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I don't 'get' macarons

I keep reading all the rave about macarons but I just don't get it. I learned how to make them and they ARE beautiful but to me they are just a mouthful of sugar. Am I missing something?

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  1. What variety of Macaroon are you making?
    My family finds coconut macaroons to be quite a treat. They also like my chocolate macaroons, orange macaroons, and cornflake macaroons, but they do find the Parisian Macaroons to be a bit too sugary.

    2 Replies
    1. re: todao

      that's so funny. because i have very little tolerance for sweets--give me a cheese plate over dessert, any day. but parisienne macarons? swoon. i think it's the texture i love...the crisp-crackle of a great macaron's shell, and then the soft sinking into the center.....lordy! probably just because i love paris so much, and because my first macaron coincided with my first visit to paris, but i adore them. i think the best macarons are more almondy than sugary, and also that the filling flavor should be prominent (though most are sugary, i'll admit--but the best are primarily chocolate-y, or fruity, or nutty, caramelly, whatever-y)

      1. re: todao

        Macaroons are different than macarons. MacarOns are the French cookie that are light and airy, while macaroons are much more dense cake-like cookies.

      2. I think "macarons" and "macaroons" are different cookies.

        Notice that the "macaron" is a sandwich cookie. Just like an Oreo. TeeHee

        4 Replies
        1. re: yayadave

          Thanks for the edu. dave. I didn't know there was a difference but, although I don't trust your source of information (Wikipedia has no real credibility) when I read the recipes I can see that they are apparently different animals so my hat's off to you. Thanks again ... never too old to learn somethin' about cookin'.

          1. re: todao

            I only recently bumpt into them myself. As usually happens, I found out about them AFTER last year's stay in Paris. When looking into them, I have found a wide assortment of flavors being made. I haven't tried making them yet. Here's a couple of sites that may be a little intro into the wide world of macarons.


            Here's the wacky world of macarons.


            1. re: yayadave


              You can scroll through photos of all the macarons using the next button at the bottom right of the photos. I get hungry every time I do it. There are also some good CH threads about making macarons, though many of them link to Liebowitz, etc.


            2. re: todao

              wiki has exactly the credibility of here. users correcting content. 99% do so in good faith

          2. I was in Paris 2 years ago and made a point of going to Laduree for macarons. There was a line, they were expensive (spending US $) and I wasn't sure I'd like them for the price so asked for a sample; my friend and I split one. When I was negotiating this, a French woman next to me became incensed that her clerk took the time to talk to me in English. These customers in line were acting like addicts; I, like you, don't "get it." I left w/out buying any.

            1. I think you may not "get" them because there are so many poorly made ones around. It's a very difficult technique to master. Believe it or not, Thomas Keller's (of French Laundry and Per Se) macarons are terrible. They're dry and tasteless, and taste like brittle bits of sugary meringue. A properly made macaron should be quite luscious. I've had macarons in NYC, Bay area, London, Bangkok and Paris. The macarons I've had in Paris were probably the best ones in my life -- Laduree and my chow-crush, Pierre Herme. The other ones I've had were vastly inferior. A couple of places in NYC were not bad. But they were no Pierre Herme.

              Sarah, I hope you get to try some good macarons one day. It's like the difference between a bottle of Mansciewetz and a '91 Chateau D'Yquem. I don't know what the macaron scene is like in Calgary. But I've had a difficult time finding macarons that approached the ones I've had in Paris.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Miss Needle

                Next time in Paris, try Gregory Renard, as good as Herme, On Rue Dominique in the 7th.
                All that notwithstanding, when l go to Pierre Herme, l get the viennoserie, like the bostock , OH MY

                1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                  Thanks for the recommendation. If he's as good as Herme's, I'm there!

                2. re: Miss Needle

                  I couldn't agree with you more. The macarons at Bouchon are disgusting and overpriced. The best macaron should just have the cathartic teeth-sinking-ness to them that is just so amazing.

                  1. re: digkv

                    "cathartic teeth-sinking-ness"

                    That's the perfect description for what a macaron should be! All your cares and worries melt away when biting into a properly made macaron.

                3. My family grew up eating the coconut based macaroons out of a can. We knew so many Jewish families that offered these chewy treats around various religious holidays that when I laid eyes on my very first macaron I was fascinated.

