Macarons are to adults what jelly beans are to kids—colorful, many-flavored and addictive. Cyndy, my research assistant here at GoodFoodSTL, has just returned from Paris. (I’d like to say she was “on assignment,” but actually it was a family trip.) She brought me a goodie bag of my favorites: deep, dark, devilishly good chocolates; an assortment of Maille mustards; and a scarf she spotted in a shop window on the Champs Elysee. To further sweeten the haul was a box of Fauchon macarons, creamy, fruity, even flowery with such flavors as bluecurrent scented with violet. I will spread the edibles into winter, except for the macarons, which are best eaten within five days. No problem.
The French Macaron
Because of the similar name, some people confuse these French sandwich cookies with the mass-produced coconut variety we find in the grocery. Not the same. The real macaron is a deceptively light and airy sweet made with almond flour, egg whites, sugar and flavorings. They’re crispy on the outside and chewy, or smooth, on the inside depending on the filling. Macarons have been called merely “snobby Oreos,” but the making requires precise mixing and whipping of each ingredient to achieve anything but a mess. That why they often sell for as much as $2 each.
Macaron are a true Parisian delight, but there are good ones to be had here in St. Louis as well. Over the years, I’ve “taste tested” these bite-size delicacies at several locations: Nathaniel Reid Bakery, La Bonne Bouchée, La Pâtisserie Chouquette, Like Home French Cafe and Diana’s Bakery. I’m sure there are others to be had, so it may take me a while to complete my “survey.” So far, in my opinion, the local varieties compare quite favorably to the French.