Le Dictionnaire LaRousse defines le macaron (from the Italian ‘maccarone or maccherone’) very simply as “Petit gateau rond, moelleux, a base de pate d’amandes, de blanc d’oeufs et de sucre qui peut etre parfume a la vanille, au cafe, au chocolat”, (I’ll come back to this and insert the accents) which doesn’t really seem to do justice to these charming, sweet treats. It doesn’t say anything about the potential for rainbow colours or for a myriad of delicious fillings. It doesn’t mention the delicate little frill around the lower edge – the all important foot – or the smooth, domed, crisp top. It certainly doesn’t mention that making the perfect Parisian macaron is an art and a science, and that, despite the simplicity of the ingredients, the recipe and the technique present even the most practised of bakers and pastry chefs with frustrating challenges.
I was amused by another definition of a macaron in LaRousse – “Rosette d’une decoration ou insigne distinctif quelconque de forme ronde, portes a la boutonniere”, which roughly translated is “a round medal or a badge worn in the buttonhole”. I plan to award myself one when I crack my challenge!