                  Macarons are in some amateur cooking circles the latest utopia of pastry skill. They are showing up everywhere and these tasty and multi flavored treats are beautiful to look at. Seems every where I go another food photographers have captured cases of handmade macarons. Daring bakers blogroll featured dozens of stunning examples on tastespotting.com (I saw them too yayad)

                  Macaroons are simple to master and the homemade version bears little resemblence to the commercially made variety I grew up on as a kid but macarons are a delicate morsel not at all easy to master...and worth including in your recipe file.

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: HillJ

                    It seems that making macarons well is a delicate skill to master, but that's not what intrigues me. It is the imagination to make some of the combinations that knocks me out.

                    1. re: yayadave

                      I couldn't agree more. The flavor combos, different flours, colors and macaron styles are endless. Would you like a link to a primer?

                      1. re: HillJ

                        Yes, please, link to a primer!

                          1. re: HillJ

                            Hah! I missed this post until just today. Thank you for following it up.

                            1. re: yayadave

                              Enjoy! This Christmas I'll be in macaron experimental heaven and in preparation, I've been reading like mad.

                      2. "Am I missing something?"

                        Sounds like you are missing all the flavors that are being made.

                        1. Thanks for all your thoughts! I guess I will just have to fly to Paris and find out what the real thing is all about. I have had chocolate and made lime and lemon. I do like the texture but maybe they are just too sweet for me.

                          10 Replies
                          1. re: sarah galvin

                            Bravo !! And you should stay several days so you can sample the wares of several shoppes. And report back to Chowhound.

                            1. re: sarah galvin

                              If you do go to Paris, be sure to go to Angeline's Tea Room (not far from Louvre) for hot chocolate and pastries. Wonderful.

                              1. re: walker

                                Where should I try the macarons? I think I'll check for cheap flights - maybe Christmas in Paris? That's a thought!

                                  1. re: yayadave

                                    Thank you! I have already started my research for this Christmas vacation - I have enough points for the flight, now I have to pick a b&b or hotel.

                                    1. re: sarah galvin

                                      The hotel I stayed in was clean and very reasonable: Ibis Bastille Opera
                                      15 Rue Breguet, 11th District, accorhotels.com 800 221-4542.
                                      Re: Cafe Angelina, 226, rue de Rivoli -- believe me, you'll be glad you went here -- they are famous for the hot chocolate but they also have tea and coffee and really gorgeous pastries.

                                      1. re: sarah galvin

                                        In between macaron indulgences, don't forget about opera cake at Dalloyau and tea at Marriage Freres.


                                        The "France" board might help your research.

                                      2. re: yayadave

                                        don't forget Maison du Chocolat. I love their mocha macarons, not to mention the chocolate.

                                        1. re: ChefJune

                                          I am booked to go! Thanks to MMRuth I have a nice hotel. I'll do my best to find nice places in the Christmas season (where they typically go on vacation, too) to find some nice places to nosh. I'll be referring to all these wonderful suggestions.

                                  2. re: sarah galvin

                                    They don't have to be really sweet. Years ago I wanted to make them and I found so many variations. I made all kinds and had them running out of my ears. Some had whipped egg whites and were airy while others were more typical US cake-cookie like.

                                  3. Order a dozen almond macaroons from Fralinger's (for many years on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City) then see if you still don't get the point of macaroons. These are moist and very almondy---they taste like marzipan. Delicious.

                                    1. So yayadave shows up the other day talking about these things, and I, like many, figure he's just saying "macaroon" with a Pittsburgh accent. But not so. He points me to tastespotting to show me what it's all about.

                                      After doing some research and reading a bunch of blogs, I figure why not give this a try. The coffeehouse has a gram scale, a Bamix, a decent convection oven and all the ingredients on hand to make a caramel-fleur-de-sur macaron on Sunday morning after I've banged out brunch quiche. Making the filling is a piece of cake. Making the cookie is a much more involved project.

                                      Three hours after starting the batter I've got a table of sticky mess and two baking sheets of pretty shells that are nothing but air and a lot of meringue brittle that ran out from under the shells. Useless for cookies, but the brittle is tasty and does go well with espresso.

                                      I can see where the challenge is... unlike a regular meringue, macaron recipes don't call for cream of tartar to help max volume and stiffness. And knowing when to start adding sugar seems to be a "feel" thing. I followed the tips best I could but it seems I might've started adding the sugar too early. Plus, it's a shorter baking time at a higher temp. The meringue for these apparently really needs to be stiff. Also not sure if my Bamix is up to this task - I only got to "sort of stiff", not "really stiff", lol. Will use a traditional mixer next time out.

