to wash our hands and choose an apron.  “See?!”I was reproached.

April 10, 2012: Getting My Macaron Fix!  Full Preview Dark Matter #4!
Akemi - BYOA.

Okay, granted, aprons aren’t exactly manly, but I figured I might be able to salvage some of my pride with something remotely masculine like, say, one with a “Real Men Don’t Use Recipes” message emblazoned on the front or a “Hook ’em and Cook ’em” alternative or even a simple “Licensed to Grill.”  No such luck.  “Take the black one!”advised our instructor, Connie.  I grabbed the black one, put it on, and started toward the kitchen island when she stopped me with a: “Oh God!  Not THAT one!”.  I looked down.  It was plain black – with darling little white ribbons on the front.  I returned to the rack and perused the selection, passing on the pink cherry motif and “Will Cook for Bling” in favor a relatively inoffensive green and yellow lemon apron.

April 10, 2012: Getting My Macaron Fix!  Full Preview Dark Matter #4!

 Some of the highlights of our instructive afternoon:

April 10, 2012: Getting My Macaron Fix!  Full Preview Dark Matter #4!
Waiting for each of us were samples of the chocolate options for our ganache (Valrhona) and two of Connie's macarons: a lavander-cassis (L) and a chocolate (R). They'd just come out of the freezer so we had to wait an interminable 45 minutes before we could try them. Akemi could only hold off for 44 and change.
April 10, 2012: Getting My Macaron Fix!  Full Preview Dark Matter #4!
It was decided to go with blue shells. Not that it really matters since the shell are never flavored. They're sugar, egg whites, and almond powder. And food coloring, if you so choose. A lot of macaron shops get fancy and mix shells - something I've never been a fan of, unlike Akemi.
April 10, 2012: Getting My Macaron Fix!  Full Preview Dark Matter #4!
We took turns using the piping bag. Akemi went first and everyone was very critical of her not quite perfect form. And then we all ended up eating our words when it came time for us to step up to the plate/pan.
April 10, 2012: Getting My Macaron Fix!  Full Preview Dark Matter #4!
I try my hand at pastry making. Think I'll stick to braising short ribs.
April 10, 2012: Getting My Macaron Fix!  Full Preview Dark Matter #4!
Akemi's words of encouragement: "It looks like a poopy."
April 10, 2012: Getting My Macaron Fix!  Full Preview Dark Matter #4!
Into the oven they go!
April 10, 2012: Getting My Macaron Fix!  Full Preview Dark Matter #4!
And out of the oven they come!
April 10, 2012: Getting My Macaron Fix!  Full Preview Dark Matter #4!
We use the (damn) piping bag again to top the inside of one shell with ganache/buttercream filling, then cap it with a twisting motion.
April 10, 2012: Getting My Macaron Fix!  Full Preview Dark Matter #4!
Et voila. Magnifique!
April 10, 2012: Getting My Macaron Fix!  Full Preview Dark Matter #4!
We topped the shells with crushed pistcahios, cocoa powder, and edible silver sparkles applied with a silver toothbrush ("It's what Britney Spears brushes her teeth with,"I told them).
April 10, 2012: Getting My Macaron Fix!  Full Preview Dark Matter #4!
Our fearless leader: Connie.

A great time was had by all.  We packed up our macarons and headed out, looking forward to sampling the fruits of our labor.  But only after the macarons had rested for 24-48 hours.

Or on the car ride home.

If you’re interested in taking the course, go here: http://www.jadorelesmacarons.com/index.html

And if you’re looking to sit down to some tea and Vancouver’s best macarons, might I suggest:

Welcome | Bel Cafe Bel Cafe

Soirette Macarons and Tea

Thomas Haas Fine Chocolates and Patisserie, fine handmade …

With the fourth issue of SF comic book series, Dark Matter, poised to hit the shelves tomorrow, I give you the full preview of the opening arc’s final installment.  Say the gang at http://www.mtv.com/geek/: “DARK MATTER #4 wraps up an intriguing new scifi universe series with a rather big twist, that demands we get a Dark Matter #5 ASAP.”

