Competition: The best amateur macaron of Nice
Seven of the best pastry chefs in France have organised in seven cities a competition to find the best amateur macaron of France, the “Concours du meilleur macaron”.
Was there any chance that I did not participate? Of course not and so I registered as soon as possible for the local contest in Nice, organised by my favourite pastry chef in the region, Pascal Lac.
The challenge: creating 10 sweet macarons of the same size at home and bringing them to any of the Lac Pâtisseries in Nice on Saturday December 1st before noon.
Every respectable amateur pastry chef should know that macarons are damn hard to make!
And I struggled for 3 weeks trying to make them, attempting almost every day (and failing constantly).
Apparently the problem was with the cooking time: only the day before the contest was I able to make decent macarons by leaving them in the oven longer than suggested by any recipe I had seen (19 minutes instead of 12 on average, it is a huge difference!).
I made about a hundred macaron shells to minimize the risk of failure: it proved to be a wise choice since more than half of them didn’t come out of the oven well (i.e. they cracked, damn them!) and I could not use them for the competition.
Then, finally, I made the filling and it was amazing (modestly): on one side, a chocolate ganache with 70% chocolate, cream and butter; on the other side, a caramel banana “compote” with rhum, orange, cinnamon, star anise, and dried raisins (recipe to come in another post). You can imagine I was full of expectations and eager to know the results of the competition.
The best part of the competition was the event held on Saturday in the afternoon in the majestic hotel Le Negresco, probably Nice’s best hotel and certainly the most famous (its dome is one of the symbols of the city).
If you think it’s fancy from the outside, look at the inside…
Nice, uh? So, the jury voted in the early afternoon (my yellow macarons are the first one the bottom on the left… and I’ve discovered from other pics on Facebook that they were a bit too soggy perhaps!) 🙁And then the room at Le Negresco in Nice got packed with people. Of course not everybody was there for our competition: Pascal Lac was presenting his amazing Christmas collection of chocolates, bûches and cakes… Bûches… like this, for example (wow):
At 6pm, finally, it was time for the long-awaited award ceremony (the Champagne made the wait easier to bear).
Pascal Lac himself presented the star-filled jury (among them Sébastien Bouillet, Christophe Calderon, and Denis Matyasy), and thanked and presented all the participants one by one, keeping the best three for last, of course.
As he called my name, I understood I was not one of the winners unfortunately 🙁
(Photos from Lac’s Facebook page)
The good thing is that at least the consolation prize included some chocolates from Lac, and they are delicious!
And now, the winners…
#1 – Macaron with candied orange zests
#2 – Macaron with mint, poached pear and chocolate
#3 – Macaron with mango, cardamom, chocolate, and Tonka beans (French amateurs are very advanced and like using ingredients that you might never have heard of) 🙂
Congratulations to the winners… too bad I was not among them, but this competition surely helped me improve my macaron technique, learn a lot, and it was a great experience! Bring on the next one! 😛