Macarons--The Next Cupcake?

From Paulette in San Francisco
I'll be honest right up front...this is one of those pure, unadulterated, food porn posts.

The cupcake trend that I gushed over last fall got moving back in 2005.  Now, it's everywhere:  Food Network shows, catering companies, entire blogs devoted to cupcakes.

What is next on the horizon?

More then one expert is saying that the next dessert "it girl" is going to be the macaron.  What, though, is a macaron?  For those who don't regularly watch shows like Gossip Girl or read "O";

Or watched Marie Antoinette lately...

"The a dainty French cream-filled sandwich cookie which, in its best form, will fill your soul with warm, fuzzy happiness after one bite. "--Robyn Lee, Serious Eats
In more technical terms, it is a pair of light, crisp almond cookies with a filling in the middle. It is not the same as a macaroon...those coconut and egg white cookies everyone's Jewish grandmother bakes at Passover.
One of these pictures is not like the others...

As Lee goes on to show(with diagrams) the almond meal should be finely ground for a light cookie, and just the right amount of filling is an art.  Like a haiku, this strict form compliments and highlights the dizzying array of flavors available, ranging from traditional french staples such as raspberry or chocolate, to exotics like rose hips and lemongrass.  Just check out the site of the Macaron Cafe in New York City!  Many of the flavors that are most popular have come to major U.S. cities by way of Japan, where macaron trend hit first and has inspired everything from children's toys to food jewelry
Ahhh...kawaii desu ne....
Americans are often less likely to run with a foreign trend, though, and even if they do, more then one fan of these dainty treats is worried that their new popularity in America will ruin them. Given America's penchant for taking something and breaking it down to the lowest common denominator, it's a reasonable concern.  Starbucks and Mcdonalds have already tried their hand at selling them, and if that's the first introduction to the concept for someone who's never tried them before, I doubt they'll try again.   

Another difficulty is how hard it can be for these treats to be made by the home cook.  Unlike cupcakes, which were already a staple waiting for a makeover, these treats need very careful preparation and even oven temperature, meaning that even the most careful cook can be thwarted by an old oven.  That does not mean that it's impossible, though, either...just difficult.  If you want some help, Amazon has a least 9 different macaron cookbooks right now, with more on the way. 

Or you can try the instructions at
So will macarons succeed outside of major urban areas?  In another four or five years will specialty shops be showing up in strip malls in Kansas or Montana?  Only time will tell, but I'm betting on the possibility of a glass case full of pastel cookies somewhere nearby in the next couple of years.  In the meantime...I might be making a trip down to Salt Lake City sometime soon.
Green Tea macarons from Les Madeleines cafe and patisserie in Salt Lake City.


Post a Comment