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Macaron or Macaroon

August 6th, 2010

American macaroons are chewy and dense. Their French macaron counterparts, on the other hand, are fluffy and as light as air.

You say potato; I say potato. You say macaroon; I say macaron. But wait. The difference with the spud saying lies in simple opposing pronunciations. However, that is only a small portion of the story in the case of the cookie. Although both “macaroon” and “macaron” come from the Italian word “maccarone,” meaning paste, they actually refer to two very different sweet treats.

American macaroons are chewy and dense. Their French macaron counterparts, on the other hand, are fluffy and as light as air. What the two varieties do have in common, though, is that they are easy enough for your instore bakers to make, and carrying one or both of them will add an enchanting and profitable element to your instore bakery.

American macaroons are traditionally moist, sweet and very dense. In the United States, the best-known variety is coconut; however other flavors, like chocolate and honey nut, also exist.

Macaroons provide bakers with a lot of creative freedom when it comes to shape and toppings. They can be piped out with a star-shaped tip, individually hand-formed, or baked in a tart shell to be later cut into slices. There are endless ways to decorate macaroons, as well, from chocolate-dipped to cherry-topped and everything in between.

Although the sugar content is fairly high in these confections, there are some nutritional advantages you can tout to your health-conscious clientele. For starters, coconut is not only a great source of fiber, which is an important component of popular diet plans like Weight Watchers, but it also contains medium-chain fatty acids that are easily converted to energy. With today’s on-the-go lifestyle, that is definitely a plus. Additionally, there are no fermented grains in macaroons, making them a perfect dessert for Jewish families to enjoy during Passover.

Adding to their appeal, macaroons are gluten-free, which renders them a great product for your instore bakery to offer as the demand for gluten-free products continues to grow. According to a recent report from Packaged Facts, the gluten-free market has grown at an average annual rate of 28 percent since 2004, when it was valued at $580 million, to reach $1.56 billion last year. Packaged Facts estimates that gluten-free sales will be worth $2.6 billion by 2012.

Wegmans, Hy-Vee and numerous other instore bakeries all across the country already carry macaroons. Safeway does as well, and according to its website, “The sweet, fluffy macaroon is a classic cookie to have in your baking repertoire.”

If you do not yet carry macaroons in your instore bakery, the American Almond Products Company, Inc. (www.americanalmond.com) can help you easily begin to incorporate them into your product line. American Almond offers five-pound cartons of both a vanilla and a chocolate coconut macaroon mix for around ten dollars each. The company’s website says, “With either of our complete Coconut Macaroon Cookie mixes, vanilla or chocolate, you’ll find that a chewy texture and delicious taste are as easy as 1-2-3. Just add hot water, mix and bake!””

While American macaroons can take any number of different forms, the shape of French macarons is much more uniformed and structured. French macarons are made out of two smooth, dome-shaped meringues that sandwich a layer of flavorful filling, which is typically made out of buttercream or jam. The meringue batter is made by folding almond flour into egg whites beaten with sugar until the mixture becomes thick and shiny. It is then piped into small rounds on parchment or silicone-lined sheets for baking. The filling is the last step of the process.

The flavor opportunities for French macarons are abundant, only limited by imagination. They range from the traditional and always popular chocolates and raspberries, to the exotic and more adventurous black sesames and candied violets. Cecile Cannone, pastry chef and co-owner of MacarOn Café in New York, finds her flavor inspiration from the seasons, annual holidays and various ethnic spices she stumbles across. “Once I finish the basic flavors I can create something fun,” Cannone says. “At Thanksgiving, I make a cranberry macaron. I also have a lot of Asian customers so I make a green tea flavor for them.” The endless flavor possibilities provide a great opportunity for you to differentiate your instore bakery from your competitors, and to keep your customers surprised and coming back for more.

If you need further convincing as to the worth of these confections, consider this: The Wall Street Journal reports that macarons may soon surpass the cupcake in popularity. They are already all the rage in Paris, where they can even be purchased by consumers at McDonald’s McCafés. The macarons sold through this fast food giant are not just any macarons, either. They are provided by Holder, the company that owns the infamous Ladurée which is internationally known for its delectable macarons.

Source: Baking Buyer

Beyond the European borders, macarons have recently started popping up abundantly in the United States. While they are still somewhat resigned to specialty bakeries, they are beginning to spread into new outlets. Starbucks carried them nationwide during the holidays last year and that sentiment is sure to grow. By offering French macarons, you will keep your instore bakery ahead of the curve and give customers a reason to shop yours instead of someone else’s.

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