Decadence might be the descriptive fore of desserts worldwide but there’s something indeed about these sweet delights stemming out as as delightful visions as well that make them favorites irresistible in their dynamic appeal. Alluding to this sight in prettiness might be such aspects of presentation that concerns their size and shape and patterns, or such revealing of them in delicate or intricate painting of their visage in picture perfect renditions as well as indeed the unique texture endowing upon them a definite identity in all exclusivity across which they come to find expression that is what makes desserts even divine an indulgence to absolutely dig into. Throw into the mix also a splash of colors and these sinful bites into sugary sumptuousness take upon themselves an assertion so bright and beautiful that make them appear as instances of nothing less than the superlative expressions of art itself.
Catering to the brilliance of such arrayed hues in soothing and vibrant shades oozing with all essence of the delectable that characterise their sweet prominence first and foremost as a dessert are these immensely joyous and equally luscious bakes of fluffy flair that the world gorges upon as macarons. Hailing from the celebrated expanse of French cuisine and one that is even more ultimate a rendition of excellence when it comes to dishing out such sweet stuff appeasing of the senses, macarons are as classic a confection as can be availed out of this tantalising trail of saccharine and one therefore that has emerged to be one of the most treasured offerings from the European nation of gastronomic prominence.
Captivating wholesomely on account of their appearance along an unfurling of hues as myriad as can be, presenting themselves in pastel prettiness of an aesthetic as glorious as the taste of them, these melt in the mouth bites of temptations immense happen to be no less distinctive even across other attributes of the sightal. Characterised by their smooth squared tops and flat base that is what invokes those so popular standing of them in artistically arranged stacks, macarons however are most defining along the ‘crown’ of their circumference, with a very visible ruffled texture decking up the sides of these specifically Parisian specialties to dish out a treat as appealing to the eyes as it is appetising of the palate. In their unfurling across this typical Parisian style, macaroons also take on that further distinct identity of being little sandwich cookies though that is not how they started out as in all their roots entrenched in history.
To decipher the exact origins of these moreish morsels of marvellous manifestations, one would need to dig into grounds not just confined to the contours of French cuisine. In fact, macarons happen to be more ‘authentically’ entailing out of the exploits of the Italian nation before going on to find stronghold in its now more popular realms of the France territory. That emergence out of Italy though alludes only to the skill of the chef who introduced the macaron to the world, as the exact occurring of this experiment in epicurean excellence unfolded very definitely in the royal reaches of the French resplendence.
Traditionally held to have been devised as an altogether different recipe by the Italian chef of queen Catherine de Medici who upon her marriage to Henry II of France lent the nation’s already exalted culinary charm a further dimension of celebratory leanings through this Renaissance invention of a remarkable reputation, the macaron took upon in those times that rather amusing reference of the ‘priest’s bellybuttons’ owing to their shape. Immensely Italian therefore in this regard of their interpretation has been the original essence of the macaron as we know it today even when the lineage of their lining up on baking sheets tends to be a tale as variegated in its travel through multiple terrains as it is in its many tinges of charming beauty.
Conforming still to the Italian take on this dessert would be such accounts of its production that characterised the monastic existences of an 8th century Venice. Distinctly diverging from this exclusively European expanse would be such journeying of the macaron that found affiliation instead to the Arab world where almonds cakes were a staple celebratory fare. And macarons, made as they are essentially out of almond meal as the primary ingredient, somehow entailed out of the many a recipes that prevailed then out of this natural stuff widely considered a nut but that which botanically classifies as a seed instead. In fact the very term macaroon might be a derivation from the Arab Maccarruni that collectively alluded to products made out of ground grains and out of which the Italians devised their interpretation as maccheroni and therefrom as macaron.
Back when they emerged though, whether in the Arab world or out of the European identity, macarons hadn’t been the colorful circles of cuteness that they tend to be ubiquitous as today. Rather they stemmed as very basic single layered sweets made out of almonds, egg whites and sugar and certainly not as the pillowy, fluffy, delicate beauties that the world regards with utter delight in all their encompassing attributes. Simple almond biscuits that were crunchy on the outside and soft inside were these early treats, delectable still but not unfurling as those exquisite expressions of artisanal style till quite late as the rather modern historical time of the 19th century. It had only been in the 1830s that macarons took upon their dainty elegance in expression and assumed their standard identity as sandwich cookies. And it is in charting out this trailblazing identity in lofty indeed stature of their now ubiquitous assertion as colorful splashes of sinful savouring that macarons have come to be accorded its exclusive residence in the French scheme of crafting the most impeccable of sweet treats.
