Happy Bastille Day, July 14! Have a Macaroon!
Pretend you are sitting with your morning coffee at the wonderful Dalloyau in Paris, enjoying the complimentary macaroon that arrives with it as you gaze at the Jardin de Luxembourg.
Or, you are in the countryside, wandering through the old city of Dole in the Jura region in the foothills of the Alps, and stop into a little patisserie to indulge in an afternoon snack of a colorful little bite.
French macaroons have come to the forefront as a major international treat. Once obscure, they are now well known (and loved) enough to be appearing in an ad for Fios, the fiber-optic utility. Creative chefs, particularly caterers, are having fun creating macaroon lollipops and decorating cakes with them.
On a recent episode of Hell’s Kitchen, the losing team made a “mountain of macaroons” for a wedding reception (while the winners flew off for a night of fun in Las Vegas). Another example of macaroons’ trendiness was appearing after an exquisitely prepared, set menu at Hakkasan, a superb Chinese restaurant in London (and New York); the green tea, pistachio and chocolate treats were tasty, but felt out of place, although house-made macaroons appear on the regular dessert menu.
The name, “macaroon” derives from the Italian “maccarone”, or paste, the same root as “macaroni” (flour paste rather than nut paste). The newly modish French macaroon is made with ground almonds (plus beaten egg whites and sugar) and stuffed, like an Oreo.
The macaroons many of us grew up with, the English version and myMEGusta’s favorite, are coarser, made with coconut, and normally served “au naturel,” although sometimes made with, or dipped in, chocolate.
Even on Bastille Day, myMEGusta would take the coconut, but would hardly be unhappy with the colorful French style!