Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

macarons (spelled with a single o) are colorful, filled cookies made from ground almonds, sugar, and egg whites that have become popular worldwide since the early 2000s. Any discussion of macarons must begin with the essential distinction between this French confection and the American macaroon, which refers most often to cookies made with sweetened coconut flakes. Macarons have a very simple ingredient list: almond flour, confectioner’s sugar, sugar, and egg whites. Flavoring and coloring agents can be added to the shells, as long as they don’t prevent the cookies from rising and obtaining their distinctive “foot,” a narrow, delicate edge that indicates a macaron’s overall quality. Macaron shells are thin and slightly crunchy, with a soft and moist interior. Achieving that perfect balance is where making macarons gets complicated, because the amount of air incorporated, the length of beating, and a temperamental oven can all affect the final result, which is why macarons are mainly made by professional pastry chefs, even though single-subject cookbooks on the topic for the home kitchen have recently proliferated.