The macaron is a kind of French confection. There are some people who confuse it for the macaroon, which isn't helped by the fact that the macaron is sometimes called the French macaroon. Still, there are enough differences between the macaron and the macaroon to make distinguishing one from the other a simple matter for those who are interested.
First, the modern macaron consists of two discs of almond meringue with some kind of sweet filling sandwiched between them. Common examples include jam, cream, and ganache. Meanwhile, the macaroon tends to refer to a very dense and very chewy kind of cookie made using no flour whatsoever. Generally speaking, such cookies are made using coconut, but it is interesting to note that they can be made using everything from almonds to potatoes. Amusingly, the macaron and macaroon issue seems to be bound to the English-speaking world because the confusion between the two terms isn't a thing in the French-speaking world.
As for how macarons came into existence, that isn't 100 percent clear. Supposedly, macarons have been traced to Venetian monasteries from the 8th century, meaning that they have been in existence for centuries and centuries. As a result, when the Italian noblewoman Catherine de' Medici married the French monarch Henry II, she brought with her an Italian chef who was capable of making macarons. Moreover, it should be mentioned that Catherine de' Medici wasn't just the wife of Henry II but also the mother of Francis II, Charles IX, and Henry III, meaning that she commanded enormous influence over the French court over the course of her lifetime. Due to this, it is presumed that her Italian chef spread the concept of the macaron to France.
Regardless, it should be mentioned that these macarons weren't the same as the macarons that people eat in modern times. After all, these macarons were served on their own without the sweet filling sandwiched between them. It wasn't until the early 20th century that a French baker named Pierre Ladurée was credited with the invention of the modern macaron, though there are some people who believe that it was invented by another French baker named Claude Gerbet instead. Whatever the case, the modern macaron became popular in North America in the 2010s, thus resulting in the numerous macaron shops that can now be found throughout the continent.
Why Are Macarons So Expensive Anyways?
Some people might wonder why macarons are so expensive. If so, there are a number of potential explanations that interested individuals might want to consider:
The ingredients that go into macarons can get pretty expensive. For example, macarons are supposed to use almonds, which are one of the more expensive nuts that can be found out there thanks to a laborious and time-consuming process. Likewise, there are a lot of macarons that use expensive spices such as vanilla, which comes at a very high price because of its laborious and time-consuming production process combined with production challenges that make the relevant parties less than enthusiastic about its cultivation in spite of its sky-high selling prices. With that said, even the more normal ingredients such as real fruit can contribute to the eventual selling price of macarons.
There are some baked goods that interested individuals can learn to make within a matter of hours. Unfortunately, macarons aren't one of them. Instead, it can take interested individuals months and months of macaron making before they can match the standard set for them by their employer. This makes sense because macarons aren't simple and straightforward baked goods to make. Even worse, they aren't very forgiving because even small mistakes can ruin a batch of macarons, thus setting back interested individuals by a considerable amount of time, effort, and other resources. As such, it is no exaggeration to say that macaron making is something that calls for skilled labor.
Considerable Need For Skilled Labor
Even worse, macaron making is something that calls for a fair amount of skilled labor. Some baked goods can be produced in enormous batches in very little time so long as interested individuals have the right machines installed in their facilities. However, the complicated nature of macaron making means that automating the process is much easier said than done, which is why there is a need for human labor where mechanical substitutes cannot manage. Suffice to say that human labor isn't available free of charge, particularly when it happens to be skilled human labor. Something that contributes to the macarons that result from its input.
With that said, the single most important factor for the price of macarons might be the fact that it tends to be aimed at a more upscale market. Essentially, macarons are often marketed as something special meant for people who are willing to pay premium prices for premium products. Naturally, this means that those macarons must be capable of meeting the buyers' expectations because nothing makes for lost sales faster than disappointed customers who are perfectly willing to make their opinions known to other interested individuals through social media as well as other channels of communication. As such, while macaron making could be cheaper by cutting costs throughout the production process, such measures are often not taken because they go against the intended messaging. In some cases, this might not be particularly noticeable; in others, well, it is important to note that customers can get very upset very fast when they feel that they have been cheated by a bad product. Under these circumstances, the people who sell macarons have very strong incentive to make sure that their products line up with the expectations created by general consumer awareness as well as their own marketing efforts, meaning that they might not necessarily make the production process for their baked goods cheaper even if there are clear ways that they can cut costs.
Written by Dana Hanson
Read more posts by Dana Hanson