In the 17th century, it wasn’t just vines that grew on the slopes around the village of Saint-Emilion in Bordeaux. Almond trees grew in abundance, their blossom in spring turning the area pale pink. The nuts were harvested by the Ursuline Sisters of Saint-Emilion to supplement their meat-free diet. Some of the nuts were made into a paste and the nuns mixed it with sugar and egg whites to create sweet treats – Saint-Emilion macarons. The recipe was a closely guarded secret. It still is.
To this day only one company has the registered trade mark for Saint-Emilion macarons. These aren’t like the usual macarons you see that are all the colours of the rainbow and in every kind of fruity flavour, sandwiched together with a sweet filling. They’re very distinctive with a cracked surface which allows the moisture to escape and makes the macarons super crispy while still chewy inside.
Though no one makes them quite like they do in Saint-Emilion, here’s how to make them in style of – they taste delicious!
Ingredients for 28 Saint-Emilion Macarons
150g (1.5 cups) almond powder
175g (1 cup) caster sugar
3 large Eggs
Icing sugar to dust
Heat the oven to Gas Mark 4 (180 ° C/350F).
Beat the egg whites until stiff.
Add the icing sugar and mix until you have a firm texture.
Add the almond powder (and a few drops vanilla essence if you have a sweet tooth!) and mix with a spatula. Leave for 30 minutes to rest.
Put the mix into a pastry bag and pipe small rounds of dough on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Push down the tips with spoon dipped in cold water. Sprinkle with icing sugar.
Bake the macaroons for about 15 minutes or until they are a light gold colour.
They should be a little cracked across the top. But if they’re not, once you’ve taken them out of the oven, lightly tap them with the back of a teaspoon and this will help them to crack…
Let the macarons cool for an hour at room temperature.
They can be stored in an air tight container.
History of Macarons
How to make Pierre Hermes’ very posh chocolate macarons
How to make sticky toffee pudding macarons
What to see and do in Saint-Emilion