Macaron French Nougatine
Some French desserts –like this Macaron French Nougatine —have grown on me. This slow acclimation was long and drawn out process. I do not hate French desserts, I just actively disdain them, that’s all.
The culinary world’s love affair with all-that-is-French comes from some logical grounding. France’s upper crust took advantage of the printing press. Cultural capital defining culinary techniques—sauces, clarifying, reducing—were preserved in recipes and cookbooks. The written word of an elitist few became an assumable truth. The foodie’s love of French cuisine is all too boring: go to France, fall in love with the food, and the terroir. Julia Child is deemed the savior against American casseroles and sheet cakes. Now everything is compared on some sort of French scale of perfection. The 1990s was enamored with pain au chocolait, now the 21st century is head-over-heels with macarons.
Leave it the French to take things like butter, flour, and sugar and make the combination of the three irrationally difficult. Originally a simple and rough Italian amaretti cookie, its immigration to France came with contingencies. The French adoption of the amaretti became a tight rope balancing act. Almonds are ground just so, or else a smooth outer surface will never form. Older eggs produce better egg whites and need to be aged by a few days. Macarons require drying before baking, developing a scabby skin, too long of a rest will make cracked tops. Too much liquid yields a rubbery almond-y whoopie pie; too little and you have dust the consistency of cremated ashes. The list is ceaseless.
French cafe owner Pierre Laduree complicated the stakes, filling the meringues with ganache. Think French Oreo, only bothersome. The filling has to be soft, but not squishy. There can’t be too much filling nor too little. The inner layer has to balance, not overwhelm, the airy cookies.
Macarons are the culinary equivalent of the Cold War domino theory: once one process/country fails, the rest fail and fall in suite.
It baffles me when people shell out money for these French cookies that are seldom good and always partially stale. They are Proust-like, these macaron buying people. They think a bite will transport them to the French Riviera or some Parisian street, narrow and lined with outdoor cafes.
Yet here I am making a French dessert.
Oh the irony.
Given I did not make these macarons. Being given a box I was only able to consume two of them and then they were instantly stale. What was I to do with $30 worth of macarons?
Folding them into something else French was my solution. French Nougatine. Now Macaron French Nougatine. Do I get double-fancy-brownie-points for this?
This recipe had been floating around my printed out recipe folders for months. Against the brownie, bundt, and cake recipes the French Nougatine was the lone wolf of its type. A delicacy of whipped egg whites, sugar, and whipped cream all frozen into an ice cream like consistency. There is nothing wrong with an ice cream-esque dessert. Hence my acceptance of a French-like dessert. The recipe was featured by Ina Garten and I think the fill in flavors can be versatility swapped out. A completely different flavor profile/theme emerges with the use of candies, seasonal fruits, or nuts.
I’m oh-so-slowly liking French desserts, give me time.
- 10 to 12 macarons, stale and roughly chopped
- 4 egg whites
- Pinch of fine salt
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1½ cups heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract
- Line a 4-1/2 by 8-1/2 inch loaf pan with plastic wrap, set aside.
- In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the egg whites with the pinch of salt until stuff peaks form. Transfer the egg whites into a large mixing bowl and set aside.
- Clean the stand mixer's bowl and beat the heavy cream with the sugar, vanilla, and almond extracts until sustainable peaks form.
- Fold the egg whites and the whipped cream together gently.
- Gently fold in the chopped macarons.
- Place the mixture into the lined loaf pan and fold the plastic wrap over the top to cover.
- Freeze for a minimum of 8 hours, overnight is preferred.
- When the nougatine has set up and is ready to serve, remove it from the loaf pan. Peel off the plastic wrap, and slice.