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Macaroons vs. Macarons: 5 Differences + 5 Tips To Use Them

A few things can confuse a beginner baker like the delicate and tasty macaroons and macarons. These two delectable delights are often mistaken for one another, although several differences set them apart, in addition to the extra vowel. So, are you ready to dive into the macaroons vs. macarons stand-off?

Macaroons and macarons are two sweet treats that have similar names, but that’s where the similarities end. Understanding the differences and what makes each one distinct will help you invent creative ways to serve them during special occasions.

What to Know about Macaroons and Macarons

What to Know about Macaroons and Macarons

Distinguishing between macaroons and macarons is a must. Having different ingredients, tastes, and textures means they can be used in different ways to create the tastiest desserts. Yet, it’s also crucial to understand what they have in common.

What Macaroons Are

What Macaroons Are

Macaroons are coconut-based confections with a chewy, rich texture and a sweet flavor that makes them stand out.

They’re made using egg whites, shredded coconuts, and sweetened condensed milk, which makes them naturally sweet.

Thanks to these ingredients, macaroons are naturally dense with a soft interior. They offer a contrast of a crispy exterior and a moist interior.

They get their names from the French macarons or Sicilian maccarone, which refers to macaroni. There are multiple variations of macaroons depending on the ingredients used to make them.

What Macarons Are

What Macarons Are

Macarons or macaron shells are traditional French desserts and are often called French macarons to avoid confusing them with macaroons.

They’re basically sandwiches made of airy meringue cookies with a satisfying buttercream, jam, or chocolate ganache filling.

To make them, egg whites should be whisked to form stiff peaks. Then, sugar and almond flour or ground almonds are folded slowly until you reach the desired consistency.

These delicate cookies are made using almond flour, egg whites, and confectioners' sugar to give an airy and lightweight texture with a subtle crunch on the outside. They literally melt in your mouth and are exceptionally sweet.

Macarons come in various colors and flavors, depending on the filling you use. You can also use food coloring to make your unique macarons.

In addition to the traditional French macarons, you can also find recipes for Italian macarons. These aren’t as airy or glossy and can be a bit powdery and more crunchy. The Italian ones are rounder and firmer.

The difference between the two lies in introducing a new ingredient to the Italian macarons – syrup. Melted sugar syrup is whisked with egg whites and incorporated into the stiff peaks to make these delights.

Nutrition and Calories

Nutrition and Calories

Both macaroons and macaron shells are indulgent treats that are best enjoyed in moderation because of their sugar content.

Macaroons tend to be higher in calories and fats because they contain shredded coconut and condensed milk. Mass-produced macaroons contain 90 to 100 calories each.

Macarons are slightly lighter with fewer calories despite containing almond flour and powdered sugar. Each one contains about 80 calories, but the addition of the filling makes them richer and higher in calories.

Because of the high sugar content, both desserts should be consumed mindfully to avoid gaining weight.

Origin and Flavors

Origin and Flavors

Both desserts have shared roots, and some even confuse their origins together. Nevertheless, understanding the difference in their origins explains how they were used differently in the kitchen and why they’re distinct today.

Macaroons

Macaroons

Some people believe that macaroons have Italian roots, but they were first documented in the eighth century when two French nuns used egg whites, almonds, and sugar to make cookies. They invented them to pay the rent by baking treats.

They might be related to an ancient Italian cookie that Jews could eat during the eight-day Passover tradition. This cookie was made of almonds, sugar, and egg whites – similar ingredients to our beloved macaroons.

Macaroons are gluten-free and contain no flour or leavening, so they were able to replace this cookie. According to Jewish traditions, they’re either prepared according to the original recipe or enriched with nuts and almond paste.

In the 19th century, shredded coconut was invented to store this treat for longer periods, and bakers began to add it to various desserts. Replacing the almond paste with shredded coconut helped make macaroons last longer and become easier to transport.

Nowadays, you can find macaroons with various innovative flavors to add a unique taste to any dessert. They’re also eaten by many people around the world all year round.

