Until last month, the only macaroons I had tasted were coconut macaroons, and those not very often. These five- ingredient cookies ( Sweetened shredded coconut, egg whites, milk, sugar and a pinch of salt), also known as Fraser Bell cookies, are seldom seen in the circles I move in and its been years since I have had one. They don’t contain any flour and have a crisp exterior and a soft pillowy center. Because of the shredded coconut, they have a hedgehogy appearance and look more like miniature scones than cookies.
At one of the chocolate shops in Brussels, I noticed some beautiful sandwich cookies in a variety of pastel colors and was told they were macaroons, French macaroons. Unlike coconut macaroons, they are circular in shape and contain almond flour. The other ingredients include confectioner’s sugar, egg whites, cream of tartar, food coloring and vanilla extract. The food coloring is used to differentiate the flavors: green for pistachio, brown for coffee, yellow for vanilla and so on. I sampled one and found it had an irresistible melt-in-your quality that instantly made me a fan. We wound up buying some and consuming them almost at once.
I didn’t expect that we would come across them again in the States and was delighted to find them at Costco. Quite cheap too. The ones in Brussels were almost one euro each and were bought by the piece; at Costco, they were a box of 35 for $ 14. 99. Full of anticipation, I tried one as soon as we got home. What a disappointment ! The texture was different, not as soft, and they felt artificial. The only things they had in common with the ones in Brussels were their colors and their shape.
Perhaps if I had not tasted macaroons in Brussels, I might have felt differently. Not having anything to compare them with, I might have found them perfectly acceptable. As it is, I am cured. Next time I see them at Costco, I will enjoy looking at them but I won’t buy them.