The golden child of our modern pastry chef is the venerable macaron. This is the delicious tiny bite of amazing flavor that has a slight snap that gently relents to a bit of gooey blast of jamminess in its lush interior. The macaron is the toast of Paris and celebrated in tea salons delivering a taste sensation without all the fuss of things like “fat” and “calories”. The macaron is poised with elegance, sophistication, and a thing of beauty in its seemingly effortless brilliance. The macaron.
The macaron has its birthright from Italy, brought into this world by 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 very name macaron has the same origin as that the word macaroni, meaning fine dough.
The first macarons were uncomplicated cookies, made of almond powder, sugar and egg whites. Throughout France macarons have their own unique tale detailing its delicacy. legend spells that the granddaughter of Catherine de Medici was saved from death by eating macarons. In Saint-Jean-de-Luz, the macaron of Chef Adam captivated Louis XIV and Marie-Therese in 1660 at their wedding. It was in the 20th century that Laduree pastry and salon de the, rue Royale in Paris began “sandwiching” the pastry and filled them with chocolate. Until then they were flat and a bit innocuous.
Be there no doubt that the macaron is the delectably light, mini-meringue that is simple to make, but difficult to perfect pastry that has fascinated this country in recent years.
That said, the macaron is not a macaroon. The term is not interchangeable as heard by laymen and professionals alike. The macaroon is a different breed of pastry. Delicious in its own right, but simply not a macaron.
The macaroon is a circular pastry made from ground almonds (the original main ingredient), coconut or other nuts. The macaroon can be traced to an Italian monastery of the 9th century. The monks came to France in 1533, joined by the pastry chefs of Catherine de Medici, wife of King Henri II. Later, two Benedictine nuns, Sister Marguerite and Sister Marie-Elisabeth, came to Nancy seeking asylum during the French Revolution. The two women paid for their housing by baking and selling macaroon cookies, and thus became known as the “Macaroon Sisters”. Note the similar roots of the macaron and the macaroon. The names are similar, with similar ingredients, but are nothing alike.
When you dissect each recipe they are indeed basically the same for both: egg whites, sugar, almond flour. It is when you bake each version and compare they are completely different. One is a chewy coconut haystack, the other a crispy meringue.
Where to find a great macaron in Dallas?
Joy Macarons: Liz Lanier has a slew of flavors to offer at her macaron shop located in Bishop Arts. Our favorite is, and will always be the pistachio. Find Joy at 839 W Davis.
Bisous Bisous Pâtisserie: Uptown’s upscale patisserie with delightfully beautiful displays of colorful macarons, with a waft of the sexy scent of Noble Coyote Coffee throughout the tiny shop located at 3700 McKinney Ave.
Haute Sweets Patisserie: Haute is one of the latest entries into superb bakeries in Dallas, specializing in the mighty macaron. They are located at 10230 East Northwest Highway. This is definitely a chef’s hang out, and the owners have earned their respect in the industry. Visit them often.
Rush Patisserie: Samantha Rush is one of the happiest pastry chefs in Dallas, working out of a hidden kitchen in Oak Cliff and selling in her shop located at 1201 Eldoraado next to the vegan restaurant, Spiral Diner. You may visit her shop late nights on weekends, but you will need to place an order for macarons in advance. She does make them for special occasions, and she also supplies many of the local upscale coffee shops and places like Bolsa Mercado.
Kate Weiser: Kate has her loverly little chocolate shop located in Trinity Groves where she sells beautifully shaped bonbons of all flavors, ice cream and macarons. She and her talented team aspire for aesthetics as much as they do flavor. Visit Kate with a passion.