Over the years, chefs made macaroons in various flavors by adding different ingredients. For example, in the Dominican Republic, they’re mixed with ginger and cinnamon, while in Germany, they’re made into a crescent shape, dipped in chocolate, and topped with an almond.

Macarons

Macarons

Macarons’ roots date back to the eighth century when they were borrowed from nut-based sweets brought by the Arabic troops to Europe.

One story mentioned that they traveled from Spain to Morocco and were served during the Holy Month of Ramadan, where they became quite popular.

One legend states that they were made by an Italian chef for Catherine di Medici, but there’s no proof to verify this story.

They’re probably related to the traditional Persian almond cake which was baked to celebrate the Zoroastrian New Year. They can also be related to marzipan, although some historians mention that macarons originated in French monasteries.

However, serving macarons as sandwich cookies with spices, liquor, or filling is a recent tradition, as it dates back to the 1930s. They became trendy in the US in the 2000s and various flavors were introduced.

Today, you can order your macarons in mint chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, cinnamon, candy cane, salted caramel, and chocolate peanut butter flavors.

In Japan, peanut replaces almonds, while in India cashews are used. However, the original recipe is usually followed.

Macaroons Versus Macarons: The Differences

Macaroons Versus Macarons: The Differences

Whether store-bought or made at home, you need to understand the major differences between these two treats. This will help you understand better how to make them and their culinary uses.

Different Ingredients and Textures

Different Ingredients and Textures

This is the first significant factor that sets these two treats apart.

Macaroons use shredded coconut, egg whites, and condensed milk, so they have a chewy texture with a coconutty flavor. They’re dense, and their exteriors are quite crisp.

Macaron shells are made of almond flour, egg whites, and confectioners' sugar, so they lack the distinctive coconut flavor of macaroons.

They’re also more delicate and fragile with an airy texture. Their interior is slightly moist but it isn’t dense, and they have a melt-in-your-mouth feel.

How They Look

How They Look

Both treats are round and small, but the macaroons’ surface shows their main ingredient: shredded coconut.

They’re usually round and the shredded coconut peaks through the surface, turning golden when they’re baked.

Macarons are smooth and glossy and flatten out when baked. They’re usually served as a sandwich of two cookies that house a delicious cream filling in between.

Flavor Varieties

Flavor Varieties

Macaroons come in various traditional flavors like coconut and chocolate. But, some bakers incorporate other ingredients to elevate the taste, like nuts or dried fruits.

On the other hand, macaron shells have more fruity flavor varieties, and the filling further adds more sophistication to the taste. They’re more versatile, allowing for more flavor combos.

Culinary Techniques

Culinary Techniques

You’ll need different skills and techniques when making macaroons and macarons. Macaroons are relatively easy to make and require simple mixing and baking techniques to create a dense, chewy cookie.

However, this isn’t the case with macarons. They demand more precision, especially when folding the almond flour into the meringue – the egg whites and sugar mix.

You must use a light hand, or your macaron shells will be too heavy. Moreover, you should be careful while piping the filling for the desired look.

Best Uses

Best Uses

Macaroons and macarons are used differently in the kitchen because of their ingredients and textures. Macaroons make excellent standalone desserts, thanks to their rich flavor profile and satisfying chewy texture.

But that’s not all, they can also be incorporated into various desserts like brownies, trifles, and cookies to add a profound coconutty flavor.

Macarons are usually served as refined desserts for afternoon tea or high tea parties, where they add elegance and sophistication to any buffet. They’re also used in gift wrapping, as they can be part of a gift idea with their bright and vibrant colors and flavors.

People also use macarons to decorate cakes and cupcake displays, as they add a decorative depth to other baked dishes. Because you can easily customize their fillings, they’re more versatile and can be used for different occasions.

Recipes for Macaroons and Macarons

Recipes for Macaroons and Macarons

The best thing about macaroons and macarons is that you don’t need to follow any complicated steps to make either.

Both desserts have few ingredients and you can easily master their baking techniques to serve them whenever you like.

