Tuesday, July 24, 2012

History Lesson // French Macarons

The macaron, a confectioner's sweet and airy delight is a merengue-based cookie that hails from the fashionable streets of Paris, slowly and surely charming its way into parties and baking books all across the world. 

If you've ever tasted one, you surely understand the macaron's trending popularity. A dainty sandwich that melts in the mouth with seemingly endless flavor profiles, and possibly the fact that they are French (we just can't help it) all contribute to the welcome spread of these tasty treats. 

They are the perfect companion for just about any activity. Waking up with coffee and the paper (a more accepted version of "cake-for-breakfast"), accompanying an afternoon tea (or nap), or a post-dinner dessert all suffice for consumption of this marvelous little cookie. 

So, as I commonly ask in the History Lesson, where did they come from?

As usual, there's a little confusion and debate on exactly where and when macarons first appeared. Fortunately for us, the most reported version is also the most glamorous version (as in, it involves royalty). 

According to many-a-source, the macaron first appeared in Italy at the hands of Catherine de Medici's (yes, of the banking and art-collecting Florence Medici family) personal chef around the time of her marriage to the Duc d'Orleans in 1533. Not long after he became the king of France as Henry II, thus moving the macaron to the country it's currently so commonly associated with.

It's important to know that the macaron did not start out as a sandwich, but simply as a single light cookie with no filling, topping, or what-have-you. Another fun fact: 'macaron' and 'macaroni' are unsurprisingly from the same origin, a word meaning "fine dough."

Their popularity spread during the French Revolution when two sisters baked and sold them to support themselves during the troubling time. Thus, a staple was born.

The sandwich version was created in the 20th century by the grandson of Louis Ernest Laduree of the Laduree pastry salon in Paris, still one of the most celebrated macaron bakeries today. He had the idea to fill two shells with a chocolate panache, and it stuck.

You may recall my two attempts at making macarons- delicious yet ugly here, and still delicious but slightly less ugly here. They take a skillful and steady hand- something I've not quite acquired. I've been known to eat multiples (and multiples) of macarons in one sitting, so perhaps it's good and well I'm not procuring the perfect little pastries right and left.

I'm going to go ahead and apologize for any cravings this little dabble has spurred on.


Image Source: Gilt Taste

6 comments:

  1. I love these posts - learning about the origin of pretty things is always interesting! :) My favorite macarons are at the Ferry Building in San Francisco - Miette is just so good!

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  2. oh cool - i had no idea it didn't start out as a sandwich. and now i want a macaron :)

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  3. I loved visiting Laduree while in NYC. Really craving a macaron right now!

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  4. such a cute post! I'm going to have to go back to {ech em.. RUN back to} Laduree while in NYC!

    Happy Tuesday!
    Classic Glam Blog xxox

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Thanks for taking the time to comment!