by Alexandra Cuoco
The macaron is a staple of French culture – a meringue and almond based cookie that can have a variety of fillings. Multiple theories exist as to where the macaron was first developed. Some believe that the French created the macaron, but their origins can actually be traced back to Italy. Surprise! Macarons aren’t even French.
Originally called the “maccherone,” the cookie was brought to France from Italy by Catherine De Medici in the Middle Ages (and they likely originated in the Middle East before making it over to Italy). Later on, two nuns who lived in the town of Nancy, France sold macarons during the French Revolution. The macaron began to change in France in the 1830’s and became more popular, especially by the esteemed Paris bakery Ladurée.
Ladurée’s location on the Champs Elysees helped the macaron soar to fame. The macaron quickly shifted from an inexpensive dessert to a chic and pricier dessert option, due to the extensive labor required for making macarons. From a variety of fillings and variations, the macaron’s diverse flavors give pastry chefs lots of room for creativity.
Consumers will notice that macarons tend to be a more expensive kind of dessert. This is due to the amount of precision and time it takes to perfect a macaron. A macaron is first created by mixing almond flour with egg whites. The mixture is then folded and piped into small circles on a baking sheet. Macarons must then be tapped into place by shaking the sheet. One aspect of baking macarons that makes them so difficult to create is beating the egg whites. If the egg whites are over beaten or under beaten, it can affect whether the macarons rise or not. Even the weather outside can affect the way your macarons bake due to temperature differences.
Macarons don’t have to be boring. You can make them different colors and even add interesting flavor combinations. Some of my absolute favorite flavors include lemon, rose, “caramel fleur de sel” (sea salt caramel), and especially strawberry poppyseed.
Never be discouraged to attempt to create macarons yourself at home. With patience and time, you can perfect the recipe and make your own kitchen feel like you’re in France. Macarons may take time to perfect, but enjoy the process of baking them!