Macarons de Saint-Emilion, invented by Ursuline sisters

Macarons de Saint-Emilion are light biscuits made from crushed almonds, sugar and egg whites.

The Macarons de Paris differ from the Macarons de Saint-Emilion
The Macarons de Paris differ from the Macarons de Saint-Emilion

It’s the culinary specialty of St-Emilion, a medieval village worldwide known for its exceptional wines and rich architectural heritage.

In 1620, the Ursuline sisters of St Emilion adapted a recipe invented by Italian monks during the 8th century.

It is said that Catherine de Medicis introduced the recipe to France in the mid 16th century when she married the King Henri II.

The recipe was fortunately kept at the French Revolution and passed on to a local family and their exclusive descendants or successors.

As a result, only one pastry family of St-Emilion is today the sole custodian of the original recipe.

The light biscuits are made from crushed almonds and icing sugar in equal amounts, caster sugar and egg whites; the crust must be granular and crunchy and the inside fluffy.

They must be round and domed and about 3 to 5 cm in diameter and were originally presented as a single biscuit.

Wine and macarons de Saint-Emilion

Basic macarons, similar to the macarons de Saint-Emilion
Basic macarons, similar to the macarons de Saint-Emilion

The macarons de Saint-Emilion were of course the perfect dessert for a meal served with St-Emilion wine!

The public discovered them at the Universal Exhibition of 1867.

The wine makers from Saint-Emilion had a brilliant idea.

They indeed offered a glass of their wine accompanied by macaroons to the members of the tasting jury and the visitors.

Unsurprisingly, both the wine and the macaroons were awarded a prize!

Macarons de Paris

The Ursuline nuns’ original recipe being protected, no other establishment, except the official depository of the recipe, could use it.

Many pastry shops therefore adapted the recipe to create delicious variations.

The Macarons de Paris differ from the Macarons de Saint-Emilion
The Macarons de Paris differ from the Macarons de Saint-Emilion

Around 1830, they enriched their macaroons’ recipe with aromas, liqueurs or jam.

Parisian macaroons (today the best known) appeared in the late 19th century.

They completely differ from the original and rustic macarons de Saint-Emilion.

Indeed, they consist of two biscuits bounded with butter cream, jam or fruit compote, while egg whites give them a smooth and shiny appearance.

You’ll find them in most luxury pâtisseries.

The craze for Parisian macaroons started in the early 2000s and triggered the appearance of new recipes.

Macaroons now often come in pastel colours to show their aromas, and their colour often differs from their binding cream.

As a result, you’ll find mixed aromas such as peach-rose, lime-basil, praline-yuzu, coffee-speculoos, pear-orange flavors…

Department of Gironde – Nouvelle-Aquitaine region
Coordinates: Lat 44.894387 – Long -0.155729

Photo Wikipedia Commons: Basic macaronheader

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