Delicate small shells filled with delicious special creams—macarons have stolen the hearts of many with a sweet tooth in recent years. Despite their size, creating macarons is a complicated process and only a handful of people are able to make them flawlessly. Luckily, Chez Dodo has been at the top of the game for quite some years, and now they’ve even come up with an innovation where thankfully no one will ever have to give up their treats again!
Anyone who has ever tried making macarons at home knows exactly what a painstaking process it is. Success depends on a million little factors—the almond flour’s moisture levels, the humidity in the kitchen, and even whether the mixture is over-or under-mixed (the step when the macaronage is created—the Ed.), whether it rests long enough before baking, and we could go on and on. However, if everything is just right, the reward is a sweet and crunchy outside, with a sticky inside, but has a distinctly different taste from meringues, which, when filled with either sweet or savory creams, becomes a real treat. Much ado about nothing, but I myself have been past so many failed attempts and half successes that I’ve given up on making macarons and have left it to the professionals.
Six and a half years ago, a small shop popped up on Sas Street where anyone could taste the perfect version of the macaron. Chez Dodo was founded by Dóri Szalai, her sister Kata Szalai and their business partner Péter Váry. Dóri fell in love with the dessert so much that she traveled all the way to Paris to learn the tricks of the trade, and then used the knowledge she gained abroad to build her brand. Although the process wasn’t always smooth sailing, her popularity kept growing, and the little hummingbirds—a trademark of the brand’s visual identity—appeared on paper bags all over the city. The macaron is a very versatile delicacy: the perfect gift, a delicious self-reward and has a story in every flavor. At Chez Dodo, each version has its own name, character and as a result, a soul too (often inspired by friends and family). These include the timeless favorite Philippe, where pistachio and Valrhona Ariaga Blanche chocolate meet, Élise, in which lychee, rose and raspberry embrace, or my personal favorite, the winter Robert, where the combination of duck liver, balsamic vinegar and pepper cuvée create a full-bodied harmony. Each macaron is the result of a long experimentation process, where Dóri and her team know no compromise: they use the Italian meringue method (a sugar syrup method—the Ed.), the best ingredients, 100% fruit purees and Valrhona chocolates.
If this in itself wasn’t enough, Chez Dodo always makes sure to take into consideration seasonality and often come up with something new. Last autumn, for example, they launched the highly successful Hungarian Classics collection, where they moulded the Esterházy and poppy seed cakes into the form of macarons, or their joint collaboration with Freyja. Once a year, they also launch a charity campaign: in collaboration with a non-profit organisation, to help spread the message of a good cause to as many people as possible through their unique boxes. However, one thing was still missing. Essentially, the macaron is gluten-free, but as one of its main ingredients is egg white, it’s not vegan. But a good dessert is superior, yet inclusive—and why should vegans of all people have to miss out on the pleasure?
The team had been working on the issue for a long time, and during the trying times of the pandemic, they began to experiment. After a record amount of trial and error, and many “clumsy” macarons later, they succeeded in their quest and created a vegan collection consisting of three pieces. The vegan collection’s paste is all-natural, made from potato protein and a special algae, and although using a different method, it can be colored in the same way. And here are the three characters: Anne in a vibrant raspberry flavor, Yvette, where marzipan and yuzu (a citrus fruit—the Ed.) meet, and the Infiniment Chocolat with a creamy chocolate ganache and crunchy cacao bean nibs. Each macaron is made with Valrhona Inspiration chocolates, which are also vegan thanks to their cocoa butter base. And what a trio they are! If I didn’t know I was tasting a non-traditional macaron, I would never have guessed—they might be slightly more brittle, with drier shells, but in reality, I needed a magnifying glass to come to this conclusion too. So, at last, those who have had to give macarons a miss can now finally joyfully have a bite of the iconic dessert, but it’s worth a try even if you have a mixed diet—you won’t be disappointed.
Photos: Balázs Glódi