Although macarons originated in France, they enjoy immense popularity in Asia. They are so popular that even world-famous Korean cosmetics and Japanese accessory brands have products that take inspiration from macarons. Likewise, it’s quite common to go to your local cafe and find a selection of these colorful, airy, sweet treats.
But why, exactly, are they so popular in the region, and why should you master this dessert by taking a macaron baking class if you’re thinking of opening a cafe here?
Discussed below are the eight reasons explaining the popularity of these pastries.
1. Macarons are a light dessert.
In a study shared by NHK World, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, China, the Philippines, and Vietnam are some of the countries with considerably low obesity rates. One of the reasons is people’s conscious efforts to opt for more nutritious and lighter food.
Therefore, when macarons started gaining buzz many years ago, a lot of Asians instantly picked it up as an alternative to their favorite sweet treats, such as mochi and cupcakes. The sweetness of macarons perfectly hits the spot, but they are not as heavy, especially as an after-meal treat.
2. Macarons are “kawaii.”
The cute or “kawaii” trend is very powerful in Asia. A lot of consumers here would often opt for something cute over one that’s elegant. Thus, when it comes to desserts, macarons are one of the top choices for snackers.
What’s particularly kawaii about macarons is the lovely range of colors they come in. On top of that, they are bite-sized. Best of all, they are among the easiest sweet treats to consume — no need for utensils, just pick one up, take a bite, or pop the whole thing in your mouth.
In Seoul, cafe owners also point out that macarons are perfect for adding a punch of cuteness to other desserts and parfaits, sundaes, and even cake rolls sell so much better when decorated with cute macarons. But, they say that it’s not just the aesthetic quality of macarons that people enjoy, the sweetness they give enhances other dessert flavors, as well.
3. Macarons make excellent gifts.
At a trendy tea house in Taiwan, customers often come to purchase oolong-flavored macarons as a take-home gift for the family or as a thoughtful birthday present for friends. It’s an affordable, pretty and delicious dessert that you can give, which is sure to be appreciated.
Macaron lovers also point out that what’s even more special about these light desserts is they keep for a long time. They can enjoy just one for a day. Therefore, when a set of macarons is given is a gift, it’s like the sweet celebration lasts for much longer.
4. Macarons go really well with favorite beverages.
In a feature by an Asian lifestyle channel, a poll revealed that among the favorite beverages in Asia are cold cafe Americano, Orangina drinks, black coffee, and green tea. These drinks are not sweet, which is why macarons go incredibly well with them.
Macarons can balance the bitterness of coffee. Meanwhile, for green tea, pairing it with something airy and sweet creates a more enjoyable tea-drinking experience. This is actually the reason why in Japan, the practice of “nodate” or outdoor tea drinking requires sweet treats such as candies, mochi, and macarons.
5. Macarons are perfect for all seasons.
Do you know how some pastries only seem appropriate to eat during particular times of the year? This is not the case at all for macarons. You can enjoy them for any occasion any day of the year.
Of course, you will find that some recipes are most suitable for enjoyment during particular seasons such as pumpkin spice and apple cinnamon for autumn, salted caramel, and robin’s egg Oreo for spring and summer, and eggnog macarons for winter.
6. Macarons come in countless variants.
One of the leading reasons why macarons are so trendy in Asia is that their flavors are easy to adjust to suit the preferences of many. Once you learn how to make macarons, you will find that you can get as creative as you want to be with them as possible.
Innovative patissiers have made everything from balsamic caramel strawberry to lavender lemon, pina colada, and mulled cranberry macarons.
Suffice it to say, if you will start a business centered on macarons, you’ll never get bored with them because you can always come up with something new to offer your customers. Indeed, there are endless possibilities with this dessert.
7. Macarons are also fancy and tasty.
Even if macarons look cute, they can also have a fancy appeal, as eating them somehow gives people a touch of the Parisian experience. Foodies in Asia are also not solely focused on tasting different macaron flavors; they derive a pleasant experience from eating them for the simple reason that macarons are a tasty snack or dessert.
8. Macarons make for great social media posts.
Asia is the continent with the biggest number of social media users in the world. According to the Digital Marketing Community, three Asian nations place in the top 10 countries that use Instagram. Indonesia, India, and Japan contribute a lot of travel and food photos to the social media-sharing site.
That being said, there are currently over six million macaron posts on Instagram. These are pictures of macaron towers for weddings, macaron gift packages, macaron bouquets, and people enjoying macaron at a cafe.
This only goes to show that in a region where “foodtography” for Instagram is incredibly popular, macarons are always an excellent subject to use for pictures, which is another reason for their fame.
A lot of trendy desserts in Asia fade into oblivion quickly, but macarons are here to stay in the region and other parts of the world. There aren’t any other desserts quite like them. So, if you dream of opening a cafe or dessert place, it would be to your great advantage to learn how to make macarons well.
If you live in Dubai, that should be easy because the top culinary academy offers short pastry certificate courses that will teach you how to make everything — from macarons to all kinds of pastries.
Shanaaz Raja is the Course Director at International Centre for Culinary Arts – ICCA Dubai.