The words both come from the Italian maccarone or maccherone which is derived from ammaccare, meaning crush or beat -- referencing almond paste as the principle ingredient. Most macaroon recipes contain egg whites, almonds or nuts. Sometimes coconut -- and definitely sugar! I grew up with macaroons that were mainly coconut.
The 'French' macaron is a sweet meringue-based confection filled with ganache, buttercream or jam and is between two 'cookies'. It's smooth and domed. Lots of flavors, including, of course, chocolate! Although French, there has been much debate about its origins. Larousse Gastronomique cites the macaron as being created in 1791 in a convent near Cormery. Some have traced its French debut back to the arrival of Catherine de' Medici's Italian pastry chefs whom she brought with her in 1533 upon marrying Henry II of France.
In the 1830s, macarons were served two-by-two with the addition of jams, liqueurs, and spices. The macaron as it is known today was called the "Gerbet" or the "Paris macaron" and was created in the early 20th Century by Pierre Desfontaines of the French pâtisserie Ladurée, composed of two almond meringue discs filled with a layer of buttercream, jam, or ganache filling.
But for today's post, I thought I'd focus on MACAROONS, since it's National Macaroon Day!
Almond & Macaroon Museum in Montmorillon, France. This museum pays homage to the generations of craftsmen who built the reputation of Montmorillon, Cité of Macaroons. The Museum reveals the history of the macaroon, from the culture of the almond tree (and the multiple uses of almonds), to the arrival of the macaroon in France.
There are informative panels, interactive terminals, and machines and old instruments used in the kitchen. At the end of the exhibition, a film summarizes the broad outlines of the visit, and dwells on the arrival of the Macaroon of Montmorillon, and on the creation of Rannou-Métivier House. The visit culminates in the opportunity for tasting in the Winter Garden of the museum.
And, a few recipes to help you celebrate the day!
1 1/3 (8 ounces) cups dark (70%) chocolate, chopped, divided
2 large egg whites
pinch of salt
1/4-1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups sweetened fresh flaked coconut
Preheat oven to 325°F. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Place 1 cup chocolate in microwave-safe bowl; microwave on low setting at 10-second intervals until chocolate is melted, stirring occasionally (or melt in a double boiler). Cool just to room temperature.
Using electric mixer, beat egg whites and salt in medium bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, then vanilla, beating until whites are thick and glossy. Fold in melted chocolate and coconut, then remaining 1/3 cup chocolate (broken into small pieces the size of mini-chips).
Drop batter by heaping teaspoonfuls onto prepared sheets, spacing 1-1/2 inches apart.
Bake cookies 10 minutes. Reverse sheets. Bake until tops are dry and cracked and tester inserted into centers comes out with moist crumbs attached, about 10 minutes longer.
Cool cookies on sheets on racks.
Three More Chocolate Macaroon Recipes:
CLEO COYLE'S MOCHA DIPPED RUM MACAROONS
CHOCOLATE CHIP MACAROONS
SCOTTISH MACAROON BARS FROM CATRIONA MCPHERSON
And for those of you who like to drink your Chocolate Macaroons:
Chocolate Macaroon Martini
6 ounces vodka
1 ounce chocolate-flavored liqueur
1 ounce Amaretto
Combine liquid ingredients in cocktail shaker with cracked ice and shake well.
Strain into chilled martini glass and garnish with orange twist.