Why the macaron is a pastel menace _ life and style _ the guardian dark chocolate brownie recipe

In the crazy days before Christmas, I have sometimes, in extremis, swung into Ladurée on Piccadilly, and handed over stupid cash in exchange for small, pistachio-green parcels of multi-coloured macarons. No chocolate brownie recipe The shop, conveniently situated (for me) right by the number 38 bus stop at one end of the Burlington Arcade, resembles a tiny, golden cave, and something about it – the feeling, perhaps, that you have stepped into the realm of fairies and hobbits, which in a way, of course, you have – encourages the harried shopper to drop her guard. Regular brownie recipe Yes, you know that Ladurée is all over the place now, a chain like any other (it belongs to the same group of businesses as the bakery Paul). Chocolate fudge brownie recipe with cocoa powder Yes, you know, too, that macarons can be picked up at Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer’s these days.

Homemade brownie recipe without cocoa powder But still – quelle disastre – the finger goes out, pointing at those seductive shades you believe will look prettiest lined up in the box.

When did we fall for macarons? And why? In my childhood, I knew only of macaroons: little domes of almond or coconut, bound with egg white and perched on a disc of rice paper, that were so easy to make, your mum was inclined to depart the kitchen, possibly in search of a gin, as you set to work with the mixing bowl. Worlds best brownie recipe They were, even then, an old-fashioned treat, and a bit comical for that; not for nothing did Victoria Wood and Julie Walters send them up in Acorn Antiques. Brownie recipe ingredients But at school fetes and Brownie bring-and-buys, they were always the second thing to go (the first were the endless trays of chocolate cornflake crispies).

In 2005, however, French-style almond macarons – dinky meringue-like discs stuck together with flavoured cream – mounted an invasion, courtesy of Ladurée (maison fondée en 1862), which longed to expand beyond Paris, and eventually did (do visit its branches in, among other places, Miami and Baku, Azerbaijan). Brownie recipe easy cocoa powder The fashion and PR industries cheered on this charge, colour-coded macarons rapidly replacing flowers as their thank-you gift of choice; copycats sprang up all over the place; the rest of us predictably followed suit. Brownie recipe blog I knew the battle was lost – or won, depending on your point of view – when I saw, piled between the gingerbread and the fat rascals, macarons at Bettys tea room in Harrogate (though with Yorkshire stubbornness, they will call them macaroons).

Anyway, the point is this: while macarons are pretty nice when flavoured with chocolate, raspberries, rose petals and vanilla, and not too bad at all with a hint of coffee, hazelnut or passion fruit, no one in their right mind wants to eat them in apricot, bergamot, liquorice, mint or any of the other variations in which they are now widely available. Chocolate brownie recipe without cocoa powder They seem, in their present incarnation, to be more a flouncy form of interior design than something good to eat: a table decoration by any other name, or at any rate a kind of visual boast. Chocolate brownie recipe by tarla dalal At friends’ houses, I’ve noticed a certain reluctance should macarons be produced at the end of supper. Chocolate brownie recipe donna hay Partly, it’s a case of not wanting to ruin the look of the box. Easy brownie recipe without butter Partly, it’s because people just feel a bit ridiculous and Marie Antoinette-ish baring their teeth delicately to bite into one (and yet, to shove one into one’s mouth whole feels so very wrong). Easy brownie recipe no eggs Plus, the macaron you’ve plucked politely from the mix might, of course, turn out to be flavoured with green tea or kale, or something equally grim.

This isn’t a Brexity-call for the return of British macaroons of the kind championed by Mrs Beeton, though if you’re in the market for a recipe, there’s a good one in The Violet Cookbook by Claire Ptak. Super easy brownie recipe But I do think, this Christmas, we might finally shrug off the mimsy, pastel menace that is the 21st-century macaron. Best brownie recipe martha stewart After all, European je ne sais quoi in the matter of almond-based treats is, thanks to the internet, easily available to us in other forms, whether you’re after Sicilian marzipan fruits, or ricciarelli, the deliciously moreish soft biscuit from Siena. Best brownie recipe ever from scratch I favour calissons d’Aix, moist marzipan sweets that come with a layer of royal icing and whose almond flavour is cut with a hint of melon or orange; or, if you want something that looks a touch more extraordinary, there are always coussins de Lyon. Fudge brownie cake recipe Inside these pillows of kelly green, slightly crunchy marzipan is a dark chocolate ganache flavoured with curaçao. Fudge brownie recipe uk They are, I think, very Sonia Rykiel (RIP). Fudgy brownie recipe uk Buy them now, before the fashion crowd copies you.