Ze Floodgates Open

So. Two disks of almond meringue stuck together with a filling. Not terribly much to work with from a creative standpoint. Or at least that’s the conclusion Parisian pastry chefs seem to have collectively arrived at in the decades after Desfontaines’ innovation. For more than fifty years macarons remained pretty straightforward affairs. The meringue disks were generally flavored with the traditional almond (sometimes chocolate) and fillings consisted of ganache, buttercream or jam. Then Hermé showed up and really put the creative pedal down. Soon macarons of very different kinds began showing up at Parisian tea parties, from the conventional (chocolate, raspberry, caramel, coffee) to the adventurous (chocolate mint, mango, pistachio, passion fruit) to the exotic (jasmine, rose-lychee-raspberry, white truffle and hazelnut, lime-basil and violet-cassis) to the downright odd (olive oil and vanilla, chocolate and foie gras). Of course once that got started, ambitious pastry chefs the world over wanted in on the act. Today, depending where you go, you can find macarons made with everything from green tea and adzuki beans to roasted red peppers, whiskey and tomatoes. How far can it all go? Who knows? But personally, I sometimes wonder how much creativity one little cookie can take.

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