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The French macaron is a thing of exquisite beauty. These delicate meringue sandwiches have long been popular in France, and are quickly claiming more followers in the United States. They can be found by mail order on sites like Gilt, and finer area restaurants may even surprise diners with an after-dinner bite of meringueheaven.

But whatisamacaron, and howcanalaymantapintothisconfectionary gold?

Nottobeconfused withamacaroon (the sweetlumpsof coconut spelled withtwo‘o’s),amacaron isessentiallyanalmond flour meringuesandwiched around flavored ganache.

Techniqueiseverything forbakers seeking the perfectbalance between crunchycrust,airy centerand chewy filling.But time and precision arenotthe onlyobstacles.

“It’s notjust the difficulty,”says ColetteBerube, ownerof Vernon’s La Brioche Bakery,who hasbeen baking for29years. “People arenot familiarwithit,most Americanswantcoconut macaroons.” Berube makesthem specialorder,forabout 70 cents each, foraminimumof around 10cookies.

LePetiteFrance in West Hartfordcentercarriesmultiple flavors of macaronson aregularbasis,including chocolate, raspberry and caramel.

The Kitchen atBillingsForge carriesthem on occasion, but also preparesspecialorders like La Brioche ormanyotherareabakeries.

Try amacaron, and itmayjust become the newbaragainst which all othertreats aremeasured. —Nick Caito