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Macaroons vs. Macarons: A Primer

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A few weeks ago, we were alerted to the fact that it was National Macaroon Day. That news put some giddy-up in our collective step, seeing as we're always on the look-out for those International Food Days of Wonder since they give us an excuse to make up a gallery of the most delectable shots around. So we took to the Internets, scoured to find the most appetizing macaroon photos around, and put one together. Problem was, we ended up with a whole bunch of "macaron" shots instead, because sometimes we're idiots.

But instead of just killing the post and moving on, we thought it'd be nice to create a bit of a primer/lesson when it comes to macaroons vs. macarons. Maybe this will save you some embarrassment/score you some points the next time you happen upon a dessert-based conversation at a networking event. Or maybe this will just make you want to run out to the store this afternoon and try them both for yourself. Either one's an acceptable outcome.

So, then. Let's begin. These are macarons:

macaroon01
Photo of macaron from the Paris Bakery from Flickr user LWY.
macaroons93
Photo of good looking dessert tray full of macarons by Flickr user LaFemmeEnNoir.
macaroon03
Box of macarons from somewhere in L.A. by Flickr user kjly.

Notice the sandwich thing going on there -- that's the main key to telling the difference. While both confections are meringue in their styling, the macaron is basically two cookies with a creamy, super-sweet filling inside. (Think of an Oreo, but way classier.) Options for the fillings can be pretty much anything, from raspberry to chocolate to straight-up cream to any bit of sweetness your heart desires. As legend goes, they were first created back in the late 1700s in a convent in France, which makes sense seeing as nuns know how to make their sweets. They, as you'd imagine, are delicious.

Meanwhile, here's the macaroon:

macaroon1
Photo by Flickr user little blue hen.
macaroon2
Photo of macaroon by Flickr user stevendepolo.
macaroon3
Photo of paleo coconut macaroon by Flickr user elana's pantry.

Notice the cake-like quality to it. It's a bit harder on the outside and kind of comes apart when you bite into it. Generally speaking, they're filled with nuts of some sort, usually almonds, but coconuts are also common. As far as sweetness goes, compared to the above macarons, they're like eating a chunk of desert. (Not a misspelling there.) But as a satisfying post-meal treat that won't make you feel terrible about yourself -- in the vain of a coffee-cake or some other style of confection -- the macaroon is always worthwhile. Also of note: The recipe for macaroons reportedly came from an Italian monastery in the 1500s. Which begs the question, were religious folks doing nothing but trying to make desserts back in the day?

So, there ya go. You now know the difference between macaroons and macarons. The more you know, people!

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