Remember when the cupcake craze swept the nation? All of a sudden, they were the “it” pastry. Shops entirely devoted to the tiny cakes and their flavors, frostings and decorations popped up across the country.
While cupcakes are still incredibly popular, it got me thinking – what might the next sweet treat trend be? Whoopie pies have been getting some well-deserved attention recently, and it seems donuts might be about to have a moment. But if it were up to me, I’d declare Macaron Mania.
Now before we go any further, some clarification is needed. I’m not talking about the mounded coconut cookies called macaroons. What I go crazy for is that light, airy, cream-filled sandwich cookie known as a macaron. Eating these little French cookies is like biting into a cloud – a sweet, beautifully textured cloud.
Made of egg white, ground almonds and sugar with a ganache filling, the perfect macaron has several important qualities. The crust of the cookie should be smooth with an egg shell-like quality – delicate and crisp (but never hard!) – that easily gives way to a tender, just barely chewy interior. On a good macaron cookie, you’ll also be able to see a “foot,” a ruffled ring around its edge.
Though some macarons are filled with caramel or jams, most are filled with ganache or buttercream. Sandwiched between two lighter-than-air cookies, these smooth, creamy fillings give macarons a texture that is simply heavenly.
What I really love about macarons though, is that they are a marvelous combination of the elegant and playful. Something about macarons feels infinitely chic and refined; like just the thing an aristocrat might serve for tea. Yet their punchy colors, dainty size and often-whimsical presentation are irresistibly delightful. Opening a box of macarons feels like opening a jewelry box with a rainbow of edible treasures inside.
Luckily, the macaron has recently been gaining in popularity. Ladurée (who many consider to make the best macarons in the whole world) now has a shop in Manhattan, and more and more local bakeries are offering the delightful treats. Could this be the start of a trend? I hope so! Let’s all go out and buy a box to encourage the craze. Let the macaron madness begin!