Macaroons

ZACHARY QUESTIONDo you have any experience with Parisian-style macarons? I've been a huge fan of these for years, always visiting Laduree and Stohrer when I'm in Paris. It's been my "life's dream" (in the realm of my baking anyway) to make the macarons as close to French patisserie quality as possible; I've been working on them lately and have had mediocre success. Main problems: many crack and split open while baking. I've tried the approach of letting them sit out for a few minutes before baking and baking immediately and nothing seems to guarantee consistency. I've contacted Laduree (they have a book now, in French!) to ask if I can visit their kitchen, but they didn't like that idea. Do you know of any secrets to these and getting them as tender and as close as possible to the real things? Thanks! Zach ROSE REPLY Macaroons are very difficult to make at home. but I can give you one tip othat was given to me by a Swiss chef: after piping them, let them sit uncovered overnight before baking them. This helps to keep them from cracking, resulting in smooth tops. as Dorie Greenspan says in her delightful book Paris Sweets, each Parisian has his or her favorite place for macaroons. for this New Yorker its Laduree, but then, I have yet to do a thorough tasting investigation.