I had lunch with my friend Galo the other day and on the dessert menu, nestled amongst the several sweet offerings, there was listed a single word: macaroon. Of course the Frenchie Mc French in me immediately grabbed the poor waiter and started grilling him about exactly what kind of cookie we were talking about here. It was the classic Macaron vs. Macaroon debate.
When I hear the word “macaroon” with two o’s, it conjures up the image of a cluster of sweet shredded coconut, oftentimes dipped in chocolate. It doesn’t exactly inspire a “must have” reaction in me, and in fact reminds me of my Grandmother’s kitchen table (not that there’s anything wrong with that…).
However, I simply have to hear the mere utterance of the word “macaron” and immediately my eyes are a-flutter and I’m smiling at the memory of a Parisian afternoon spent at the Georges V with some girlfriends as we snacked upon these delightful treats from the house of Ladurée. (Sorry, Grandma!) These tiny beauties look gorgeous and taste even better.
When made correctly (see Ladurée, Fauchon, and Maison du Chocolat), the ground almonds, powdered sugar and egg whites are blended and baked to form a shiny, barely-noticeable crisp shell that easily gives way to a sweet and chewy interior. Two of the little cookies are joined together on the flat side with a schmear (yes, that’s a French word!) of flavored creams, jellies or ganache. Classic flavors are chocolate , raspberry and my all-time favorite, pistachio, but there are as many flavor creations as there are creative bakers! (Check out the sites above – so creatively French!!)
With nary a shred of coconut in sight, why do some people insist on calling a macaron a macaroon? A quick search on Google educated me that apparently the culinary encyclopedia Larousse Gastronomique puts the English translation of macaron as macaroon, and there is endless speculation on other blogs as to the words’ etymology and differences. So I suppose that the dessert menu I saw was technically correct, but in terms of conjuring up images and expectations, I call upon my fellow Foodies to start a concentrated effort to make this fine line a more pronounced one, and forever banish macaroon to it’s coconut cave.
Because as any of us who have had a real macaron can tell you… it ain’t no macaroon!