                                      This challenge could be a fun one. The cookie/filling combos I've seen are pretty impressive and I'd love to do some with coffee/tea flavorings once I get the hang of not making pretty air pockets ;-)

                                      8 Replies
                                        1. re: HillJ

                                          Macarons have always been popular in France, and Laduree had lineups many years ago, as well as to-day.
                                          I don't really like them, but having just returned from France last week, I couldn't believe how trendy they have become.
                                          Almost every upscale restaurant was serving them.
                                          Even at CDG on the way home the shops had shelves of them labeled "new product".
                                          I decided to do a tasting, after the first few experiences.
                                          The best was the Rhubarb at Hotel D'Europe in Avignon.
                                          Hermes and Laduree were a tossup but I did like the fleur De Sel Caramel at Laduree, and some kind of gooey Chocolate at Hermes.
                                          A woman selling them at the market in Arles sold us some quite good ones, at a fraction of the above prices.
                                          L'Arpege were average, and L'Cinq were the worst, and tasted like they had a Jam center.
                                          From a country with the most amazing sweets in the world, I just don't get it.

                                          1. re: erly

                                            The Classic French Macaron Framboise, as made by Ladure and Le Notre always has a Raspberry Jam center., just as the Lemon has a Lemon Curd center, not buttercream.

                                            It's a French thing...certain things just go with certain things and not with others.

                                            1. re: Fleur

                                              You are correct
                                              L'Cinq served Framboise,

                                        2. re: Panini Guy

                                          All this talk is making me want to give them another try next time I visit Paris.

                                          1. re: Panini Guy

                                            Ah, yes. I had a little booklet that I made of these three sites.
                                            From this, they look innocuous. I NEVER SAID THEY WERE EASY.
                                            The person who wrote the series for seriouseats.com gives some pretty clear criteria for what they should (and should not) be like. She also gave recipes, other recipe sites, and baking tips. Did you notice the "rest" times?

                                            Coffee and tea flavored would be nice with a glass of milk, but I bet dulce de leche cookies with a Nutella filling would be just right with a Caffè macchiato.

                                            The OP might be interested in this one of that seriouseats.com series.
                                            But also, SG might want to look at http://tastespotting.com/search/macar... to see some of the flavors being offered.

                                            1. re: yayadave

                                              You might have a point on the convection oven fan. Think I'll try a deeper pan and higher rack and see if that does anything.

                                              1. re: Panini Guy

                                                Well, info is not consistent on the subject. This is a reputable site and one of the comments says “but they are never consistent and often look wrinkly on the top (darn convection oven!”

                                                At the end of this post, there are some “tips.” One of them is “propping the oven door open with a wooden spoon.”

                                                In this site, besides giving careful instructions, the baker says that “Obviously the convection oven is best for baking macarons.” Apparently, but not obviously, I had beans in the brain pan when I said a convection oven might not work.

                                                They may not be easy.

                                                PS: 150 deg C = 302 deg F

                                          2. Your trip to Paris to try good macarons sounds like a chowhound dream! I love, love, love macarons -- for me, it's a toss up between pistachio and the salted caramel. The crisp, light shell that is a little chewy, a little melt-in-your-mouth, combined with the creamy fillings... omg. I was in London recently, where there is a Laduree outlet in Harrod's. I know they were shipped in and not made fresh on premises, but it didn't matter. I inhaled my purchase in a matter of minutes.

                                            1. I don't get them either--have purchased them from Boule (LA) and all the finest places--just don't thrill me flavor-wise.

                                              1. Glad that I'm not the only one who doesn't get it. You know, I have never liked marzipan so maybe that is why I don't like macarons. However, I have booked my flight on points and will spend Christmas in Paris! I'm looking for a hotel now and thanks, walker, for your rec. Yippee! I have been wondering what to do this winter and had no inspirations. Not sure if I can handle as many macarons as there are flavours and vendors!

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: sarah galvin

                                                  How exciting sarah galvin !
                                                  I hope you will share your tasting experience with both the France Board and the Home Cooking Board upon your return. I'd welcome a few pointers in technique.

                                                  1. re: sarah galvin

                                                    Quelle chance!

                                                    I would suggest the great Tea Salons like LADUREE, and the great patisseries like FAUCHON and LENOTRE.

