Beautiful, elegant, addictive, chic, and indulgent; no, we’re not describing pearls, diamonds, or red lipstick. Add ‘delicious’ to this list, and it should now be clear that French macarons are the topic of discussion. Americans have a long-running love affair with all things French, and it’s no wonder that we yearn for a little French charm and Parisian romance in our lives — or, at least, our stomachs.
The first macarons were created in the 18th century as simple meringue cookies made of ground almonds, sugar, and egg whites. Paris’ oldest ‘salon de the’, Laduree, began filling these macarons with ganache starting in the 20th century, and have not changed their recipe since.
When did New Yorkers fall for the French macaron? Francois Payard Patisserie brought the delectable macaron ice cream sandwich to life in 2010, coinciding with the first annual Macaron Day. While the official ‘macaronification’ of NYC is difficult to pinpoint, this French treat has seen a steep increase in popularity over the last six years.
Payard’s macaron ice cream sandwich is composed of two rectangular macaron meringue cookies, between which the usual ganache inside a macaron is replaced with artisan ice cream. This year, Payard is set to debut the macaron donut on March 20th. His latest innovation features macarons in the shape of a classic American donut, finished off with colorful sprinkles and filled with macaron ganache so that they’re light and perfectly sweet. Even better, there should be minimal guilt associated with these lighter-than air, two-to-three bite treats.
These round, colorful beauties appear simple, but take one of the many macaron classes available in NYC, and you’ll quickly learn that they’re far from it. Macarons are composed of simple ingredients, but the precise timing and expert technique necessary to achieve a delectably crisp yet fluffy meringue cookie can quickly go awry, causing the shells to become runny or harden and crack.
Most meringues are made with the same base ingredients, but some simple food coloring distinguishes each individual flavor and adds a pop of vibrant color. Traditional flavors include chocolate, vanilla, hazelnut, and pistachio, but newer, more inventive options include passion fruit-milk chocolate, salted caramel, green tea, and rosewater.
This Macaron Day, help City Harvest give back to the community whilst making your stomach very happy by embarking on a ‘macaron crawl’ across New York City.