Baby pink, sunset yellow, mint green – a box of macarons in an array of jewel colours are a visual treat even before one gets a taste. The original French macaron has been more visible than ever on Indian coffee tables and dessert stands. Last year, the French bakers, Ladurée, who are known to have the authentic macaron recipe, entered India. They also have rapid plans for expansion.
This means we will get to see and eat more of these dessert biscuits than ever before. Macarons are already visible at fancy weddings and parties and are fast replacing chocolates and sweets as festival gifts in India.
Earlier, the French macaron, travelled to India with the Portuguese and got naturalised in Tamil Nadu bakeries. Bakers substituted the traditional almond meal with flour made of the locally available cashew and the Tutikorin Macaron was born.
A brief history of the French macaron
The traditional French macaron is made with egg white, icing sugar, granulated sugar, almond meal and food colours. The flavours match the colours as well. For instance, a pink macaron is naturally expected to be a rose-flavoured one. The culinary bible, Larousse Gastronomique, cites the macaron as being created in 1791 in a convent near Cormery in central France. Some have traced its French debut to the arrival of Catherine de Medici as her Italian chef introduced the macaron to during the Renaissance. The macaron won instant fame as a sweet indulgence. Another nugget of history traces the macaron to two Carmelite nuns who sought asylum in Nancy during the French Revolution. They baked and sold the macaron cookies to pay rent. These nuns came to be known as the ‘Macaron Sisters’. It was in the 1830s that macaron, as we know it today, came alive as two crisp biscuits with a filling of jams, liqueurs, ganache and spices. Originally called the ‘Gerbet’ or the ‘Paris macaron’, this exotic version of the macaron was created by the legendary Pierre Desfontaines of the French pâtisserie Ladurée.
How to spot a good macaron?
According to pastry chefs, a well-baked macaron should be crunchy. When one bites into the shell, it should give way to a chewy texture. The flavours should be mellow and not hit the palate with a sharp taste. No wonder, macarons are considered among the most difficult things to bake. Chandni Nath Israni who runs the Indian chain of the French Ladurée tells how macarons are becoming popular in India. “No big Indian wedding today is complete without a stunning macaron tower at the dessert counter. It is also a preferred gift by the tasteful. Many gracious homes have them placed on their tea Charlies. Ladurée macron towers are popular and work well in corporate parties as well as for weddings.” Ladurée has ambitious expansion plans in India too. “We are planning to open 20 stores over the next four years in India with an average investment plan of Rs 50 crore,” Israni told Business Today.
Eat your macaron right
Coffee, tea and champagne are the best pairings for macarons. Pick flavours that complement your beverage – for instance, if you want to eat one with your coffee, it will be a good idea to pick a vanilla or pistachio macaron besides of course the obvious coffee ones.
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