April 10, 2012: Getting My Macaron Fix!  Full Preview Dark Matter #4!April 10, 2012: Getting My Macaron Fix!  Full Preview Dark Matter #4!April 10, 2012: Getting My Macaron Fix!  Full Preview Dark Matter #4!April 10, 2012: Getting My Macaron Fix!  Full Preview Dark Matter #4!April 10, 2012: Getting My Macaron Fix!  Full Preview Dark Matter #4!April 10, 2012: Getting My Macaron Fix!  Full Preview Dark Matter #4!

35 thoughts on “April 10, 2012: Getting my macaron fix! Full Preview Dark Matter #4!

  1. thanks for clearing up that whole macaron/macaroon thing. My grandma used to make the macaroon variety. They were chewylicious. I’m not sure how you could make macarons and then wait 24-48 hours to eat them. Yeah, not gonna happen in my house.

  2. I’m not sure if I’ve ever had a macaroon either. I had to look that word up in a dictionary when I came across it in a Star Trek: TNG novel. #lifeexperiencefail

  3. New puppy Riley kicked my butt today, so I’m off to bed! Macarons look great, and you in an apron is priceless. 🙂

  4. Joe, boys don’t wear aprons. They wear those white chef jackets. You need to get you one of those to have on hand, especially when Robert Cooper comes over to try and out-cook you on something. Maybe he wants an ice cream rematch since you kicked his rear end in the last contest.

    We are here to help when it comes to your many food addictions. Think of us as your support group whenever you need to talk or post food pictures, to relieve stress, so you don’t explode and suddenly eat too much dark chocolate.

    And I agree… “get a Dark Matter #5 ASAP”!

  5. The macarons look delightful. And very colorful.

    Loved the preview of Dark Matter. I can’t wait for #4 to arrive.

    And I had a thought: Joe Odagiri.

    That’s all. It’s been a tough day. But I’m looking forward to tapas tomorrow. 😉

  6. This whole time on your blog I’ve been reading it ‘macaroon’. I learned something. And they do look tasty. I’ll have to track one down sometime.

  7. Heya Jeff and Sparrow_hawk…you guys bringing cameras?
    Gotta show Da Boss tapas pix.

    @Joe – love your apron…have to protect the dark threads!
    That is the most important thing!

  8. @Joe on aprons (again):

    I couldn’t resist one more; this one was my favorite:



    Barb and I are looking forward to Tapas too!

    BTW, one point of confusion you’ll run into tomorrow; my daughter is named Barbara and she married a “Jeff”. So it’s “Jeff and Barb” (the elders) and “Jeff and Barb” (the youngers?). We have our own shorthand for the Barbaras, but we haven’t worked out any shorthand for the Jeffs yet…maybe if we get grandchildren someday, I’ll just be Grandpa! 😀

    Goodnight everyone.

  9. Actually, I did know the difference between a m’ron and a m’roon. However, I’ve not had a macaron, they are a mythical creation here in Utah. I bet I could make them, I’ve done tiny meringues which look like mushrooms for my Buche de Noel. I do love me a piping bag! I thought about mail order macarons, but that seems like cheating.
    I’ll be headed to Vermont next week, no particular reason. We are planning a daytrip to Montreal, just because neither hubby nor I have ever been over the border into Canada. I bet I can find me some of them thar fancy-pants macarons then!
    Aprons, another detail I miss about Japan. Once I was out of the Navy and a housewife, I actually went to the market in my apron, just like the Japanese housewives. I didn’t even think about it, was planning dinner, needed something or other, and bopped down the road in my apron. Luckily I had pants on at the time!

  10. Long day, clicked to read. Just want to say, you make me smile often. You bring happiness. I hope you keep going beyond your speculated ending. Simple words, a happy apron, gorgeous food… you do such a great service.

  11. Dear, Joe, may you tell us when will be released new DarkMatter comics, I mean, chapter #2?! Thx
    p.s. b.t.w., is @JosephMallozzi your real (official) twitter or it’s fake?! If it’s fake, do you think abt creating of your real twitter?! Same question 2 Paul. Thx again.


