Sweetened Puffs of Air

By Sharon Hudgins
Photographs Courtesy Sharon Hudgins

Meringues, macaroons, and macarons. Members of this family of sweet treats are sold in European pastry and confection shops from Berlin to Bolzano, Lübeck to Luzern, Paris to Prague. Made from egg whites beaten with sugar into an airy mass, often with other ingredients included, too, these billowy blends come in a variety of sizes, shapes, colors, and flavors: Pretty swirls of piped meringue covering cakes and topping tortes. Dainty little cookies to serve with coffee or tea. Big meringue mounds, like fluffy cumulus clouds, crunchy with toasted almonds. Dense macaroons, redolent of almond paste and coconut. Delicate macarons in all colors of the rainbow, sandwiching a creamy filling between two perfectly shaped rounds, crunchy on the outside, softer inside.

But aren’t they all really just meringues, even if some are masquerading under different names?

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