My favorite aspect of the trip (besides eating delicious food) was engaging in personal experiences with the local people. We were invited to Shabbat dinner at the most wonderful family’s home in Tel Aviv, we ate freshly baked Yemeni bread in a small hillside town outside of Jerusalem, and for a whole day we got paired up for a one-on-one with experts in our fields.
My expert was a seriously amazing pastry chef named Alon Shabo. I had heard great things about Alon prior to meeting him; he was friendly, talented, and a total sweetheart. But I didn’t imagine getting along as well as we did.
We met our mentors-for-the-day in the morning in the hotel lobby. I’m not sure if I saw Alon’s face or he saw mine first, but we instantly ran to each other and bear hugged. He said he was so excited to meet me, and I was like me?! I’m so excited to meet YOU!
Alon radiated a warmth that was genuine and comfortable. He felt like the brother I never had. I was so excited to spend the day together.
After a delicious breakfast with the group, we walked across the city to a neighborhood called Florentin, known for it’s market-like streets filled with vendors of every food imaginable. We sampled marzipan (sweet almond paste), burekas (a savory cheesy pastry), and halva (fudge-like tahini candy).
Alon told me about his background as a pastry chef and how though he used to work in kitchens, he found it stressful. So he started working as a pastry consultant full-time, and he now creates desserts for some of the best restaurants in Tel Aviv.
One of Alon’s favorite things to make is macarons, so we went back to his house to do some baking together. He asked, “how do you feel about pistachio?” I shouted, a little too eager, “OH IT’S MY FAVORITE!”
After bonding for five minutes over our love of pistachio (pistachio ice cream is the 8th wonder of the world), we set to work.
I’ve always been terrified of macarons. I’m not a classically-trained baker. I’ve learned a lot through the years, but my technical knowledge of pastry pales in comparison to Alon’s. Though he gave me things to do, I kept peering over at the way he worked, so skillfully and effortlessly.
He showed me a technique that I had never seen in American macaron-making before. Instead of making a French meringue (uncooked egg whites) you make a Swiss meringue (warmed egg whites). The result? A much more stable base for otherwise finicky macarons.
This base is also more forgiving when it comes to the folding stage. Instead of painstakingly counting the number of times you fold the almond meal into the egg whites, you mix everything in a stand mixer. Of course you still have to watch the batter like a hawk, but it comes together in a flash.
Then there’s the white chocolate pistachio ganache in the middle. Omg, this was SO delicious. And once again, so simple. I love that about recipes from classically trained pastry chefs: they know how to do things efficiently.
Our macarons were delicious. And just like that, my time with Alon was over. After about seven hugs and twelve thank you‘s later, I went back to my hotel.
Walking the streets of Tel Aviv, I felt refreshed. It was invigorating to meet such a talented, yet humble human being. Someone who welcomed my into their home and made me feel so instantly at ease. Someone who made a damn good macaron.
The final recipe I’m sharing with you all differs slightly from Alon’s. I used a little more egg white, so the recipe makes for 3 egg whites total. I seriously recommend getting a kitchen scale for macarons. I have this scale and it was only $12!
And honestly because I enjoyed baking with Alon so much, if you ever make it to Tel Aviv, he hosts private pastry classes in his home and I cannot recommend a better thing to do. I just googled his name and cooking class, and found a list of classes here. And if you have further questions don’t hesitate to ask me and I can point you in the right direction.
- 100g egg whites
- 100g granulated sugar
- 100g almond flour
- 100g powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons pistachio paste
- green food coloring (optional)
- pinch of sea salt, for garnish (optional)
- 100g heavy cream
- 250g good quality white chocolate
- 2 tablespoons pistachio paste
- green food coloring (optional)
- Preheat oven to 300°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Heat a small pot of water over medium heat until it steams. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine egg whites and granulated sugar. Place bowl over steaming pot, creating a double boiler.
- Whisk egg whites and sugar until sugar melts completely and egg whites become white and frothy, 1 to 1.5 minutes. Remove from heat and place bowl back onto standing mixer.
- Fit standing mixer with whisk attachment and whisk on high speed for 2-3 minutes, until stiff peaks form. Congratulations, you just made a Swiss meringue!
- Sift together almond flour and powdered sugar, then gently shake into meringue bowl. Drizzle in pistachio paste and green food coloring (if using).
- Place bowl onto stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Turn mixer to medium speed and whisk for 10 seconds. Stop mixer and use a spatula to scoop up some of the batter. If you can make a figure-eight with the dripping batter without the batter breaking, you can stop. But most likely you will need another 5-10 seconds. So repeat process, and try the figure-eight again. The best way to describe the perfect consistency is like slow moving lava. It should give, but only slightly, like in slow-motion.
- Once your batter is the correct consistency, scoop it into a large pastry bag fitted with a 1 inch tip. Pipe silver dollar-sized circles onto prepared baking sheets, keeping about 1.5 inches between each meringue. Bang baking sheet on counter two times to remove any air bubbles. Sprinkle tops with a little sea salt as a garnish.
- Here's the fun part: you don't need to let them air dry. Just pop them into the prepared oven for 13 minutes, turning around halfway through, then allow to cool completely before removing from baking sheets.
- While the macarons are baking, make the ganache. In a small microwave-safe bowl, microwave the heavy cream for 45 seconds. Remove, then stir in white chocolate, pistachio paste, and green food coloring (if using).
- Scoop mixture into a piping bag fitted with a ½ inch tip, and place in the fridge to harden (about 20 minutes).
- Once you're ready, pipe the ganache onto a macaron and sandwich with another macaron. Repeat with all macarons.
Vibe Israel invited me for a week in Israel, though I was not compensated in any way. All opinions are 100% my own. Thank you for supporting the companies and brands that make Broma possible!