There’s several things the French do exceptionally well, including beautiful beaches, fantastic festivals and delicious dishes. The country is renowned for the plethora of culinary delights that are thought to have originated in France and continue to play a major role in their lifestyles and culture today. Perhaps one of the most famous of these is macarons. Whether they are one of your favourite guilty pleasures or you’re yet to sample the indulgent snack, we’ve created a guide for our series, Made in France, featuring everything you’d ever want to know about the delicacy.
What are Macarons?
Much like a scone to a Brit, Macarons are a sugary hit of goodness that feature in patisseriesup and down France. They are unique in appearance thanks to their multicoloured aesthetic and feature ganache, buttercream or jam filling between two meringues, which are made from egg whites, ground almonds and icing sugar. These are not to be mistaken with macaroons, a mounded cookie made with coconut and is often dipped in chocolate.
A Brief History of Macarons
Macarons, in their original form, were born in Italy by the chef of Catherine de Medicis in 1533 while she was married to the Duc d’Orleans, who went onto become King Henry II of France in 1547. It has a very similar meaning to the word “macaroni”, both translating to “fine dough”. The very first macarons were simple cookies made from the same ingredients, and most towns throughout France will regale their own tales of how the delicacy began. It wasn’t until the start of the 20thcentury that the double decker aesthetic was introduced when Pierre Desfontaines, the grandson of Louis Ernest Laduree had the idea of filling them with some kind of chocolate sauce to stick them together. Macarons have only grown in popularity since then and haven’t looked back, now nationally acclaimed in France and a must-purchase for holiday makers.
What Makes a Good Macaron?
Three broad categories help to define the success of a macaron: proportions, ingredients and structure. The worst quality macarons will have hollow meringues or shells that separate from the squidgy filling. This is indicative of poor-quality ingredients and a sign to avoid that bakery in the future, with the best macarons holding together to create smooth bites throughout. Shells will be bumpy as a result of almond flour that isn’t ground finely enough and as a general rule, the smoother the surface, the better the taste. High-quality macarons are not too big or too small, taking the average person about two bites to finish.
When it comes to flavours, macarons don’t follow any kind of set of rules and while there will be indisputable classics such as chocolate, vanilla and pistachio, you should also prepare yourself for the more recent comeuppance of orange blossom, salted caramel and raspberry. As much as the French delicacy withstands the test of time, it is not without international influence, with some Japanese flavours including black sesame, wasabi, matcha and yuzu. One famous macaron makers has even started to produce olive oil flavoured bites of joy for the more adventurous of macaron samplers.
Pairing a Tipple with Macarons
Don’t underestimate the importance of pairing your macarons with a beverage that is likely to enhance and magnify the flavours as opposed to masking them. Coffee, tea and champagne are the most popular options, depending on the time of day and the flavour of the macarons. Coffee will usually be paired with vanilla and pistachio macarons while green tea works perfectly with fruit infused flavours. Champagne will need to be matched to the flavour of the wine, with savoury tastes working well with a dry variety such as Brut, while sweet and fruity flavours will be complimented best with a Demi-Sec Champagne.
Making Macarons at Home
Is it possible? Yes, there are countless YouTube videos and online blogs to guide you along the process. However, perhaps a more fun and engaging way of learning is by taking a cooking class during your stay in one of our Luxury holiday villas in France. A quick Google search will outline the courses available near your villa and such a class will provide you with the know-how to recreate your masterpieces at home. For more information, check out our recent blog, 9 Reasons to Take a Cooking Class on Holiday.
How to Store Macarons at Home
Whether you’re practising the skills you’ve learnt at your cooking class for friends and family at home or you’ve brought several boxes for them from an authentic bakery, unfortunately you only have between three and five days to polish off the box. That said, there’s something undeniably moreish about these little bites of sweetness, and it’ll be difficult to refrain yourselves from polishing off the whole box in one sitting! They can also be frozen for up to six months, but as mentioned previously in the article, the fresher the better!
That concludes our guide to everything you need to know about macarons. We hope you’ve found this blog useful and that you now know a little more about the French treat that you’ve heard so much about. There’s no better feeling than waking up in a luxurious villa in France and tucking into these delightful treats, so browse our website or contact us to find the perfect abode for you and your family in 2019!
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