One might think that creating one of the fillings for our macarons is as easy as adding chocolate + peanut butter or caramel + pecan.
To be clear, sometimes the general ideas for each pairing are rather simple. Mint and chocolate are a classic. Chocolate and cherries are rich and delicious. Mocha and hazelnut are like long lost sisters.
Creating each individual filling—one that perfectly complements the flavor and texture of each macaron shell—is quite another story, however.
Like everything we make, our standards are high, our process painstaking.
We want certain flavors to weave in and through each macaron. The pistachio macaron, for instance, has both almond and pistachio meals in the shells, pistachio paste in the filling. The flavor isn’t overwhelming, yet there is a common theme throughout each and every bite.
We also want each filling to balance out the crunch and chewiness of the outer and inner shells of our mararons. Sometimes, this balance requires ganache. Other times, it requires housemade fruit preserves. Even other times, it requires buttercreams or curds.
It always requires something amazing.
And searching for this perfect filling takes time. It takes a bit of that painstaking process that’s always whirring in our kitchen.
Take, for example, our recent search for a more perfect filling for our pumpkin walnut macaron.
Emily, our kitchen manager, concocted a pumpkin mousseline, a decadent mix somewhere between a pastry cream and a buttercream.
It sounded perfect. And it certainly was delicious. But the mousseline wasn’t quite right.
Delicious wasn’t good enough: it needed to be exceptional. It needed to offer up a flawless, texture- and taste-perfect complement to the two shells between which it would be spread.
The challenge, as Emily described it, was the liquid from the pumpkin puree. Too much liquid threatened to overpower the macaron shells. Too little pumpkin, however, threatened the very flavor of the mousseline filling.
So Emily moved on. She prepared a pumpkin pastry cream. She added one meticulously measured dollop of pumpkin at a time, waiting to find just the right pop of flavor. She added pumpkin pie spice, hoping to discover just the taste she was imagining.
Throughout the process, her fellow pastry chefs checked in to ask, “How is your pumpkin mousseline? How is the new batch of pastry cream coming along?” It sounded like friends inquiring about the status of each other’s families.
In many ways, this process is a lot like creating a family of desserts that we end up sharing with our customers.
And at this particular time, it was a process that ended in a truly exceptional and perfect filling for our pumpkin walnut macarons.