The Decadent Macaron
A macaron is considered a decadent sweet meringue-based confection made with egg white, icing sugar, granulated sugar, almond meal, and food coloring. Let us not be confused by the “macaroon” which is usually a cookie that is typically made from ground almonds, coconut or other nuts. Macaroon are NOT macaron. Macaron is considered a very delicate confection. The macaron was introduced in France by the Italian chef of queen Catherine de Medici during the Renaissance. Today, typical macaron is presented with a ganache, buttercream or jam filling sandwiched between two such cookies, making it a cookie sandwich. Macarons can be found in a wide variety of flavors. Macaron, though simple in appearance, is considered somewhat tricky to make.
There are two main methods for making a macaron – the “French” method and the “Italian” method differing in the way the meringue is made.
In the French method, egg whites are whisked until stiff-peaked meringue forms. From there, sifted, ground almonds and powdered sugar are folded in slowly until the desired consistency is reached. This process of knocking out air and folding is called macaronage.
The Italian method involves whisking the egg whites with a hot sugar syrup to form a meringue. Sifted almonds and icing sugar are also mixed with raw egg whites to form a paste. The meringue and almond paste are mixed together to form the macaron mixture. This method is often deemed more structurally sound yet also sweeter and also requires a candy thermometer for the sugar syrup.
A macaron is made by combining icing sugar and ground almonds into a fine mixture. In a separate bowl, egg whites are beaten to a meringue-like consistency. The two elements are then folded together until they are the consistency of “shaving foam”, and then are piped, left to form a skin, and baked. Sometimes, a filling is added. The French method produces a lighter Macaron, whereas the Italian is a little more dense, though both are delicious.
The earliest known recipe dates back to the early 17th century and appears to be inspired by a French version of the recipe:
“To make French Macarones
Wash a pound of the newest and the best Jordane Almonds in three or foure waters, to take away the rednesse from their out-side, lay them in a Bason of warme water all night, the next day blanch them, and dry them with a faire cloath, beat them in a stone morter, until they be reasonably fine, put to them halfe a pound of fine beaten Sugar, and so beat it to a perfect Paste, then put in halfe a dozen spoonefuls of good Damaske Rose-water, three graines of Ambergreece, when you have beaten all this together, dry it on a chafingdish of coales until it grow white and stiffe, then take it off the fire, and put the whites of two new laid Egs first beaten into froath, and so stirre it well together, then lay them on wafers in fashion of little long rowles, and so bake them in an Oven as hot as for Manchet, but you must first let the heat of the Oven passe over before you put them in, when they rise white and light, take them out of the Oven, and put them in a warm platter, and set them againe into the warme Oven & so let them remain foure or five houres, and then they wil be thoroughly dry, but if you like them better being moist, then dry them not after the first baking.”
— John Murrell, A Daily Exercise for Ladies and Gentlewomen (1617).
Ladurée, famous for its macarons, has been around since 1862. The company has locations all around the world including in Beverly Hills, California, and various kiosks at shopping malls around the U.S.
Outside of Europe, the French-style macaron can be found in Canada and the United States.
There are several online courses to teach you how to make Macarons, as follows:
- MasterClass.com “How to Make Macarons (French Macaroons): Basic French Macaron Recipe“
We would recommend that you try any of the following macaron bakers:
Bon appetit! Enjoy!