These French meringue cookies have been winning fans in New Hampshire and Massachusetts in recent months. All Things Considered talked with the woman at the center of this sweet empire, Nina DiBona-Pauk.
And just for the record, Moochie is…
Moochie is my Havenese dog.
It started one night - my husband and I were planning a trip to Paris, and to convince him to sit down and actually plan our trip, I convinced him that I'd planned this whole French inspired meal, and it would be really fun. I got all these ingredients to make this, but what I couldn't find and what I really wanted was some French macaroons. I decided, these can't be these hard to make, I'll just make it myself.
When we got back from our trip, after sampling a rainbow of colors and flavors of macarons all over Paris, I just kept folding and whipping and piping out these pastries, and the rest is history. The business has really spiraled from there, and it's been an adventure. I've loved every minute of it.
You mentioned that there’s a large variety of flavors – which is not unusual when it comes to baked goods. But are there particular flavors that work really well as a French-style macaron?
The common fillings are generally ganaches, buttercreams and preserves - and you can imagine within those three categories there are an infinite number of possibilities. But I found with my macarons that people really love the more interesting flavors. One of the most popular ones I sell is lavender honey macarons, which take local honey from Epping, New Hampshire. And I'm always experimenting with new and interesting variations of all of the different buttercreams and ganaches.
It's interesting that you couldn't find these in New Hampshire, given how much Franco-American history we have here. It's fitting, in a way, that you're bringing them back.
It is. It was about three or four years ago, and I've noticed now that they've really taken on in the US. Back then when I called these stores, they didn't even understand what I was asking for. They all thought they were the coconut balls that people think of, the American macaroon. But now they're in magazines, there on TV shows, they're really gaining popularity in America.
You're a registered dietitian. People must feel like, oh, I can have a couple of these.
Yeah, people think it's really funny that I'm a registered dietitian and went into a French pastry business. But in truth, they're actually not terrible for you. They're naturally gluten free - I also have some dairy-free flavors as well - and they're quite petite, so one or two of them is a fraction of the calories that a cupcake would have, or something of that nature. It allows for nice portion control.
And the French macaron is really meant to be savored. It's something that you can sit, eat, savor and enjoy. So I don't feel bad being a dietitian and selling French pastries.