Harbouring a glory so characteristic of the Parisian reputation in all things steeped in style and aesthetics are the modern day macarons that have been alluding to this allure of the color exactly a century after their reimagination in the two by two mode of serving. As a meringue based confection of two cookies sandwiching in between them a light, airy filling that occurred first as jellied, spiced or liquored whips and later pursued more decadent a featuring of creams or ganaches, flavored though with as diverse elements as appealing to the imagination, the macaron parisien was what made this classic cookie of commonplace almost continuity a gourmet gratification ensconced in the holy grail of glorious gastronomy.
The 20th century saw the macaron bequeathing more charm again unfurled across the Parisian vision of conjuring up grandness in practically every aspect of the world. Even more certain in this case happens to be the exclusive claim of the French capital, with the iconic Ladurée patisserie having the world swoon over its double decker colorful variants of this confection, of which it continues to be one of the world’s best sellers even now. And thus entailed a whole world of splendor for the macaron to go about making striking appearances in bursts of the trendiest, coolest colors and delivering in fact a style statement that stands true to its essence in a beauty as much pursued as its encompassing of that slightly chewy, delightfully moist texture in rich sugary taste.
The French projection in making the macaron emerge forth as a culinary culture of its very own mannerism happens to be rather substantiated a claim in all the history of this popular dessert as well. For in fact, the first ever written recipe directing the baking to perfection of these heavenly dollops of dough catering to the flourless dimension of the dessert world as definitely macaronish has been a 17th century French mention that details of course the macaron shapes out across the technique employed by the bakers and confectioners of a nation unsurpassed indeed when it comes to mastering the affairs of the oven. But there exists still a distinct Italian way of baking as perfect macarons as well, in no lesser definite assertion of this fore of the macaron’s nationality and indeed in additional some endowing of sweetness, lavishing ladles of love just some more upon these relatively low caloric desserts.
As universally appealing as macarons are across their wide range of flavours and fancied sparks of the tints, it comes as a pleasant surprise that their exact place of origin has not been a matter of contention between the neighbouring nations, both of which has had their own influence in making this regional specialty chart the heights of global popularity. But while the two true styles of macaron making might have yielded two very discernible versions of them both in the assertion of sweetness and the awareness of the almond flavor with subtle visual differences also crucially ‘conspiring’ to set the two variants apart, the macaron might be as fruitfully availed out of quite some other preparation techniques as well.
The Swiss method happens to be the next most popular alternative but even intriguing an interpretation of the macaron unfurls far away from the expanse of the European empire. In fact at play again is at least a couple of different means of macaroning and in assertions rather unique to say the least. One of these regional versions of the Asian macaron hails from India while the other unfurls even distinctively as a South Korean staple.
The Indian macaron or very precisely the Thooththukkudi macaron named after the port town of Thoothukudi from which it originated happens to take after the global dessert in such reiterations that sees the cashew nut replacing the essence of the almond to churn out a unique conical shaped confectionery, round still in its base but with a bulging middle and a pointed peak instead. And while this is diametrically different a take upon the macaron as can be, it might pale still in comparison to the Korean version when it comes to the name of it. For while the cashew macarons merely take upon themselves the additional enhancement of their attributes through a basic prefixing to its name, the fatcarons of South Korea strikes as more amusing a prospect indeed.
In essence though, fatcarons are much like the typical French or Italian macarons still. What however sets them apart- by inches of the filling thickness- is the supersized appearance of them. Filled at least to double the thickness of the generic single layer encountered in macarons everywhere are the ddongcarons or fatcarons of the Korean alluding that though isn’t exactly a ‘traditional’ recipe. More a local adaptation of rather recent times, the fatcaron might warrant for itself an idiosyncratic identity but the weighted assertion of the Indian version is definitely more substantial. The Thoothukudi macarons peculiar to the namesake town in India’s southern state of Tamil Nadu happens to be rather indigenous in its origin and with a definite flavor and essence of its own as well imparted through the cashew choice in both taste and ingredient. Despite their different basis of classification though, both these variants of the macaron harbour within them scope for indulgences of the hearty kind indeed. And that itself is heartening perhaps, bringing upon the already marvellous macaron some additional maverick beauty of greater measure.