I hate to say this, but I’m starting to get sick of cupcakes. Cupcake pops, stuffed cupcakes, extra large cupcakes or teeny weenie cupcakes… they’ve taken the United States by storm. Cupcake chains like Magnolia Bakery, Baked by Melissa, Sprinkles, and Crumbs have permeated New York City like frosting covered Starbucks chains. It’s too much.
Luckily, the cupcake has finally met its match: the macaroon. (Or macaron, as the French say).
Not to be confused with the coconut macaroons we’ve seen in bakeries or on supermarket shelves, French macaroons are these brilliantly delicate meringue cookies filled with an intensely flavored buttercream filling.
French macaroons require much more skill and finesse than your average cupcake. You can’t just bake and slop some frosting on these puppies. They are temperamental and finicky. The almond flour and confectioner’s sugar must be sifted. The egg whites should be at room temperature and can’t be over whipped. The batter can’t be over mixed, otherwise it will be too runny to pipe into those perfect circles. And if you don’t let the piped batter rest for at least 30 minutes, you won’t get those short little “feet” that support the macaroon base.
Finding a place to try these macaroons is much easier than making them. Luckily there are some great new bakeries offering the most delicious and beautiful macaroons you’ll ever see. Laduree, the famous Paris shop (which has definitely changed my life as a chef), has come to New York City. The interior of the store is decorated like a little jewel box. If you’re in the area, go and try flavors like salted caramel, rose and raspberry. If you’re not in New York, try Mad Mac, which will deliver macaroons across the country.
Usually, I buy a few macaroons with the intention of taking them home to share. Realistically, I end up eating them on my commute home. (My thought process: Hmm, I forget what flavor that one is? I think I should try it…)
If you don’t eat them all first, macaroons make beautiful edible gifts that everyone will enjoy. Unlike the cupcake, they are also a great dessert option for those on a gluten-free diet.
Try a few macaroons today and tell us…do you think macaroons are the new cupcakes??
Check out my favorite macaroon recipe here.