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The History Behind Macaroons

macaroonWhen is the last time you had a macaroon – was it an almond, coconut, chocolate chip or chocolate covered macaroon? Whichever variation you had last, it was probably delicious but do you know the origins behind this cookie? Legend has it that the macaroon cookie first was dated back in the 8th or 9th century Italian monastery and the earliest recording has been traced back to Commercy, France. Some historians argue that macaroons originated in Venice and made their way to France by sailors.

While the exact recordings of the macaroon are debated, one thing kept true was its unique texture and flavor. The word ‘macaroon’ is derived from the Italian word ammaccare which means to crush. The reference is to the almond paste which was the main ingredient of the cookie since the beginning of its introduction. Interestingly enough, almonds were introduced to Venice in the beginning of the 7th century by Arab invaders. From there, egg whites and sugar were mixed to create the cookie.

By the 18th century, the French refined the macaroon and made it a delicacy by sticking to the original recipe and modifying it slightly. The basics included almond paste, sugar and egg whites but they shaped the cookie round and after they would bake, jam or another filling would be placed between two rounded macaroons. It may have been the first ‘sandwich’ cookie because the Oreo didn’t debut until 1912!

The macaroon eventually made its way around the world and it wasn’t until the late 19th century when the almond was replaced with coconut in North America. The almond replacement was due to the fragile nature of the cookie because the coconut substitute held up better during transportation. Additionally, the coconut substitute tended to last longer on long voyages which made it less likely to spoil over time.

Today, macaroons are considered favorites among cookie eaters and the recipes have not changed much since the 8th century. They saying, ‘why fix something that isn’t broken’ definitely applies to the macaroon because its’ recipe has lasted this long. The chewy and delightful cookie is a great holiday dessert because it pairs perfectly with milk or coffee! You have to try each variety because they all have the same back bone but different flavor profiles. You can assume that the macaroon cookie is on track to stay around for a few more hundred years.

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