Macarons: seductive little biscuits !

Back in favour due to the creativity of great Parisian chefs, macarons come in an infinite variety of flavours and an explosion of colours. Considered to be one of the jewels of French patisserie, the little round biscuit is showing its delicious colours way beyond our borders.

Pink, green, yellow, blue, brown... Decorating the shelves of French patisseries, the macaron attracts attention and sharpens the appetite. Brought back into favour by the boundless imagination of patissiers such as Pierre Hermé, and now a consumer craze , this little round biscuit related to the meringue is now available in an infinite range of colours and flavours.

In Paris, Maison Ladurée, the celebrated maker of the macaron founded in 1862, draws gourmands from around the world, who come to sample its original creations. In addition to the traditional range of raspberry, chocolate and lemon macarons, they regularly produce Limited Edition special collections to go with the seasons and special events. Another celebrated maker of the macaroon is Maison Dalloyau, founded in 1802 – their ancestors even organised sumptuous receptions for Louis XIV at Versailles !

We may well allow that French patissiers invented the macaron as we know it today, with its two shells sandwiched together with a soft and creamy ganache, but the roots of the macaron are probably Italian, or even Arabic. The little biscuit, which was at that time simple and colourless, is purported to have arrived in France in the luggage of Catherine of Medicis in the 16th century. It apparently then developed in various regional ways, still with the same three ingredients from the basic recipe: egg white, sugar and almonds.

Today, macarons produced by the big Paris houses are one of the high points of French patisserie. Chefs patissiers, some well-known and others less so, stretch their imagination to the limit to perfect new macaron recipes: the lemon and raspberry duo, exotic mango and even savoury with foie gras and truffle. This little French biscuit has seen amazing success abroad. Pierre Hermé, Ladurée, Dalloyau... they have all taken their brands and their macarons abroad, notably to Europe, the Middle East and Japan.

The macaron: one name but many recipes. This little twin-shelled macaron is much better known in France and throughout the world, but a number of French towns are continuing the tradition of the authentic macaron, minus colour and artifice. This is true of Saint-Jean-de-Luze, Saint-Emilion, Lusignan, Cormery, Boulay, Nancy and Montmorillon. These macarons might not look much like the little biscuit made by the great houses in Paris, but they all have the basic recipe of egg, sugar and almonds and a jealously guarded production in common.

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