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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.

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  1. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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).

        1. 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.

          1. for a true macaron and really one of the best i have ever had (a recommendation from a french woman who used to make me quiches, tartes and individual creme brulee) is la maison du chocolat from paris and has two stores in new york. www.lamaisonduchocolat.com

            i believe they make their macarons fresh each day so you can't order them, but try them.

            definitely much much better and elegant than any gaudy macaroon ;-)

            3 Replies
            1. re: hugglyj

              I really loved the chestnut macaron at la maison du chocolat that I had recently from the London store. The ones from Gerard Mulot in Paris are also outstanding, with nearly 20 varieties.

              1. re: hugglyj

                They're really simple almond/eggwhite cookies, however you wish to spell the name, that you can find in many ethnic bakeries so it's hardly necessary to go to a fancy, expensive place like Maison du Chocolat, which does have an excellent version.
                They probably originated in Italy but are common throughout Europe and Latin America. Macarron or bollitos de almendra in Spanish. Amaretti di Saronno. Chinese almond cookies are a variation.
                The colors can vary due to natural flavorings but also food dyes. Yes, sometimes they can be a little bright but that's a cultural thing when people order them for parties, weddings or quincineras. The color doesn't automatically change the spelling. One spelling is not higher class than the other.
                They actually keep well as long as they are kept away from moisture but many versions are pretty fragile so probably wouldn't ship well.

                1. re: hugglyj

                  I have to try those next time I'm in NY! La Maison du Chocolat also has the best chocolate ever.

                  Here in the Boston area, L.A. Burdick makes great macarons in different flavors -- chocolate is my favorite -- and they do ship.

                  My theory is that macaron is hard to pronounce, so people just say macaroon, and that's where we get into trouble.

                2. I noticed that on the Laduree website - the French version uses "macarons" and the English version "macaroons".

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: MMRuth

                    I think that is a mistake in judgement. Hugo & Victor does the same thing. It may be technically correct (or not), but it's misleading. I think for those who go to Laduree would be able to distinguish macaron as being a french variety and macaroon as being the coconut ones. It's just awful to my ears to hear it called a "french macaroon".

                  2. We just returned from Toulouse yesterday. We had the good fortune of going to the marche de noel, where (among dozens of other food vendors) there was a baker selling fresh macarons. Bitter almond. Mild almond. Chocolate. Chocolate-orange. Ginger. Hazelnut. Pistachio. mmmmmmmm.

                    Now I'm spoiled and don't think I could eat one not baked fresh. Darn the luck.

                    1. Y'all have inspired me to try my hand at these. I've got all next week off and I'm going to learn the intricacies of egg whites. And I have some crazy ideas to try with macarons.

                      Plus I just got an ice cream maker, so now I can make custard based ice creams with all those leftover egg yolks.

                      1. In case anyone finds this old thread - I know this has been talked about many times on this site so didn't want to start a new thread and rile people up. But I found this article very interesting

                        http://www.slate.com/articles/life/fo...

                        1. How silly. Everyone knows that real macaroons are the things that come in cans that you eat at Passover, and they come in all flavors, as long as they're all almond-extract-based stacks of delicious coconut goo.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: acgold7

                            now you are just trying to cause trouble :D

                            1. re: thimes

                              As Bugs would say, "What a maroon."

                              1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                It's just ignorance. Nothing to be too upset about. What really pisses me off is the use of "french macaroons" I hate that.