Macarons (not to be confused with macaroons which are coconut-based!) are crisp and delicious. They come in many flavors and colors. Macarons are always popular whether you're serving them at a tea party, for dessert, or as a simple snack with coffee. It's useful to know how to store macarons, whether you have store-bought macarons or fresh macarons.
These wonderful little bites are light as air and perfect if you want to make something extra-special such as a birthday or Valentine's Day treats. I love making raspberry cookies too. They're just so cute! Macarons are also perfect for more formal settings such as weddings or any other special event. The great thing about them is the sheer number of colors and flavors they come in. There's a macaron for just about every palate and preference.
Perfect macarons are crunchy and light on the outside and soft in the center. It's almost like they melt in your mouth. They aren't too difficult to make, and homemade macarons cost about 20 cents apiece to make while store-bought ones are closer to $2 or even $3 each. The tasty almond flour-based meringue cookies are sandwiched together with fruit jams, chocolate ganache, cream cheese, buttercream, or similar.
There is a bit of a learning curve when it comes to making homemade macarons. However, once you've got the hang of it, they won't seem hard at all. My first few attempts were less than stellar (they tasted pretty good though!) But I usually just buy 1 or 2 if I'm walking past a macaron stand in the mall and simply can't resist!
What are Macarons?
Macarons are delicious little sweet bites. They originated in Italy, not France as you might imagine. They have been made in monasteries in Venice since the 8th century! Queen Catherine de Medici's pastry chefs prepared them for her during their trip to France where she married Henry II.
They didn't achieve huge popularity until 1792 when a pair of nuns baked and sold macarons to raise money for their housing. Since then their popularity has spread all over the world and there are more wonderful flavors and meringue/filling combinations than ever before.
There is a difference between French and Italian-style macarons. For French macarons, egg whites are beaten until stiff and then mixed with ground almonds and powdered sugar. In Italy, egg whites are whisked with sugar syrup and then almond flour and powdered sugar are mixed in. Italian-style macarons are sweeter and firmer than the softer, chewier French ones, but honestly, both are delicious!
How to Buy the Best Macarons
I like to try new flavors and since there are literally hundreds of different ones, I still have plenty to look forward to! Vanilla, pistachio, raspberry, and chocolate are just some examples.
You can usually find assorted flavors in one package or choose which ones you want to have in macaron boxes. When shopping for macarons, look for unbroken ones and check the best-by date if applicable.
How to Store Macarons
Unless you only purchase or make a few macarons, you will want to store the remainder. There are 3 different ways to keep your macarons fresh and delicious:
- Many macaron aficionados like to keep theirs at room temperature because they maintain the perfect texture this way, and will stay crisp for a couple of days. If you will use them today, the following day, or within a short period of time, this is a good way to keep them.
- Another idea is to keep them refrigerated for 2-3 weeks, but you'll need to let them sit on the countertop to warm up a little for the best taste and texture experience.
- Finally, you can freeze macarons for several months, but they must be thawed slowly or else the outside might turn soggy. They will taste best if eaten within 3 months but will be edible for a long time - up to 6 months.
Whichever method you prefer to use, the macarons should be kept in an airtight container to keep humidity out. I use a plastic bag or plastic wrap and then put this into a glass container or airtight plastic container and, if freezing, prevent freezer burn. This double layering isn't strictly necessary, but the more air and humidity you can keep out, the better.
Arrange the macarons in a single layer in a shallow container, or in a deeper one with paper towels or a piece of parchment paper between the layers. Don't use wax paper or else they might stick!
Keep them out of direct sunlight. If you're keeping them in the fridge choose the back of the center shelf so you don't let in warm air every time you open the fridge door.
How to Tell if Macarons are Spoiled
When fresh, a fully assembled macaron delicately dyed with food coloring and sandwiched with something delicious is a thing of beauty! Leftover macarons are easy to store so long as they're kept in an airtight container, and this applies to macarons you buy as well as your own macarons you make.
So how do you know if they have gone bad? A musty smell, visible mold, or moisture droplets mean the macarons are spoiled and should be thrown out. If they look good and smell good, they should still be fine to consume. A stale macaron is unlikely to make you sick, but the texture won't be very good.
Because sugar is necessary for the correct meringue structure, an artificial sweetener isn't going to work here. If you really don't want to use sugar but you still have a sweet tooth, try these no-bake chocolate cookies instead, as they're made with sweetener, not sugar.
Serve them at room temperature, preferably on a white plate so their beautiful pastel colors "pop." For a formal occasion, you might like to create a macaron tower. This is a great way to showcase different varieties. Don't forget to make little labels so people know which flavor is which. These gorgeous little bites are great with a cup of tea, a mug of coffee, or even champagne or white wine if you're celebrating something!
Their delicate texture means they are liable to break if not handled with great care. But even if you do break some, you can still enjoy them. Use them in sundaes or as a topping for ice cream or sorbet, or crumble them to add to homemade biscotti, cakes, or cookies. Finally, offer the broken ones to the kids. They never say no, even to broken cookies, or at least mine don't!
- Macarons are naturally gluten-free, as they're made with ground nuts and not wheat flour, so if that's an issue for you, feel free to indulge!
- Ladurée Paris sells an impressive 4 million macarons every year from various locations around Paris and in other cities too. They offer regular macarons and mini ones.
- March 20th is Macaron Day and many outlets in New York City are handing them out for free on this date.
Macarons are so distinctive, with their crisp meringue shell and creamy filling sandwich in between. Everyone has their own preferred flavors and ideas about the best fillings, and it's certainly fun to try different ones! Since they are far too good to waste, it's important to know how to store macarons to keep them fresh and delicious.