I am still quite hazy about what a macaron is and am not able to clearly tell you how it’s different from a biscuit so this is going to be an organic post. As I research I will write down what I discover. Hope I will know more at the end of the post than what I did at the beginning and share my knowledge in the process.
Ok, what I do know is that it’s quite a trend in Singapore and I see them everywhere these days. I also think of this dessert snack as very sweet, expensive and sophisticated.
The very first time biting into a macaron, was at TWG. Cost S$2 each and I thought it was quite expensive, but worth the experience. It practically melted in my mouth. Crisp, hard shell on the outside and chewy on the inside. All the various flavours and colours intrigued me as well. You can also read about my second time at the Marina Bay Sands TWG on the Bridge.
My cousin who visited Paris recently was raving about the world’s best macarons at Laduree. Laduree was established way back in 1862 so it has quite the pedigree. And it originated the macaron as we know it today – with that sandwich filling in between two pieces. According to the Laduree website this is how they create perfection:
The pastry chefs measure out very precisely the required amounts of almonds, eggs and sugar, before adding one final ingredient, a pinch of unique “know-how”, essential to the making of such a delicacy. Once cooked and filled, the macaroons are put to one side for 2 days before going on sale, the time it takes to achieve a perfect balance between texture and flavour.
To me it looks like a lot more effort than making cake.
There is a debate raging that the best macarons in the world are now those made by the former baker at Laduree who set off and opened up his own shop. Have you heard about Pierre Herme? Here’s more at Hip Paris about how he has taken the world by storm.
In one corner, we have the elegant and established Ladurée, which has been turning out sweet confections since 1862. And in the other corner, we have upstart Pierre Hermé, the enfant terrible of the dessert world who worked at Ladurée before setting out on his own. (Word on the street is that the “oppressive” traditions at Ladurée were preventing him from exploring the crazy flavor combinations for which he is now world famous).
My other experience with the macaron was attending a French style wedding where the main attraction was the Macaron pyramid like tower instead of the usual tier like wedding cake I was used to seeing. It was from Canele in Singapore. Ms Glitzy does a comparison between Singapore’s Canele & TWG Macarons and Canele was declared the winner.
My gut feel was that the macaron is neither a biscuit or a cake, but it’s referred to as an almond meringue cake. I guess cakes rise and biscuits don’t? Still not sure about this one.
The macaron craze in Singapore is all about the Parisian macaron that entices us in the most gorgeous rainbow of colours from jewel tones to pastels. But when we look at history, the original macaron can be traced back to Italy through the marriage of an Italian lady to the King of France. We can thank her chef. Here’s the brilliant story about the macaron’s history, told by none other than macaron herself.
The Macaron cookie was born in Italy, introduced by the chef of Catherine de Medicis in 1533 at the time of her marriage to the Duc d’Orleans who became king of France in 1547 as Henry II.
Here is a compilation of links to Singapore bloggers, Pleasure Monger and Lady J who wow me with their macaron posts:
Pleasure Monger’s review of TWG Macarons in Singapore. This self taught chef goes on to make her own local creations like the Chinese New Year Macaron and even Chendol and Lychee Macarons.
Lady J’s first attempt at making macarons in her kitchen. Since then she has made many more attempts so go check out her creations. I had no idea that you needed to age the egg white for 3 days, Lady J. It looks like a tedious process, so I think I’ll stick with admiring your efforts, and buy my macarons from the shops when I have a craving.
Ok lastly there is this whole confusion about the coconut macaroon vs the French Style macaron. Another excellent post on the subject here. It’s basically a confusion due to the inconsistent spelling. I have never tried the coconut macaroon before and if I do I will definitely do a whole other post on it. Perhaps the coconut macaroon, popular in the US, could become our next Singapore food trend?
Thanks for including my blog’s rant about macaron vs. macaroon. Macaron boutiques are popping up all over NYC, so it must be a global explosion right now (thank goodness – cheaper than my airfare to Paris or begging friends to bring them back from CDG!). Something tells me that coconut macaroons may never be a hip food trend in ANY country! 🙂
It was so well written, I had to share.
Wish I was in NYC. The food scene sounds amazing 🙂
Can you believe that I’ve never had a coconut macaroon? Your post has made me want to seek it out.
Thanks for the shoutout, hun! Anyway by aging the egg whites, you dehydrate it a little to get a slightly better texture. I have tried it without aging, and it still works, just that the shell is a little more fragile and a little softer. Adding a little more egg white powder here than usual helps though!
Thanks for sharing the knowledge dear 🙂 I am too lazy to bake (seems super tedious and I am blown away by your efforts) but I always enjoy learning more about food. Just enhances the experience.
Thanks for the blog-love and I’m honoured to be included in the post. I’m still very much an amateur when it comes to making these macarons. They tend to frustrate me thus I go on this ‘persistence’ mode and make a mess out of the kitchen just to make these ‘babies’.
I am just so impressed so had to share for those who want to learn from you 🙂
Macarons *were* trendy in NYC – although cafes keep popping up that sell them – but I think the whoopie pie (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whoopie_pie) has taken over as the dessert du jour in my home city.
Best macarons are still found in Paris ;).
Thanks for introducing the whoopie pie to me……this is so interesting, and it looks yummy. Singapore lags a bit in the food trends. It used to be cupcakes in Singapore which I think was an older trend in the US? We also had that whole donut trend which has since kinda died out.
I can speak for NYC. (The US is huge, as you know.) Cupcakes continue to be popular in the City, but agree their heyday was the early aughts.
Thanks for teaching me a new word. I didn’t know before that aughts was a Nickname for the decade between 2000 and 2010. Very cool 🙂
Lauduree has opened up in NYC http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/31/dining/laduree-brings-its-macarons-to-new-york-food-stuff.html
And in London in covent garden – which was awesome because I got to have the amazing macaroons twice this summer in both London and Paris!
That sounds wonderful 🙂
After writing this post I am craving so much to try the best macarons that can’t be found in Asia. Maybe one day.
I’m so glad I have your blog entries to catch up on today!
I love Macarons…had my first at Laduree in fact in 2006 on my honeymoon! I’d heard of them and I was super excited to go there.
I’ve only tried the chocolate ones at the dessert place in city hall/raffles mall basement…but they were yummy.
I’d love to learn to make them!
I am so glad cos I always get excited when I see your comments 🙂 It’s a big treat for me.
Now that you’ve tried Laduree and also think the City Hall one is good, I’ve got to try that one day. Just had some really dry cracked ones recently but haven’t yet posted about it.
I tried the Macaroons in The Moluccas Room @ MBS … i must say im in love with Macaroons there … yummy yummy ~~ (Maybe you should try there oneday :D)
However, i tried the Macaroons in Bruinetti @ Tanglin Mall … hmmm the taste is failed @.@
I definitely must try the Macaroons in TWG and Canele … If there is any good place to try Macaroons, pls update me (via email) (gosh!! im addicted to Macaroons~~) … Tks for ur valuable post anw … Cheers 😉
So fave was the ones at TWG 🙂 The density & chewiness…just right.