Macaron Tutorial With Chef Alon Balshan

Walking through the entryway of Alon's Bakery and Market in Dunwoody, the aroma of freshly baked bread and cookies fills the air. It is as though you have entered a French marketplace. There is a bar and seating area to one side and various counters selling a wide selection of artisanal goods: cheeses, baked goods, sandwiches; even wine.

The evening started as members of the Atlanta Food Bloggers’ Society gathered for a glass of wine and a few appetizers: pear and radicchio bruschetta topped with gorgonzola, wild mushroom bruschetta and a three-cheese flatbread. A bowl of house-made pimento cheese added to the selection of freshly made treats made daily on site.

Chef Alon Balshan joined the group and led us into the kitchen. We followed in a row like baby ducks headed to the pond. In the large commercial kitchen, he began explaining the difference between a macaroon and a macaron (there is none) and describing what makes a great macaron (crispy outside and soft inside) and then the lesson began.

It soon became evident why few cooks (even expert bakers) attempt these cookies at home. There are many nuances to making the meringue shells and the ganache filling: the egg whites should be room temperature, simple syrup must be heated precisely, meringues must rest before being baked, the chocolate must be properly tempered and the cookies must “age” before being sold.

By the end of the night, we had made two dozen black currant macarons from scratch. We tasted the freshly made treats and compared them to those that had rested the prescribed length of time. The fresh macarons were a bit chewier and the filling oozed more readily. And, the “aged” macarons, well they were simply decadent - a study in contrasts: crunchy and chewy; hard and soft; and, sweet and tart perfectly balanced.

It should come as no surprise that Chef Alon and his crew make more than 3,000 macarons per week in a variety of flavors like pistachio, caramel, raspberry, passion fruit, lemon, and chocolate.

As we walked back through the market on our way out into the warm night air, the amazing smells wafted behind us, inviting us to come back another day to sample more of the hand crafted treats created by Chef Alon and his team. Believe us, we will be going back if only for those macarons!

While the menu items we sampled were complimentary, the opinions included herein are honest and unsolicited.