Yet, macarons can still be a miss for some novice bakers. They aren’t challenging to make, but you need time to master the art of preparing them to the desired consistency.

Coconut Macaroon Recipe

Coconut Macaroon Recipe

This is a tried and trusted recipe for soft and chewy coconut macaroons that look golden on the outside and feel so moist and rich on the inside.

By following the proper steps, you’ll enjoy golden and coconutty cookies in no time, and you’ll be able to serve them alone or with your favorite sauce for a kick.

There are two main ingredients in this recipe – shredded coconut and sweetened condensed milk. Shredded coconut adds texture and sweetness to the batter, while the milk adds the needed sugar and keeps the cookies moist and tender.

Condensed milk has all the water removed, leaving an overly sweet and sticky liquid. But you mustn’t add too much milk, or your batter will end up with too much liquid and your macaroons won’t have the desired consistency.

You won’t need much time to put everything together, so ensure to preheat the oven before you start. Once your macaroons are done, you can dip them in melted chocolate, or use it to coat their bottoms.

Macaroons can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week.

Ingredients:

  • 1 14-oz bag of shredded or flaked coconut
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 cup of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt

Steps:

  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Beat the egg whites with the salt using an electric mixture until they form peaks. Make sure that the peaks are medium-firm to add air to your batter.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the coconut, condensed milk, and vanilla extract. Mix well until all the ingredients have been well incorporated.
  4. Use a spatula to gently fold the egg whites into the coconut mix. Keep your hand light, as you don’t want to push the air out.
  5. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  6. Use an ice cream scoop to shape the mixture and place it on the tray. You can also use two spoons to make balls, as your macaroons don’t have to look perfect.
  7. Bake the macaroons for 25 to 30 minutes and rotate them once until golden.
  8. Let them cool on wire racks.

Macarons Recipe

Macarons Recipe

People might think French macarons can only be successfully made by seasoned bakers, but this isn’t true.

There are many recipes and techniques to make French macarons but this recipe is an easy one that guarantees good results.

You can make the macaron shells in various flavors, depending on the flavoring and coloring you add. You can also choose between various fillings including chocolate, jam, and flavored buttercream.

Mastering the art of making perfectly shaped macaron shells is called macaronage. It’s crucial not to overmix or undermix the batter, or your shells won’t turn out how you want them. The key is to mix the batter slowly until they have a honey-like consistency.

Following the recipe accurately guarantees a nougat-like texture with a crispy exterior.

Some of the available modern recipes skipped one of the traditional ingredients that made macarons a hit – the cream of tartar. It ensured the egg whites would hold more air for the airy meringue texture without having hollow macarons.

First Step

First Step

In this recipe, you can use vanilla, almond, coconut, or any other extract to flavor the macarons. You can also use food coloring.

The filling is added at the end when the shells are baked and ready to be served. You can keep your sandwiched macarons in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Ingredients:

  • 3.5 ounces of fresh egg whites (3 to 4 eggs)
  • 4.5 ounces of confectioners’ sugar
  • 4.5 ounces of almond flour
  • 2.75 ounces of caster sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon of cream of tartar
  • ½ teaspoon of vanilla or almond extract
  • 1 drop of gel food coloring (optional)

How you do it:

Get a glass bowl and wipe it with lemon juice or vinegar, then add the egg whites. Let them sit in the fridge for 24 hours. The extra acidity improves the meringue’s texture.

Bring the egg whites to room temperature, then add the cream of tartar and the vanilla extract, if used.
Use an electric stand mixer with the whisk attachment to beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Wait until the foamy bubbles become tighter and the egg whites form peaks.

Second Step

Second Step

Divide the amount of superfine or caster sugar into three portions.

Add the first portion to the egg whites and beat at medium to high speed for five seconds, then add the second one. Beat for another five seconds, and finally, add the third portion.

Keep beating until the egg whites form stiff, glossy peaks. At this point, you can use a spatula to gently fold one drop of food coloring. Sift the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour in a glass bowl.

