I’m sure you’ve noticed that certain foods that become trendy just like there are items of clothing that come in and out of style.
I’ve been surprised that cupcakes are still popular (thanks primarily to the Food Network), bacon seems to be showing up in everything these days including ice cream, and then of course, there’s quinoa which seems to have real staying power. Gluten-free, hard to pronounce name, and high protein. That’s like a trifecta of trendy food.
But recently, I’ve been seeing a food that I wasn’t familiar with start showing up in random places leading me to think it has hit the trendy list. Are macarons are the new cupcake?
These aren’t the American macaroons (spelled with two “o”s) that are a clump of shredded coconut held together with egg whites and sugar that when eaten, drop like a stone to the bottom of your stomach. These are a light, delicate, French sandwich cookie made from ground almonds, egg whites and sugar and filled with butter cream, ganache, or jam.
I first heard about macarons one night when we were flipping channels and stopped on Food Network’s “Best Thing I Ever Ate” show long enough to hear Wolfgang Puck describe how he had eaten one macaron from some famous bakery and then because they were so good, had eaten about 12 more of them. Really? Show some restraint, Wolfgang. That was until I tasted one and then I was in the same boat as Wolfie.
The next time I encountered macarons was on a goofy Food Network show that Jennifer and I are hooked on called “Sweet Genius.” It’s the pastry chef version of “Iron Chef” hosted by Ron Ben-Israel, the Food Network version of Dr. Evil. The contestants have to make a chocolate dessert, candy and cake using often bizarre mandatory ingredients such as aloe vera and black beans. Several contestants have made macarons to show their skill in the candy competition.
And then Jennifer Lynn told me that there were macarons at the prom which was held at the St. Francis in San Francisco. That clinched it; it won’t be long before what was once trendy hits the mass market and we’ll be able to buy a tub of macarons at Costco.
Inspired by all the macaron-ness going on around her, Jennifer decided to try making them and followed the 15 step recipe for traditional French macarons filled with buttercream.
Sure, they aren’t as spherical as the ones made by the professionals on “Sweet Genius” and next time she’s going to add some food coloring so they aren’t so pale, but they are one of the more delicious morsels that I have ever eaten. Crunchy on the outside, melt in your mouth and small enough that I don’t feel horribly guilty eating one, or two or six.
Yep, I think it won’t be long before we see “Macaron Wars” on the Food Network. Mango Coriander Macarons with Mascarpone Chutney Filling. It could happen.