Understanding the Macaron

It is November!  Halloween is over, I hope it was a homerun for you!   Next up to bat is Thanksgiving.  And on deck is Christmas.  A friend of mine posted a meme last Friday that said there are only 8 more Fridays until Christmas.  I immediately stressed out and needed a nap.

No, we can do this!  The next two holidays are biggies, full of tradition and history.  I decided to do a little digging into the history of my beloved French macaron. 

Did you know that they actually originated in Italy?  Mon Dieu!  Here are some fun facts, all from Wikipedia.  Does that count as a reference since this is not college?  I’m kind of done with APA format and bibliographies, y’all.


1.)  Macarons were made in Venetian monasteries since the 8th century A.D.

2.)  The macaron shell was the work of Catherine DeMedici’s pastry chef’s.  And when I say macaron at this time, it was just the shells.  No filling.  Sorry, but that would be like a bigger, yet sweeter, communion wafer in my mouth.  More on that in a minute.

3.)  It was rumored that she agreed to marry the Duke d’Orleans only if she could bring her pastry chefs with her.  I kind of love her prenup terms. The Duke went on to be Henry II.

4.)  Macaron keeps getting the red squiggly underline in word documents because it wants me to spell macaroni.  Well, low and behold they mean the same thing, “fine dough”. 

5.)  In 1792, macarons began to gain fame when two Carmelite nuns, seeking asylum in Nancy during the French Revolution, baked and sold the macaron cookies in order to pay for their housing. I can totes relate.  These nuns became known as the "Macaron Sisters". Still no fillings…

6.)  It was not until the 1830’s that the genius of putting two shells together with a ganache or butter cream or jam filling happened.  Finally! 

So when someone asks me how much time I need to fill an order, my off the cuff answer is three days.  One day to make the shells and the filling and to put them together.  One day to allow the magic to happen.  These macaron shells are sweet, but when not filled, they are just that, a shell.  I wouldn’t call them dry; unless they are left out then they become super stale super fast.  A perfect macaron should have a very light crispy shell just so it cracks ever so slightly when one bites into it.  Then there should be a soft pillowy layer, and then the filling, where the entire flavor comes from. Macarons need ideally 24 hours to become the stars they are.  The moisture from the filling, whether it is a buttercream or ganache, needs time to seep into the shell.  Remember the process of osmosis back in high school bio class?  Same concept.   And honestly the third day is just to give myself some wiggle room in case a batch goes all wonky on me.  

There is your macaron lesson for the day!  Class dismissed!

Reference:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macaron

Sarah CainComment