                                                    ANGELINA is a gorgeous old world Tea Salon. Skip the pastries, which are quite ordinary, and head right to your order of Chocolat Africain, the most divine, heavenly Hot Chocolate on God's Green Earth. Served with a dish of freshly whipped cream, amd ice water, adding a pastry to that would be awful.

                                                    I was an habituee at ANGELINA the whole time I livred in Paris. Ay Christmastime, Paris for visiting Americans is terrific. Not that many tourists so you can drink in, so to speak all the wonderful things.

                                                  2. I'm not a big fan of either.

                                                    1. I think most recipes call for overly sweet fillings. The outer shell is by its very nature very sweet (although it should be almondy). A good macaron (and I had my first ever macarons in Paris) will balance out this sweetness with intensity of flavor. A salty burnt sugar caramel, an intense ganache, an almond paste. Most of the American recipes I've seen call for a buttercream filling. Quel horreur!

                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: Amuse Bouches

                                                        That is why my favourite was the unsweetened rhubarb.
                                                        The tart and sweet combined made me almost like macarons

                                                        1. re: erly

                                                          Was the rhubarb in the filling? That combination might do it for me!

                                                          1. re: sarah galvin

                                                            Yes, the rhubarb was in the filling.

                                                      2. I don't think you're missing something- every Macaron I have tried has been disappointing taste-wise for me, including Macarons in Paris, and a Macaron at a Michelin-starred restaurant in Burgundy. I'm actually at the point where I won't even take them if they appear on the plate of freebie sweets at the end of a dinner at an upscale restaurant. Macarons seem to be the trendy choice for bitesize sweets lately.

                                                        But all the Chowhounds I've met in Toronto seem to be crazy about them. I don't get it.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: phoenikia

                                                          I am from Toronto.
                                                          Maybe we just need to be "trendy".
                                                          My tasting on this trip included two 3*, one 2* and the only one I really liked was a very tart rhubarb at a 1* in Avignon.

                                                          1. re: erly

                                                            Hi Erly- I'm just noticed that my Chowhound friends from Toronto seek out Macarons whenever they travel outside the city, then take pictures or blog about their macaron experiences, whereas my foodie/Chowhound friends/relatives from other parts of North America don't seem to seek out Macarons on visits to France or Quebec.

                                                            Bite-sized macarons have shown up on my most recent upscale dinner in Los Angeles (on the gratis bite-sized sweets tray at Spago), as well as on the gratis bite-sized sweets tray at a dinner in Montreal last May.

                                                        2. The first macaron I tried was at a patisserie in a trendy shopping mall in California (Santana Row, for any locals), and it was way too sweet! It was theoretically pistachio, but had no real flavor except sweet. But I was in Santa Cruz at Kelly's French Bakery just a few days ago and tried one again, after having read this discussion. It was divine! Not too sweet, great flavor (I had pistachio again), great texture. Macarons like that are worth eating.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: Karen_Schaffer

                                                            I am encouraged! I saw some little ones today, here in Calgary, but I will wait until I am in Paris at Christmas time before trying them again.

                                                          2. I just made chocolate macarons! Now I get it! They are divine. Not a mouthful of sugar like the other ones I made. I guess they just have a nicer flavour. I am going to pair them with a homemade raspberry preserve.

                                                            12 Replies
                                                            1. re: sarah galvin

                                                              To put you into the mood for Paris and those Macarons, here is a Macarons "obsessed" lady from New York. Really great images. I like Macarons and once in a while my wife makes them at her bakery.


                                                              1. re: worldwidestuff

                                                                Thank you:) You are all so kind! I will have a wonderful vacation.

                                                                1. re: sarah galvin

                                                                  Do not overlook Berthillon (sp?) for their luscious and decadent glace. (ice cream) The original spot is on the Ile St. Louis, I think, but there are other Patisseries thruout Paris that serve it as well. Bon Voyage! (He said, enviously....) Adam

                                                                  1. re: adamshoe

                                                                    lol.. I'm taking my laptop just so I can re-read all these posts!

                                                                    1. re: sarah galvin

                                                                      I have a decent recipe for macaron from a french cookbook. When I get home I'll copy it--I haven't made them in a couple of months as the summer was humid. Like merengue, they are better made on a dry day. The recipe is just egg white, ground up almonds that have been toasted and 7/8 cup of superfine sugar--I'm pretty sure it's 1 cup of blanched almonds toasted. Oh..and vanilla. Well, anyway, you just mix everything up in the foodprocessor and bake on a cookie sheet lined with parchment at 350 for 12 or 13 minutes. I will check it out if you would like. These are not sandwiched and filled. They are just plain. I like 'em because there is no added fat.

