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:

And THIS is a macaron:

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.

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.

Beefcake!

 Some of the highlights of our instructive afternoon:

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.
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.
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.
I try my hand at pastry making. Think I'll stick to braising short ribs.
Akemi's words of encouragement: "It looks like a poopy."
Into the oven they go!
And out of the oven they come!
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.
Et voila. Magnifique!
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).
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.”

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sparced
sparced

What exactly does a macaron taste like?

some day i’ll have to try one…

noellam
noellam

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.

DP
DP

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

Deni

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

JeffW
JeffW

@Joe on the “manly” apron:

Maybe you should get yourself one of these:

http://www.cafepress.com/+apophis_bbq_apron,339865704

Nothing says “manly” like galactic domination. wink

Ponytail
Ponytail

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”!

Sparrow_hawk

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. wink

Shawna Buchanan
Shawna Buchanan

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.

sylvia
sylvia

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!

JeffW
JeffW

@Joe on aprons (again):

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

http://www.zazzle.ca/symbiote_pouch_apron-154092296102737235

@Sparrow_Hawk:

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! grin

Goodnight everyone.

Maggiemayday
Maggiemayday

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!

Debra

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.

Narelle from Aus
Narelle from Aus

You’re ‘ddicted man.

jys
jys

check out the macarons at Cin Cin

Vladimir woodelf Ivanov

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.

dasndanger
dasndanger

LOLOLOLOL!!

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

Firstly, the apron. lol 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. wink

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

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. razz 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. roll 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! grin

..

.

Wait. Was that TMI?? razz

das

David Kirby

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?

Sue Jackson
Sue Jackson

Joe Mallozzi, the Pastry Chef! smile Joe…you look cute in your apron. wink 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?

Deni

Don’t mean to be a pain, but geez guys, take a look (!):

comment image

Tammy Dixon
Tammy Dixon

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! wink

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 wink .

Michael A. Burstein

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….

sylvia
sylvia

@ 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.”

luis811
luis811

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.

2cats

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?

2cats

2cats

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?

2cats