Traditional French Colorful Macarons In a Box (credit: Thinkstock)
In 1862, Parisian baker Louis-Ernest Ladurée decided to turn a little cake into a cookie sandwich, and the macaron was born. A macaron (as opposed to a macaroon with coconut) is a confection of two delicate crispy shells of almond meringue forming a sandwich filled with a tasty layer of ganache, butter cream, caramel, curd, jam or another dreamy French concoction. The Bay Area has embraced them in earnest, so no passport required!
437 Hayes St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
Stop in and see the macaron mountain on display. Point and pick out from macarons with tempting names such as jasmine green tea, raspberry/rose lychee, salted caramel, red velvet, almond amaretto and Italian pistachio. With a name like Chantal Guillon, it’s no surprise that they’re serving proper Parisienne-style macarons…and tea. Hayes Valley has more macaron specialty shops than any other Bay Area neighborhood. Find this well-known, dedicated maker of pretty macarons in two additional Bay Area locations in Palo Alto and in SoMa, San Francisco.
1 Ferry Building Marketplace, Suite 10
San Francisco, CA 94111
Miette has three more Bay Area locations for macaron indulgences in Hayes Valley, Jack London Square and Marin Country Mart in Larkspur. Lucky folks live near one or another. Have a look around; think pink. Everything on display at tiny Miette shops is dainty and delicately done…then comes the deliciousness. Treat yourself during a break from shopping at the farmer’s market, or grab a few pieces of magic for the ferry ride. If you’re ready to attempt baking macarons at home, Miette Bakery Cookbook, now in its fourth printing, shares the recipe on its pretty scalloped-edge pages.
6528 Washington St.
Yountville, CA 94599
When you mix the Thomas Keller brand with macarons in Napa, queues happen. Adjacent to the restaurant, some fans say the big palm-sized macarons to beat are pistachio and salted butter. On the other hand, don’t miss hazelnut, pistachio and espresso. Flavors on the menu are seasonal, but you can always count on vanilla, chocolate, pistachio and caramel. Enjoy people watching with your prize macarons and Equator coffee at the attractive outdoor seating area. Six mini macarons come in a gift box for a takeaway treasure.
Pamplemousse Patisserie & Café
2401 Broadway St.
Redwood City, CA 94063
They’re very temperamental to make,” baker/owner Kelli Manukyan told the SF Chronicle several years ago.”You even have to be in a good mood for them to come out right.” Manukyan must be in an awfully good mood, as this is one of the Bay Area’s biggest selections of macarons. Shying away from pastels, up to 35 brightly colored flavors are available on the macaron menu, from Amaretto to Yuzu (Japanese lemon), varying with the season. Pamplemousse means grapefruit in French, so that’s been a popular choice since the café opened in 2006. Gorgeous presentations of one, two or three macarons tied up with a bow make a sweet gift.
Crown & Crumpet
1746 Post St.
San Francisco, CA 94115
Adorable. Bring a girlfriend or a daughter, come for the afternoon tea experience, and stay for the macarons accompanied by your delightful pot of Earl Grey or whatever tea you fancy from a long, curated list. Prefer coffee? It’s Equator brand. Formerly located in Ghirardelli Square, this whimsical tea and circumstance spot with a husband and wife team (he’s English) has found a new mini-home across from the Kabuki Hotel in Japantown. The macarons are made by a local master patisserie chef and delivered twice weekly.