Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >
May 9, 2012 05:55 PM

Are macarons cliche?

A local food writer described salted caramel macarons as a 'double helping of cliche'.

Now, its true that salted caramel everything has been everywhere the past few years, but are macaron over-done too? I thought half of America was still confused that they aren't made with coconut?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Well, if you go by the count of articles published in the last couple years asking if macarons are the new cupcake, I'd say "yes".

    8 Replies
    1. re: Melanie Wong

      Yeah, but are macaron shops springing up all over? It seems like existing bakeries have added them, and I guess if you can get them at trader joe's they're hardly exotic... but not to the level of cupcakemania.

      1. re: babette feasts

        When Laduree opened up in Manhattan I thought macarons would go the way of cupcakes with silly lines but as I walked past this evening there was no big line so I would say no, macarons did not go the way of the cupcake and they are not a cliche.

        1. re: babette feasts

          Good point.

          San Francisco didn't go for cupcakes in as big a way as NY and LA and was much later to the trend. While there are a few cupcake shops and some specialists by special order, cupcakes seem like mostly a suburban thing. Macarons took hold about the same time.

          But we've moved on to obsessing over kouign amann. :)

          1. re: Melanie Wong

            Yes, kouign amann does seem to be appearing in more and more places.

            1. re: babette feasts

              In Paris, savory macaron flavors are trendy now, e.g., foie gras.

              1. re: Melanie Wong

                If they taste good, I'm for it. If they taste bad, I'm against it. Ha.

                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  So whomever makes the first foie gras kouign amann will be way ahead of the curve?


        2. Absolutely. They are every bit as played out as cupcakes at this point IMHO.

          1. At TJ Maxx last week, I noticed a book in the racks that had a colorful stack of macarons on the cover. The title of the book, in big bold letters, was MACAROONS. Do you think maybe that was a major typo, or are there variations of the spelling? I didn't look in the book to see what language it was published in, but at TJ Maxx, I would assume it was English. I'm thinking I would not have wanted to be the person who released that to the printer.

            3 Replies
            1. re: jmcarthur8

              I'd wager a guess that the typo is why they ended up at TJ Maxx.

              1. re: jmcarthur8

                Do mean this?

                The publisher is Parragon, which is best known for translations of European classic cookbooks. Is the rest of world as obsessed as Americans with the difference between the 'o' and 'oo' words?

                Another book using 'oo'

                I believe, based on
                that the confection Americans insist on spelling with one 'o' is known in France as
                macaron parisie
                and is just one of many varieties that are call macaron

                1. re: paulj

                  it's because the name of the French treat is macaron, with one 'o' -- but never "parisien" after it.

              2. Yes, they have become pretty trendy in recent years. I don't think they really deserve their popularity, though.

                1. I'd offer up that the writer is offering up a double helping of "trying to appear weary of the world".

                  19 Replies
                    1. re: babette feasts

                      Over here, unless people are trying to be exotic and sophisticated, it's spelt 'macaroon'.
                      Same thing, extra 'o'.

                      1. re: pippimac

                        Two different things -- macaro-extra o-n is the baked coconut and egg-white candy.

                        macaro-just one-n is the French pastry.

                        1. re: sunshine842

                          Who makes that distinction? Americans? English? French? Americans who are trying to sound trendy? pippimac's use of 'over here' suggests they are in Europe, not America.

                          Chocolate and zucchini's coconut version

                          1. re: paulj

                            I think this distinction is common throughout English. Macaroons are a coconut cookie. Macarons are a meringue pastry not just in English, but French and German as well.

                            1. re: JungMann

                              Does the common English pronunciation of either spelling approximate the French? One place claims that the French 'on' is a nasalized 'o'. To my ears that's closer to an English 'oon' than 'on' or 'own'.

                              1. re: paulj

                                I pronounce both words phoenetically.

                                  1. re: paulj

                                    Inasmuch as I anglicize most French words. Macaroon, however, is just a screwy word to begin with.

                                    1. re: JungMann

                                      But seriously is it 'mak a ron', or 'ma car own'? Without the silent 'e', the ending should be a short o, right?

                                      Regardless of the spelling, we are talking about an Anglicize version of a the same French word (which may in turn come from the Italian macaroni)

                                      By the way, a 1982 dictionary, before 'macaron' became trendy, defines them as 'a chewy cookie made with sugar, egg whites, and almond paste or coconuts.'

                                      1. re: paulj

                                        macaron is mak a rahn, macaroon is mak a roon.

                                        English phonetic rules only work on words based in the English language. Reference sauté, flambé, garage, damage, homage -- the words of French origin *generally* follow French phonetics.

                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                          English - what I've heard
                                          sauté - sot
                                          flambé - Flame-bee
                                          homage - Ho-magee
                                          Target - Tar-jay

                                          Just being goofy or is that goofé

                                          1. re: dave_c

                                            Oh, dear, I hope you really don't mean that!!!

                            2. re: paulj

                              Bakers and pastry chefs? People who know the difference?

                              See that's what I mean - if we need to define the cookies every time we talk about them, how ubiquitous can they be?

                              Some are definitely better than others, like anything. I guess I put macaron in the same category as many other French classics - creme brulee, clafouti, croissants - things that are nothing new but that are classics because they are good. Take souffle. It seems really old school and nobody cool makes that anymore, but a nicely done souffle can be really special. But soon kouign amann and cannele will seem 'so 2012', no matter how good they might be. And so it goes.

                              1. re: babette feasts

                                This ngram suggests that we were quite happy to talk about 'almond macaroons', until some time after 2000, when 'macaron' became the trendy


                                1. re: paulj

                                  I don't think so -- I think people mostly talked about macaroons (the coconut type) because they didn't know what a macaron was until about that time.

                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                    While the coconut version was most common in the USA, we often used the full name 'coconut macaroon'. That implies that there was, in our collective consciousness past or present, more than one type of macaroon. For the ngram I specifically ask for entries used 'almond macaroons', the whole phrase.

                                    An older (pre 1997) Joy of Cooking has a recipe for macaroons using almond paste, and another for coconut macaroons (the kind my mom made, using sweetened condensed milk). Another old book, The Creative Cooking Coarse, has recipes for Almond Macaroons and French Coconut Macaroons (with egg whites). The almond version might have been unknown to the general public, but cookbook authors certainly knew about it.

                                    The current popular version, a multicolored sandwich, probably was unknown a decade or two past. But the basic almond, sugar and egg white confection was known on both sides of the Atlantic.

                            3. re: sunshine842

                              "Two different things -- macaro-extra o-n is the baked coconut and egg-white candy.

                              macaro-just one-n is the French pastry."

                              My impression as well

                        2. re: sunshine842

                          +1 for me on this one. Too cool for school writer.