Tag Archives: macarons

Taiwanese shaved snow at Snow Dragon Shavery

taiwanWe have been wanting to try Snow Dragon Shavery (2618 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL 60614) for a long time. Their Technicolor treats have been blowing up Instagram for a while, and everything there looks so darn delicious. However, what we are really there for is the Taiwanese shaved snow ice, an enigmatic creation that is becoming more and more popular stateside. The inside of Snow Dragon is bright and colorful, and it is open super late – Midnight on Friday and Saturday – for all of those late-night ice cream cravings.SnowIceYou can pick your flavor of snow ice, one sauce and two toppings. Flavors of snow include traditional, vanilla, tutti frutti, key lime, mango and coconut and there was a complete toppings bar with fresh fruit, boba and candy. The combinations are nearly infinite but we settled on matcha green tea shaved ice, topped with mango sauce, fresh strawberries and chocolate chips. The texture of the snow ice is really unique, and almost seemed like flaky, layered sheets, which melt instantly in your mouth. Unlike a snow cone, the shaved snow also has more of a creamy taste and texture.SnowMacaronsThe menu at Snow Dragon is huge, and there is pretty much every type of icy treat you could want including a selection of FroYo, a rainbow of exotic macarons (think Ube and Passionfruit) ice cream, bubble tea, Indian kulfi popsicles and more. Perhaps the most notable (and photogenic) offering – other than the snow ice – are the overstuffed macaron ice cream sandwiches! We look forward to getting back to Snow Dragon to sample more of their eclectic, icy treats. And we even hear they now have an outposts in Navy Pier and Evanston!SnowDragon

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Pistacia Vera – the best Macarons in Columbus

francePistacia Vera ( 541 S 3rd St, Columbus, OH 43215) in the quaint German Village neighborhood of Columbus is an immaculate example of a neighborhood French bakery. There are cases and shelves full of any number of dazzling French pastries and cakes, and hoards of Columbusites of all walks of life noshing on coffee and perfect croissants and quiches. We knew we were going to be spending some time here – especially when we got a tip that the macarons on offer were second-to-none.VeraMacarons Continue reading

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France comes to Evanston at Patisserie Coralie

franceWe have longed for a nice cafe in Evanston that sold delicious pastries and coffee for a while now. There are places that satisfy one need or the other, but now we have Patisserie Coralie (600 Davis Street, Evanston) to help us out with both! Coralie is located in the former home of Cafe Mozart, and more than fills the long-vacant spot. Coralie is the brainchild of Pascal Berthoumieux who also owns the Evanston restaurant Bistro Bordeaux (the patisserie is named after his daughter). wpid-wp-1415247321768.jpeg

Inside the cafe, there are some comfy couches and chairs as well as a small counter by the window and some wooden tables, and we appreciated the nice touch of the chandeliers. They seem to be pretty much constantly busy, which is good for them, but means that it is always pretty crowded! When we arrived, every seat was filled, and we were lucky enough to snag two counter spots that opened up just in time. Coralie serves Julius Meinl coffee, and a variety of coffee drinks both hot and iced prepared by very nice baristas. The chai tea latte is also quite tasty for those who prefer to go coffee-free. Though Julius Meinl coffee is always a plus, the true treats are the pastries, courtesy of pastry chef Manuel Bouillet.

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On our initial visit we tried an excellent eclair and a perfectly flaky pain au chocolate. At this point in October, they were not producing macarons yet – “they’ll be here in November” was the response. True to this promise, we visited on November 1st, and there we found a delicious assortment of macarons! We tried the coconut milk chocolate and passion fruit (though the raspberry also looked particularly tempting) and were really impressed. On our second go-around we were also truly excited to try one of chef Bouillet’s signature desserts – which was especially enticing on appearance alone – the “Exotic egg,” which true to its name does look like an egg! In this concoction, vanilla cream is served in a white chocolate cup with a “yolk” of passion fruit gelee. The egg cup is then balanced on a chocolate sable cookie. We really enjoyed the combination of vanilla and passion fruit and the unexpected crunch of the cookie.

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Each time we visited Coralie, there was a wider variety and quantity of pastries and desserts on offer, and an ever-growing crowd. We are glad they are ramping up production to meet demand! Coralie definitely satisfies a unfilled need in the Evanston cafe scene. We look forward to visiting again soon to satisfy our pastry cravings, and we are even prepared to wait.

