Chocolate stilettos aren’t the only sweet trends sweeping through Paris these days. On my recent romantic 30-year wedding anniversary trip to Paris a few weeks ago, I was stunned to find huge lines in many of Paris’ most famous sweet shops. Much to my surprise, it wasn’t the decadent chocolate or the delicate petitfores people were clamoring for. These folks were lining-up to sample another famous French delicacy – macaroons or as they are known in France, macarons.
Unlike the sticky, golden-brown, shredded coconut mounds, lightly sweetened and held together with egg whites that we have here in the States, these macarons are dainty cream-filled sandwich cookies of all colors and flavors. (Think Blackcurrant Violet, Salted Butter Caramel, Vanilla, Raspberry and Chocolate!) Some were displayed on sticks, in tins, pretty pink boxes or by the dozen in pastry displays.
Oh lá lá were they good! One of the most famous places I saw them being sold was at a shop on the grounds of the Palace of Versailles, made famous by Marie Antoinette, the French queen who has been historically misquoted as saying, “Let them eat cake.”
Since the macarons were being sold near her palace, I couldn’t help but wonder if they had been a favorite of the ill-fated queen. Turns out they were not. Apparently they were brought over from Italy for Catherine di Medici… a queen who reigned a couple hundred years before Marie Antoinette.
The macarons di Medici liked were more akin to the ones we know, minus the coconut – a simple combo of ground almonds, egg whites and sugar.
The famous macarons people line-up in France for these days were created at the beginning of the 20th Century by Desfontaines Laudree who decided to join two meringues and fill them with chocolate ganache.
Today, the Parisian bakery Laduree still bears the creator’s name and has become one of the sweetest stops at the Palace of Versailles – so instead of people saying, “Let them eat cake,” you are more apt to hear, “Let’s eat macarons!” And so we did.