Macaroons and Macarons: You need to know the difference
The names “macaron” and “macaroon” are used interchangeably across the globe, though the cookies themselves are quite different. Macaroons are the rough and chewy almond cookies that are usually served with a coconut topping. Macarons are the colorful, fluffy, and flakey cookies that you see in the picture on the left. So why do you need to know the difference? The principle is that by discovering different types of foods, you learn more about the deep history of these fascinating cultures.
The long, convoluted backstory behind macarons, as told by Professional Chef Chris Barclay
Essentially, macarons and macaroons started out as the same cookie. This cookie was deemed the title of “maccarones”, deriving from the Greek word ammaccare: to beat or crush. It was an Italian almond-based cookie, where they would mix egg whites, sugar, and crushed almonds together to bake. During the French Revolution (1789-1799), two nuns decided to open a bakery selling the cookies. This cookie was being developed and changed, and at some point in time, the macaroon and macaron split off from the original cookie into their own forms. Until 1830, the macarons retained its crunchy, almond texture. However, in 1830, the cookie was upgraded to be topped with jam, sold in fours, and put together with icing much like an Oreo. The bright colors from the macarons originated in 1862, where chefs tested out a variety of vibrant flavors and colors. Though macarons were available in France for a long time, they weren’t served in America until 1997 when Francois Payard opened the first bakery selling boxed macarons. This bakery was built on the Upper East side in New York City, and promoted macarons to its popularity today. Currently, Macarons are loved and praised throughout Europe as one of the most delicious confectionery desserts on the market .
Recipe for amazing macarons:
- 4 large eggs (only the egg whites needed)
- 1 cup of almond meal/flour *hard to find
- ⅓ cup caster sugar (aka superfine sugar)
- 1 ½ cups pure icing sugar (aka powdered sugar)
- 2g salt for some reason
- optional: food coloring
- electric mixer
- pan + wax cover
- measuring cups (1 cup, ⅓ cup, 1 ½ cup)
- spoon OR icing bag (used to put mixture onto wax covering)
- optional: sifter *only if flour is not processed
> Preheat the oven to 302°
> Clean the tabletop that you will be working on
> Set out all needed items
1. Put a bowl down on the tabletop, and break eggs into two half shells over the bowl (keep the yolk in one of the shells), then carefully pour the egg yolk (try to keep it intact) between each individual shell. Repeat until most of the egg white is out. You only want the egg whites, the yolk will mess up the baking process and taste. Pour the egg white into a larger bowl after getting the egg whites from each egg so that you don’t have to scrap all the egg white if you mess up an egg. Once finished, pour the caster sugar into the bowl of egg whites.
2. Mix the egg white and caster sugar until it is of a consistency where you can turn the bowl upside down and it won’t fall out fast. I recommend tilting it to start out. Once it won’t fall out of the bowl, keep mixing for 90 seconds.
a. Optional: Once you are done with this step, add food coloring. The color of the mixture should be darker than how you want the color of the cookies to look.
3. If your almond meal or powdered sugar is processed, pour almond meal and powdered sugar into the bowl. If it is not processed, sift the flour and sugar into the bowl. Use the spatula to fold the mixture into itself until the mixture is thoroughly mixed in. *Folding is where you scrape the sides and “fold” the mixture into the middle using the spatula.
4. If you are using an icing bag, put the mixture into the icing bag (I would not recommend using the icing bag if you are using ground almonds, as it will get stuck inside) and make 2 inch diameter circles of the mixture onto the wax covering on the pan. If you are using the spoon, the macarons will turn out less rounded, but they will be easier to create. Consider placing each cookie at least 1.5 inches apart, as each cookie will expand around½ cm apart. Once the mixture is on the covering, bang the pan against the tabletop 3-5 times. This is to ensure the cookies do not crack when baking.
5. Put those cookies into the oven. Pose for effect. Bake for 20 mins.
6. To check if the cookies are done, they should easily come off the pan. Cookies should not be sticking to the wax paper unless you underbaked them. If this is the case, put them back in the oven for 1-3 minutes.
They should turn out flakey. If your macarons are cracked, it is because you did not bang the mixture out on the table enough. If they did not come off the wax covering easily, you need to bake them more. If they are completely black, and a soft wind blows all of them away, you may have burned them.
-Professional Chef: Chris Barclay
The History of Macaroons. (n.d.). Retrieved from The Nibble website: http://www.thenibble.com/reviews/main/cookies/cookies2/history-of-macaroons.asp
Great for history. Explains a lot about the general process.
Joseph Erdos. (n.d.). Macaroon vs. Macaron: Two Very Different Cookies With a Linked Past. Retrieved from Food Network website: http://blog.foodnetwork.com/fn-dish/2013/05/macaroon-vs-macaron-history-and-recipes/
Highlights the difference between each cookie
Mr. Macaron. (n.d.). History of the Macaron. Retrieved from Mr. Macaron website: http://www.mrmacaron.com/history/
Great website! Really elaborates on the important history behind the to two cookies.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MACARONS AND MACAROONS? (n.d.). Retrieved from The Culinary Life website: https://www.theculinarylife.com/2009/what-is-the-difference-between-macarons-and-macaroons/
Great visual information. Images are excellent in pointing out differences. Recipes are so-so.