The first time that I ever saw a macaron was 14 years ago in Paris and I wasn't really sure what I was looking at.
Well, these tasty treats (which hadn't made it into the cafes and bakeries at home yet) are very brightly colored, often neon green, pink, yellow, and even blue. Colors that looked to me like they were going to make your teeth melt, or were full of artificial ingredients that were sure to give me a tummy ache.
And, they were stacked in elaborate displays in VERY fancy looking bakeries that I was embarrassed to walk into being that I was an extremely grungy backpacker at the time (I also assumed that they would be WAY to expensive for my shoestring budget).
Lastly, they confused me because I thought that a macaron was a macaroon (a common North American mistake), and I wasn't really sure what they were.
So, what are macarons and how are they made?
Also referred to as Luxemburgerli, these very sweet confections are composed of a crunchy meringue-based outer layer made with eggs, icing sugar, granulated sugar, almond powder, and food coloring.
The decadent filling is made of ganache, buttercream or jam and ranges in flavor from the traditional raspberry and chocolate to (my personal favorites) espresso, lemon, green tea, and rose.
Though made with fairly simple ingredients, these baked delights are anything but simple to make (trust me, I've tried and failed miserably). I suggest heading to the experts, aka your local French bakery, if you are ready for melt-in-your-mouth goodness.
Who made the first macaron?
Believe it or not, the macaron was NOT INVENTED IN FRANCE.
Macarons were actually invented in 1533 in Italy by the head chef of Catherine de Medici at the time of her marriage to the Duc d'Orleans (he would go on to become the King of France as Henry II on 1547).
Fun fact — "macaron" actually has the same origin as that the word "macaroni"! Both mean "fine dough".
The very first macarons were actually just simple cookies, made of almond powder, sugar and egg whites. It wasn't until the beginning of the 20th century that it became a "double-decker affair", when Pierre Desfontaines, the grandson of Louis Ernest Laduree, had the idea to fill them with a "chocolate panache" and to stick them together.
Since then, French macarons have become the most beautiful and best-selling cookie in bakeries.
If you would like to try one of these sweet treats in Paris, head to the Laduree Bakery, It is one of the most renowned bakeries in this famous city and the piles of pastries and colorful treats will make you feel like you have stumbled into the decadent world of Marie Antoinette!
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