What exactly is it about macarons that enchants New Yorkers so much? Is it because they’re so wonderfully French? Or maybe it’s because they’re so often visually stunning? Also, we can’t forget that macarons done right are a textural sensation, with creamy ganache or buttercream sandwiched between two crumbly cookies. Regardless of why these desserts are so magical, here’s a rundown of the best macarons in the city.
864 Madison Ave. (btwn. 70th and 71st St.), $2.50/macaron
Laduree is not a pastry shop specializing in macarons. It is macaron museum. Inside of its prominent display case is a careful curetted exhibit of Paris’ most famous cookies, ranging from the beloved standbys pistachio, lemon, and vanilla, to the more innovative cinnamon raisin, or marshmallow-filled coconut (I tried it, and it was delicious). Regardless of whether or not you opt for the tried-and-true classics, quickly aging trends (seriously, enough with the salted caramel), or just downright weird (“lily of the valley,” anyone?) your edible art is guaranteed to inspire.
La Maison du Chocolat
1018 Madison Ave. (btwn. 78th and 79th St.), $2.90/macaron
The crèmes, truffles, pralines at Maison du Chocolat are the stuff of legend. And while the confectionaries’ fame is certainly deserved, don’t overlook that little case containing what look like little pastel seashells. Like everything at MdC, the macarons are more traditional than experimental, never really getting more exotic than passion-fruit (those in the macaron field know this flavor comes standard). But with cookies whose interior is so moist it is practically just fluffy almond paste, and a layer of buttery chocolate gnache replacing the standard crème filling, like every other MdC creation, they are almost too perfect to be real.
10 Columbus Circle (at Time Warner Center), $2.50/macaron
I like to imagine that every other batch of macarons at the Columbus Circle Bouchon Bakery are whisked upstairs, its cookies destined for a gleaming silver dessert tray that will grace the table of a lucky Per Se diner. With cookies that strike an impressive balance of crumbly shell and soft and fluffy interior, and a silkier butter cream filling than I’ve found on any cupcake, they taste up to snuff for any Michelin starred restaurant (or at least it’s s high-end bakery spin-off).
101 Stanton St. (btwn. Ludlow and Orchard St.), $2.50/macaron
If Laduree were the Met of macarons, than Bisous Ciao would be the MoMA. Sure it has some classics, say, the espresso or the lemon, and, like “Starry Night” or the Campbell’s Soup Cans, those are what draw the first-timer crowds. But it’s the head-scratching avant-garde pieces that the frequenters are after. Perhaps, say, the lavender honey, which is a pastel sandwich of crisp flowery cookies (perfectly textured, of course), bound together with a mousse-like honey cream. Or the moderately bitter jasmine green tea, which tastes like morning in cookie form. Like any “contemporary art” it seems bizarre, unorthodox, or just plain wrong. But you know if you give it a chance, you’ll probably enjoy it.
522 LaGuardia Pl. (btwn. 3rd and Bleeker St.), $2.10/macaron
Don’t be deceived by the misnomer- MF is a macaron specialty shop (you can even customize your own!). Rolling out batches every several hours, the tasty little confections are made before patron’s very eyes; if you weren’t hungry before, one whiff of the bakery’s almond-saturated air, and you surely will be. Mixing and matching aside, the bakery is pretty traditional, but don’t confuse that with boring. The pistachio macarons are something to behold: the delicate cookies shatter upon each bite, revealing a spongy, cake-like interior, and super-thick layer of smooth pistachio icing.