Almost two years ago, Modern Baking's chief editor Katie Martin predicted that macarons might just be the next cupcake. Taking her hint, I made them a feature of my wedding cake (which Jory Downer of Bennison's Bakery created in October of 2010). But the macaron groundswell hasn't quite materialized, partially due to the continued dominance of the trends supporting the cupcake: namely home style and homespun foods, portability and portion control. Not to mention, bakers' margin for error with cupcake formulation and production is comparatively wide next to the macaron, which requires a lot of technique and precision.
But the macaron hasn't missed its chance, and if the crowd gathered for Chef Dimitir Fayard's macaron production demonstration is any evidence, interest in the French cookie is still growing. The seats were all taken and the crowd poured out into the aisles, everyone snapping images and feverishly taking notes as the faculty member from the French Pastry School, Chicago, and former World Pastry Champion taught.
Cupcakes have been slow to relinqiush their flavor-of-the-week status, and though we as baking magazine editors are starving to identify the next craze, the fact is there will always be a place for the simple, portable cupcake in a retail bakery.
But the interest level that the macaron garnered yesterday in a far corner of the All Things Baking show floor reveals that bakers are, like Katie and I, sniffing around new products and ideas. Perhaps we've been on a bit of a holding pattern for the last few years thanks to the economy. And that longstanding wholesome, comfort food staple–the cupcake–has fit into that holding pattern perfectly. But bakers are curious and actively seeking out what's next, which is exciting to see.
Here is a photo gallery and formula for macarons, complete with step-by-step directions.