Thoughts of French pâtisseries instantly conjure images of delicate croissant; flaky, rich pain au chocolate; and of course, macaron.
The signature of the perfect macaron is the smooth crisp shell, delicately chewy on the inside, velvety filling, and a sense of flawless uniformity. They are precise, with exacting requirements in their preparation, miss a step, or a minute too long in the oven, and failure ensues.
Macarons are different from macaroons, and should in no uncertain terms be confused. Macaroons are an English tradition, and although made from essentially the same ingredients, and also very tasty, they lack the refinement and delicacy of the distinctly polished French macaron.
Macarons are often in striking bright colors of the rainbow, in every imaginable flavor and hue. Strange and unusual flavor combinations are often carried out in macaron form – traditional French flavorings and pairings are now also accompanied by distinct Asian flavors such as black sesame, matcha, yuzu, and countless others. It’s no coincidence that both Payard and Hermé have locations in multiple countries across Asia; the Asian palate has a serious sweet tooth and have embraced macrons as their own. Because macarons are made with almond flour, there is always a hint of that distinct almondy-bitterness flavor.
Macarons should be eaten at room temperature to best experience the flavor. Serve or devour accompanied by champagne or hot tea, or with coffee depending on your selected flavor.
They are the perfect little treat – of course no need to stop at one…
Herewith, The Spade Six of Macarons
1. Pierre Hermé, Paris
Paris is bursting with macarons, so narrowing down the selection to just one establishment is tricky. However, Pierre Hermé has made an art of the macaron, devoting his life almost to the beautiful little gems, so if you can only have one, best let it be Pierre Hermé. His signature flavors are world renowned, classic yet with an added intensity: Ispahan (combination of rose, raspberry and litchi), Mogador (The perfect balance between the smoothness of the milk chocolate and the acidity of the passionfruit.), and Infiniment Vanille (vanilla from several different provenances (Mexico, Tahiti and Madagascar) to develop a ‘house vanilla’, Pierre Hermé’s version of the ideal vanilla.) There are also seasonal specialities.
Pierre Hermé created ‘Jour du Macaron’ – Macaron Day, now in its tenth year, as a way to raise awareness for Cystic Fibrosis. Annually on the first day of Spring, March 20th.
Pierre Hermé‘s stores are sleek and sophisticated, more like shopping for jewels than sweet treats. There are multiple locations in France, as well globally in United Kingdom, Qatar, South Korea, Hong Kong, United Arab Emirates, Japan, and Azerbaijan.
You can also shop online – If you are in Europe they will deliver by refrigerated truck. For more details Visit Website.
2. Francois Payard, New York
Francois Payard has made macaron all of his life, just as his father and grandfather did. He brought his skills to New York in 1990, searching for a new cosmopolitan atmosphere to extend his skills & experience. Over the past twenty five years, Payard has been involved in a number of highly acclaimed restaurants and collaborations, culminating in his macaron empire – now found not only in New York, but also in Las Vegas, South Korea and Japan. Like Pierre Hermé, Payard’s stores are often sleek and modern, bringing a sense of extravagance and sophistication to macaron dining.
His flavors are intense and classic, but sometimes with little twists. Classical French flavours – Vanilla, Dark Chocolate, Pistachio, Cassis Violet, Raspberry Lychee, Passion Fruit, Salted Caramel are all divine and regularly on offer.
3. Nadège, Toronto
The collaboration of Nadège Nourian and Morgan McHugh, Nadège brings the sleek modern French patisserie to Toronto. The stark white interior of Nadège is accented by bright colours, especially from array of macarons. Nourain has macarons in her blood, coming from a long line of French pastry chefs, she came to Toronto with McHugh and established a formidable French enclave of tasty treats – particularly macarons. The clean lined cabinets display perfectly placed pastries, chocolates and macarons to die for, you cannot walk out the door with at least one treat. Nadège‘s macarons come in delightful flavors, mastering the classics but also putting a spin on tradition with the likes of Guinness and Chocolate Blackberry. Nourain’s macarons have the clear crisp shells, and achieves intense flavors in her ganache, making them the pick of the Toronto macaron options.
Now with five locations across the city, you can get your Nadège macaron fix with ease.
4. Bonheur Patisserie, Singapore
Bonheur Patisserie has a wide range of flavors, delightful varied, with more than twenty five on offer most days. Aside from the classic raspberry, vanilla and chocolate, think Asian inspired tastes like Yuzo Miso (pictured), Thai Iced Tea, Sea Salt Gula Melaka, and Oolong Tea. This Singapore spot has mastered the macaron with their perfect textures, turned out feet, and array of flavors. They also put a little fun into the traditional, with decorations of smily faces, ladybugs and the like. They also dabble in different shapes for occasions, think Easter just for a start.
5. Nuvrei, Portland
French patisserie is not necessarily the first thing that comes to mind when you think about the Portland food scene, but maybe it should be. A city crawling with coffee and tea needs sweet treats. Nuvrei, in the Pearl District, serves traditional French breads, croissant, and of course, macaron. Headed by Marius Pops, the bustling cafe has recently expanded, and now includes a ‘Mac Bar’. Upstairs is the light, bright cafe space with seating, and a long expanse of all things delicious on display – as well the sandwich bar bursting with tasty ingredients. But downstairs is where the macarons are. Go there. Nuvrei‘s Mac Bar is grab and go style, with the delicate macarons laid out for you in neat, long lines; the brightly colored treats seem to sparkle under the lights. Flavors are traditional French, with regular offerings of Raspberry, Earl Grey, and Salted Caramel.
6. MakMak, Sydney
Sydney has been addicted to macarons over the past few years, with long lines trailing out the doors of stores offering the little gems. Newtown’s MakMak is the winner in our books. Their macarons are filled with all the characteristics of the traditional French classic, with an delicate shells and intense flavor profiles. The turn out the classic French flavors, but they also experiment with unique Australian ingredients like lemon myrtle and strawberry gum. MakMak is committed to quality ingredients, including Callebaut chocolate, Maldon Sea Salt and Bombay Sapphire gin – and using seasonal fresh fruits. MakMak decorates their macarons by hand with leaves, flowers and other unique and beautiful designs – they are almost too pretty to eat!