What are Macarons and Who Eats Them?

Macarons are quickly becoming a favorite snack around the world. They were originally enjoyed by the French, who put their own twist on an Italian type of cookie dessert. They are designed as finger food served at parties and social gatherings. The sandwich filled cookies look like Oreos, but with a softer outer shell, in a variety of bright or pastel colors. The original cookie was made with almonds, eggs, and sugar. The outer crust is somewhat crunchy, followed by a cream filling the consistency of ganache. There are literally dozens of flavors used for the smooth, creamy filling in macarons.

A good macaron has a smooth outer shell. The almonds are ground finely enough to prevent lumps or clumps. These smooth finger sandwich cookies should not be thick or coarse. The filling is also smooth, without stickiness. The ideal macaron can easily be grasped and handled between two fingers.

Good macarons don't have any air bubbles. The outer shell does not pull away from the center. Only real ingredients are used in quality macarons. Some bakeries may try to use almond flavoring instead of ground almonds, which reflects in the look, feel, and taste of the cookie. Others may advertise pistachio macarons, but will substitute almond for pistachio.

The size of a suitable macaron is important. It should be slightly larger than a quarter. This allows the filling to reach the edges of the treat. Bakeries should not skimp on filling and they should not be too sweet to enjoy thoroughly.

While these treats are popular in France, they are quickly becoming a favorite in large cities like New York, Paris, Toronto, and London. However, they are quickly becoming popular in a variety of cultures. Coconut macarons are enjoyed during Jewish Passover, as they are considered a kosher food. Coconut doesn't spoil as easily as almond and can be stored for a long time.

Martha Washington created her own recipe for this treat, which always included rosewater. More current versions will use water or orange water to mix with the ground almonds. They sandwich cookie of today always includes a cream ganache filling and can easily be made more decorative, for special occasions.

Today, macarons are enjoyed by many cultures around the world. They can be ornately designed for weddings, anniversary celebrations, birthdays, or graduations. They make excellent finger snacks or mini desserts, to go with any formal or informal dinner party.