Macarons and macaroons are only one letter apart, which can lead to some confusion. While they both use egg whites and sugar in their recipes, they have a very different appearance and baking process.
Macarons are thought to have originated in Italy, and the recipe brought to France, where it was adapted and popularized. Two delicate meringue shells are sandwiched with a creamy filling, and the sky’s the limit when it comes to flavours.
Macaroons are a coconut-based North American cookie. The baking process is simple, and the cookie is dense and chewy. You can dip it in chocolate or add any other ingredients you like.
OLLIA MACARONS AND TEA
Lindsay and David Rousseau, the husband-and-wife duo behind Calgary’s Ollia Macarons and Tea, opened their store in 2014. Lindsay says their goal with Ollia was to offer “parenthèse enchantée” (an enchanted episode) to everyday moments.
“We wanted to create something where when you walked in the door, or someone brought you a box of macarons from our store, it took you away for a moment,” Lindsay says. “We think every day you should have a little bit of something special.”
Many people come in asking for “macaroons” when they really want macarons. It happens so often, that for April Fool’s Day 2016 they joked they would only sell macaroons since that’s what customers kept asking for. They posted a picture of macaroons on their Facebook page and announced they would start with two flavours – coconut and chocolate.
“We had people writing and saying, ‘No, don’t do this,’” she says laughing. “So macaroon vs. macaron is dear to my heart.” Ollia even sells a “macaroon macaron” made with coconut milk and toasted coconut, which was created to offer a dairy-free flavour.
David Rousseau is Ollia’s pastry chef, and originally from France. He says making macarons is not a simple process: “We have baking classes and right at the beginning I say, ‘I’m going to teach you how to make macarons, because if I was teaching you how to make macaroons, we would be out in 12 minutes.’ The actual class is two-and-a-half hours because there’s nine steps.”
Macarons use egg whites, sugar, and finely ground almonds to create a meringue-like mixture that’s piped onto a baking sheet into small rounds. “What we love about the macaron is you have to become an expert at it because it’s very hard to make,” Lindsay says. “With one product, you’re unlimited with the flavour and design. It allows you to hone your skills and do something really fun.”
Lindsay’s favourite sweet macaron is lavender and honey, while her favourite savoury flavour is chèvre apricot. David’s favourite is passion fruit milk chocolate. The most popular flavour is a tie between their rocher (chocolate and hazelnut) and crème brûlée.
Edmonton’s new FanFan Patisserie opened in July. Owner and pastry chef Franck “FanFan” Bouilhol trained at Alain Ducasse’s school in France, and worked at patisseries in his home country.
After moving to Edmonton, Bouilhol ran a catering company selling baked goods to cafés and restaurants. “I was renting a small kitchen in a café and they told me, ‘You’re taking up too much space – you need to find your own kitchen,’” he laughs.
The pastry chef specializes in one-bite, miniature French pastries. His favourite macaron is passion fruit, a top seller, while other popular macarons are salted caramel, and chocolate.
Bouilhol says making macarons takes a lot of time and practice: “It’s a complicated process. You cannot make it every morning. You make a huge amount of shell and then do the filling.”
He says the original way to make the shells is with Italian meringue, which requires drizzling sugar syrup into egg whites that have been whipped to hold stiff peaks (and the use of a candy thermometer for the syrup).
“Sometimes people take a shortcut and use French meringue instead,” Bouilhol says. “French meringue gives dry macarons.” French meringues are simpler as egg whites are whipped to stiff peaks with the sugar, and the dry ingredients are folded into the meringue. Both FanFan and Ollia use the Italian meringue method.
“If you’re making them at home, macaroons are much easier to make,” says Janine Kolotyluk, professional home economist and community educator with ATCO Blue Flame Kitchen.
She says it’s a great recipe for kids to help with. They can fold in the coconut, or drop the batter onto the cookie sheet. (Make sure they don’t lick the egg whites).
Many thanks to ATCO Blue Flame Kitchen for sharing their simple macaroon recipe with us too. Get it here!