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The Fad Fighter: the cupcake vs the macaron

Has our appetite for the all American cupcake finally been swayed by something a little more… French? Mhairi MacLeod takes a bite out of the latest confectionery trend.

France vs America. That old chestnut.

Well rumour has it that international relations could face their biggest pressure test yet, in the form of the macaron.

Up until now, America was doing a grand old job of winning hearts and minds on the confectionary front. The weapon of choice? The cupcake.

Ever since that infamous episode of Sex and the City where Carrie Bradshaw dated a cupcake, our obsession with glamorous fairy cakes - sorry, cupcakes - has been insatiable.

An increasingly crowded marketplace always leads to diversification. It was unsurprising, then, that cupcake-decorating classes and DIY kits that turned anyone with a hint of an interest into a full-blown expert overnight began to pop up.

Before long everyone was at it and, as we all know, nothing ends the party faster than when the general public get involved.

But fear not, there's another contender in town.

Set to cause permanent confusion, as the people of Scotland make it their duty to call macarons 'macaroons' forever more, this is France's answer to the cupcake craze.

Almond-based, multi-coloured meringues sandwiched together with cream, fruit puree or chocolate ganache, the modern macaron was invented in the 1930s but has roots that date all the way back to the 16th century… long before the word cupcake was even invented.

Embellished with flavours like pistachio, beetroot and ginger, the macaron exploded from the haute couture houses of Paris in the most fabulous way possible.

Like the cupcake, the rise of the macaron can be mapped through appearances on the small screen including shows like Made in ChelseaGossip Girl and The Great British Bake Off.

And where the Bake Off goes, the public follows with macaron shops popping up all over central Scotland and bringing a little bit of luxury a la Ladurée to all and sundry.

It's official. The French have landed.

So what's to stop the macaron following in the footsteps of its predecessor the cupcake or even the even shorter lived 'cake pop'?

Well, it's got a lot to do with je ne sais quoi. Literally. Because barely any of us actually know how to make them.

The accessibility of the cupcake has, ultimately, been its downfall. Children are encouraged to stick their wooden spoon in, and a multitude of sins can be masked by imaginatively applied butter-cream.

The macaron, on the other hand, requires a degree of finesse. It is the diva of the patisserie. Each glossy creation demands a delicate touch and throws a tantrum at the mere mention of humidity.

A beacon of sophisticated frivolity it may be, but the real proof in the pudding will be whether people still end up sickening themselves of this very French fancy. 

Contextual targeting label: 
Food and drink

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