The macaron (pronounced mah-kah-ROHN), not to be confused with the coconut macaroon, is a delicate, airy confection with a history as rich as its filling.
Despite its reputation as a French delight, the colorful meringue sandwich cookie originated in Venetian monasteries in the eighth century. (Back then, the basic sweets made from almonds, sugar, and egg whites weren’t nearly as pretty to look at.) Story has it that Catherine de' Medici, who arrived in France in 1533 to marry King Henry II, introduced the elites of the Valois court to the maccherone, courtesy of her Italian pastry chef. It quickly became a favorite among French nobility.
Macarons gained commercial fame in 1792. Two Carmelite nuns looking for refuge in the city of Nancy during the French Revolution baked and sold the cookies to pay for their lodging. The sweets were a runaway hit and the pious duo became famous as the "Macaron Sisters". It wasn’t until the 1830’s that Parisian bakers began joining two macaron biscuits with a filling.
Since then, macarons have evolved into the perfectly formed, pastel-colored creations we know today, filled with a variety of jellies, jams, curds, buttercreams and ganache. Macarons remain a mainstay of tea rooms around the world. Vive le macaron!