French Macarons: A Gourmet Treat
A macaron is a beautiful and delicate sweet treat that derives from an Italian word meaning "to beat or crush" referring to the process of crushing almond flour, which is the main ingredient in these delicious confections. Macarons are meringue-based instead of dough-based like many traditional cookies. Meringue is usually made by mixing together egg whites, a special type of flour made from traditional and confectionery sugar and almonds together to give it a more delicate flavor. This gives the macaron a light, fluffy texture and a wonderfully sweet flavor as well as an almond touches.
French macarons are characterized by their smooth, domed top, a ruffled look around the middle, and a flat cookie-like base. The overall texture of a French macaron is nice and moist, so they are really soft and fluffy. True macaron connoisseurs seek out a delicate, thin crust that offers a definitively airy interior. Macarons are typically filled with a butter cream or fruity jam filling, delicately laid between two cookies. The French version of this sweet treat comes in a variety of beautiful colors including pretty pastels and bright primary colors. Greens, pinks, blues, and reds are commonly seen in French bakeries.
Macarons are made with a variety of rich filings ranging from the traditional sweet styles like strawberry, raspberry, or chocolate to the avant-garde such as truffle or green tea. There has been some debate over the difference between French and English macarons. The English “macaroon” often references a coconut type of a macaroon, and it resembles more of a denser cookie. In order to distinguish between the two, many people have opted to use the French spelling, macaron in order to identify them. This difference has created a bit of confusion as to the correct way to spell the dessert. Many popular recipes leave out the spelling “macaroon” to refer to this French treat and instead use “macaron”, while others consider them the same cookie no matter how it is spelled.
There have been many culinary and fiery disagreements about its true roots. Many famous pastry shops and bakeries have claimed that the macaron was first developed in the year 791 near Cormery, France. Others have linked its French origins to the presence of Catherine de' Medici's Italian pastry chefs, who came to France with her in 1533 when she married Henry II. Somewhere around the 1830s, macarons were no longer just a cookie. They began to include various and flavorful liqueurs, jams, and exotic spices sandwiched in the middle. The macaron was at one time named the "Gerbet” meaning “Paris macaron,” and is sometimes credited as the creation of a man named Pierre Desfontaines, who was known for his famous patisserie, Laduree. This sweet delight was made of two almond meringue cookies filled with a tempting layer of butter cream, ganache filling, or jam.
In Paris, the Patisserie Laduree is known for making high quality macarons in both traditional and new flavors. Some other reputable French patisseries known for their delectable macarons include Pierre Herma and Fauchon. In Montmorillon, France, there is an entire museum dedicated to the macaron. This city is home to the oldest macaron bakery, originating in 1920. In other nations aside from Europe, this famous pastry has become a huge hit in mostly urban, larger cities such as Los Angeles, New York, Hong Kong, Sydney, Tokyo, and even Toronto, Canada. Foodies and fans now write blogs about them, and the popularity of the macaron has now reached every day, novice bakers at home.