Vent - macaron vs. macaroon
Are we allowed to vent here? It's such a silly thing, but I find it so irksome to see people constantly confusing the coconut macaroon with the French-style macaron. I ask for recommendations on a yummy macaron and I get pointed to bakeries with great cookies "like a huge haystack dipped in chocolate". I read people's reviews of Bay Bread and Miette where they say they tried a macaron and it was quite tasty "but I was surprised that it was not made with coconut and sugar, rather a more almond flavor".
Don't get me wrong, I love both and I have a great recipe for coconut macaroons to use up egg white from making custards and such. But there's a time and a craving for each.
Having said that, we're heading to SF next weekend and I plan on tasting every macaron I can find in that city. Yum yum.
Because, in many US bakeries (at least ones I am familiar with), "macaroon" without the "coconut" modifier means an almond-based cookie with no coconut. Because of the possibility of equivocation, I would always be specific and say "almond" or "coconut" macaroon, and consider "French macaron" for a more genuinely French/Belgian style of almond macaro[o]n. Yeh, the possiblility for confusion is great.
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0oooh. You hit a nerve. I had a total argument with a well-traveled, well-educated, French-speaking US friend about this very topic. I kept talking about the wonderful macarons I had in Paris and she kept insisting that there was no such thing, only macaroons -- the coconut kind. I just couldn't get it through her head that they were two different things and that the French ones are soooo much better.
The confusion is understandable, given that the two words are so similar and that macaron have only recently become slightly more common in the U.S.m(and still in only a few limited markets).
Macaron is the alternate spelling of macaroon, according to Larousse Gastronomique, which defines it as a "small round dry pastry made of almond paste, sugar and egg white."
Macaroons, often in pastel colors, were always available alongside the coconut variety in good pastry shops in New Orleans where I grew up.
In the US, you are most likely to see these in cities or bakeries with an Old World tradition. Not the type of sweets to find alongside gigantic muffins, cupcakes and huge chocolate chip cookies.
Plain macaroons are definitely a less-is-more delight.