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Top Pick Of The Week

May 8, 2012

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Best French Macarons

Melt-in-your-mouth French macarons. Photo by Oksana Shufrich | THE NIBBLE.

WHAT IT IS: French-style macarons, made in New York City by a French baker.
WHY IT’S DIFFERENT: Ethereal, flavorful and just about perfect.
WHY WE LOVE IT: We’ve tasted many a macaron. These are at the top of the list.
WHERE TO BUY IT: MacaronCafe.com.

Matcha Chestnut Macarons
There are numerous dual-flavor macarons, two delights for the “price” of one. Above, Matcha Chestnut. Photos courtesy Macaron Café.


Nutella macarons, destined to become a cult
favorite. Below, White Chocolate macarons.

White Chocolate Macarons

 

Macaron Café: The Best French Macarons

Jump to the article index below

 

This week’s Top Pick is glorious macarons from Macaron Café in New York City, a bakery café in the Garment Center, owned by Parisian expats. Although it’s gotten a reasonable amount of local coverage, most macaron-loving New Yorkers don’t head there.

Instead, they’re lined up at the boutique of renowned Parisian pâtissier, Pierre Hermé, on upper Madison Avenue. The queue can wrap around the block. But it’s the wrong line, folks.

We far prefer to breeze into Macaron Café’s flagship or its Midtown outpost, or order the macarons online. There’s no line around the block, the macarons are less expensive and—heresy!—they taste better than Pierre Hermé’s. And you can enjoy a light breakfast or lunch after you select your macarons.

Macaron Café creates some 50 flavors over the course of the year, including seasonal favorites. They’re a perfect Mother’s Day gift (and in our book, the perfect food gift for any occasion).

  • You’ll find all the traditional flavors: apricot, cassis, chocolate, coconut, espresso, lemon, mango, mocha, passion fruit, pistachio, raspberry, rose, vanilla, violette and so on.
  • There are also exciting seasonal flavors: blackberry, chestnut, gingerbread, grapefruit, jasmine, lychee rose, matcha chestnut, mirabelle (a yellow plum), orange blossom, pineapple, pumpkin cinnamon, raisin rum and rhubarb.
  • And then, there are the flavor trends: cappuccino, caramel fleur de sel, crème brûlée, dulce de leche, honey lavender, matcha green tea, nutella, peanut butter, tahini sesame.

Macaron Vs. Macaroon

A French macaron (pronounced mah-cah-ROHN, but listen to a Frenchman say it) is a meringue-based sandwich cookie made with egg whites, sugar, almond flour and flavoring; some flavors use food color. The sandwich filling can be buttercream, jam or chocolate ganache. (See the different types of macarons/macaroons.*)

*Macaroon (maa-cah-ROON) is a U.S. and U.K. term, but often refers to the dense, chewy coconut macaroon made from flaked coconut, sugar and sweetened condensed milk (and often dipped in chocolate).

These luxurious bites are the most elegant of cookies. Airy and fragile, they melt in your mouth. They’re fat free and gluten free.

Most macaron brands we’ve tried don’t have enough flavor: You often have to guess what the flavor is, or find too faint a hint. At Macaron Café, the flavors are deliciously pronounced.

The macarons are certified kosher by Cup K (seven flavors are parve). Prices range from $16.00 for a petite box of 6 macarons to $55.00 for 24 cookies. There’s also a pyramid-shaped centerpiece that holds 24 cookies, for $69.00.

Proprietor Cécile Cannone has written a cookbook, so you can try your hand at baking these delicacies at home.

If there’s anyone who wouldn’t love a gift of macarons, let him or her raise a hand. We’ll be over to take them off his/her hands.

— Karen Hochman

 

The article continues below, with macaron trivia, books and more.

   

Bake Your Own

Les Petits Macarons: Colorful French Confections To Make At Home   Macarons: Authentic French Cookie Recipes From The Macaron Cafe   Macaron Magic

Les Petits Macarons: Colorful French Confections To Make At Home, by Kathryn Gordon and Anne E. McBride. French, Swiss and Italian macaron recipes. More information.

 

Macarons: Authentic French Cookie Recipes From The Macaron Café, by Cécile Cannone. Recipes for our Top Pick Of The Week macarons. More information.

 

Macaron Magic, by Jialin Tian. A fun and informative journey through the art of macaron making. Written by a NASA research engineer! More information.

INDEX OF REVIEW

This is Page 1 of a one-page review. Click on the black links to visit other articles:

MORE TO DISCOVER

Macaron Trivia

The macaron was created in Italy—some culinary historians trace them to a monastery, and even say that the original shape was fashioned after monks’ navels! The original style was similar to modern Amaretti.

  • Macaron, Macaroni. The name of the cookie comes from the Italian word for paste, maccarone (mah-kah-ROW-nay), and is also the word for pasta/macaroni and dumplings, also made from a paste.
  • Catherine di Medici. Macaroons traveled from Italy to France in 1533 with the pastry chefs of Catherine de Medici, wife of  future King Henri II.
  • Coconut Macaroons. Italian Jews adopted the macaron because it has no flour or leavening and could be enjoyed during the eight-day observation of Passover. It was introduced to other European Jews and became popular as a year-round sweet.
 


Dulce de Leche macarons. Photo courtesy Macaron Café.

  • Macaroon Cookie Sandwiches. French pastry chefs turned the macaroon into a meringue sandwich, filled with ganache.

Here’s the longer history of the macaron.

 

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