Desserts cycle through phases of popularity but some, usually french, desserts have succeeded in breaking free from cyclic popularity in order to become established constants in American culture. For example, basic French pastries, like croissants and madeleines, have been coffee shop staples for years; so much so that a cafe without such pastries, at least in the US, would be incredibly bizarre.
More recently, it seems as though the macaron has become America’s french treat of choice. They aren’t quite as ubiquitous as the humble croissant (you can’t regularly find them in any cafe you wander into, whether it’s the closest starbucks or the local place down the street), but macarons have wiggled their way into all sorts of new areas within the pastry world and have become quite the enticing challenge for any home baker. However, I am completely unimpressed.
An incredibly upsetting component of the macaron is the deceptive nature of its smooth and shiny surface. Expecting a crunchy shell that shatters when you bite into it, the macaron cookies sort of dissolve once they come in contact with your mouth, a sensation I find incredibly unsettling. Like literally any rigid food you have ever eaten, however, there is some fragmentation with each bite, but it immediately dissolves, all thanks to the light and delicate meringue base and the absence of gluten.
Once you get past the outer edge of these bizarre sandwich cookies, the centers greet you with an unexpected chewiness and elasticity (depending on the filling) that is equally unpleasant, if not more so. Above all else, the most upsetting thing about macarons is the popularity of floral flavors. Who wants to bite into a crackly, chewy cookie that smells and tastes like soap? Long story short, everything about the macaron is deceptive and displeasing, and it’s popularity is a total mystery to me.
I always feel so bad attacking macarons because of how beloved they are among my peers. I would love to respect the macaron enough to make them from scratch for all of my friends, but doing so would be hypocritical and I am pretty sure a part of my soul would die during the process. Luckily for them, I adore several other french treats and love to shower them with my attempts at such underrated desserts as madeleines and craquelin puffs.
Madeleines are, truly, the best thing to have ever come out of france. They have all the lift and fluffiness of a cake within the compact and portable nature of a cookie, making them the most perfect treat, ever. Possibly the biggest plus in madeleines favor is that a significant amount of fat is necessary, unlike macarons (which would collapse upon the introduction of fat), which means that brown butter can be incorporated to enhance madeleines even more! Macarons are undeniably, aesthetically pleasing, but nothing beats the flavor of a good brown butter madeleine, and I stand by that with every fiber of my being.