Divide the egg whites into three portions, and gently fold each one into the dry ingredients. Make sure that all the egg whites are perfectly incorporated into the dry ingredients before adding the next portion.

Third Step

Third Step

Do the Figure “8” test to examine your batter. Drop the macaron batter in the form of “8” and see how much time it takes to sink into itself.

If it takes more than 10 seconds, keep folding the batter to deflate more air. If it sinks too soon, then you’ve overmixed the batter.

Line a baking tray with parchment paper and fill a piping bag with your macaron batter. Hold the piping bag at 90 degrees and pipe your macaron batter on the baking sheet into little mounds. They will flatten out if you’ve followed the proper steps.

Continue to pipe all the batter, leaving 1 inch between your macarons. Use a toothpick to pop air bubbles, and let the macarons sit for about 60 minutes. This allows them to form a shell.

Fourth Step

Fourth Step

Bake for 12 to 13 minutes and check their doneness using a spoon. They’re ready when they are no longer moving when touched.

Let the macarons cool in the baking sheet and then on a wire rack. Don’t move them too soon, as they might be stuck to the parchment paper.

Once you have cool macarons, use a knife or small spatula to spread the filling and make macaron sandwiches.

Cover your macarons and let them sit in the fridge for 12 to 24 hours before serving.

Delicious Tips and Hacks on How to Use Macaroons and Macarons

Delicious Tips and Hacks on How to Use Macaroons and Macarons

In addition to the traditional ways of serving macaroons and macarons, there are several innovative ways to incorporate them into many tasty recipes. Here are some of the best tips and hacks to use them.

Macaroons Pie Crust

Macaroons Pie Crust

Have your macaroons been sitting for too long in the fridge? Process them in the food processor until they have a coarse texture, and press this mixture into a pie pan.

Bake until golden and use this crust as the base for fruit pies and cheesecakes. The coconut flavor will be a divine addition. Add roasted nuts to the food processor while grinding your macaroons for an extra kick.

Macaron Rainbow Cake

Macaron Rainbow Cake

Use leftover colored macarons to make a rainbow cake of various colors and flavors. Stack different layers of these colored treats on top of each other, using buttercream to keep them intact. Don’t forget to decorate your cake using edible flowers, nuts, or chocolate syrup.

Macaron Trifle

Macaron Trifle

Break your macarons into pieces and layer them with whipped cream or custard in a trifle dish. Alternate the macaron layers with fresh fruits and nuts for extra flavor and texture. Refrigerate the trifle for a few hours before serving.

Macaroon Bread Pudding

Mix in shredded macaroons with the bread cubes when preparing bread pudding. The coconutty macaroons will add more depth, sweetness, and flavor to your pudding.

Macaron Parfait

Macaron Parfait

Crumble macarons into parfait glasses and mix them with yogurt or pudding. Add fresh fruits, nuts, or peanut butter to create a mouthwatering and satisfying parfait.

Top your creation with a scoop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream and some toasted nuts or granola for a little crunch. You can also use macaroons for this recipe.

Tasty Alternatives to Macaroons and Macarons

Tasty Alternatives to Macaroons and Macarons

Macaroons and macarons are amazing treats, but there are delicious alternatives if you want something different.

  1. Coconut shortbread cookies are buttery cookies packed with coconut flavor. They’re easier to make than macaroons and deliver the same deep and rich taste.
  2. French madeleines are sponge-like buttery cookies that work as an alternative to macarons. They have a crispy exterior and a soft and fluffy interior. They’re also customizable, and you can change their flavor by adding lemon zest, vanilla extract, or chocolate chips.
  3. Almond biscotti is suitable for almond lovers. They’re twice-baked and less fragile than macaroons and macarons, so they can handle being dipped in coffee or tea without crumbling.
  4. Whoopie pies are sandwiched cookies like macarons but are creamy and cakey. They’re made with butter, milk, and whole eggs, which give them a different texture and consistency.
  5. French butter cookies have the same crispy and crunchy exterior as macaroons but are more buttery and denser. They lack the coconut flavor, although you can experiment with shredded coconut by adding it to the batter.
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