Macarons from Poptasi in Amsterdam

It’s World Macaron Day!  At least it is in Dutch “world”, where it is being celebrated on Facebook and Twitter, as well as in parts Australia.  The rest of the world seems to celebrate it on March 20, the day initiated by the macaron master himself Pierre Herme, who launched the event in 2005. 

Macarons from Poptasi in Amsterdam
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Because I choose to have my macaron and eat it too, I’m celebrating with the people of my host country today, and because I am a global citizen, I’ll celebrate again on March 20.  Moving on.  

According to a recent article in the NY Times, the macaron – that famous French delight – is the “anti-cupcake”.   I’m not going to hate on a cupcake, because there is a time and a place for that little bundle of deliciousness.  However, since I am enamoured with all things Parisian and because I took a macaron workshop a few weeks ago, and hey, it is World Macaron Day, this blog post is going to be all about the macaron.

Patrick holds the cheat sheet we used to make perfectly round macarons.
The workshop was held in the kitchen of Poptasi that specializes in macarons. Owner Patrick van Drie started in advertising as an art director, before becoming a pop artist making street art, t-shirts and toys and now, a pastry chef.  The logo off Poptasi is a riff on the skull and crossbones. When I inquired into why such a morbid logo, I was told that Poptasi pastries are dangerously delicious.
The Poptasi logo. Dangerously delicious.
We were given a brief history of the macaron and learned that although this wonderful confection was made famous by, and is primarily associated with the French, the macaron may have been brought to France from Italy in 1533 by Catherine di Medici. In 1792 two Carmelite nuns sold macarons during the French Revolution to support themselves, bringing the cookies into the mainstream.  
Vintage Ladurée Box
A little bit of heaven.
It wasn’t until the 1900’s however, that the macaron as we know and love it, came into being when Pierre Desfontaines, owner of the Parisian pastry shop and tea salon Ladurée took two cookies, filled them with ganache. Voila! A star was born!
Staying in the lines and proving that everything I need to know I learned in kindergarten.
We were also warned not to confuse the cream-filled almond meringue cookies with macaroons made in America.  Those babies are made with shredded coconut and have 3 times the sugar of their French counterparts.  

Poptasi Macaron Making Workshop in Amsterdam
These days, the little pastel green box from the French pâtisserie Ladurée is to pastry what the robin blue box of Tiffany is to jewelry: an undeniable symbol of exclusivity and good taste. And while Ladurée is the founder of the modern macaron, Pierre Herme’s recipe is more popular, and the one used in the Poptasi workshop. The Herme’s recipe makes an Italian meringue, which is sturdier and holds up better to the fillings, the most popular of which are butter cream, chocolate and jam.
Taking it back to it’s Italian roots.
We worked with butter cream and added whatever extra flavoring we wanted to make our macarons extra special.  The choices ranged from chocolate to menthe to Amaretto.  After filling our perfectly round almond cookies, and placing them in a bag, the final step was to let them sit overnight in the refrigerator to allow for the inside of the macaron shells to soften. 
How many of those 20 macarons do you think made it through the night?