What’s the Big Deal About… Macarons?

Macarons (Image Credit: Louis Beche)
Macarons (Image Credit: Louis Beche)

The French are known for two things: they’re always slim and they are famous for making the best desserts and pastries in the world. Now, I understand how this may seem confusing. I’m sure it’s not common to put words like “slim” and pastries together in the same sentence. However, in this case, it works and I’ll tell you why. The French and most other Europeans stay slim because they eat in moderation; small amounts.

The famous French pâtisserie (pastry shop), Ladurée has perfected this feat with their most well-known sweet treats: the macaron. Although, others have claimed to have first invented the macaron, Pierre Desfontaines of Ladurée is usually the one credited probably because this luxury bakery is thought to make the best macarons in the world.

Now, before I go on to explain just how amazing and brilliant these small sweets are, I would like to first bring some clarity to the pronunciation of this word. Macarons have more recently become quite popular in the United States probably either due to the fact that a small Ladurée opened up in New York City or perhaps it’s because of so many college students studying abroad in France. Regardless of the reason, macarons have gotten a lot of attention from America. We are known to “Americanize” a lot of European culture whenever it’s brought to the states including the pronunciation of words.

I’m sure most of you reading this article are pronouncing macarons as Macaroons. To my fellow Americans: This is NOT the way Macaron is pronounced. Macaroons already exist. They too are a sweet baked good, but let me be clear when I say they are completely and utterly different from the French MACARON. I’m not asking any of you to learn how to pronounce French “R”s, but I promise there is an easy and more accurate way to speak the name of this dessert.

Macaron is pronounced as Mac-kah-ron. An easier and shorter way to say this is Mak-ron. This isn’t difficult America! The French gave us these amazing desserts to let’s show some respect by at least attempting to pronounce the name correctly.

On a sweeter note, let’s examine what exactly these tasty treats are. Macarons are small round meringue-based confection discs commonly filled with either ganache, buttercream or jam filling, depending on the flavor. They have a huge range of flavors from vanilla to raspberry to orange blossom and coffee. They also have macarons that are “Incroyable” flavored. Try to see if you can imagine what “Incroyable” or what incredible would taste like?

Ladurée made all the pastries and desserts for Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette (2006) and so, to honor the late French monarch, there’s even a macaron called the “Marie Antoinette!”

What makes the macaron stand out is its visual appeal as well as its taste. Macarons come in a wide variety of colors ranging from bright yellows and turquoise to pastel lilacs and pinks.

To end up where I started, moderation and small portions are what keeps the French and the rest of Europe slim. What do I believe is the best thing about the macaron? The size.

Macarons are packed with so much flavor and sweetness that you don’t need to stuff yourself with dozens of them. Just one or two is enough to satisfy any cravings.

To conclude on these delicious delights, the macaron is light, delicate, colorful, sweet and rich with flavor. They’re perfect with a cup of coffee, as a light dessert or just as a simple gift to anyone you know.

I think it’s time to make another stop at Ladurée…

 


Image courtesy of Louis Beche
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Nina Reichenberg, a senior at Syracuse University currently working towards a degree in Computer Art & Animation. Whilst at school, Nina spends most of her time animating, watching films, reading, and hanging out with friends. Outside of SU, she enjoys traveling, singing, dancing, and spending time outside.

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