Trends come and go in the world of pastries. For awhile, cupcakes ruled the world, making appearances throughout pop culture and the ovens of single girls everywhere, we can thank Carrie Bradshaw for that. Whoopie Pies moonlighted for a minute and now the French Macaron seems to be the trend for the sugar-induced.
Macarons are actually Italian in origin, dating back to 1533 during the reign of the Medici family. The original macarons were simple almond cookies, with the word sharing its etymology with “macaroni”–both meaning fine dough. It wasn’t until Catherine Medici married Duc d’Orleans who would later become King Henry II of France that these meringue cookies took on status as a French treasure. For a long time macarons stayed simple and didn’t become a sandwiched treat until the 20th century when French pastry became much more sophisticated and whimsical. Other than being symbolic of Parisian Romanticism, what makes macarons so special is that they seem to be something impossible to make at home. Trust should always be placed in the pastry bag of experts, but should you moonlight in the world of macaron making be prepared for a few false starts. Fear not, because after a few failed attempts you will have worked out all the kinks and have sweet little delectable pillows of almond joy. Keep these tips in mind:
- A Silpat made for macarons works the best for an unsteady hand.
- Ground almond actually means ground almond flour
- The more food coloring the better as the macarons brown when cooked, the brighter the color the less browning will occur.
- Don’t over mix your meringue or the macarons will fall
- A glass of wine is necessary to retain sanity
Click here to read Ashley’s recipe for the perfect Raspberry Macaron.
If you’re not an adventurous baker oozing with finesse, leave it to the pros. Here is a list of NYC macaron-eries:
The Ladurée on Madison Ave between 71st and 70th
Bouchon Bakery at Rockefeller Center,
La Maison du Chocolat, Madison Ave. between 78th and 79th streets
Macaron Café on West 36th Street
Bisous Ciao on Stanton between Ludlow and Orchard
Photo: Fabienne D.