At Thanksgiving, they were cornmeal with a molasses buttercream and Christmas brought peppermint with dark chocolate ganache filling. Such has been my recent obsession with macarons (not to be confused with coconut macaroons).
Making macarons requires a little skill, practice and definitely patience. If that’s a challenge that doesn’t tempt, you can find macarons at several bakeries throughout the metro area.
Here’s the scoop on where to get these gluten-free goodies around town. They might make a nice alternative to chocolates for your Valentine this year.
Alon’s has one of the most extensive collections of macaron flavors ranging from the simple almond to a bluish-purple black currant. Well puffed, the macarons have the hallmark crisp crust and sticky interior. Fillings are generous and not overly sweet. Try the creamy-filled coconut macaron. You’re welcome. $1.99
This bakery/cafe, with locations in Roswell and Marietta, serves two kinds of macarons: “color” and “flatter.” The flatter ones certainly live up to their descriptor. Although they lack the puffy fullness and crisp shell, these sticky-top macarons are somewhat addictive. They come in the usual flavors — raspberry, lemon, chocolate and more — but each has a fudgy quality resulting from the softness. My daughter and I agree that the salted caramel macaron here is one of the best tasting in town. $1.20
You may find one or two flavors of macarons in the case at this bakery each day. They disappear quickly, so grab one fast. Today may bring passion fruit, tomorrow chocoate pistachio. These well-made classic macarons showcase concentrated flavorings, yet retain the perfect amount of almond texture and flavor. $2.00
Nestled in a sea of beautiful pastries, the macarons at Joli Kobe come in flavors like caramel praline, vanilla tea, cassis, and caramel sea salt. Order one of each and they will come in a ribbon-wrapped, doily-lined box suitable for a shower favor. You might have to taste a few to find your perfect flavor. The puffy and crisp shell folds into a soft middle, but some of the flavorings ring with an artificial note. Star with the super minty chocolate-filled macaron. $1.25
A pastel tower of macarons stands out among a backdrop of dark-toned chocolate at Cacao. Playful flavors include a chocolate-filled orange reminiscent of The Varsity’s Frosted Orange, a delicate lavendar and a chocolate rose that’s light on the floral. The macarons here are likely the sweetest of the ones I sampled across town. I tend to gravitate to anything pistachio and the pistachio-cherry macaron at Cacao doesn’t disappoint with a surprise bit of fruit concealed within. $2.00
To sample the macarons at Star Provisions, I placed a special order 48 hours in advance. They may also have them available in the case on Fridays and Saturdays. I sampled the pistachio and the chocolate, though most traditional flavors can be ordered. The pistachio has a crisp and crumbly cookie, but the creamy pistachio filling wins my heart. The chocolate is softer and leaves you with the subtle flavors of dark chocolate.
Ali’s Cookies makes more than just cookies. Macarons are among their specialty items. For now, they are a special-order confection, but may appear in bakery cases soon. Taught by a French chef, the baker at Ali’s Cookies makes a range of traditional flavors like chocolate and jam-filled strawberry. These high-domed macarons are of the crispy variety.
Looking at the plastic sleeves lined with patterns of chocolate, vanilla and strawberry macarons, visions of carboard-boxed Neopolitan ice cream spring to mind. No matter the flavor, each macaron I tasted from Henri’s bore an unmistakable refrigerator tang. $1.10
Please chime in if you know of other great macarons in our city.
–by Jenny Turknett, Food and More blog