If you're trying to explain to someone who doesn't know what a macaron is, how do you go about it? They're sweet, although not always... they're kinda made like a meringue, although they're not so crunchy... and they're also nothing like the English "macaroon."
So what ARE they? Well, they're delicious! Their popularity in France is probably best described as the French equivalent for the British cupcake. What they both have in common is that they're little luxuries that we don't need, but gosh, life is better because of them!
The double-decker macaron, which is the most common one nowadays and is what automatically comes into my head when anyone as much as whispers "mac..." , was created by the Ladurée bakery in Paris, and it's safe to say that they remain the best, although at 3 euros a pop, it's hard for a student like me to frequent them as often as I would like! Having said that, apparently 15 thousand macarons are sold every day and they've expanded overseas, so they can't be doing badly!
If you want an accessible guide to how to make them, I thoroughly recommend the 'Sharky Oven Gloves' blog. You can see attempts 1 and 2 here and attempt 3 (yummy coffee and cognac macarons) here.
However, if you're like me and you don't have the patience or the skill to make them, nor the budget to go into Ladurée or next best, Pierre Hermé, to get your fix, fret not! In Paris, it's quite easy to find a bakery where they sell some which are almost as good.
Last weekend, the boy and I popped into this bakery in the Marais-Hotel de Ville area, 5 mins from Saint Paul métro, and tantalisingly close to the Mariage-Freres on rue Bourg Tibourg.
Look at their selection of macarons!
We picked a traditional raspberry flavour and a less traditional chocolate and passion fruit flavour. Needless to say, both were very yummy (although our favourite was the chocolate and passionfruit one) and I had to get this photo quick before they were gone!