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Dia de Los Muertos Macaron Display in London

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Dia De Los Muertos Macaron Display – photos by Ganache Macaron

Dia de Los Muertos/Day of the Dead is becoming more popularly celebrated and recognized around the world, which means that a whole new variety of creative treats based on the day are emerging. One of the more interesting Dia de Los Muertos themed creations we have seen is a macaron-themed Day of the Dead display in London. The display is located in the Covent Garden branch of Wahaca, an upscale Mexican restaurant. The macarons were created by Ganache Macaron and the designer Katherine Burke. We think they did a pretty amazing job, and our favorite has to be the giant sugar skull inspired macaron that is the centerpiece of the display (above). If you happen to be in London the display will be up until November 3rd.

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Dia De Los Muertos Macaron Display – photos by Ganache Macaron

 

 

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Macaroons AND Macarons for Passover

We love macarons, but the similar-sounding coconut macaroons don’t get much press on this blog. We know they are often confused with each other, even among foodies, with macroons being a coconut cookie, and macarons being a more delicate French sandwich cookie made of almond flour. As you can see, the double O really makes a world of difference. During Passover there is a prohibition against foods made with leavened flours and sometimes even corn products, according to tradition, limiting dessert options somewhat, which turned our attention to both macarons/macaroons. Macaroons, made primarily with coconut, meet this Passover dietary requirement, and due to how easy they are to make, they are really popular – even iconic – at the American Passover table. When invited to bring a snack to an event during Passover, I have often turned to coconut macaroons myself. Dan Cohen opines on the coconutty treat (and provides a recipe) in his macaroon bible, and more recipes abound online.

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However, due to my focus on macaroons, I overlooked an equally suitable option – the 1-O French macaron. Macarons are made with almond flour, and not wheat, which makes them appropriate for Passover, though almond flour is unusual enough to make it a little difficult to find. The New York Times has a recipe for Kosher-for-passover macarons here, and they sound delicious. Though the 2-O macaroons are more common in America, the 1-O variety would be perfectly at home at the Passover table as well. Why not try something different?

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Pastry Post-Doc visits Ladurée in NYC

LadureeWindow

franceWe have a major obsession with macarons, and we ranked the macarons at Ladurée in Paris as our favorite. So how excited were we two weeks ago to be visiting friends in New York, home of a North American outpost of our favorite macaron purveyor. The Ladurée in NYC is on the upper east side (864 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10021), within a stone’s throw of the Whitney Museum. We went on Saturday afternoon expecting a line… and we got one. However, the crowd control was a bit more organized than the Paris location. Here in NYC, there was a bouncer to let only 20 people into the shop itself at a time. It took us about 20 minutes to get to the counter to order, and once we were there, it was only minutes until we were reunited with our macarons.Laduree macarons

The store was just as picturesque as the original French outpost, all done up in pastels, with mirrored cabinets and little towers of macarons perched on ornate boxes. In addition to macarons, the store was jam packed with chocolates, jam, ice cream and even coffee. Of course, there was also a huge selection of food and trinkets emblazoned with the Ladurée logo. Yet as always, we were single minded in our mission.Laduree macarons

After the bouncer let us pass, we swarmed the macaron counter, which boasted over a dozen varieties, including our perennial favorites chocolate and salted caramel. As in Paris, the flavors are displayed on a little graphic menu, as displayed at the bottom of the post. There were other classic flavors including pistachio, coffee, lemon, raspberry and strawberry, as well as some more esoteric varieties including orange blossom, black forest and the quixotically-named Marie Antoinette (Earl Grey tea, though the macaron itself is blue).Laduree MacaronsIt was a steep $21 for six, but we felt it was worth every penny, as we indulged in our macarons on a bench in Central Park. The salted caramel and chocolate were also a big hit with our friends, and we are happy we brought over some new macaron addicts to the fold. Word on the streets is that there is now a Ladurée in Soho (398 W Broadway, New York, NY 10012) with a tea room. Maybe that will be our next macaron mission (if we can get past the bouncer).

laduree macarons

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Happy Valentine’s Day Macarons!

