Similar to the flavor explosion spawned by America’s cupcake craze a decade ago, French macarons are the new platform for widespread experimentation of unique flavor combinations in the dessert world. Tropical fruits, teas, espressos, liqueurs and other bold flavors are making their way into macaron fillings, and customers appear hungry for more. Macarons are one of the hottest trends going at bakeries and patisseries.
This meringue-based confectionery is made from a mixture of egg whites, almond powder, icing sugar and sugar. They are filled with creams or ganache. Traditional French macarons date back nearly 400 years to the 1660 wedding of King Louis XIV of France and Marie Therese.
San Francisco’s Tout Sweet Pâtisserie— a partnership between Top Chef Just Desserts winner Yigit Pura and Taste Catering and Event Planning’s co-owners, MeMe Pederson and Janet Griggs — features macarons in flavors such as Aztec spiced chocolate and Raspberry and Wu Long Rouge Tea.
In Seattle, pastry chef/owner Neil Robertson of Crumble & Flake Patisserie is pushing the envelope of macaron magic with unusual flavors derived from everything from aged balsamic to black currants or lavender.
Chicago’s Bennison’s Bakery unveiled new holiday flavors for the Christmas season, including gingerbread and egg nog.
So it is anything but plain to see that plain flavors of macarons may no longer cut it with today’s consumers, who more often are seeking out adventure in their desserts and flocking to bakeries and patisseries that satisfy their cravings for unique flavor combinations.
Fun flavors of macarons across the nation
Bennison’s Bakery ― Chicago
Crumble & Flake ― Seattle
Milk chocolate and lavender
Pistachio and cherry
Black currant and violet
Cupcakes Cubed ― Dallas
La Maison du Macaron ― New York City
Fig and aged sweet cherry balsamic
Poached pear red wine
Macaron Queen ―Atlanta
Mango white chocolate
Tout Sweet Patisserie ― San Francisco
Tahitian vanilla bean
Apricot and St. Germain liqueur
Aztec spiced chocolate
Raspberry and Wu Long Rouge Tea
How to do it right
According to Serious Eats, the following are key attributes to consider when aspiring for perfection in making classic French macarons.
A shell texture that is crisp but not dry, smooth and not at all gritty, and ringed by that perfect crumble near the center (called the "foot").
Filling texture should be consistent and not too hard.
Flavor includes how sugary or artificial the cookie tastes, as well as how distinct each flavor is.
Aesthetics takes into account color, texture, how well-assembled they are, whether the cookies are cracked, and whether the filling is evenly distributed.
Value weighs the quality of the macarons against their price tag.