Macarons: Kicking cupcakes to the curb


A few months back, we wondered if we had reached total cupcake saturation. Like hedge funds and Florida real estate, it was looking like cupcakes had their own bubble of over-heating, over-expansion, and over-investment  with borrowed capital. The cupcake hucksters appeared, hawking their second-rate baked goods on every street corner. Too much inferior buttercream was leaving a bad taste our mouths.

But our sugar lust still needed to be fed.

The French macaron is shaping up as the likeliest contender to unseat the cupcake.

Not to be confused with coconut macaroons, macarons consist of two rounds of airy, meringue-like pastry sandwiching a layer of jam, buttercream, or ganache. The best macarons are crispy but chewy, dainty in appearance but assertively flavored. Even with their French pedigree and subtle pleasures, they can still hold their own against cupcakes as a colorful, sugary, festive, single-serving treat.

A long-time specialty of Parisian patisseries, there are clear indications that the macaron is approaching critical mass in the US:

  • Retailers ranging from Nordstrom to Trader Joe’s are carrying proprietary lines of fresh and frozen macarons.
  • New York City, home to the Magnolia Bakery (known as ground zero for the cupcake invasion) now has Macaron Cafe.
  • No less a cultural force than Starbucks tested macarons in selected stores during the month of December.

Macarons are not yet a pop culture phenomenon, but they are shaping up as the “It” dessert of 2010. Cupcakes are so 2009!

Here are a few links to help you learn more about French macarons:

View the how-to video at Desserts Magazine for proper macaron baking technique.

Join the online conversation at EGullet where a second macaron forum was opened after the first one maxed-out at 15 pages.

Read I Love Macarons, an English-language rarity in a field of French cookbooks.

Read the 5-part Macaronicite series at

Visit the mothership– Paris’ La Duree Patisserie, and gawk at the spectacularly whimsical macaron creations.

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11 Responses to Macarons: Kicking cupcakes to the curb

  1. Pingback: For the love of Macarons! | Yanessa's Blog

  2. I love macaroons. I mean they don’t need to be twenty different colors but hey they all end up in the same place!

  3. Pingback: Macaron Madness

  4. I recently came across this blog and have loved the information. I look forward to future articles and will definitely link to this and tell the people I know. Thanks.

  5. gift says:

    Appreciate it for sharing the information with us.

  6. Pingback: French Fries: The World Tour | Gigabiting

  7. Pingback: Erica Mulherin - Currently » Maca-what?:

  8. ptsaldari says:

    Maroon me on a desert island with these Macarons: Oh! My! Gosh! How delightfully and as always ingenious.
    Thank you for sharing,

  9. Janice says:

    No second rate buttercream at Betty’s. They should be able to withstand the challenge from macarons.

  10. Julie Snyder says:

    Very interesting. Nicole works at Betty’s Speakeasy (, which was recognized by Philadelphia Magazine for having the “Best Cupcakes” in the city. I’ll have to pass on the news that they’d better switch gears!

  11. Sister, I’m with you on the macarons! Thanks for all the great resources, because I have to try making these myself.

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