    Joe, this entry made me laugh, out loud, for reals.

    Firstly, the apron. 😆 I feel for you, because I am not a fan of the frilly. I finally found a plain canvas apron at Walmart that reads “Live Well, Love Much, Wine Often”, with a couple glasses of wine and a bunch of grapes to accent the words. Simple. Not frilly. Hubby could even wear it, though I’d probably pencil an ‘H’ into the ‘Wine’ if he did. 😉

    Secondly, the blue poopy. 😆 I really don’t need to say anything more. 😆

    Now, onto other things. I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of Dark Matter #4! NOT looking at the spoilers, I want to be surprised. Or, maybe not. 😛 We’ll see. And hell, yeah! Bring on #5! I would certainly be on board for that, AND a tv show!

    Now, about those shirtless albinos. Hair, Joe, you forgot the hair. Shirtless, LONG-LOCKED pallid types. Sheesh, you should know that by now. 🙄 In fact, long hair (of any color) wins out over pale and shirtless* (*see Two Katana-san), though the inclusion of those two factors are certainly a plus. Fortunately, Mr. Das is both pale-skinned and shirtless (right now), and he’s willing to wear a long white wig. Woo! 😀



    Wait. Was that TMI?? 😛


  13. Thanks for clearing up the macaroon/macaron issue Joe. As a kid my mom used to make macaroons, but when you started posting macaron pictures I could never figure out why my mom’s were all wrong. Of course I wasn’t curious enough to look it up myself.
    So then in SG-1 did Mitchell give Sam a batch of homemade macaroons, or macarons? Did you write that scene?

  14. Joe Mallozzi, the Pastry Chef! 🙂 Joe…you look cute in your apron. 😉 I have never tried a macaron before but I sure would like to try one. They always look sooo yummy! Are they like a cookie?

  15. Thanks for the great post today! One of my Nashville friends was having trouble differentiating between Macarons and Macaroons. Since my communication skills are limited, this helped clear her confusion. That lesson would be a dream! I’ve heard that Macarons could be difficult to make.

    Nice dig at Das too! 😉

    Akemi’s critic of your bag skills? Priceless! However, I’ve never seen a blue poopy. Just saying.

    JeffW: I like the second apron better.

    Deni: Bring on the Riley pictures! BUT…I might have reciprocate 😉 .

  16. Joe, my copy of Dark Matter #4 is awaiting me at my comic store today, and I’m very much looking forward to reading the conclusion of the story. I’ve also noted that it would be eligible for the Hugo for Best Graphic Story….

  17. @ Das – oh my….TMI and TYFS! LOL – you are priceless!

    @Das – otherwise….the denim apron sounds perfect for any race, creed, or gender. Gotta go look and see if they have them still. Surprised, they did not make one with the “H” already.

    Joe – you need a nice black apron to go with your wardrobe. Although it will show anything light colored like flour…BUT, you will look like you are working your fingers to the bone to create culinary masterpieces.

    You and Akemi can make us blue poopy macarons anytime. Just let us know when and where. A little variety in appearance could be a good thing and help to market and differentiate between the “roon” vs “ron.”

  18. I have been to Soriette Macarons while in B.C. love the Macs…Nadine Ramsden who writes articles on the tv show Fringe works there.

  19. I second Debra’s post. Always a smile to be had here on JosephMallozzi’s Weblog.

    Your Riley pup is adorable Deni.

    Any news on the pug brothers’s adoption Joe?


  20. I second Debra’s post. Always a smile to be had here on JosephMallozzi’s Weblog. Please keep it going…?

    @JeffW – love BOTH aprons and may order them too!

    Your Riley pup is adorable Deni.

    Any news on the pug brothers’s adoption Joe?


  21. I’ve figured out your super-villain name. Tortuous Retina Ron. You have to say it with flair for the r’s to flow right.

  22. I third Debra’s post. Love watching the Akemi & Joe show any day. 🙂 Am already addicted to ice cream, and now, thanks to Joe, macarons, too. Even the inexpensive ones. This is one of my favorite blogs ever, even without doggies.

