The Macaron Saga

Date - July 15, 2015 / Author - Sonal Goel Chopra / Category - Macarons

Be introduced to the most coveted confection of France. Know the origin, texture and all things sweet about macarons

Macarons_SagaIf you go by the most basic definition , macarons are 3 layer cookies with a filling of ganache or buttercream sandwiched between 2 almond shells. Though in the true sense macarons are the king of confections, the star of the city of love-Paris. The most elegant and light as air beautiful looking élégantes that taste heavenly and have an unmatched texture.
The sweet meringue-based confection is made with a fine blend of egg whites, icing sugar, granulated sugar, almond meal or almond powder , and food colouring. The Almond meal is a major component and brings out the texture in the macaron which is unique in the world of confections(made primarily of flour).
The intricate confection is characterised by smooth surfaces and a ruffled circumference, referred to as the feet of the macaron. A true macaron is crunchy on top and mildly moist in the centre and easily melts in the mouth. Macarons can be found in a wide variety of flavors and colours.

Although the confection is predominantly French, the name Macaron is derived from the Italian word macarone, mac carone or maccherone, the Italian meringue.

There has been much debate about its origins. Larousse Gastronomique(the encyclopaedia of gastronomy) cites the macaron as being created in 1791 in a convent near Cormery. While some have traced its French debut back to the arrival of Italian pastry chefs brought by Catherine de’ Medici in 1533 upon her marriage with Henry II of France. In 1792, macarons began to gain fame when two Carmelite nuns, seeking asylum during the French Revolution, baked and sold the macaron cookies. These nuns became known as the “Macaron Sisters”. In the early stages, macarons were served simply as almond cookies sans the special flavors or fillings.

It was only in the 1830s that macarons began to be served two-by-two with the addition of jams, liqueurs, and spices. The macaron in its current form was originally called the “Gerbet” or the “Paris macaron.”

Pierre Desfontaines of the renowned French pâtisserie Ladurée was the first person to have transformed the basic cookies to the 3 layer confection in the early part of the 20th century.

The macaroon is often mistaken as the macaron. Whilst facts about the latter have already been stated, the macaroon is an American cookie made primarily of coconut.  In a Slate article on the topic, Stanford Professor of Food Cultures Dan Jurafsky indicates that ‘macaron’ is the correct spelling for the confection. However, in reality the word macaroon is simply the English translation of the French word macaron, so both pronunciations are technically correct depending on ones’ personal preference and context.

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