Americans get a taste for macarons

Tue Oct 11, 2011 1:22pm EDT
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By Andrea Burzynski

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Macarons, the small almond and sugar cookie beloved by the French, are replacing the cupcake in the United States as a favorite dessert.

Bakeries devoted to the colorful confections have been popping up in New York, Seattle and San Francisco, and the legendary Parisian patisserie Laduree, whose pastry chef Pierre Desfontaines created the macaron over a century ago, opened its first U.S. branch in New York City in August.

"It's exactly the same shop and spirit," said Laduree chairman David Holder about its new U.S. store. "The products and the quality are the same."

Although the Laduree recipe is a closely guarded secret, Holder said all of the company's macarons are made in Paris from a mixture that is about 50 percent ground almonds, as well as sugar, egg whites, food coloring, and naturally derived flavors. The cookies are also gluten-free.

The New York shop is so popular at times on weekends the line of customers curls down the sidewalk.

At the macaron shop Bisous, Ciao in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, a sign in the window makes clear that macarons, which Bon Appetit magazine had dubbed "the new cupcake" last year, are not the same thing as macaroons, a chewy coconut biscuit.

Like their trendy predecessor, macarons win many fans with their bold appearance and array of whimsical flavors.

"I think people like them at first because they're striking colors, and they're dainty and pretty," said Bisous, Ciao owner and founder Tanya Ngangan.   Continued...

<p>Macarons are seen on sale at the Laduree shop in New York, August 30, 2011. REUTERS/Juliette Longuet/Handout</p>