Haute Desserts: 10 Questions for Cecile Cannone of Macaron Cafe

Cecile Cannone with her famed macarons. All photos courtesy of Hara Partners.

If ever there were an elegant dessert, it’s the macaron, a delicate confection that comes in a variety of flavors and pretty colors. And New York has a cafe (with two locations) that offers an authentic version of this French sweet. At Macaron Cafe, where the macaron has been touted the best in New York, choose from such flavors as cassis, Nutella, espresso, pistachio and dark chocolate—all of which make an impressive gift or after-dinner treat at your next dinner party.

And who’s the chef behind these macarons? French-born Cecile Cannone who’s perfected an age-old family tradition of making macarons. For those who’d love to make authentic macarons in their own kitchens, Cannone recently penned a book, Macarons: Authentic French Cookie Recipes from the Macaron Cafe, showcasing her expertise. Here she shares her thoughts (and what her favorite macarons are) with us.

Haute Living: Tell me about your new book. What was the inspiration behind the it?
Cecile Cannone: I am proud of my baking background, which comes from my grandmother’s and mother’s kitchen, and this book is an homage to this French pastry tradition. It is also a way of continuing “self-teaching” for home bakers or those who love baking as a hobby.

HL: What are some of your favorite desserts—or types of macarons?
CC: I am crazy about macarons and in winter especially the chocolate collections (chocolate-coconut, chocolate-passion fruit, mocha). I also love fruitcakes with a hint of rum in it!

HL: What’s your inspiration for making macarons?
CC: Depending on the season my inspiration will be different. In winter we are more into spiced flavors, such as pumpkin-cinnamon or homemade chestnut filling. In spring and summer, I’m definitively inspired by flowers—violette, lavender, rose—or fresh fruits that I’ll be able to make jams with.

HL: Where do you like to dine?
CC: In NYC, I love to go to Mercer Kitchen—the best table is at the bar in front of the kitchen to see them cook! It’s fascinating. They have fabulous scallops and fine desserts.

HL: What’s your ideal meal?
CC: If I’m at home, a homemade soup with cheese and baguette and a crème brulee as dessert.

HL: Where do you like to dine for a special occasion?
CC: Le Robert on the top of the Museum of Arts and Design. It has a creative menu and a great view.

HL: What’s your favorite NYC neighborhood? And why?

CC: The Lower East Side because it’s fun, great for vintage shopping, amazing and has friendly neighbors… it’s the place to be for nightlife.

HL: What do you like to do in New York City for fun?

CC: The Halloween Parade (I love it), rock climbing in Brooklyn, boating on the Central Park Lake, and Broadway shows with friends because that is NY!

HL: What’s your favorite vacation destination?

CC: South of France. I love the medieval small villages, the Jazz Festival in Nice, and the flowers extract in Grasse.

HL: What’s your most memorable meal?
CC: The “Dover sole” Meuniere fish from my dad’s kitchen.

HL: What are your five favorite ingredients?
CC: 70% dark chocolate, violette flower extract, vanilla, cinnamon, and almond extract

Macaron Cafe has two locations:
625 Madison Avenue at 59th St.
485 7th Avenue, entrance at 36th St.

Need help finding the perfect New York City restaurant? Or want tips on cooking elegant meals at home? Contact Haute Living dining columnist Tracey Ceurvels via her blog, The Busy Hedonist, or email her with any questions.