BLOOMFIELD, NJ - Bloomfield's own Michele Vaccari Harriott took home "Second Sweetest" honors at the annual 'Taste of Essex' this week at the Manor in West Orange. Run by the North Essex Chamber of Commerce, Taste of Essex is a showcase of the region's food and drink.

'Mich Macs' Harriot's brand of macarons were recognized by the judges in the sweet (dessert) category. Chef Risa of Vanillamore in Montclair took home the top sweet award.

Macaroons in the United States are sweet coconut confections. Most recipes call for sweetened condensed milk, shredded coconut, and some vanilla essence. They share a similar sounding name but are a far cry from their European counterparts.

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The French Macaron is a meringue confection made with sugar, egg whites and almond flour, with a filling that can be either ganache or buttercream, sometimes jam is used. Sounds simple, at first, but anyone who knows anything about meringue is well aware of how easily a delightful treat can become aerated concrete if not done well.

Harriot has been working with "macs" for several years and has put her own spin on creating flavors and fillings.