When it comes to food, trends come and they go. Then, there are certain items and dishes that remain loved and celebrated by people of a certain culture. The macaron is both of these. While they have been made and loved by French and Italian cooks, dating back to before the turn of the first millennium, they are experiencing a renaissance in popularity here in the United States right now.
Don’t confuse these delicate, almond-based confections with the seminally popular macaroon. That extra “O” is actually quite significant. A macaroon is a cookie or sweet made from coconut, egg whites and flavoring ingredients, such as vanilla or almond extract, chopped nuts or even chocolate chips. They are chewy and soft, but their presence of coconut makes them a very divisive dessert. Some people love them. Others won’t even consider trying a bite.
The macaron, on the other hand, is made from an almond paste, which is where it gets its name. Almond powder or ground almonds are the backbone of this dish, which is mixed with sugar, egg whites and rosewater. Typically, the egg whites get beaten into a stiff meringue for French-style macarons, while Italian macarons call for the egg whites to get added into a warm or hot sugar syrup.
Here in the United States, people often create macarons in a variety of bright colors. Many times, buttercream, jellies or other sweet fillings get sandwiches between two of these lovely cookies. Thankfully, you don’t have to bake them at home to enjoy them. There are many bakeries in San Diego, and some confectioners do make and sell fresh macarons.
Macaroons and Shortbread Treats in a Convenient Location
Location: 4545 La Jolla Village Drive
Hours: Monday-Saturday: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Located inside the University Two Centre mall, a massive three-story shopping center in the University City neighborhood ‘Lette Macarons is a popular sweet spot. As the name implies, this confection shop specializes in this currently trendy French cookie. They definitely use the French recipe, referring to their cookies as an interpretation of the “classic Parisian” macaron.
Originally founded in Beverly Hills, this macaron shop has expanded to six locations. Clearly, these cookies do contain nuts, so those will allergies are out of luck. However, ‘Lette Macaron only uses Orthodox Union certified Kosher dairy products, meaning that these are accessible to more people than the sweets at the average bakery.
They offer a number of classic flavors, as well as seasonal specials. Right now, those seasonal offerings are heart-shaped macarons. Their classic flavored macarons, which come in a variety of brilliant colors, include Caribbean chocolate, coconut, Columbian coffee, Earl Grey tea, lemon, Madagascar vanilla, passion fruit, rose, raspberry, salted caramel, Sicilian pistachio, red velvet, sweet wedding almond, violet cassis and blueberry lemon.
These freshly baked treats are best enjoyed right away, but you can store them for up to three days in the fridge. Just let them come up to room temperature before you enjoy them, or you’ll compromise that incredible flavor and texture.
Cute Cafe Close to Downtown with an Assortment of Sweets
Le Parfait Paris
Location: 555 G Street
Hours: Sunday-Wednesday: 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., Thursday: 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday: 8 a.m. to midnight
With walls of glass doors, pendant lighting and a modern counter, Le Parfait Paris fits in perfectly in the Gaslamp area. They have several cafe tables and chairs, both inside and outside, for you to utilize while you enjoy their sweet treats. They also have locations in Liberty Station, the Fasion Valley Mall and two James Coffee company shops.
Their downtown location boasts at least a dozen macarons on the shelf at any given time, as well as special gift boxes for that confection fan in your life. They also make many other desserts, such as French Cheesecake, the Parfair Signature, sure to be loved by chocolate fans, lava cake and an éclair unlike any you’ve probably seen elsewhere.
They also make all natural, handmade breads, such as croissants (with or without almonds), chocolate croissants, Swiss Brioche, olive boule loaves, multigrain and sourdough bread, French strudel and baguettes. Those with gluten sensitivity can enjoy gluten-free baguettes.
They also make crepes, breakfast and lunch dishes, including sandwiches, coffee and espresso-based drinks, and more. As far as macarons go, you will find various flavors and colors, including lavender honey, pistachio, vanilla, lemon, mocha, caramel sea salt, chocolate, chocolate peanut butter, raspberry, strawberry, coconut and mango passion fruit.
Hunt Down Macarons at Local Farmer’s Markets
Location: Farmer’s markets
Hours: Wednesday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Friday: Varies
If you like to hit up local farmer’s markets, be on the lookout for a pop-up from Champloo Sweets. They can typically be found at the Rancho Penasquitos farmer’s market on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
On Fridays, however, they have “field day Fridays,” when you can arrange a special order ahead of time and meet them somewhere around town, if neither farmer’s market is convenient for you. If all of that seems like too much work, you can find Champloo Sweets macarons at House of Black Coffee Company, located at Poway Road, Suite 110.
They have great prices for their confections, with a dozen French macarons or Madeleines costing only $30. They also sell cupcakes by the dozen for $33. While the macarons are gluten free, their Madeleines and cupcakes are not, unless you place a special order.
Their flavors are always changing, but some of their more popular flavors include salted caramel, Nutella, cookies, birthday cake, pistachio, lemon, vanilla, matcha (green tea), chocolate, passion fruit, ube and strawberry. They also create rotating holiday flavors.
Disney fans will delight in their mouse-ear shaped cookies! They also cute little pins to accessorize with, featuring Disney-Princess inspired designs, which cost $14 each and are perfect for someone’s birthday celebration.
See What They’re Cooking Up in the LAB
LAB Dessert & Coffee
Location: 4817 Convoy Street
Hours: Monday-Thursday: Noon to 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday: Noon to midnight, Sunday: 1 p.m. to 9 p.m.
If you find yourself craving a sweet something or a jolt of caffeine while in Kearny Mesa, LAB Dessert & Coffee has you covered. They make up creative desserts and confections, ranging from espresso with vanilla ice cream to truly unique and strange sweets.
This little shop has a fanatical following, in no small part because they create all kinds of creative treats. Have you ever had a cotton candy burrito? Well, if you’re seeking a sugar coma, this LAB Dessert can offer you one in a variety of colorful flavors.
You will find a wide range of colorful and tasty macarons here. Some of their more popular flavors include chocolate, Oreo cookie, red velvet, tiramisu, salted caramel, hazelnut, strawberry, raspberry, Fruity Pebble, blueberry, mint, matcha, cookies and cream, and rocky road. The flavors change daily, and the macarons here are as pretty as they are tasty.
The same is true of many of their other offerings. You can order a massive macaron ice cream sandwich, a lava mocha iced coffee drink, which overflows with sweetness, topped with cocoa powder, or a cloud cheesecake. These tasty treats feature homemade New York style cheesecake topped with one of their rotating daily special ice cream flavors and your choice of Cocoa Pebbles, Fruity Pebbles, chocolate sprinkles or rainbow sprinkles, as well as a drizzle of chocolate or caramel on the top.
They also serve “snowice” in flavors like honey mango, strawberry, taro, green tea, milk tea, Choco Oreo, tiramisu and cloud.
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