                                                                      1. re: jarona

                                                                        It is almost too much, when filled, isn't it. I actually have a recipe that works. Just need help on adding flavours. I made the chocolate and they are divine! But the plain ones just feel too sweet. Maybe your recipe is better. Thanks.

                                                                  2. re: sarah galvin

                                                                    Since you’re looking at parisbreakfast, you may as well note Mariage Freres. If you’re going to be in Paris (sniffff) and happen to enjoy tea.



                                                                    Miss C & Z thinks well of it, also. Except she doesn’t have the water colors.


                                                                    1. re: yayadave

                                                                      I have never had a commercial macaron. I became obsessed when I saw a picture of them in InStyle magazine(about Paulette's- BH). After reveiwing dozens of sites, recipes, and blogs, I made my first few batches today. I have no idea if they are like the Parisian ones, but they look just like them- adorable little round-tops and frilly bottoms. The recipe I used was the easiest one (I am a ambitious, yet lazy ,cook) My oven is a 1950's Thermador electric oven with a broken door- seriously it needs duct tape to keep it shut) I used non-stick foil on the cookie sheets(no problem getting the little suckers loose) I used almond flour, and egg whites from a jar a la Fresh&Easy. They are very sweet, melt on the tongue after a slight chewy-ness- remind me very much of the Italian bakery cookies (Pignolas)I got in Brooklyn as a kid, just much finer, light as air. Does this sound like a French Macaron?

                                                                2. re: sarah galvin

                                                                  oh my gosh good for you! I've been "oooooing and awing" over these for years now. Well at least a year now, since I've seen them on Flickr and magzines. I want to try these so bad. I have the almond paste and I have a pastry bag, and tips. Now all I need is fail proof recipe. But where do I start. The ones that are citron and macha look so gorgeous and I can only imagine the delicate taste it must give. Is the cookie itself flavored or just the filling, meaning I see all the gorgeous colors, and I wonder if they flavor the cookie part... anyway take a look, this is what got me started thinking about making them. And no I have never been to Paris, after a standing invite for the last 20 years, my nephew moved to Canada, so I won't be visiting Paris soon. Unless I go there with him....hmmmm.
                                                                  oops I wanted to share this link with all of you.


                                                                  1. re: chef chicklet

                                                                    I am by no means an expert on macarons. Some of the flavours also had flavoured biscuits but many were just tinted. I can look up the recipe I used and it works but it doesn't use almond paste - it uses almond flour or finely chopped almonds (in food processor with a bit of the sugar).

                                                                    1. re: chef chicklet

                                                                      I have a couple of posts above from Oct. 5 and Oct. 8 with links to several sites with information and recipes about macarons.

                                                                      1. re: yayadave

                                                                        thank you sarah g and yaya dave! One of these days I hope to add my macarons to the Flickr group!

                                                                  2. I must report back. I stayed at Hotel Verneuil, as suggested by MMRuth, I think. It was fantastic. Excellent location, very clean, nice breakfast and they were so nice to me!

                                                                    I had macarons at Laduree and Pierre Herme. They were comparable but I thought that Herme had more creative flavours. Both were melt in your mouth delicious! What I learned is that 'it is all about the filling' and with a nice macaron to hold it. I'm not a sweets person but had chocolate, framboise and chestnut. My favourite was a tie between the chocolate and chestnut. The chestnut was from Herme and it was sprayed with a lovely bronze coating. It had a chestnut filling with (I think) a touch of matcha ganache.

                                                                    I also had a fabulous dinner on Ile St Louis ( can't remember the name of the restaurant but could look it up) that was a Beef Daube - a beef stew with a touch of bittersweet chocolate. TO DIE FOR! Also ate at Tante Louise and it was lovely but without ambience. And a very 'brown' meal. I had a fabulous vacation!

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: sarah galvin

                                                                      Hoo-Ray!! I just looked at this thread a couple of days ago to see if you ever came back. Thanks for sharing the results of your arduous research.

                                                                      1. re: yayadave

                                                                        LOL.....about 3 days before departure I was having a panic attack about having to come home. No, no, no, I don't want to go to work.