Naperville bakery sells countless flavors of French macarons

NAPERVILLE, Ill. (WLS) -- The French cookie known as a macaron has been a mainstay as a hostess gift for showers and special occasions for years. They also appear frequently at hotels in dessert displays. But, a lot of the wholesale business has dried up for one Naperville bakery, so they've shifted into retail mode. They now sell the delicacies to anyone who can drive to their production facility to pick them up.

A macaroon means lots of shredded coconut bound together with egg and baked into a mound.

A macaron is quite a bit different. The owners of a suburban bakery are devoting all of their expensive baking equipment to the production of the latter for retail customers now, since much of their wholesale business has dried up. They may look simple, but it takes a lot of effort to produce such a tiny cookie.

The kitchen still buzzes at A La Folie, hidden away in a South Naperville strip mall, because macarons are their primary focus.

"People describe it as a fancy French cookie I guess. So it's two beautiful shells, perfectly baked, and then we put a filling inside," said Chef and Co-owner Jerome Landrieu.

They start by pouring boiling sugar into whipped egg whites, making a classic meringue. Next, a thick paste is folded in, colored, depending on the final product's flavor profile.

"It's a mix of almond flour and powdered sugar. We remove the whisk, we add the paddle attachment, we add the paste to the meringue and then we start mixing gently," he said.

Landrieu then measures the density of product, to ensure consistency. Once it reaches the desired level, he transfers it to a special machine that replicates the work of several pastry chefs.

"So it's basically like if I had seven chefs piping at the same time," he said.

Each disc is measured to make sure they're the right size. Placed into holding racks, they're dried out with the aid of a giant fan, then baked in a convection oven until barely crisp. There are nearly a dozen different filling options, which help hydrate the interior walls of the crisp cookie.

"We want the moist filling to hydrate the biscuit. We try to have something crunchy but not super hard," said Landrieu.

Fillings can be sweet or fruity.

"Ganache - which is an emulsion between chocolate and cream, we do a caramel-based filling, and we have another filling - it could be buttercream - we do it for special customers. We have a jam. We did a lot of R & D behind it to get something that is very fruity but not too sweet," he said.

Every Saturday, they have a "Pastry Program" featuring one unique item like a gateau (that's cake) or delicate chocolate eclairs. Those must be ordered online, then picked up on Saturdays.

A La Folie
2728 Forgue Dr., Naperville
+1 (630) 857-9944
www.alafolieco.com
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