Mackaion Cake – Historical Context
It has been found that the word, “Mackaion”, is actually transcribed as “mackaron” or what we recognize today as the word “macaroon”. What we have here is essentially a recipe for old fashioned almond macaroons. A recipe can be found in the historical 1887 Jessup Whitehead’s The Steward’s Handbook And Guide to Party Catering: In Five Parts. Whitehead described the use of almond macaroons to contribute to effortless attractive table decorating (Whitehead 12). The Whitehead’s recipe includes a soft and hard version of the macaroon but the ingredients are essentially identical to the ingredients provided by the Mason’s Cookbook.
Almond macaroons are believed to have originated in Italy, more specifically Venice. However, there are sources that claim macaroons could be traced to France, slightly before the turn of the 8th century. French cooks of the royal court are said to have developed the almond macaroon after Queen Catherine de Medeci brought it from Italy. The macaroon was named after the Italian word, ammaccare, which translates to crush in English. Almonds, native to the Middle East, were brought to Italy by Arab invaders at the start of the 7th century. The macaroon originator used egg whites, sugar, and the crushed almonds to created the cookie pastry we have today.
By the time the almond macaroon became popular in North America, the recipe evolved. Jewish Italians adapted the recipe to make it appropriate for their Passover holiday, Pesach. They added potato starch for more subsistence. Eventually, shredded coconut would replace crushed almonds in popular macaroon recipes to make the cookie more sturdy. Today, modern macaroon recipes use the coconut base.
Erdos, Joseph. “Macaroon vs. Macaron: Two Very Different Cookies With a Linked Past.” Food Network. Television Food Network G.P., 31 May 2013. Web. 20 Nov. 2014.
Gil, Alex & Head, Karen & Kruger, Steven. “Researcher Question.” Message to Lauren Klein. Facebook. November 27, 2014.
Pister, Judy. “A Brief History of Macaroons.” COR. Kashruth Council of Canada, 2014. Web. 02 Dec. 2014.
Whitehead, Jessup. The Steward’s Handbook And Guide to Party Catering …. 6th ed. Chicago: J. Whitehead & Co., 19031889.