Some say "tomato" some say "ta-ma-toe" and the product remains the same: a tasty fruit disguised as a vegetable. But that’s not the case when it comes to "macarons" and "macaroons.”
These two cookies share very little in common, other than two ingredients and their origin. Macarons and macaroons both contain whipped egg whites and some form of sugar. Neither of these cookies contains flour making them a perfect gluten-free dessert. But the similarities end there, because these cookies couldn’t be more different in taste and texture.
A macaron is a light and fluffy sandwich cookie commonly mistaken to be of French origin. Even though the French popularized and refined the macaron to what we know today (a cookie sandwich filled with delicious jam, jelly, or ganache), the Italians are who we have to thank for these unique cookies. The equation goes, 2 meringue cookies + a creamy flavor-packed filling = a French macaron. Now, what a baker chooses to make their macarons taste like is as endless as their imagination and ingredients.
It goes without saying that macarons are versatile cookies. They are casual enough for after-dinner treats and sophisticated enough to be a showpiece for weddings. The key is uniformity in size making them little perfect jewels of cookie goodness.
When you first read a recipe, it seems like a cakewalk – or should we say a cookie walk.
- Whisk egg whites to a stiff peaked meringue
- Gently fold in flavors, almond flour, and powdered sugar
- Pipe cookie batter into circles and bake
Like anything worth enjoying, getting these cookies right comes with a lot of practice and patience. These simple steps require a delicate but firm touch to achieve the perfect cookie with a crisp exterior and light fluffy interior. Once baked and cooled simply fill with your choice of jam, creamy frosting, or ganache. Macaron filling ideas are just as endless. And enjoy!
Now let's take a very hard left-hand turn and discuss macaroons, which are surprisingly old as cookies go, with their origins dating back to an Italian monastery in the 8th or 9th century. Although they were originally made with ground almonds or other various nuts, coconut became the primary ingredient around 1890, thanks to the age of sail which made coconuts more readily available in Europe. The modern-day homemade macaroon is a moist dense drop-like cookie that could almost be associated with a cake-like texture.
To our dismay, coconut macaroons have an ugly representation as a mass-produced holiday cookie. Many of us think of coconut macaroons as hard dry cookies found in the Christmas cookie tin given to us by our grandmother. We hope to change your mind and tastebuds because we all know homemade is better! Macaroons can be filled with coconut and or chopped nuts, for those that abhor coconut, and enjoyed year-round. A great up-side to macaroons, though, is the fact that they are quick to whip up and more forgiving on uniformity.
- Whisk egg whites to a stiff peak
- Add shredded coconut, sugar, and any other flavors
- Shape into small balls and bake
The process of making macaroons is like macarons but requires less finesse to achieve a show-stopping treat. This texture-filled cookie can be elevated with a dunk or drizzle of melted dark chocolate.
Macaroons also have a fancy side to balance out their simple understated side. Have you ever seen a macaroon tower? You're in for a treat! They can often be found as the centerpiece for swanky events and black tie affairs.
Now we ask again, do you know the difference between a macaron and a macaroon? Happy baking! We’d love to see how your macaron or macaroon cookies turned out, so be sure to tag us at @thesweetestbooth.