Macarons are absolutely the new cupcakes.
I know this because I was watching ABC News and they said that "macaroons are the new cupcakes." The next day Time magazine came in the mail and in it was an article entitled "Will Macarons be the new cupcake?" Then I Googled "macarons are the new cupcakes" and found that the subject had been covered by Fox News ("Will Macarons Be The New Cupcake?"); NPR ("Move Over, Cupcake: Make Way For The Macaroon"), Chicago Eater ("Chefs at Christmas: Are Macarons The New Cupcake?"), as well as The Times of London, Bon Apetit, and many other publications.
The only disagreement -- or, more accurately, confusion -- seems to stem from the spelling. Some go with "macaroon," even though they don't really mean the coconutty American cookie; most properly use the French "macaron," which is totally different and pictured above.
In New York's Lower East Side, Macaron Parlour sells about 1,000 per week in flavors like red velvet and candied-bacon; Maison du Macaron on West 23rd Street sells about 8,000 per week, in flavors like rose lychee and pink champagne. And here in Miami? Well, the trend hasn't taken off yet, but Solo Patisserie at the Fontainebleau is one of the few places in town where you can find them. I spoke with pastry chef Jordi Panisello about macarons, what he thinks of them, and what kind of flavors folks will find at the hotel.
New Times: Did you know that macarons are replacing cupcakes as NY's biggest dessert fad?
Jordi Panisello: It is not surprising that macarons are seeing a modern day revival in the market. At the Fontainebleau, they have been a part of our patisserie repertoire since our reopening in 2008. First as a confectionary dream in Solo, turned into a menu item at Vida's brunch, and a popular request amongst meeting planners for large conventions. Our macarons are so popular it's nearly impossible to keep up with the demand sometimes, primarily due to the nature of the process of which to make one.
Macarons are one of the hardest patisserie items to make perfectly. It is a very delicate dessert that if not perfected in consistency, content, and timing, they can go wrong very fast. Another point to note that could attribute to the uprising in popularity is that these petite confections are also gluten free.
Why are they only available at Solo now by pre-order?
We like to change our offerings constantly, not only with seasonal flavors but also to adjust to weather and demand. The macarons are now available for the holidays -- we just started to sell them again today (at Solo).
We have some holiday flavors including strawberry/pistachio, peppermint/chocolate, toffee-caramel/green apple. They are perfect for the holidays because they're colorful and easy to create in the traditional holiday flavors.
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You use wild flavors for the shells and the fillings?
You can flavor the macaron shell, but only with a very limited amount of ingredients, like vanilla bean, coffee extract, cocoa powder ... but if you go any further, many flavors would ruin the shell. The strength in taste comes from the filling.
How much do they cost?
Four for $6.65 in Solo. The packaging is beautiful and popular as holiday dinner or party gifts.
What other Christmas stuff is going on at the Fontainebleau?
We have our first holiday village inside of Solo. It is an 18-foot by 5-foot village with about twenty gingerbread houses, a running train, rock candy, royal icing and more. We are also offering peppermint, toffee, candy pecan barks, Yule logs...and even though the holidays have not passed we are already planning for Valentine's Day (we promise to delight with tons of aphrodisiac inspired patisserie).