Friday, 15 April 2011

Wait.... What the heck is macaron? Is it like macaroni as in pasta? No?

A macaron or French macaroon is a confectionery whose name is derived from an Italian word “maccarone” meaning paste. It is meringue-based: made from a mixture of egg whites, almond flour, and both granulated and confectionery sugar.

The confectionery is characterized by its smooth, domed top, ruffled circumference (or we call it the "foot"), and flat base. Connoisseurs prize a delicate, egg shell-like crust that yields to a moist and airy interior. The French macaroon differs from other macaroons in that it is filled with cream or butter like a sandwich cookie, and can be found in a wider variety of flavors that range from the traditional (raspberry, chocolate) to the exotic (foie gras, truffle). Making macarons requires a great deal of discipline and is a process that is highly dependent on exactitude, technique, and proper equipment. For this reason it is a notoriously difficult recipe to master and a frustrating endeavor for the amateur baker. (Am I?)

In the 1830s macarons were served two-by-two with the addition of jams, liqueurs, and spices. The macaron known today is the "Gerbet" macaron, born in the 1880s in the Belleville neighbourhood of Paris. The double-decker macaron filled with cream that is popular today was invented by the French pâtisserie Ladurée.