May 31st was National Macaroon Day, a celebration that to some, automatically conjures up images of gooey, chewy mounds of toasted coconut, squat and sweet and haphazard. To others, a “macaroon” is quite the opposite: an airy sandwich cookie with delicately ruffled edges, a pillow of Parisian goodness in pastel colors.
So who’s right? Here’s the confusion: they both are.
But before you throw up your hands in hopeless perplexity (it’s a holiday after all), here’s a little etymology lesson: the word macaroon came from Italian and the word maccarone (not to be confused with ever-catchy Macarena). The original macaroons were neither coconut lumps nor sweet little sandwiches, but something similar to an amaretto biscotti.
From there, a coconut variety gained popularity and was dubbed a macaroon in the United States. The French similarly broke out and called their chewy little sandwich version a macaron.
As more and more specialty pâtisseries, daring bakers, and fancy food photo-bloggers celebrate the French flour-and-meringue cookies, the debate as to what is dubbed a macaroon has intensified.
Some say that the French macaron is indeed a macaroon in English; it’s only a matter of translation and what language you’re speaking (FoodPr0n points out that Ladurée, who apparently invented the little treat phenomena, lists them as macaroons in the English site, but macarons on its French version. )
Others say that its simply too confusing, and that if you want the French version, you better call them macarons and leave the extra “O” to the very different American variety.
Our BakeSpace verdict? Be specific. Say coconut if that’s what you want, or break out the high school French lessons and ask for les macarons, si vous plait.
Either way, celebrate National Macaroon Day by getting get kid-friendly and fun with coconut macaroons or challenging your inner Parisian pastry chef with a batch of macarons. We’ve rounded up a few recipes for you to get started.
Don’t forget to weigh in on our Facebook page: Macaroons or macarons? Tomato or tomato?
From fellow BakeSpacers:
Coconut Macaroons from jmgallo
Bittersweet Chocolate-Dipped Orange & Coconut Macaroons from kitchenwench
Macaroons with Tofu & Marscapone Cheese Filling from House Foods America
I was named after a recipe for Coriander Chicken, in the Silver Palate, specifically. Maybe that’s where I got my appetite, for new media, PR, art/design and exploring. And food, though irony of irony, not a fan of cilantro.