Macarons look unreal with their light and fluffy texture and their sweet taste is to die for. To someone who doesn’t know anything about the dessert industry, macarons seem too expensive for what they are.
Why are macarons so expensive? Macarons are expensive because they are actually very difficult to bake, which factors into their cost. Gourmet marketing has also influenced the cost of macarons because they are now seen as a more upscale delicacy.
What are Macarons?
Macarons are round, bite-size, meringue-based desserts made from seemingly simple ingredients:
- Almond flour
- Egg whites
- Food coloring
The combination of these items gives macarons their light and airy texture.
While these ingredients seem simple, they actually factor into the cost. Almond flour is generally more expensive than any other type of flour. Additionally, if real fruit is used in the flavoring process, this will make the price rise more than using artificial ingredients.
Making meringue out of egg whites and sugar is a time-consuming process. It constitutes as skilled labor. And small mistakes within the creation process can ruin an entire batch of macarons.
The process of making macarons takes a lot of time and requires expert skill. The ingredients must be perfectly combined within a specific time frame to insure the optimal macaron.
The egg whites have to be aged for several days in optimal conditions before they can be mixed into a meringue. Meanwhile, the dry ingredients must be properly mixed and refined to ensure the macaron shells are soft and smooth.
Anyone who has made meringue at home knows that it is a balancing act when it comes to stirring. No one wants to eat macarons with spikes or peaks. Alternatively, no one wants to eat flat macarons either.
Once the meringue is mixed, it must rest for a set amount of time before it can be piped into the shell. Each shell must be the correct shape and size, otherwise the two halves of the macaron will be mismatched!
Unfortunately, if anything goes wrong at any of these steps, the entire batch of macarons might have to be scrapped. Even worse, everything can be done completely correctly and the macarons can still be lost due to inconsistent humidity or incorrect handling.
People will train for years to make macarons to the correct specifications. The process cannot be automated easily either, meaning that the requirement for skilled human labor remains a constant.
Macarons don’t have a long shelf life because they will spoil quickly. They must be crafted and sold within a very short period of time otherwise they must be thrown out. This naturally factors into the cost of macarons.
In addition to this, macarons are also delicate – the literal meaning of delicacy. Their shell can break during filling, storing, and transportation, ruining a previously okay batch.
Thus they need to have special packaging to keep them safe, further raising their cost. Many companies will also put extra effort into branding their macarons to allow for name recognition. Special branding also raises costs.
Macarons became a huge hit around 2010. But why did they become such a sensation?
Their colorful appearance makes them stand out on the shelf and on social media. They also are naturally low calorie, averaging around 70 calories. They also have an exotic feel which is why so many Americans love them.
While macarons are considered a premium delicacy still, the fact that they are sold in supermarkets certainly helped. In supermarkets, they can be displayed at the bakery in perfect arrangements, which engenders impulse purchases.
Their bright coloring and cute little appearance are the perfect combination for macarons selling themselves. They appeal to people of all ages, even if many people can agree that they look better than they taste when the price is considered.
However, the fact that they are low in calories means they have become a “permissible indulgence” in the dessert world. Macarons are small and are made from low-calorie ingredients, making them the ideal dessert for those counting calories and trying to eat leaner.
With the increase of the macaron’s popularity, the price increased as well. People were willing to pay for something exotic, new, and hand crafted. Ten years later, macarons are still pricey because of their crafting costs and their reputation.
Culture Surrounding Macarons
Macarons appeal to many people because they are gluten and dairy free. Because of this, macarons have found their niche in foodie culture. Macarons are an experience more than they are anything else.
Customers looking for an exotic dessert or a different experience when buying a pastry can turn to macarons. Macarons are also convenient, small, and quick to eat, which makes them an even trendier pastry.
They appeal to an upscale market of customers who are watching their weight, wish to be trendy, but want a small delicacy every now and then. So far, macarons have been able to deliver on expectations regardless of the price.
Cost of Macarons
Ingredients and labor costs are the biggest reasons why macarons started out as expensive as they were. The marketing and culture surrounding macarons now will keep costs where they are at with no true demand for cutting.
So while macarons still upwards of $3, because so many different people like what they are getting in a macaron, the price of macarons won’t be going down anytime soon. The creation process cannot be automated so simply and their short shelf life mean that macarons must have a quick turnaround.
But, even with their high costs, people love macaron’s bright colors, airy texture, and low calorie makeup. Dessert experts know exactly what they are getting in a macaron and that is what they want.