Nina DiBona Pauk had everything she needed for her Parisian-inspired dinner with her husband, except the pièce de résistance: the French macaron.
“I was surprised I couldn’t find them anywhere in Boston, so I just started making them myself,” she said. “I discovered that they’re very difficult to make, so it kind of became a challenge.”
Now, DiBona Pauk is making her own hand-crafted, small-batch macarons at Creative Chef Kitchens, a commercial kitchen space in Derry. She began Moochie’s Macarons in the fall of 2012 and now makes orders for showers, birthday parties and weddings and operates wholesale accounts in Massachusetts and in New Hampshire.
“The few that are carrying them in New Hampshire are doing really well with them,” DiBona Pauk said. “Everything is handmade in small batches. The almond flour is all sifted by hand, they’re all piped by hand, filled by hand, packed by hand, shipped by hand. ... It’s all done by me right now. … Aside from having a KitchenAid mixer, there’s no machine that’s making them. They’re made with love for sure.”
Macarons might just be the next cupcake, or so it seems, based on the pastry’s appearance in films, shows like Gossip Girl and print ads for Clinique. Martha Stewart and Oprah Winfrey have both featured the Parisian treat in their magazines, and Starbucks sold boxes of macarons for the holidays. In Paris, macarons can be found in McDonalds’ McCafés.
“I think there’s this allure and this unknown,” DiBona Pauk said.
Macarons are made by sifting almond flour and powdered sugar together, then folding that mixture into a meringue. Prior to baking, DiBona Pauk pipes the mixture into circles on a baking sheet and waits for each to dry.
“I compare it to nail polish. If you touch your nail polish before it’s dry, it will sort of be tacky. You want to wait for it not to stick to your finger to touch them,” she said. “So, if it’s humid that day it will take forever for them to dry. And you won’t have a nice-looking macaron if you bake them before they’re ready. … They’re a crazy little pastry, but they’re worth all the work when they come out right.”
Moochie’s Macarons come in flavors like pistachio, toasted coconut, lemon poppy seed, Belgian chocolate ganache, fig preserves, espresso, lavender honey and peanut butter and honey buttercream. DiBona Pauk uses local honey from a beekeeper in Epping for a few flavors.
“The colors coordinate to the flavors. Something that is really fun about them is that they can be color customized,” DiBona Pauk said. “They are as pretty as they are delicious.”
Fillings like ganache, buttercream and preserves are piped into the cookie-like sandwiches.
“They’re just a truly unique texture if you’ve never had one,” DiBona Pauk said. “[People] look at them and they think they’re going to be this hard, crunchy, almost biscotti-like texture but they’re actually this crisp outside, and once you bite through that crispness it sort of melts away in your mouth. Kind of like a cloud, almost.”
As seen in the February 13, 2014 issue of the Hippo.