by Alicia Lieu
While there are no recipes from Alicia this month, she does include links to some videos with Macaron recipes. Check back every month as Alicia shares her adventures of How I Met My Dinner!
“What’s the difference between a Macaroon and a Macaron?”An “O,” I said, as my coworker raised his eyebrows at my less than satisfying answer. So I asked another coworker to Google Macaron vs. Macaroon and it turns out that a lot of people don’t know what the difference is. My favorite illustration was the one with the macaron dressed in a black beret and mustache juxtaposed with a coconut macaroon. In short, macaron (long O) is a delicate French cookie sandwich.
A macaroon (sounds like “ooh”) is a coconut cookie. When I was in college, my classmate would bake macaroons for her composition teacher. She knew they were his favorite cookie. I have never really taken a liking to them because I just don’t really like the taste and texture of dried shredded coconut. The reach of these two cookies are also quite different. I have never seen as many color and flavor variations of macaroons as I have macarons. I have heard macarons called the next cupcake, whereas people don’t really fawn over macaroons. Well, maybe normal people don’t fawn over macarons, but I kind of do.
Ironically, when I was a music student in Paris, I did not eat a single macaron. I was pretty much writing music and working on counterpoint and harmony the entire time. I bought food from supermarkets and ate mostly crepes or sandwich grec (gyro sandwiches) with fries, although I did have more than my fair share of desserts because there were so many bakeries in Paris. My classmate still quotes me to this day, “I need to cut down to just two desserts a day!”
There are many places in New York to get Macarons. The place I have been going to the longest is actually called Macaron Cafe. They have a couple locations in Manhattan. There is also Financier Patisserie, Boulud Sud, Bouchon, and, of course, the shop that flies their macarons in straight from Paris, Ladurée. The cookies at Ladurée actually make me swoon. Merengue baked to perfection. The colors and flavors are deep and rich. My coworker asked me if I have been to the new Ladurée location that just opened up in SoHo. The entire shop makes you feel like you’ve entered a French Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.
The François Payard Bakeries are also quite wonderful. I have to also pay homage to my roots. I stumbled upon MeeMee Bakery in San Francisco Chinatown years ago and I can’t get enough of their cookies. Their main attraction is the fortune cookie factory but they sell these Almond Macarons and Chocolate Bon Bon Cookies that are to die for. Check them out if you get a chance. You can also ask to see how the fortune cookies are made. They are always super nice there.
I have, actually, saved the best news for last. On March 20, 2014, bakeries will be giving out free Macarons (one per person) for Macaron Day. Additional Macarons can be purchased. Proceeds from this event will benefit City Harvest. I missed this event last year, so this year I vowed not to miss it. The map of all the participants can be found at macarondaynyc.com/map.html. I have already planned out my route for that day!
I have not yet attempted to bake these delightful desserts, nor do I know anyone who has, either. But, plenty of folks have not only published recipes but also posted videos on how to make them. My two personal favorites would be the one on the Sorted YouTube Channel, and this one by Fine Cooking.
I will keep you updated once I find anyone I know with hands on Macaron making experience.