Since their introduction in France in the 19th century by an Italian chef, macarons have become one of the most famous confections in France. This meringue-based snack has recently seen growing interest among confectionery lovers in the US.
You can easily locate them anywhere in your local bakeries, supermarkets, and even five-star restaurants. While most people enjoy this French pastry, they can’t help but wonder why it’s so expensive compared to similar confections in the US.
So, we dug into this sweet exotic snack to find answers.
Generally, macarons are expensive because they are hard to make, and the process is quite involving and tedious. It takes a lot of time, effort, and skill to come up with a perfect macaroon. The ingredients are also costly, and they require sophisticated and expensive equipment to make.
This article will further look at Macarons and why they’re so expensive in the US. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about your favorite confection.
What are Macarons?
Macarons are small, meringue-based desserts made from egg whites, almond flour, sugar, and food coloring. The filling depends on the chef’s taste, but it’s often a high-end ingredient like lemon curd, ganache, candied fruit, or buttercream.
Although the ingredients seem simple, the process of making Macarons is not that easy. It requires some time, effort, and most importantly, skill. As a result, most people shy away from baking them at home and prefer to buy ready ones instead.
How Much Does a Macaron Cost?
Macaron prices vary depending on the size, brand, variety, and where you’re buying them. However, they are all more expensive than regular cookies.
Generally, averaged-sized Macarons from specialized shops retail for anything from $2 to $3 each. That said, it’s possible to find them for less than $2 in non-specialty shops.
Types of Macarons with Prices
There are several types of Macarons, each with a different price. Here are the most popular ones.
Laurie is a popular French Macarons and candy brand. It offers a wide variety of Macaron flavors and colors, sold through its vast global network. In fact, it’s the world’s best-known seller of double-decker Macarons.
Laduree Macarons are high-end and cost anywhere upwards of $3.
Pierre Hermé Macarons
Pierre Hermé is internationally renowned for chocolate and pastry making. The French brand offers a wide variety of Macaron flavors and colors at varying prices.
Pierre Hermé Macarons are often packaged in collections, with one pack of 24 macarons selling for around $75.
La Maison du Chocolat Macarons
La Maison du Chocolat is another brand of French meringue-based pastry. However, unlike the other brands above, La Maison du Chocolat doesn’t use artificial colorants, giving the Macarons a muted hue.
The brand offers 13 Macaron flavors, priced from $3 for each Macaron.
Hugo & Victor
This is a popular natural, additive-free and organic Macaron brand. The chefs don’t use artificial colorants and try to apply organic and French ingredients wherever possible.
Hugo & Victor Macarons are considered high-end and can cost more than $5 each.
Why Are Macarons So Popular?
Macarons continue to be popular in the world of culinary trends despite their unappealing prices. This is evident in the countless Macaron bakeries that have popped up in every major city both in the US and around the world.
There are several reasons why Macarons are getting so popular, the most prominent being their taste. Macarons, regardless of type, have a rich, distinctive flavor. In addition, they are one of the few baked goods that are naturally gluten-free.
Social media is also drawing customer attention to Macarons. These cute cookies are photogenic and flood your Instagram page with likes.
Are Macarons Also Expensive in France?
Just like in the States, Macaron prices in France vary depending on a few factors. For example, Macarons from high-end bakeries like Laduree are still relatively expensive in France.
How Much Are They in France?
On average, a medium-sized Macaron costs around 1.80 Euros ($2.) However, it’s easier to find cheap Macarons (even less than $1 each) in Paris than anywhere in the US.
So, Why Are They So Expensive in America?
It is not just the geographical location that contributes to the price difference of macarons in the US and other parts of the world. Several other factors come into play here.
1. They Are Hard to Make
Baking Macarons require high-quality ingredients, precise measurements and lots of time, practice and experience to get it right.
In fact, it’s easier to mess up a Macaron than nail it on the first attempt or the second. Even experienced chefs can end up with less than perfect Macarons if something goes wrong in the baking process.
The shells (two outer portions) of a Macaron are incredibly mercurial. You must whip up a meringue with firm peaks before folding the almond flour. While this might sound easy, you’ll need some practice to get the desired consistency.
These delicate desserts can also be affected by humidity in the air which means you can do everything right and still make bad Macarons.
Additionally, for Macrons to be sold in a reputable bakery, they need to be perfectly round, uniform, and unbroken. Achieving this requires a lot of time and experience thus driving their prices up.
2. Cost of Ingredients
As we saw earlier, Macarons need high-quality ingredients from expensive almond flour to special sugar and food coloring. Even the filling should be high-end; think of Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate for the ganache or Madagascar vanilla for the buttercream.
Of course, these high-end ingredients are anything but cheap. This further inflates the price of a Macaron.
3. They Require a Lot of Sophisticated Equipment
High-quality ingredients and skills are not enough to make the perfect Macarons. You also need some equipment. For instance, you need piping bags and a digital scale to ensure you’ve measured everything precisely. Silicone baking mats will also be necessary for the shells to form a perfectly ruffled “root” at the base.
4. They Are Delicious
Once you get through the strenuous baking process, the end result is totally worth it. Macarons have a rich, satisfying taste. They also just feel good in the mouth, not too crunchy or soft.
They also offer a wide choice of flavors since you can add virtually any filling you fancy. Additionally, Macarons are one of the few sweet gluten-free desserts.
5. They Are Trendy
Although Macarons have always been present in Europe, they have only started getting attention in the US. As American tourists discovered them in Europe, they wanted to continue experiencing them at home. Many bakers saw this opportunity and hit the ground running.
The rise of social media also helped these photogenic cookies reach a broad audience. Once you see the tasty treats on your favorite influencer’s story, you’re bound to at least google what they are.
6. Importation Costs
While many local bakeries continue to perfect the art of making Macarons, most of the high-end Macarons are imported from France. Macarons from brands such as La Maison du Chocolat and Pierre Hermé cost more in the US because they have to be shipped from Paris.
7. Perceived Value
In a way, Macarons are expensive because they are supposed to be. They are marketed for an upscale market and are primarily found in high-end bakeries.
Macarons are marketed as a premium dessert for someone with impeccable taste and the wallet to back it up. They are packaged in fancy boxes and dressed in cute little ribbons, making them the perfect dinner party gift.
Where to Buy Macarons Near You in the Us
At this point, Macarons are almost everywhere, especially in convenience stores such as Trader Joe’s, Aldi, and Walmart. You can probably get some at your local bakery, although the quality might not be very good.
To enjoy the best Macarons, you’ll probably find them as a dessert in a high-end French restaurant. You can also order them straight from the manufacturers in France through global shipping.
If you’d like to challenge yourself and learn how to make Macarons, there are various recipes and tutorials you can follow online.