The variety of options for those with a sweet tooth has never been more extensive. Apart from the regular fare of traditional sweetmeats, there are assortments of cakes, cupcakes, cake pops, muffins, pies and doughnuts. But the one dessert fast topping popularity charts at the moment is the French sandwich cookie— the macaron. Light, airy, flavourful, the dainty delicacy is made mostly from egg whites, almond flour and sugar and is much in demand now thanks to the expats and globe trotters amongst us.
“Nowadays, people travel a lot and so their tastes too have evolved,” says Venkatesh Raghu of Amande Patisserie in Bangalore, famous for its macarons. “Other than Bangaloreans living mostly in Whitefield, Indira Nagar and Level Road, a lot of Japanese expats in the city are also macaron lovers,” says Raghu.
“I was holidaying in Singapore when I first tried a macaron,” says 24-year-old Alia, a Bangalore-based marketing executive. “I then tried to look for bakeries offering macarons here and stumbled upon Amande,” she says. Alia agrees that not all people know about macarons, but the craze is definitely catching on. “Plus macarons make for great gifts,” she points out, “You can take them on flights or long journeys. And unlike cakes or cupcakes there aren’t any worries about the frosting getting spoilt in transit,” she adds.
Small, brightly coloured and available in a variety of flavours, macarons are quite the rage as gifts at the moment. They can be stored for 2-3 days and most bakeries sell them in packs of 6 and 12. “Macarons are one of our fastest selling items. They are very popular as gifting options too and we often do bulk orders in macarons of hundreds of boxes,” says Swati Upadhyay of Concu Cakes in Hyderabad.
Though many bakeries make macarons, not everyone can get it right. “There are only a few places that have been able to deliver the right texture and taste,” says Upadhyay. “These delicate French goodies have a notorious reputation for their high failure rate. Nearly impossible to create without arduous efforts, skillful techniques and a perfect recipe, macarons can test every pastry chef’s patience,” she says.
So what maketh the perfect macaron? Upadhyay quotes food blogger Lisa Smiley. “The crust of the cookie should be thin and only provide the most useless protection against the soft cookie layer underneath. Biting through the crust should be effortless. The cookie’s texture beneath the crust should be light, just a little chewy, and soft, but not so soft that it’s mushy. Finally, the filling must be soft and flavorful, light and not cloyingly sweet and the fillings must be generous.”
Concu Cakes stock the standard chocolate, strawberry, raspberry flavours while creating new ones as well. “We are most creative with our macaron flavours. So far we have tried over 30 different flavours and popular ones have been the alcohol combinations such as red wine-cinnamon, and chocolate-whiskey,” says Upadhyay.
Apart from their face and gifting value, macarons score over other desserts by being gluten free. “Macarons are the perfect sweet bite for a person who is allergic to gluten since they are gluten-free,” says Megha Kohli, pastry chef at Olive Bar and Kitchen in Delhi. Kohli is positive macarons would soon replace cupcakes as the It Sweet. She cites the example of a friend who cut a macaron tower at her wedding. “The tower built with tiny macarons in rich colours looked much more beautiful and vibrant than a cake ever could,” she says.