Macarons are in the spotlight as of late, as a naturally gluten-free, aesthetically pleasing treat. From the Great British Bake Off to online shops, you’ll see macarons just about anywhere you might find pastry.
What’s more difficult, though, is finding a macaron that’s truly great. As macarons pop up far beyond Paris with an assortment of inspirations, techniques, and recipes, you might struggle to find a delicious macaron—if you haven’t had a great one already, you might not even know what you’re missing out on! All the same, there are a few crucial components that make for a great macaron, whether you’re browsing macarons online or you’re trying to make them for yourself. Taken together, they can craft a version of this popular dessert that you’ll remember for a lifetime and might even try to replicate.
The Right Texture
These iconic pastries are unique in many ways, but their texture may very well be their most original quality. Even diehard pastry lovers insist that their first authentic macaron has a texture unlike anything they’ve eaten before and may ever enjoy in another sweet. A great macaron melts in your mouth with a light and fluffy texture like no other dessert. Even though it has both outer shells and an inner filling, the macaron should be one composed treat, and the eating experience should reflect just that. It’s this texture, and the experience it creates, that has helped the macaron’s popularity endure.
A Tasty Filling
Speaking of a macaron’s components, it’s essential that a great macaron is crafted with the correct filling. The best macaron fillings meld with the shells without making them soggy and are sweet without being so sweet that it overpowers the macaron as a whole. Some fan-favorite fillings include butterscotch, pie fillings, jams, pastry cream, and more. Remember—the best macaron is one that can be experienced as a complete dessert, not separate parts that happen to be eaten together. It may resemble a classic sandwich cookie but, in the most critical sense, it’s anything but an Oreo!
Alongside a delicious filling, a great macaron needs great flavor in its shell. When many experts discuss the perfect macaron, they talk about its appearance, but ultimately, these beautiful treats are meant to be eaten! Take time to make sure you’re choosing the best flavor for your particular macaron (particularly when combined with your chosen filling) and research the best way to add your intended flavor and fragrance without ruining the shell’s delicate texture. When you’re shopping for macarons, consider the flavor combinations a particular shop is using and, if possible, the methods they use to achieve those flavors. Each of these is a crucial component of a great macaron.
The Best Chef
It’s true that anyone can make a delicious macaron with the right guidance and careful attention to detail. At the same time, though, an experienced French baker has a certain je ne sais quoi that is much harder to replicate. As you compare different bakeries and pastry chefs, take the time to find out where the chef trained and what experience they have in macarons and other baked goods. To experience a great macaron, you’ll want to find someone who’s got the experience, talent, and reputation backing up their authentic French macarons.
Macarons can be delicious in any context, but there’s something special about a macaron that’s genuinely great. With the right texture, a carefully chosen filling, flavor-filled shells, and the best baker for the job, this treat can be one that you’ll remember for years to come. Of course, this doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a macaron that’s less authentic. But, once you’ve tried one that’s particularly delicious, you might just find that you don’t really want to.