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History of Macarons

Macaron

 

Macaron

Just the sight of these brightly coloured, impossibly light treats is enough to make your mouth water.  Salted caramel, blueberry, pistachio, vanilla, chocolate, raspberry and even green tea and foie gras .. the varieties are endless. Have you ever wondered about their history?
 
Well, first, let’s clear up the confusion about their pronunciation and spelling.  Macaron or macaroon .. While some experts say that they are interchangeable, most seem to agree that an extra “o” makes all the difference!  Both macarons and macaroons are confections, and both names are derived from ammaccare, which is Italian for "to crush" — but that's where the similarities end.
 

The macaroon (rhymes with “soon”) is a dense shredded coconut biscuit while the macaron (rhymes with “ron – or drop the “n” for the French pronunciation) is the wonderful light French confection created by sandwiching two meringue based biscuits together with jam, buttercream or ganache filling.

While the macaron is accepted as an iconic French treat, there has been much debate about its origins.  Larousse Gastronomique cites the macaron as being created in 1791 in a convent near Cormery in the centre of France.  Some have traced its French debut to the arrival of Catherine de Medici.  Upon marrying Henry II of France in 1533, she brought her Italian pastry chefs and the early form of macarons with her. 

In 1792, macarons began to gain fame when two Carmelite nuns, seeking asylum in Nancy during the French Revolution, baked and sold the macaron cookies in order to pay for their housing. These nuns became known as the "Macaron Sisters". In these early stages, macarons were served without special flavors or fillings.

It was not until the 1830s that macarons began to be served two-by-two with the addition of jams, liqueurs, and spices. The macaron as it is known today, composed of two almond meringue discs filled with a layer of buttercream, jam, or ganache filling, was originally called the "Gerbet" or the "Paris macaron." Pierre Desfontaines of the French pâtisserie Ladurée has sometimes been credited with its creation in the early part of the 20th century, but another baker, Claude Gerbet, also claims to have invented it.

Either way, this melt in your mouth delicacy is worth fighting over.  What is your favourite flavour?