Today is Macaron day here at le Calabash and Alison shares with you her passion for creating and preparing one of the world’s most sought after classics, the Macaron, on which she has put her own stamp.
The Macaron cookie was born in Italy, introduced by the chef of Catherine de Medicis in 1533 at the time of her marriage to the Duc d’Orleans who became king of France in 1547 as Henry II. The macaron spreaded thanks to the Renaissance with Catherine de Médicis and many cities made this their speciality: Nancy with the famous “macaron sisters”, Reims, Amiens with honey and apricot jam, Cormery, Saint-Jean-de-Luz, Montmorillon, etc.
Abroad, macarons were also found in Belgium, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Japan and even Argentina or Chili.
The first Macarons were simple cookies, made of almond powder, sugar and egg whites. Many towns throughout France have their own prized tale surrounding this delicacy. In Nancy, the granddaughter of Catherine de Medici was supposedly saved from starvation by eating Macarons. In Saint-Jean-de-Luz, the macaron of Chef Adam regaled Louis XIV and Marie-Therese at their wedding celebration in 1660.
There are two types of macarons: the traditional or the Parisian. The traditional macaron has a cracked, grainy ad crunchy shell on the outside, and the inside melts in your mouth. Le Parisian macaron is round, smooth and in garnished with jam, compote, spices or liquor. Later came the idea to garnish them with ganache or with a cream filling and to transform them into different flavours.
Only at the beginning of the 20th century did the Macaron become a “double-decker” affair. Pierre Desfontaines, the grandson of Louis Ernest Laduree (Laduree pastry and salon de the, rue Royale in Paris) had the idea to fill them with a “chocolate panache” and to stick them together.
Since then, French Macaron cookies have been nationally acclaimed in France and remain the best-selling cookie in pastry retail stores.