I’ve invited a handful of neighbors over for High Tea at 4pm so I dashed into the Bedford Bakery this morning to get some petit-fours and MACARONS. Note, I said MACARONS but when I reached into the case, the sign said MACAROONS. Tsk-tsk.
There’s a huge difference between the two cookies but thankfully other smarter bloggers have researched this so I will share their knowledge with you.
The two cookies are related but have different roots, as detailed by blogger Cake Spy.
The Macaron: While there is evidence of meringue-type cookies going as far back as the 1500s, as I learned from Wikipedia, the macaron in its current form is generally accepted as taking shape in the late 1700s when two Benedictine nuns, Sister Marguerite and Sister Marie-Elisabeth were seeking asylum in the town of Nancy during the French Revolution, and paid for their housing by baking and selling the macaron cookies. However, these original macarons were simply cookie rounds–it wasn’t until the 1930s that fancy tea room Ladurée began serving the cookies in a new way, with a sweet ganache filling between two of the traditional rounds. Naturally, the sweet filling and flavor and texture contrast caught on, and the l’il Luxembourgers began to take the world by storm.
The Macaroon: …………… the cookie also gained popularity with the Italian Jewish population because it requires no flour or leavening (the agent that raises and lightens a baked good, like yeast, baking powder and baking soda—instead, macaroons are leavened by egg whites) and can be enjoyed during Passover. Naturally, due to a high level of deliciousness, it gained popularity all over Europe as a year-round sweet, and regional variations popped up. The coconut macaroon seems to have gained popularity first in Glasgow, Scotland; it is most likely from here that it hopped over the pond and captured the hearts of Americans.
One of my dear city friends said was 30th in line the day before Easter at Ladurée to snap up her box of macarons and later added, it was WELL worth the wait. Ladurée has a history of the macaron on their website:
These small, round cakes, crisp on the outside, smooth and soft in the middle, are the most famous creation of Ladurée.
The story of the Ladurée macaron starts with Pierre Desfontaines, second cousin of Louis Ernest Ladurée, who at the beginning of the 20th century first thought of taking two macaron shells and joining them with a delicious ganache filling.
These small, round cakes, crisp on the outside, smooth and soft in the middle, are made every morning in Ladurée’s “laboratory”. The pastry chefs measure out very precisely the required amounts of almonds, eggs and sugar, before adding one final ingredient, a pinch of unique “know-how”, essential to the making of such a delicacy. Once cooked and filled, the macarons are put to one side for 2 days before going on sale, the time it takes to achieve a perfect balance between texture and flavour.
With each new season, Ladurée pays tribute to its most famous creation by creating a new flavour.
The existing range of macarons is always the starting point when a new one is created, as the variety of colours is as important as the range of flavours and a vital part of their appeal.
Here’s Ina Garten’s Coconut Macaroon recipe, compliments of Food Network. The secret is letting the cookies cool completely before storing. Otherwise, they will taste like mine, um, mush. 😦 Baking is not my strongsuit.
14 ounces sweetened shredded coconut
14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Combine the coconut, condensed milk, and vanilla in a large bowl. Whip the egg whites and salt on high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until they make medium-firm peaks. Carefully fold the egg whites into the coconut mixture.
Drop the batter onto sheet pans lined with parchment paper using either a 1 3/4-inch diameter ice cream scoop, or 2 teaspoons. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. Cool and serve.
Whichever you choose to make, buy, and eat, please spell them correctly!!