Chef Francois Payard's Macaron Day NYC raises money for City Harvest

BySabrina Szteinbaum WABC logo
Friday, March 20, 2015

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Every day, Francois Payard is brought a batch of the previous day's French macarons in order for him to assure that the ones sold in his shops have matured to perfection.

The reason for the day-old macarons?

"We never eat macarons fresh," Payard said.

And that's because French macarons need time in the refrigerator to moisten, as the shell can be hard after baking.

The recipe, Payard says, is simple -- almond flour, egg whites and confectioner's sugar compose their vibrant shells, and sandwiched in between is either a flavored ganache or jam.

Friday marks the 6th annual Macaron Day in New York City, an event that Payard spearheaded in 2010, inspired by the same event that began 10 years ago in Paris.

Fifteen bakeries around the city will be giving out one free French macaron to each customer who mentions Macaron Day. In order to participate, Payard said the establishment must bake and sell their own macarons every day -- they can not purchase them elsewhere and the macarons cannot be frozen.

While the promise of a free macaron may attract visitors to the shops, one main purpose of the day is to raise money for City Harvest, an organization that collects excess food from restaurants, bakeries and other food establishments and delivers it to more than 500 community food programs. Each participating bakery will be donating a percentage of their macaron sales to City Harvest, Payard said.

Payard's shops, which produce 8,000 to 10,000 macarons each day, have eight flavors on hand at all times, including a flavor of the month, Payard said. In the past, they've offered a white mint chocolate and blood orange, and next month's flavor will be apricot passion fruit.

Carolina Olsson, the director of operations for Sugar and Plumm, which is offering visitors the choice between their signature passion fruit macaron or their mini chocolate, salted caramel or raspberry macaron, said people have come to love the macaron because it is artisan and vibrant.

There are no shortcuts to take when making French macarons, and Sugar and Plumm really makes theirs from the ground up, Olsson said, beginning by grinding their own almond flour.

Sugar and Plumm sells the classic vanilla and chocolate macarons, but Olsson said other bestsellers include their rosewater lychee and pistachio.

WOOPS!, another establishment participating in Macaron Day, also offers the classics, but Ellie Lippel, vice president of Marketing and Business Development at WOOPS!, said people also love their red velvet, rose and green tea flavors.

The four WOOPS! locations in New York City will be offering their visitors the choice between Nutella, vanilla and raspberry macarons in honor of Macaron Day.

People are inspired by macarons, Lippel said.

"It fulfills a pleasure of all the senses, you have the color, which just makes you joyful," she said. "When you're looking at a display of macarons, you can't help but smile."

She said macarons are more than just a sweet fix, they are an experience.

What Lippel likes most about City Harvest is the effort they put into engaging local businesses.

"City Harvest works hand in hand with the people and the businesses to make this a better city for everybody," she said. "I would not like to be in New York City without City Harvest."

WOOPS! offers 18 flavors of French macarons in their stores, and will soon roll out a lavender one for Easter.

"I think this is the beginning of the love affair with macarons," Lippel said. "We have to remember that the rest of the country is just now getting acquainted with macarons, and I think it's going to be a staple confection as it is in Europe and France."

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