The Macaron: Dessert Liberation
Wed, 03/17/2010
Associate Editor
Touted as heirs to "Sex and the City" - fueled cupcake craze
Touted as heirs to "Sex and the City" - fueled cupcake craze

 Finally, a trendy dessert that is kosher for Passover.

Parisian macarons, delicate and chewy cookies made from egg whites, nut flour or coconut, and sugar, are being touted as the heirs to the “Sex And The City”-fueled cupcake craze.

Making appearances on “Gossip Girl” and “Oprah,” as well as in films and wedding magazines, elegant macarons — not to be confused with the more commonplace and decidedly less sophisticated macaroon — are usually paired to form a sandwich around a cream or ganache-type filling.

And they contain no flour or chametz!

As Doris Schechter, founder and owner of the Times Square-based kosher restaurant My Most Favorite Dessert Company, notes, they are even “non-gebrochts” (containing no matzah cakemeal) and thus acceptable to even the strictest of Passover observers.

My Most Favorite Dessert Company, which is opening a second location on the Upper West Side on March 25, is introducing a vanilla macaron at Passover and plans to offer a wider variety of flavors year-round.

“Many years ago when my husband and I went to Paris, I absolutely loved and adored those cookies and I thought wow, it would be so wonderful if we could do those here,” Schechter told The Jewish Week.

Although she tried to get the owner of Laduree, a Parisian restaurant-bakery long known for its macarons, to share a recipe, he refused. Schechter, who does not speak French, tracked down a recipe in a French cookbook only to discover after she returned home from New York, that a separate French cookbook was required.

A few months ago, one of My Most Favorite’s bakers, who is French, found a recipe and the company brought them to a catered wedding.
“Everyone went nuts for them,” Schechter reported.

While The Jewish Week could not track down any other certified kosher-for-Passover macaron on the market right now, a macaron-like cookie (sans filling) called an Angel Kiss is produced by Shabtai Gourmet and available in many kosher supermarkets, including Kosher.com.

Jamie Geller, chief marketing officer at Kosher.com and author of “Quick and Kosher Recipes from the Bride Who Knew Nothing,” said Passover consumers are increasingly favoring sophisticated desserts over the mass-produced cans of Streit’s or Manischewitz macaroons that many Jews associate with the holiday.

While 15 to 20 percent of the company’s Passover orders have included canned macaroons, 45 to 50 percent have included “more gourmet” bakery desserts.

“People are looking for more than what their grandmother had,” Geller said.

Jewish gourmands who are not strictly observant, yet who like to be “kosher style” for Passover, will find many macaron varieties acceptable for the holiday, available in numerous Manhattan bakeries and online (See box).

And while they are relatively challenging, macarons can also be made at home. A new cookbook, Hisako Ogita’s “I Love Macarons,” features recipes for seemingly every permutation of flavor. Faye Levy, a Jewish cookbook author who studied for six years in French culinary schools, offers a simplified version (below). She recommends filling them with raspberry jam or a homemade buttercream frosting.

Although macarons are lighter and more elegant, they are really just the hipper cousins of macaroons. As Levy noted, macarons have a “different texture and technique, but it’s the same ingredients.”

Jayne Cohen, author of “Jewish Holiday Cooking,” said macarons are “much more complex tasting than so many Passover desserts which are often one-note flavors: sweet, almond, coconut.”

“You have the interplay with the fillings, and it’s a great opportunity to use that contrast of either sweet and tart, sweet and salty or sweet-tart and salty,” she added.