Actually, both forms are correct, but they define two different sweet treats. A macaron is a traditional French cookie. It is small, round, crackly on the outside, smooth, light and soft inside, and usually sandwiched with a sweet filling, such as buttercream, ganache, curd or preserve. This hip, two-bite meringue dazzles with trendy sophistication and flamboyant flavors. The aromas (and colors) of macarons vary because French pastry chefs love to create and re-create these cookies from classic chocolate, vanilla, coffee and strawberry to exotic rose, mango, pistachio, caramel, praliné or licorice. Although, the flavors differ, the classic French treat is made with ground almonds, whipped egg whites and sugar, but no flour.
One of the most famous macarons stores in the world is Ladurée pâtisserie in Paris. Ladurée is known for inventing the sandwiched macaron that we enjoy today. The store offers an impressive selection of amazing macarons, all of which are delicate, airy, sweet, and will instantly put a smile on your face. Adrian and I were in Paris for a week a couple of years ago, and we went to Ladurée every single day for a sweet treat. Fortunately, Ladurée opened a store in New York recently, so you don’t have to fly all the way to Paris for these elegant French gems. So, when you’re in New York, don’t forget to check out their store. You won’t regret it! Also, if you ever find yourself flying through Charles De Gaulle airport in Paris, look for the Ladurée kiosk and try some macarons. It’ll be a memorable layover! That’s what I’ll do (again) when I fly home for the holidays, soon. Apparently the French are on strike, so I’ll have plenty of time to savor my Ladurée macarons!
However, if you are daring enough, you can even make your own macarons at home. I was so thrilled to see the many macarons recipes in the Better Homes and Gardens Special Fall Baking edition, and I couldn’t wait to try them. My almond macarons with cannoli cream were not Ladurée macarons, but they were pretty darn good! They were crisp and shiny on the outside, chewy on the inside, while the velvety cream with specks of chocolate made them even more special.
Almond Macarons with Cannoli Cream
Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Special Fall Baking (Fall 2011)
Serves: 24-30 macarons
· 1 cup finely ground almonds
· ½ cup finely ground toasted almonds
· 1 ¼ cups confectioners’ sugar
· 3 egg whites at room temperature
· ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
· Dash of salt
· ¼ cup granulated sugar
· 1 recipe Cannoli Cream
Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper. Trace 1 ½ - inch circles onto parchment paper 1 inch apart. Use a cookie cutter or biscuit cutter as a guide. Flip paper over before piping. Set aside.
In a food processor, combine the raw and toasted almonds, and pulse to finely ground. In a medium bowl stir together almonds and confectioners’ sugar; set aside.
In a large bowl combine egg whites, vanilla extract, and salt. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until frothy. Gradually add granulated sugar, about 1 Tablespoon at a time, beating on high speed just until soft peaks form (tips curl). Stir in nut mixture.
Spoon mixture into a large decorating bag fitted with a large (about ½ - inch) round tip. Pipe 1 ½ - inch circles, 1 inch apart, onto the prepared cookie sheets, filling the circles completely. Let stand for 30 minutes before baking. Don’t rush this step; it is key to developing the correct texture.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 325°F. Bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes or until set. Cool on cookie sheets on wire racks. Carefully peel cookies off parchment paper.
Spread Cannoli Cream onto bottoms of half of the cookies. Top with the remaining cookies, bottom sides down.
In a medium bowl combine 4 ounces cream cheese, softened, and ¼ cup granulated sugar; beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until combined. Add ½ cup ricotta cheese; beat until combined. Stir in ¼ cup miniature semisweet chocolate pieces. Makes 1 ¼ cups.
A macaroon, or better said, a coconut macaroon, is a sweet confection made with shredded coconut instead of ground almonds and served without a filling. There’s often a linguistic misunderstanding in regards to macaroons and macarons. Sometimes, the French word macaron is translated into English as macaroon. But the recipe might indeed refer to the French macarons, unless it’s a recipe for coconut macaroons like Barefoot Contessa’s Coconut Macaroons recipe below. If you love coconut (I’m a coconut lover for sure), this should be your easy go-to dessert. These coconut macaroons are sticky, chewy, sweet, dense and so scrumptious! You’ll be making them again!
Adapted slightly from Coconut Macaroons by Barefoot Contessa
Serves: 11-12 large macaroons or 20-22 smaller macaroons
· 14 ounces sweetened shredded coconut
· 14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
· 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
· 2 extra-large egg whites at room temperature
· ¼ teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 325°F.
Combine the coconut, condensed milk, and vanilla in a large bowl. Using an electric hand mixer, whip the egg whites and salt on high speed in a bowl 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 2 ½ - inch diameter ice cream scoop (for large macaroons), or 1 ¾ - inch diameter ice cream scoop or 2 teaspoons (for small macaroons). Bake for 45 minutes (for large macaroons), or 25-30 minutes (for small macaroons), until golden-brown. Cool and serve.
Whether you like macarons or coconut macaroons (or both), these cookies will be a great addition to your holiday table. Poftă Bună! (Bon Appétit!)