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Macarons basques, the most famous coming from Maison Adam in St Jean de Luz, are not difficult to make. Called mouchous or muxu in the local basque dialect, they are similar to parisian macarons but more chewy and served individually, and plain.
Where do they make the best macarons? Some will undoubtedly say in Paris, Rue Bonaparte or another location of Pierre Hermé’s famous patisseries. And quite rightly, for they are little bits of bliss coming in such impressive flavours as passion fruit, rhubarb and strawberry (divine), rose and rose petal (delightful) or white truffle and hazelnut (not sure, palate possibly not sophisticated enough). I do seriously admire those people queuing for a good long time to get their dainty bag of immaculately packaged biscuits and actually taking them home, instead of ripping the dainty and all apart and eating them in the street a hundred metres from the shop.
I did attempt to make them, with reasonable success. Faffing about with food colourings was a bit messy as I’m not used to using that stuff. So the batter managed to deflate a bit by the time I finished with the pink and was ready to do yellow. I stuffed them with buttercream and was quite pleased with myself, especially considering the effort involved.
But my original question might have a different answer. In Pays Basque the folk are much more down to earth and probably don’t care so much for pretty little pink and purple things. Their version of macarons is a bit different and in all honesty I can’t say it’s inferior.
I once spent a delectable afternoon in Saint Jean de Luz, near Biarritz, walking from one patisserie to another (and there are quite a few) with a sole purpose of sampling and comparing the macarons they made and sold there. Maison Adam won hands down. AND they have a chocolate fountain in the shop.
Those biscuits are different than the Parisian, they are both more crunchy and more chewy, no cream filling there but presented individually and looking quite rustic compared to their descendants of central France – as they go back three centuries, so can truly be called ‘the original macarons’. They are called mouchous locally, from basque muxu meaning a kiss - how appropriate! How lovely, non?
This recipe comes from Gateau.com. They taste authentic enough, but look even more rustic, because I didn't bother with the glaze made of (more!) beaten egg whites, sugar and coffee essence for a darker colour.
macarons basquesServings: about 4 dozenTime: 40 minutes
- 500g icing sugar
- 300g ground almonds
- 6 egg whites (this needs to be 200g in weight)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp. potato flour or corn starch
- You can scale down the ingredients by half – the above will make an awful lot of macarons!
1. Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/gas 7.
2. Mix three of the egg whites, ground almonds, icing sugar, starch and the vanilla extract into a thick paste. Beat the remaining three egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Add to the almond paste gently folding, little by little.
3. Spoon onto a baking sheet lined with parchment or greased and floured. I used two spoons – they will be probably better formed if piped onto the tray. Bake for about 10-13 minutes, until coloured on top.
4. Cool completely on the tray – otherwise you’ll have trouble peeling them off the paper!