Monday, 15 August 2011

Activity: Baking/The History of...Macaroons.

Sourced from the Wikipedia page 'Macaron'...because I live dangerously...

A macaron is a sweet confectionery made with egg whites, icing sugar, granulated sugar, almond powder or ground almond, and food coloring. The macaron is commonly filled with buttercream or jam filling sandwiched between two cookies. Its name is derived from an Italian word "maccarone" or "maccherone". This word is itself derived from ammaccare, meaning crush or beat, used here in reference to the almond paste which is the principal ingredient. 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 (referred to as the "foot"), and flat base. It is mildly moist and easily melts in the mouth.
Macarons can be found in a wide variety of flavors that range from the traditional (raspberry, chocolate) to the new (truffle, green matcha tea). The fillings can range from jams, ganache, or buttercream. Since the English word macaroon can also refer to the coconut macaroon, many have adopted the French spelling of macaron to distinguish the two items in the English language. However, this has caused confusion over the correct spelling of the cookie/biscuit. Some recipes exclude the use of macaroon to refer to this French confection while others think that they are synonyms.


Although predominantly a French confection, there has been much debate about its origins. Larousse Gastronomique cites the macaron as being created in 1791 in a convent near Cormery. Some have traced its French debut back to the arrival of Catherine de' Medici's Italian pastry chefs whom she brought with her in 1533 upon marrying Henry II of France.
In the 1830s, macarons were served two-by-two with the addition of jams, liqueurs, and spices. The macaron as it is known today was called the "Gerbet" or the "Paris macaron" and is the creation of Pierre Desfontaines of the French pâtisserie Ladurée, composed of two almond meringue discs filled with a layer of buttercream, jam, or ganache filling.


French regional variations

Several French cities and regions claim long histories and variations, notably Lorraine (Nancy and Boulay), Basque Country (Saint-Jean-de-Luz), Saint-Emilion, Amiens, Montmorillon, Le Dorat, Sault, Chartres, Cormery and Joyeuse.
The city of Amiens' macaron consists of almond, fruit and honey, and dates back to 16th century. They are chewier and not as sweet as the Paris macaron.
The city of Montmorillon is well known for its macarons and has a museum dedicated to it. The Maison Rannou-Métivier is the oldest macaron bakery in Montmorillon, dating back to 1920. The traditional recipe for Montmorillon macarons remains unchanged for over 150 years.
The town of Nancy in the Lorraine region has a storied history with the macaron. It is said that the abbess of Remiremont founded an order of nuns called the "Dames du Saint-Sacrement" with strict dietary rules prohibiting the consumption of meat. Two nuns, Sisters Marguerite and Marie-Elisabeth are credited with creating the Nancy macaron to fit their dietary requirements. They became known as the 'Macaron Sisters' (Les Soeurs Macarons). In 1952, the city of Nancy honored them by giving their name to the Rue de la Hache, where the macaron was invented.


In Switzerland the Luxemburgerli (also Luxembourger) is similar to a French macaron but is said to be lighter and more airy in consistency.


Macarons are popular confection known as "makaron" in Japan. There is also a version of the same name which substitutes peanut flour for almond and is flavored in wagashi style, widely available in Japan.

South Korea

Macarons are also quite popular in South Korea and come in many different flavours, similar to the traditional flavours one might find in France.

New Zealand

Quite a few patissiers in New Zealand now produce macarons in all three main centres, Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. Most will deliver anywhere in the country overnight so they will be almost as good as fresh, but fresh markets (e.g. Moore Wilsons in Wellington), cafes and specialist delis are the best places to find them.


In Paris, the French pâtisserie Ladurée is reputed for making quality macarons in traditional and new flavors. Other reputed French pâtisseries making macarons include Pierre Hermé and Fauchon. In France and Austria, McDonald's sells macarons in their McCafés.
Outside of Europe, the pastry has attracted itself to the United States, Canada, and Japan. New York and Toronto have recently witnessed a surge in macaron shops.
Macarons in the "Laduree" fashion can be found at the very popular Los Angeles cafe/restaurants Bottega Louie or Napoleon's Macarons.
In Australia, there was a 2010 television series called Zumbo based on the chef Adriano Zumbo, who specialises in the macaron.

*I tried Macaroons for the first time last summer, and it was like something from a dream. If I went to Paris, the Patisserie owners would love me, sadly, my bank balance would not.

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