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Last week I was surprised with a Macaron-making class at Give Me Some Sugar with Chef Jerry in Roscoe Village. I would highly recommend it, and check out the macarons M and I made! I think they turned out pretty well. The flavors are Nutella, Salted Caramel, Raspberry and Lemon, in Valentine’s Day colors of course. Hope you get to enjoy some sweet treats today. What are you making?

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Eating Cheap and Well in Jardim América, São Paulo

brazilThe area southwest of Avenida Paulista in São Paulo, bordered on the west by Avenida Rebouças and on the east by Avenida Nove de Julho, encompassing the neighborhoods of Jardim América and Cerqueira César, is one of the swankiest and most upscale neighborhoods in the Americas. It is home to São Paulo’s finest restaurants – i.e., some of the finest restaurants in the hemisphere – and thus is a must for any foodie. Yet this high concentration of culinary awesomeness comes with an annoying tradeoff: eating there can be exorbitantly expensive. But, determined eaters as we are, we did some exploring and came up with a tasty, cheap snack itinerary for those of you wanting to explore the area without breaking your wallet.

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Street art in Jardim America

Start out at Casa Bauducco (Alameda Lorena, 1682), a well-known Italian bakery famous for their Panettone. Sample the wide variety of cookies and pastries available, but do yourself a favor and get a fresh slice of chocottone (chocolate panettone, R$5.80), heated with cinnamon and sugar on top. The recipe supposedly takes over 40 hours to make, and you can taste every bit of effort in that chocottone.

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Casa Bauducco

A few blocks away, continue with the Italian trend and cool off your mouth with a few scoops of the finest gelato in Brazil at  Bacio di Latte (Rua Bela Cintra, 1829). Get a grande size for R$12, and up to three flavors. We recommend the maracujá (passionfruit) and negrissimo (super dark chocolate) flavors, especially in combination. Be sure to sit on one of the converted milk jugs as seats.

If you need a little relaxation time, take a load off in the excellent book selection and beanbag chairs at the famous Livraria da Vila (Alameda Lorena, 1731), where you can admire the famous bookshelf-doors while sipping a coffee or cappuccino at their cafe and wondering why anyone would pay R$ 10 to valet a car at a bookstore.

Still hungry? Walk south to the unassuming Pão de Queijo Haddock Lobo (Rua Haddock Lobo, 1408), serving up the best cheese bread in the city, if not the country. If you have time, wait for a fresh batch to come out: you will get the most for your R$4.50, which is worth it [full review here].

Having had your fill of cheese bread,finish up your explorations by deciding what other flavors could entice you at Folie (Cristiano Viana, 295), purveyor of excellent French macarons. Choose from Brazilian-inspired flavors, including brigadeiro and beijinho; or go with something even more inventive, such as drink-themed macarons with flavors like Gin & Tonic and Green Tea.

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A Place for Macarons… in Salvador!

franceWe recently wrote about the boom of Macarons in São Paulo. However, the trend has even trickled down to Salvador, the 3rd largest  city in Brazil. In Shopping Barra, there is a relatively new store, called Avignon, which specializes in chocolates and macarons. The macarons are R$ 4.50 apiece in come in a variety of Brazilian and classic French flavors. When we visited there were: Doce de Leite, Chocolate, Almond, Passion Fruit and Strawberry varieties. While good, the macarons were a little soggy, not surprising given the humidity in Salvador, I guess. However it was great to sample a macaron after a 6-month drought! Other treats available at Avignon included financiers, croissants and a selection of chocolates.  There is also a small menu of drinks including espresso and hot chocolate. Definitely a taste of France in Bahia!

Macarons at Avignon

Macarons at Avignon by Gabiela Baleeiro for iBahia

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Macarons for the Diamond Jubilee

This coming weekend marks Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee – 60 years on the throne –  and British companies have been pulling out all all of the stops to put out special editions of clothes, tea and even Heinz baked beans. However, what has most caught our eye are the special Laduree jubilee-edition macarons. The Union Jack themed box of six red and white macarons runs $25 and is available at Laduree NYC, Paris and London locations (and also Harrods in the UK). Apparently this is only the second time that special edition macarons were made – the first being a special nod to Hello Kitty. This year also marks the 150-year anniversary of Laduree, which first opened at 16 Rue Royale in Paris in 1862. We are a little sad that we cannot sample the special edition macarons, since Laduree was voted the winner of our Parisian macaron taste-test, but maybe one of our lovely readers can let us know how they are!