    Speaking of which, Deni your new baby, Riley, is adorable. Have heard that Boxers are lovers, energetic, and great with kids. Her coat is a beautiful color.

    Have been away for a while with another bad cold, sore(!) throat, fatigue. Good thing for the electronic anti-germ barrier. 🙂

    Keep writing, Joe. Please don’t stop.

  23. Awesome entry, Joe. I must admit I never noticed the difference in spelling, even though I’m usually pretty observant of that! And no wonder I was always confused when you showed your pics of macarons — my subconscious was wondering where the chewy coconut bits had gone! By the way, my Firefox spellchecker is flagging macarons. Ha.

  24. FYI: French Made Baking, on Kingsway, also runs a Macaron-Making Class.

    I busted up laughing at Akemi’s assessment of your piping “deposits”. That woman is a comic genius.

    The apron pic is super cute! But why did you feel the need to wear a collared, button-down shirt to a baking class? Kinda formal, no?

    Have you done a carrot ice cream? That’s the most recent one I’ve done. (We ran out of freezer space, so we have to wait a bit until our next batch. How the hell did you have enough freezer space for THIRTEEN tubs?!?!? Do you have a stand-alone freezer?) The carrot was yummy, but not quite what I was hoping for. (I had extremely high hopes.) I think it needed more spices. The recipe didn’t call for any at all, but I added a bit of nutmeg and cinnamon nevertheless. I could have added more, though. And I think some ginger wouldn’t go astray in there.

    Other flavors we’ve done: Bailey’s (my favorite); chocolate-Grand Marnier with orange zest; Kahlua and coffee; Maple whiskey; Cookies-and-Cream with vodka; Earl Grey tea (tied for favorite with Bailey’s); and the 2 boringest flavors: raspberry sorbet and fudge brownie. I think I might be missing one or two in there. If I had more freezer space, and if the ice cream maker didn’t live at my fiancé’s place, I’d be unstoppable. One of those obstacles will be eliminated in June, when I move in with him. And all the freezer jam that his mom gave us over Easter weekend may have to make its way into (on onto) some ice creams, in order to free up all-important ice cream storage space. Any suggestions on creative ice cream uses for raspberry-peach or strawberry-rhubarb freezer jam?

  25. What a great post! I am glad someone has finally decided to explain the difference between a macaron and a macaroon! Not the same cookie!!!! Btw, if you want to master the art and science of macaron making then please check out http://www.themacaronmaster.com/ – it shows how to create bakery-quality macarons and sell them! 🙂

  26. I stumbled upon this blog because I am a huge nerd, and for the record I do know what the difference between a macaroon and macaron is and how they’re pronounced. If you rewatch the Top Chef episode where I make them in the scene where Mark McEwan walks around casting his doubts around I actually do call them ‘macarons’ (albeit in an anglicized manner rather than in a French accent). It’s when Mark calls them ‘macaroons’ that I shrugged my shoulders and gave up (obviously the confessionals from earlier on in the episode were all done after that scene).

    Also for the record I hate macaroons and given the choice I wouldn’t make them, unless someone pointed a staff weapon at me.

    And you know what? I actually liked SGU.

    Happy baking.

  27. Hey Curtis,

    Welcome to the blog. I stand corrected then. I figured if anyone would know how to pronounce a macaron, it would be the guy who made one so good it actually blew away all of the other savory rival dishes at Judge’s Table. You’ve got to educate those head judges!

    Your desserts look terrific by the way. And, even though I suspect the winner has already been decided by this point – good luck! I’m sure I speak for all of Stargate fandom when I say we’re rooting for the “huge nerd”!

  28. Trying to catch up on the backlog of blog posts I’ve missed is probably a lost cause.. Just for the record though, @luis811, I work at Thierry, not Soirette. Tried Soirette out a couple weeks ago though, and quite like it!

  29. thanks Joe for the awesome post…you and Akemi were a “hoot” to have in our class. Hope that you’ll both try baking macarons in the comfort of your own home.

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