Holiday Favorites

12 Days of Christmas Desserts: French Macarons

Add a Little Elegance to your Holiday Season with French Macarons

Colorful, delicate, and expertly flavored, macarons are perhaps one of the most famous and treasured French desserts.  With all of the holiday hustle and bustle this time of year, a macaron can also be a holiday treat for savoring that’ll transport you right to the center of Paris.

Not to be confused with the coconut based desserts, macaroons, macarons are a sweet meringue-based confection made with egg whites, sugar, and almonds.  The macaron is commonly filled with ganache, buttercream or jam filling sandwiched between two cookies.  The name is derived from the Italian word macarone, maccarone or maccherone, meaning meringue.


French Macarons from Tamara’s the Cake Guru

The first known appearance of the macaron goes all the way back in the Middle Ages.  At the time, the macaron was a small sweet made of almonds, egg white and sugar.  There was no filling, no colors or different flavors; at this time, the macaron was a humble cookie.  Even though the French take credit for the macaron, they had been made in Venetian monasteries since the 8th century.  Catherine de’ Medici most likely brought the dessert to France in the 16th century from Italy, when she married King Henry II of France.  During this time, only the wealthy elite could enjoy macarons.

The macaron became popular in 1792, when two Carmelite nuns seeking asylum from the French Revolution in the city of Nancy, France baked and sold macarons in order to pay for their housing.  They became known as the ‘Macaron Sisters.’ In 1952, the city of Nancy honored the two nuns by naming the spot where they produced the macarons after them.  With time, the recipe spread and different regions in France adopted it as a local specialty dish.

Throughout the 19th century, the macaron increased in popularity thanks to Parisian bakers who further experimented with the recipe.  Pierre Desfontaines, the grandson of Louis-Ernest Ladurée, the founder of the famous Parisian bakery, had the original idea of the double-decker macaron in 1930, by sticking two macaron shells together with a creamy ganache as filling.

Today, macarons continue to be popular in Europe and even in North America.  The various flavors of macarons are also expanding, with bakeries experimenting with sweet and savory inspirations (basil mint or bacon macarons, anyone?)  But for the perfect holiday treat, we recommend less adventurous but always delicious flavors like gingerbread, peppermint or eggnog!  So, savor the flavor of Christmas and add some elegance to the holidays with some charming and pillowy macarons.

Fun facts:

  • Macaron Day in Paris is held on March 20th.  Started in 2005, bakery patrons donate to the yearly selected charity, and in return receive a macaron.  What a delicious way to give back!
  • The world’s tallest pyramid made entirely of macarons was created in 2013 by two French bakers celebrating their bakery’s 10 year anniversary.  The pyramid used 8540 macarons donated by local entrepreneurs.

To make your own macarons, check out this recipe.


Find French Macarons at one of these WBA member bakeries:

Tamara’s the Cake Guru
 1529 Oregon St.                          1859 N Casaloma Dr.                         107 S. Appleton St.
Oshkosh, WI 54902                    Appleton, WI 54913                           Appleton, WI 54911
Phone: (920) 236-9144                    Phone: (920) 903-8440                   Phone: (920) 574-7534

Sweet Lola’s
303 3rd St.
Wausau, WI 54403
Phone: 715-849-5698

Monzu Bakery
126 S Broadway
Green Bay, WI 54303
Phone: 920-639-9869

Sweet Perfections Bake Shoppe
1501 Paramount Drive, Suite C
Waukesha, WI 53186
Phone: 262-446-CAKE (2253)

For a complete list of WBA Member Bakeries, click here.


More Christmas dessert ideas:

First Day of Christmas:  Yule Log
Second Day of Christmas:  Gingerbread House
Third Day of Christmas: Classic Sugar Cookies
Fourth Day of Christmas:  Peppermint Bark
Fifth Day of Christmas:  Cinnamon Rolls