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The invasion of the macarons

Macarons are taking over 01:57

(CBS News)  Those delicious, brightly-colored meringue sandwich cookies from Paris are taking over the nation! Serena Altschul reports:

Something small is suddenly huge.

Macarons, those brightly-colored meringue sandwich cookies from Paris, are now EVERYWHERE in America. 

French pastry chef Francois Payard makes 60,000 macarons a week, and ships them all over the country.

Altschul asked Payard, why have macarons taken off like wildfire? "Why, I think is because they're very pretty," he replied.

And pretty tasty, too. Mouths are watering because they are excited about something so seemingly simple: Almond flour, sugar, egg whites, all sandwiched together.

But getting them perfect -- crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside -- is less about cooking and more about chemistry. 

Even the weather outside is a factor: "If it's raining, the shell will get to be too soft," Payard said. "If it is too cold, the shell will get maybe too hard."

Rain or shine, these cookies are hard to resist in any flavor: vanilla, pumpkin, pistachio, passion fruit. And did we mention chocolate? "Very intense, this one," said Payard.

"Oh, you've done it," Altschul said after a sample. "That's it right there. That's it. Perfection."

America is thanking Chef Payard.  He says his sales are up almost 30 percent this past year alone. 

You might just call it a labor of love. "It's so much more than a cookie," he said.

"You love the macaron," Altschul said.

"Yes!" he laughed. "It's true."

2013 "Food Show" Recipe Index - Holiday recipes and delicious menu suggestions from top chefs and the editors of Food and Wine Magazine -- including many dishes featured on this year's Food Issue!

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