Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Almond Tree: French Macaroons and Beyond in This Week's Dining Review

Posted By on Thu, Aug 4, 2011 at 11:52 AM

Hannah Lehner of The Almond Tree
In this week's Scene, our intrepid reviewer visits The Almond Tree, the bakery nestled in East Nashville's newly bustling Porter East development, which serves as both home base for Hannah Lehner's wedding cake business (which she runs with her husband) and as the gravitational center of French macaroons (aka macarons) in Nashville. As we find out in this week's review, these little beauties are a little on the labor-intensive side: "[I]t takes three days to make them, if you do it right," Lehner says. To wit, quoth Carrington Fox:

By the reckoning of the former ballerina-turned-baker, doing it right means starting with eggs from local Wedge Oak Farm in Lebanon, Tenn. Lehner separates the whites from the yolk and ages the whites for a day. Then she whips the whites and folds in blanched-almond flour and other ingredients. She pipes the meringue mixture into peaks on a cookie sheet and lets them rest for 40 minutes before placing them in the oven. There, she cooks them for four minutes, turns the pan, cooks them for two minutes, then two more minutes with the door open — possibly longer if the weather is humid. Next, Lehner joins two cookies with a layer of ganache and lets them rest for a day to soften the interior and infuse the flavor of the ganache into the shell. It's a formula Lehner and her assistant and childhood friend, Rae Ross, came up with after a year of experimentation, and the result is a crisp, plaster-smooth pillow that gives way to a chewy core.

I may or may not have read Carrington's review before we went to press this week, and may or may not have gone directly there after an interview nearby. As someone who cannot bake to save his life, a macaroon that takes three days to make and tastes this good is almost more than my brain can handle. Check out Carrington's review, or The Almond Tree's website.

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