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A Brief History of the Macaroon

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What are Macaroons?


No matter how filling a main meal might be - there's always some room for a cheeky nibble on a macaroon.

But firstly and foremost, for all those who are wondering, what exactly are these delightful, small and simple coconut desserts? Is it a cake? Or is it a cookie? This short piece will explain how the macaroon is actually it's very own little thing entirely.

Macaroon or Macaron?

Macaroon and Macaron, is there a difference? And if there is, what is it? A subtle simplification of spelling proves this question to be quite confusing, in the distinction between the macaroon and the macaron, Although, both sweets are very similar in size and spelling, they are very different in both taste and texture. The single-'o' 'macaron' identifies more as a cookie/biscuit confection, with a shiny, hard almond meringue base. While, the double-'oo' 'macaroon', is distinguished as being a small coconut cake.

  • Macaroon: A bite into a macaroon reveals a deliciously dense, sweet, soft and chewy texture of coconut. Traditional ingredients for making macaroons are coconut shavings, eggs, sugar, salt, and additional flavorings or extracts, such as chocolate, almond or vanilla.

Check here for some easy lesson s on how to make coconut macaroons.

  • Macaron: A macaron is a sweet sandwiched confection of crispy almond meringue, with a creamy, sweet filling in the center, such as chocolate or jam.

Both these trendy, small and sweet desserts at one time seemed one in the same thing, but since the adoption of coconut, believed to be influenced by a French company in late the 19th century, the macaroon now differentiates itself separately from the macaron.

However, the French influence and confusion doesn't stop there, as French words adopted into English during the 16th and 17th centuries ending in 'on', became 'oon', such as 'balloon', 'platoon' and 'cartoon' etc. So 'macaron' became 'macaroon.'

Many bakeries still haven't adapted from this change and still label, 'macaron' as 'macaroon', continuing the ongoing confusion between the 2. Anyway, while the rest of the world catches up, you know now, what makes a macaroon and what makes a macaron.

Where are macaroons from originally?

Macaroons a healthy protein snack

The title of macaroon is - as mentioned before - adapted from macaron. The word macaron comes from the Italian word, 'maccherone', and Venetian 'macarone' which translates to “fine paste”.

This 'fine paste' refers to the crushed almonds in the recipe which first defined the macaron. The word 'macarone' descends from the Italian word 'ammaccare', which means “to crush”.

According to legend, the birth of the macaroon is linked back to 7th and 8th-century Italian monasteries. Arab invaders are thought to have bought in almonds in the 7th century. While another myth states macaroons were first found in a small convent in Commercy, France, in the year 791. Sourced from the east and made by monks, these crushed almond delights soon caught on and developed further in the Italian/French affair, to be mastered and sold by the bakeries and patisseries of Venice and Paris.

The shift in the ‘macaron’ becoming the ‘macaroon’, with the addition of shredded coconut, is due to macaroon manufacturers using coconut to help maintain the nut paste due to its preservation qualities, as well as being easier to ship without being spoiled. This is dated back to a French company in 1890, wishing to distribute the nut from Ceylon and Sri Lanka into Europe. 

What is in macaroons?

Here are the ingredients to a modern coconut macaroon recipe:

  • 2 large egg whites
  • Cream of tartar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 quarter cup of casting sugar
  • 1 cup of desiccated coconut
  • 80ml/ 1 third cup of crushed almonds
  • Guava jam
  • dusting of icing sugar

Full Recipe Here 

There can be many variations to the recipe which makes macaroons flexible to all dietary requirements.

Do macaroons have gluten?

Although many coconut macaroon recipes contain gluten there is no reason they should! A macaroon is naturally gluten-free. It's important if you are gluten-free and plan on purchasing macaroons to not just assume - check the label!

Do macaroons have nuts?

Obviously, the traditional macaroon contains crushed almonds, so yes. However, with regard to allergies, there is no reason someone with a nut allergy cannot still enjoy a macaroon. Firstly, an allergy to peanuts is not necessarily the same as almonds, as the peanut belongs to the legume branch of the nut, while the almond is a part of the tree nut family. Secondly, nuts can be replaced in macaroons with a substitute. Seeds, such as sunflower and pumpkin provide a good healthy option, while nut-free chocolate can be added for a sweeter finish. Let your imagination run wild and be a bit creative when replacing the crushed almond mixture. Here are 3 nut-free options to macaroons to get you going. 

How many carbs in a macaroon?

There is a total of 72 grams of carbohydrate in a standard 100 gram serving of a coconut macaroon. Nutritional information courtesy of the USDA.

How much protein is there in a macaroon?

There is a total of 3.6 grams of protein in a standard 100 gram serving of a coconut macaroon. Nutritional information courtesy of the USDA.

Are macaroons bad for you?

The short answer is no. Well, not necessarily. Like most things, when eaten in moderation, a standard of no more than 2 macaroons a day, will result in zero negative effects and some surprising benefits. While sugar has obviously no nutritional benefit, eggs whites are low in cholesterol and benefit brain function by containing sodium.

Coconut is the real game-changer. Coconuts contain many health benefits, such as increasing energy and satiety, while reducing blood cholesterol levels and the possibility of infection.

Are Nagi's Makaroons, macaroons?

Yes, Nagi’sMakaroons’ are just like your standard macaroon, just that little more delicious, healthy and vegan-friendly. Nagi's Makaroons are a cheeky interpretation of the classic macaroon, but just that little bit healthier and indulgent. Packed full of protein and organic superfoods, check out our range of special Macaroons today!



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