Sometimes, childhood memories remain forever imbibed in your heart. I remember vividly walking down the cobbled streets of Paris with my parents when I first saw beautiful rainbow coloured cookies resembling mini burgers at the display windows of the shops. They looked so exquisite and exotic that I forced my mother to buy me some. Yes, I am talking about macarons. The first bite into crisp raspberry-flavoured macaron transported me to culinary heaven. The flavours just exploded in my mouth, I had never tasted anything like it before. In just a few minutes, I had gobbled almost 10 of them. They were in coffee, rum, blueberry, vanilla, mango, pistachio, almond flavours to name a few .
This beautiful delicacy is a light, baked confection. A macaron is a sweet meringue-based confection made with eggs, icing sugar, granulated sugar, almond powder or ground almond and food colouring. It is also called Luxemburgerli. Usually, the filling used for macarons is ganache. The original macaron was a “small sweet cake consisting largely of ground almonds”. The English word macaroon and French macaron come from the Italian maccarone or maccherone. This word itself derives from ammaccare, meaning to bruise, used here in reference to the almond paste which is the principal ingredient.
The most common recipes of the macaron includes egg whites, sugar and almond paste, baked on a baking tray. Jews and Italians adopted these as the recipe doesn’t include any flour or leavening agent, hence it could be eater in the eight days of Passover.
There are many international variations of this macaron.
The Scottish macaron is a sweet confection with a thick velvety centre covered in chocolate and topped with roasted coconut.
In North America, the coconut macaron is the better known variety.
Macarons in the Dominican Republic are very dark. Grated coconut is mixed with ginger and cinnamon.
In France, the coconut macaron is known as the “congolais”.Another name for the coconut macaron is “le rocher a la noix de coco”. The almond flour version is simply called “le macaron” in French.
The carajito is a macaron variant made with hazelnuts and honey.
Here coconut macarons are called besitos de coco (little coconut kisses). A few variations of besitos de coco can be found on the island, the most popular ones including lemon zest and vanilla traditionally.
In India, we have our own varieties of macaron made with cashews and egg whites, adapted from those introduced in the colonial times.
The traditional Turkish cookie is made of almonds, sugar and egg whites. The traditional recipes include a small amount of bitter almonds, which gives this cookie its name.
These days macarons are available in most confectioneries in India as well .They are expensive due to almonds being one of the major ingredients.
Although my personal favourite is the original one with a spoonful of rum and coffee flavouring. Flavouring colours such as blueberry, raspberry, vanilla , mango, cherry etc are the agents that provide beautiful colours and flavours to these delicious cookies.
Let me share one my recipes which I learnt from a student in La Cordon Bleu in Paris .
COFFEE FLAVOURED FRENCH MACARON
- In a bowl put egg whites and beat with a blender till stiff white peaks are formed
- Add sugar and almond powder in the egg white
- Pour in rum and add coffee powder and mix well
- Pre heat the oven to 170 degree centigrade
- Grease the baking dish with oil and pour the mixture to form small walnut size balls.Alternatively you can use the cookie baking dish with cookie slots
- Bake for about 15 minutes
- Remove and let them cool
- Remove from the tray
- Normally we use ganache, fruit jelly or jam between two macarons , resembling a pretty mini sandwich
- For coffee ganache ■ 1/2 cup double cream ■ 1 tsp coffee powder ■ 5 tsp sugar powdered
- Mix together and spread the filling on one side of the macarons and close with the other macaron
- French macarons are delightful and light-as-a-feather. Classic French mini treats give your dessert a dose of sophistication. Fill your macarons with a choice of chocolate, coconut, meringue or raspberry. Serve French macarons immediately or store as a save-some-for-later treat
- Alternate fillings Coconut: 1 cup double thick fresh cream , mixed with 1/3 cup angel-flake coconut.
- Pistachio: 1 cup double thick fresh cream mixed with 1/3 cup finely chopped pistachios.
- Raspberry: 3/4 cup seedless raspberry jam