Macarons, a French meringue-based confection introduced by Catherine de Medici’s Italian chef in the 16th century, are a classic dessert enjoyed by people all over the world. Macarons were ultimately made popular in the 19th century by two french bakers who claimed to have created the method of placing the filling between the two shells to form a sandwich-style cookie. Because of the macaron’s size, airiness, and delicate shell, they are only seventy to one hundred calories compared to a bowl of ice cream which has roughly 400 calories. Macarons have become the most popular dessert sold in France. Laduree Paris, one of the most famous macaron distributors with an undisclosed recipe, sells over four million macarons annually. It is the perfect place for anyone who’s desiring a fancy treat.
Although delicious, macarons are labor-intensive and time-consuming. They are quite particular and simply stirring the batter one too many times can cause them to be dry or flat and condensed. The recipe does not provide any room for errors. The classic French recipe includes egg whites, confectioners sugar, food coloring, and, most importantly, almond flour, which adds richness and a mild sweetness to the cookie. Some common fillings include buttercream, cream cheese, a variety of curds or jellies, or a ganache. Macarons take roughly two hours to prep and fifteen minutes to bake, depending on the recipe. It is important to first sift the flour and sugar mixture to make the batter light and fluffy, then the egg whites must be beaten until they are shiny and form stiff peaks. After the wet and dry ingredients have been prepped, they must be folded together and placed into a piping bag in order to form the cookies. Once they bake and cool, the desired filling must be made and piped on and the sandwich cookie created.
Residents of Grand Rapids can find macarons in many places across town, including Le Bon Macaron located on Cherry Street in Eastown. This French-themed cafe provides a variety of flavor options for its customers to indulge in and beverages to enjoy alongside the macarons, such as a deliciously rich hot chocolate. The atmosphere and quaint experience of the cafe transport the customers into a Parisian experience. However, the small confections remain somewhat pricey for a limited quantity. If a macaron-lover is searching for a more economical option, Trader Joe’s and Costco also sell them in more bulk quantities for reasonable prices. Anyone who has yet to indulge in these fine delicacies will delight in their crisp shell and soft interior.