1617 Recipe for Macarons and Ambergris
Let them eat macarons!
At least a quick historical bite will do.
Perhaps the most chic of petite desserts, the macaron is an airy meringue and almond flour confection. It was invented in Italy in the Middle Ages and made iconic in Paris.
The first recorded recipe for the macaron dates to 1617, in John Murrell’s “Daily exercises for gentlewomen”. See the FULL BOOK HERE, (Library of Congress). The full, and totally cumbersome, title is: "A daily exercise for ladies and gentlewomen: whereby they may learne and practise the whole art of making pastes, preserues, marmalades, conserues, tartstuffes, gellies, breads, sucket-candies, cordiall waters, conceits in sugar-workes of seuerall kindes : as also to dry lemonds, orenges, or other fruits : newly set forth according to the now approued receipts vsed both by honourable and worshipfull personages"
The recipe calls on the preparer to wash a pound of whole almonds soak in warm water overnight, “beat them in a stone morter, until they be reasonably fine” [sic] and combine with a half pound of beaten sugar.
Next, it specifically calls for Damask Rose Water and “Ambergreece” (ambergris). And if you don’t know what ambergris is yet, it’s a delicacy with a WILD origin. The best explanation for Ambergris is this: "Ambergris is a rare, natural byproduct of the sperm whale's squid-based diet", from the UK Natural History Museum. It is an extremely valuable commodity. I'll have to do a full post on Ambergris, another time.
For now, check out the full 1617 macaron recipe HERE. Happy reading!
Enjoy these photos from Bottega Louie in Downtown LA.