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The Best Macarons in Paris

One of our main goals while visiting Paris was to sample the macarons. L and M are huge fans of macarons, and even had them as our wedding favors (chocolate, blueberry and chai). However, we will freely admit that none of the macarons in Chicago (even the most expensive) can rival those in Paris. Prior to our trip, we did some research to narrow down the overwhelming choices for some possible top contenders. After reading many ‘best of ‘ lists we arrived at two top contenders – Ladurée and Pierre Hermé. With this shortlist in mind, we set out to conduct a scientific study of what would be the top macaron in Paris, along with our good friends and gracious Paris hosts, T & I. Below, we compare the two shops on various parameters, and discuss our final decision. And no, we did not get IRB approval for this study (Social Science joke!)

Basic Facts

Ladurée
Location in Paris we visited: 21 Rue Bonaparte, Saint Germain des Prés, Paris
Flavors Sampled: Salted Caramel, Colombian Chocolate, Pistachio

Pierre Hermé
Location in Paris we visited: 72 Rue Bonaparte, Saint Germain des Prés, Paris
Flavors Sampled: Creme Brulée, Venezuelan Chocolate, Salted Caramel

Breakdown:

The line outside Ladurée

Price and Line:
Both stores had lines out the door (and were located mere blocks from eachother in the Saint Germain des Prés neighborhood).  However, Ladurée gets the hat-tip for having lower prices for roughly the same sized macarons. At Pierre Hermé eight macarons were €15.70, Ladurée came in at €12.10.
Verdict: Ladurée – we are poor grad students, what do you expect?

Strictness:
We got yelled at in each store for taking pictures – but only after about 20 photos. Oops…?
Verdict: Tie

Minimalist display at Pierre Hermé

Decor:
In terms of decor, the two shops could not be more different. Ladurée is a pastel-colored confection, full of filigree and antique fixtures. Pierre Hermé, on the other hand, is extremely stark and sleek, and really goes for the minimalist look. This style was also reflected in each store’s Christmas window decorations, as seen below.
Verdict: We slightly preferred Ladurée, for its old-world charm.

Miscellany:
Pierre Hermé provided little menus with all of the macaron flavors so you could decide while waiting in line. However, Pierre Hermé was also out of a flavor – one that might have been our favorite flavor! Overall, Pierre Hermé was more inventive, and had flavors like Olive Oil/Citrus and Chocolate/Foie Gras, whereas Ladurée only had more classic flavors.
Verdict: Neutral.

In terms of flavors, it was decided that at both locations, the salted caramel and chocolate were the best, so we will discuss those below.

Chocolates:
Both of the restaurants featured a single-original dark chocolate South American macaron, with chocolate cookies and dark chocolate mousse filling, dusted with cocoa powder.
Verdict: Split Decision – One of our testers preferred the Pierre Hermé, and two preferred Ladurée.

Salted Caramel:
Salted caramel is such a delicious and unexpected flavor – and is one that lends itself very well to macarons! All 4 testers ranked salted caramel as the top flavor at both stores. While each was delicious. the key difference was between the fillings – Ladurée had a filling of actual milk caramel, while Pierre Hermé was filled with a salted caramel-flavored buttercream.
Verdict:
 Ladurée – the actual caramel made all of the difference.

RESULTS:
You can’t really go wrong with either choice. But we do have a winner. Overall, considering price, decor and overall taste, Ladurée was the champion. We can’t wait to go back!

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Boule de Noël Holiday Macaron Boutique in Chicago

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Offerings at Boule de Noël

Finally – after 2 years we made it to the macaron boutique at NoMi – Boule de Noël. There wasn’t actually a storefront, just a display case of desserts with a chef standing by to take any orders – it was $9 for three macarons – they couldn’t be bought individually, which was a bit of a bummer. The three flavors on offer were banana, chocolate Grand Marnier and lime mint. We opted for 2 chocolate (of course) and one mint. The presentation, of course was beautiful, and each macaron was picture-perfect and vibrantly colored. The macarons were delicious, too, and practically melted in your mouth, though the chocolate variety was the clear winner. Though a bit pricey, we enjoyed the macarons and are looking forward to next year’s macaron boutique incarnation.

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