Who Invented Macarons?
Macarons (or to be precise, the Italian counterpart: Maccherones), were introduced around the 16th Century, seemingly by Queen Catherine De Medici, who brought the sweet treat to France. At this time, the types of macarons produced by her chef were simply a small sweet with a soft inside and a crunchy outer shell. These macaron shells formed the baseline for the dessert we all know and love.
Where Did Macarons Originate?
Macarons have truly travelled across the globe. References have been found to macaron-like cooking techniques in 7th Century Middle Eastern culture. After all, one of the key macaron ingredients, almonds, originates from that part of the world. The current iteration of macarons however, can be traced to 8th Century Italy. The sweet treat was first recorded to have been produced in Venetian monasteries.
Macarons, as we currently know them (with a smooth ganache filling sandwiched between two meringue based shells, were invented in France. Parisian confectioners created the ‘Macaron Parisien’ during the 1830s. It was later made popular by companies such as Ladurée – a company formed in 1862 that still operates till this day. The Pastry Chef Pierre Herme known as the ‘Picasso of Pastry’ was the first to create flavoured macarons in the 1980s. He made the then ground breaking pistachio, rose and vanilla macarons.
How Did Macarons Rise In Popularity?
The first instance of macaron-related fame occurred in 1792. La Soeurs Macarons, or the Macaron Sisters, gained popularity by selling meringue shells to cover their rent. Both sisters, Sister Marguerite and Marie-Elisabeth, were nuns seeking asylum in Nancy, France. They named their product the ‘Nancy Macaron’ – a sweet that was solely made of the macaron shell, with no ganache filling.
More recently, macarons have gained popularity through national holidays. ‘Macaron Day’ was introduced in 2005 in Paris, as a way for local macaron patisseries to celebrate the sweet treat and fundraise for charities.
How Popular Are Macarons Today?
The inclusion of varying dietary requirements in macaroon bakery has caused a market boom. Many dessert business operators either offer or are interested in offering desserts with ‘free-from’ labels. The inclusion of vegan and dairy-free produce, by example, has opened up the world of macaroons to an entirely new consumer base.
It also doesn’t hurt that stylish blockbuster films, like Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby and Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette, have had macarons feature as scrumptious set pieces. We’ve even had our very own macarons featured in Made in Chelsea.
Of course, macarons are most popular in France. Between the four Ladurée shops in Paris alone, approximately 4.3 macarons are sold per year. The UK market is steadily growing however, and with high-quality produce coming from companies such as Miss Macaroon, more and more people are falling in love with the meringue-based sweet treat.