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Monthly Archives: May 2014

  • Why Macaroons are Making a Comeback

    Macaroons are one of the oldest and most popular European confections. But to many people who have grown up snacking on boxed cookies or candy bars, macaroons are a relatively new discovery. Recently, in the United States, macaroons have seen a huge resurgence in popularity, as more and more people discover them. So what are macaroons and what makes them so popular?

    Macaroons can be small, fluffy sweet cookies or they can be more like tiny cakes, depending on how they're made. One of the great things about macaroons is that there are hundreds of variants, but what unites them all is that they are made with a basis of ground almonds. The almonds are what give them their distinct, sweet flavor, even though the amount of sugar typically added to them is relatively small compared to cookies or cakes. Some macaroon recipes don't have sugar added at all!

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    But while all macaroons share this basic ingredient, what really makes them so enjoyable is trying the many different kinds. For example, many macaroons do not seem nutty at all. They don't have chunks of gritty nuts in them. Instead, the nuts are in the form of an almond paste, which is then blended with whipped egg whites to take on a smooth, fluffy consistency. This substance is more like meringue than cookie dough or batter and, when baked, it retains its fluffy feel. The result is something golden-brown on the outside, but white and moist on the inside. It is also this consistency and preparation method which separates macaroons from amaretti, which are also almond-based, but tend to be hard, dense, and crunchy.

    Macaroons have been around since the 800s C.E. and have spread all over the world, meaning there are endless varieties. Some macaroons are larger and moister, like cakes; while others are baked to brown and crunch when you bite them. A huge number of ingredients can be added, as well, the most popular being shredded coconut, chopped or ground nuts, or (nowadays) chocolate. Chocolate macaroons have really taken off, both in the form of macaroons with chocolate chips baked inside of them and that of traditional macaroons with chocolate drizzled over the top when they're done.

    In a world of mass produced snacks, macaroons are one of the few remaining artisanal confections. Every area has its own take and you could spend a lifetime sampling maroons without ever running out of new ones to try.

    What's your favorite kind of macaroon?

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