Macarons or Macaroons? Confused…Let’s clear this up for you.
To really grasp the difference between macarons or macaroons we have to travel back in time to Italy and examine one of its most popular biscuits – the Amaretti.
Amarettis are made from an almond paste combined with a meringue like mixture and then baked to perfection. Italian bakers had been creating and delighting people with these bundles of joy for many, many years. Bakers love to experiment and that’s exactly what happened next. Two divisions of bakers took the unassuming Amaretti and put their thinking caps on.
One group decided to use shredded coconut instead of the normal almond paste and the well known and loved Macaroon was born. The Macaroon (from the Italian maccarone or maccherone meaning ‘paste’ – referring back to its origins) became exceptionally popular with the Ashkenazi Jews of Europe for Passover as all the ingredients are unleavened and so they could still be eaten during the festival period.
Yet here in Scotland, most people will think of a Macaroon Bar when we refer to Macaroons. The Italian Macaroon recipe was reinvented and the macaroon bar was developed and manufactured by the Lees factory back in 1931. …just 5 miles from our HQ here in Scotland.
John J Lees created the Macaroon Bar with mashed potatoes, chocolate chips, desiccated coconut and since then the macaroon bar has become a Scottish icon….just like the Tunnocks Teacake.
Back in Italy, the other group wanted to try substituting finely ground almonds in the form of flour to the normal Amaretti mixture – this resulted in a smoother biscuit which was baked in perfect circles. But the experimenting didn’t stop there; the French further developed the recipe by having the chefs at the royal court play around with it when it was brought back from Italy by the French King’s Italian wife, Catherine De Medici. The name ‘Macaron’ is the French spelling for the colourful treat whereas congolais refers to the coconut variety.
So now you know about the difference between the two delicious baked treats, why not try your hand at creating one of these at home? Or, if you’re a bit timid in the kitchen, why not pick up a box of our gorgeous French Macarons to devour with that special someone.