France is rich in regional macaron recipes, and every single one of them is just as delicious as the others. But today, we will not talk about “the” macaron aka the Parisian macaron, that of Messrs Hermé and Ladurée.
Do you know that there are about 30 kinds of macarons throughout France? Specialties of several cities and French regions whose recipes and appearance vary. Here are some of the most famous: the macarons of Saint-Émilion, Montmorillon, Massiac, Nancy, Réau, Boulay, Chartres, Sederon, Cormery, Joyeuse, Le Dorat , Sainte Croix, Lannion, Sault, Paris, and our macaron today, the macaron of Amiens.
The Amiens macaroon is a Picardy specialty which, like any macaron, is made from ground almonds and traditionally Valencia almonds. There are few other ingredients for this kid-friendly recipe: eggs, honey, sugar, almond extract, and fruit in the form of jelly or compote, traditionally apple or apricot. It is a macaroon without any coloring, its appearance is grainy and its texture is crispy outside and soft inside.
The Amiens macaron was created in the sixteenth century. Like many famous French specialties, it seems that it was introduced by Catherine de Medici, when she left Tuscany to marry Henry II of France. The macaron of Amiens is actually very close to the famous Italian amaretti.
In passing, thank you to Madame de Médicis who contributed greatly to the enrichment of the French pastry art! Note however that this great passionate of the arts is behind many French pastries that are known worldwide today, such as millefeuille, eclair, gingerbread, frangipane, or ice cream. Not to mention that it is her cooks who have enriched French gastronomy through the introduction of many culinary techniques, recipes and ingredients. People say that she also brought back the taste for vegetables and sauces from Florence.
So back to this macaron, a source of pride in Picardy cuisine and the city of Amiens, which in 1992 won the grand prize for the best regional specialty at the International Intersuc Confiserie Fair in Paris.
It all started in 1872, with a simple confectionery and chocolate factory near the cathedral of Amiens whose founder is Jean-Baptiste Trogneux. Still in 1872, after a thorough study, his son Jean found the perfect combination of almonds, sugar, honey, and egg white and the right amount of essential oils of sweet and bitter almonds and fruits, thus creating the most spectacular macarons of the time, the macarons of Amiens.
Brigitte Trogneux, from this family of chocolatiers was the one who renamed the company in memory of her father, Jean Trogneux. When I tell you Brigitte Trogneux, you may now know what I am talking about? What if I told you Brigitte Macron? Yes, Brigitte is none other than the one who won the heart of our President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron!
Needless to say that this was the subject of a lot of attention and puns in the press: “we already had the macaron of Amiens, now we also have the Macron of Amiens!” Well, I can’t believe I gave in to the obvious pun too !
Five generations of Trogneux have succeeded at the head of the house Jean Trogneux. Today, there are 10 stores in France including 7 in Amiens. The Trogneux house now sells nearly 3 million macarons a year.
Now, let me tell you about this varietu of almond that I strongly recommend you use to make these macarons: the Valencia almonds.
This Spanish almond, recognized for its high caliber and incredible taste, is by far the most popular almond of pastry chefs and chocolatiers around the world because a special care is taken to offer whole almonds of homogeneous caliber .
Valencia almond is a healthy fruit, with a total absence of this rancid and fermented taste, or other foreign flavors or odors, characteristic of certain varieties of almonds. It is crisp and fragrant, with a subtle note of bitterness, and most of all, it has very little fat.
If you can not find ground Valencia almonds in the store, you should be able to find them whole. I therefore urge you to grind them yourself.
At the first bite of this macaroon which, visually, looks more like a shortbread cookie than a crispy and soft macaron, we were very pleasantly surprised by the rich taste of the almond. A sin by itself!
- 2-½ cup almond meal (preferably from Valencia)
- 2 egg whites
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon jelly or compote of apricot or apple , with no chunks
- ½ teaspoon bitter almond extract
- ½ teaspoon sweet almond essential oil
- ½ teaspoon vanilla essence
- 1 egg yolk (to brush)
- In a large bowl, mix almond powder, sugar, honey, jelly, vanilla, bitter almond extract, sweet almond oil and egg whites. The consistency of the resulting mixture should resemble that of almond paste, slightly wetter.
- Reserve this mixture in a closed container in the refrigerator for 12 hours.
- With the dough, shape a long roll of about 2 inches in diameter. Pack this roll and wrap it with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Preheated oven at 350 F.
- Cut the dough into 1-inch thick slices.
- Place the macarons on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Let them sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.
- Beat the egg yolk and brush all the macarons.
- Bake the macarons in the oven for 20 minutes, or until they turn golden brown.
- After cooling down completely, keep in a metal box so that they keep their softness.