I am still quite hazy about what a macaron is and am not able to clearly tell you how it’s different from a biscuit so this is going to be an organic post. As I research I will write down what I discover. Hope I will know more at the end of the post than what I did at the beginning and share my knowledge in the process.
Ok, what I do know is that it’s quite a trend in Singapore and I see them everywhere these days. I also think of this dessert snack as very sweet, expensive and sophisticated.
The very first time biting into a macaron, was at TWG. Cost S$2 each and I thought it was quite expensive, but worth the experience. It practically melted in my mouth. Crisp, hard shell on the outside and chewy on the inside. All the various flavours and colours intrigued me as well. You can also read about my second time at the Marina Bay Sands TWG on the Bridge.
My cousin who visited Paris recently was raving about the world’s best macarons at Laduree. Laduree was established way back in 1862 so it has quite the pedigree. And it originated the macaron as we know it today – with that sandwich filling in between two pieces. According to the Laduree website this is how they create perfection:
The pastry chefs measure out very precisely the required amounts of almonds, eggs and sugar, before adding one final ingredient, a pinch of unique “know-how”, essential to the making of such a delicacy. Once cooked and filled, the macaroons are put to one side for 2 days before going on sale, the time it takes to achieve a perfect balance between texture and flavour.
To me it looks like a lot more effort than making cake.
There is a debate raging that the best macarons in the world are now those made by the former baker at Laduree who set off and opened up his own shop. Have you heard about Pierre Herme? Here’s more at Hip Paris about how he has taken the world by storm.
In one corner, we have the elegant and established Ladurée, which has been turning out sweet confections since 1862. And in the other corner, we have upstart Pierre Hermé, the enfant terrible of the dessert world who worked at Ladurée before setting out on his own. (Word on the street is that the “oppressive” traditions at Ladurée were preventing him from exploring the crazy flavor combinations for which he is now world famous).
My other experience with the macaron was attending a French style wedding where the main attraction was the Macaron pyramid like tower instead of the usual tier like wedding cake I was used to seeing. It was from Canele in Singapore. Ms Glitzy does a comparison between Singapore’s Canele & TWG Macarons and Canele was declared the winner.
My gut feel was that the macaron is neither a biscuit or a cake, but it’s referred to as an almond meringue cake. I guess cakes rise and biscuits don’t? Still not sure about this one.
The macaron craze in Singapore is all about the Parisian macaron that entices us in the most gorgeous rainbow of colours from jewel tones to pastels. But when we look at history, the original macaron can be traced back to Italy through the marriage of an Italian lady to the King of France. We can thank her chef. Here’s the brilliant story about the macaron’s history, told by none other than macaron herself.
The Macaron cookie was born in Italy, introduced by the chef of 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.
Here is a compilation of links to Singapore bloggers, Pleasure Monger and Lady J who wow me with their macaron posts:
Lady J’s first attempt at making macarons in her kitchen. Since then she has made many more attempts so go check out her creations. I had no idea that you needed to age the egg white for 3 days, Lady J. It looks like a tedious process, so I think I’ll stick with admiring your efforts, and buy my macarons from the shops when I have a craving.
Ok lastly there is this whole confusion about the coconut macaroon vs the French Style macaron. Another excellent post on the subject here. It’s basically a confusion due to the inconsistent spelling. I have never tried the coconut macaroon before and if I do I will definitely do a whole other post on it. Perhaps the coconut macaroon, popular in the US, could become our next Singapore food trend?