Something foreign and oh so delightful has made a home in the beautiful, sunny Los Angeles. It has many followers who are completely devoted to it. So devoted that they find themselves spending an absurd amount of money to get it.
It is none other than the macaron, not to be confused with the American macaroon (notice the extra o, those crafty Americans).
What started as a petit-four in France became a worldwide sensation over centuries. Time has transformed this delicate dessert into a trendy sweet and a fashionable gift. These decadent French pastries exude elegance and class, and are the perfect compliment to an afternoon tea. They also go just wonderfully with a bouquet of flowers (hint hint, boys).
People seem to disagree on where the macaron originated from. Some say its creation dates back to Renaissance-era Italy. Others say that its true origins are in the Middle East, from countries such as Syria and Lebanon where almonds originated. During the “Age of Exploration”, when Europeans were exploring the world, Europeans were trading many things with other countries, including almonds in all forms (i.e. in almond paste).
The controversy surrounding the origin of the macaron has given it an air of mystery. Despite its debatable point of origin, almost everyone agrees that the macaron was brought to France by the Italian chefs of Catherine de Medici, Queen of France and wife to Henry II.
The first macaron was quite different from the macarons we have come to know today. It started as a single almond cookie. It was Pierre Desfontaines, the second cousin of Louis Ernest Ladurèe, who gave it a fabulous little makeover by transforming it into a double decker affair molded together with buttercream, jam or ganache (a type of whip composed mainly of chocolate and cream). Soon after, La Maison Ladurèe started selling these double decker cookies in different flavors: chocolate, vanilla, pistachio, oh my!
The macaron has now become a staple of French culture. If you ever decide to take a trip to France, make a pit stop at the world-renowned Ladurèe. For macaron enthusiasts, stop by the only museum dedicated to macarons, and almonds: Musée de l’Amande et du Macaron in Montmorillon.