Jul 14, 2011

Happy Bastille Day & Sweet Origins: Macarons!

By: Amy Atlas, in Sweet Origins

Happy Bastille Day! Today is French National Day, a commemoration of the storming of the Bastille in 1789. Festivities include fireworks over the Eiffel Tower, a parade down the Champs Elysees and a picnic of 10,000 people dressed in white at Versailles. We say, where there’s a party in France, there must be the beloved macaron! In this “Sweet Origins,” we explore the history of France’s favorite dessert.

Macarons are delicate round cookies made with ground almonds, sugar and egg whites. Two cookies come together to form a sandwich, with buttercream frosting, ganache or jam spread in between. Crisp on the outside, the cookies should be soft and chewy in the middle. Today’s macarons come in an array of wild shades like fuchsia or turquoise with imaginative flavor combinations, such as olive oil and mandarin orange.

The true inventor of the macaron is unknown. The cookie is rumored to have been invented by Catherine de’ Medici’s Italian pastry chefs, whom she brought with her to France in the early 1500’s. The original macaron started out as a simple cookie. Can you imagine that? No filling! It wasn’t until the early 1900’s when Pierre Desfontaines, of the famed pastry shop Ladurée in Paris, thought to join the shells with a ganache filling. With one swift motion, the modern macaron was born!

It’s taken a few hundred years, but macarons are finally starting to catch on in America. The cookie had a starring role in Sofia Coppola’s 2006 film “Marie Antoinette,” which presented a fanciful feast of technicolor macarons to U.S. audiences (and if you don’t fall in love with them after watching that movie, you might meet another French pastry to adore).

Purists argue that true macarons can only be found in Paris, but there are dozens of bakeries in the U.S. (my favorite being La Maison du Chocolat) and around the world that are hot on their heels. And if you’re feeling adventurous, you can always try making them yourself!  Cannelle Et Vanille has some great macaron recipes and we love this macaron book by Annie Rigg.

Photo Credits:  1)  Cannelle Et Vanille 2) Ladurée 3)  Tartelette 4)  Taste Crumb

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  • Ruthy

    I’m having a debate with someone. How do you pronounce this macaron? MacaROON or MacaRONE?

    • Sharmeen

      macaRON … macaROON is the coconut cookie.

      • Amy

        yes, agreed!

    • Definitely not macaroon but I’m afraid the “ON” sound at the end of macaron is not “macarone” either. The combination of the letter “o” and the letter”N” produces a nasal sound similar to the one in “gong”

  • I love macarons!! Nice flavor, fancy look.. 🙂

  • Is the new Ladurée store in NYC open yet?

    • Amy

      Not yet, but I can’t wait!

  • Melissa

    YUM. My first macaron was at Laduree in Paris. It has been a love fest ever since.

  • Love the colors! So about 4 or 5 years after a movie trend it becomes mainstream, eh? Something to think about for partie themes!

  • I am on vacation in Paris and was able to attend the parade and airshow this morning. So much fun! Going to watch the fireworks from the Tuileries tonight <3 My favorite flavor of macaron has to be rose…delicious!

  • Annette

    Sweet and beautiful! It takes some practice to get them just right but they’re worth it. Happy Bastille Day!

    I can’t find the list of winners of the Pastry Pedestal starter kits.


  • I love Macarons. Anyone know a good place to buy them in Phoenix? I’ve been thinking about trying my hand at making them, if I can find some Egg White Powder and Almond Flour.

  • I heart Laduree…but there are none in Australia! 🙁

  • never had but I love the look

  • beautiful images. thanx for the info..

  • Hello,
    In France we pronounce macaron.
    paging super mom : You just need eggs almonds reduced in powder sugar and that’s it. The most important and difficult thing is your oven you need the right temperature

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