Is it just me, or are macarons quite possibly the cutest concoction on the planet? I’ve been dying to try some for a long time now, but haven’t had the opportunity. I intend to change that soon though! Until I get to try the real thing in a bakery with rows and rows of colorful macarons, I shall enjoy my homemade version. Thanks to my Bouchon Bakery cookbook (after several not-so-successful attempts from other sources) for satisfying my desire for these lovely, colorful little vanilla bean macarons. I wasn’t sure if I would love them or not, since I don’t always like meringue-based treats. Don’t get me started on marshmallows. WOW! I was very pleasantly surprised! I loved the vanilla bean and almond combination! (Also a bit ashamed at how enthusiastically I “taste-tested” them.) Anyhow, you really should try making these vanilla bean macarons for your Valentine. They can even be made up to 2 weeks ahead (see notes at end of recipe).
They take a little bit of practice to get them just right, but really they’re not too difficult as long as you have a thermometer, and either parchment paper or a Silpat silicone baking mat, and a pastry bag with a large round tip (and some fun food coloring if you want!). I made mine pink for Valentine’s Day, but you can do whatever your heart desires.
What exactly is a macaron? and how is it different from a macaroon?
Well, a macaron is a delicate meringue-based confection made with very finely ground almonds. Their edges have a characteristic ruffled appearance, called the foot, and they are typically filled with either a ganache or a buttercream. They’ve become quite trendy lately, so the varieties of colors, flavors, and fillings have gotten quite expansive. They’re also just adorable.
A macaroon, on the other hand (which is the English translation of macaron), is typically what Americans call the coconut macaroon which you may be familiar with. They have a lot more texture to them due to the shredded coconut, and they’re sometimes dipped in chocolate. While they also are made with a meringue base, the end result is very different from the dainty macarons I am sharing with you today.