Macarons. Those gorgeous little sandwich cookies that can be made to perfectly match any party color scheme, are sweet as can be and are available in many tempting flavors all across Ohio.
Not to be confused with macaroons (which include coconut), macarons date back to the 8th Century AD in Venice. When Catherine de Medici married King Henry of France, she brought her pastry chefs along. The pastel macarons that we see beneath the glass at Parisian-inspired bakeries of the Buckeye State have been around for centuries but still remains true to the same basic ingredients: egg white, confectioners sugar, granulated sugar, and almond powder. By using these ingredients, most flavors are naturally gluten-free (which is so important to customers with dietary restrictions).
They are notoriously difficult to make, but very easy to find and taste with the help of pastry chefs across Ohio. Here’s 4 great spots in Ohio to try these delectable treats:
In Columbus, Pistacia Vera is an institution for Parisian delicacies. Started by brother and sister team Spencer Budros and Anne Fletcher in 2004, Pistacia was rated as the #1 Zagat restaurant in Columbus in 2013. In addition to macarons, their German Village location serves a full brunch menu, including Parisian traditions like Croque Monsieurs and quiches. You can find them in their original German Village brick building and also at the North Market.
With their two locations, they focus on a smaller menu of macaron flavors, meticulously created using a days-long method of mixing, piping, cooling, and filling. At many parties throughout Columbus, expect to see crowd-pleasers like pistachio, vanilla bean, and strawberries and cream. And during the holidays and football season, peppermint, gingerbread and buckeye make a beautifully-packaged gift.
This Columbus in-home bakery, started by Michelle Kozak in 2009, sets up at the outdoor Clintonville Farmers Market and the indoor Worthington Farmers market, and specializes in a variety of French pastries. As we approached the market booth, my daughter and I oohed and ahhed over the gorgeous creations and intricate designs. The texture of the Lallier macaron is unlike anything else; the most delicate crunch on the outside, followed by a chewy center that is so satisfying.
Kozak, a Cordon-Bleu trained pastry chef, began the business out of her love for her Parisian heritage (the namesake of the business) and provides Columbus with all kinds of flavors that can be special-ordered. The Earl Grey White Chocolate flavored are popular for Ohio State graduation parties with their grey color, but you can choose from many shell and filling options. The Espresso with Chocolate Ganache filling sounds perfect with a cup of coffee, or the pink shell with chocolate ganache and raspberry jam would make the perfect pair with a glass of red wine on a summer night. Try bringing the graham cracker-infused, chocolate ganache marshmallow s’more macaron the next time you are around a bonfire!
3. Macaron Bar
Since 2014, owners Patrick Moloughney, Nathan Sivitz (has studied and trained in the art of macarons across the globe), and Mark Santanello have made a name for themselves with their three Macaron Bars in the Cincinnati area. They cater weddings, ship large quantities across the country, and happily shipped to Columbus for some taste-testing.
Macaron Bar has seasonal and inventive flavors like Irish Cream Ale for St. Patricks Day and spicy Fahrenheit 513 (dark chocolate and chili peppers). They also carry larger sized gelato macarons to beat the summer heat in the most decadent way. They partner with other local businesses to create new flavors together (The Fahrenheit 513 is a collaboration with Cincinnati’s Maverick Chocolates) and are active in giving back to the community.
Madagascar vanilla would balance nicely with bold coffee, lemon is perfect for a hot summer day on the patio, and dark chocolate was just plain perfection and a favorite for the adults and children with its understated, not bitter chocolate flavor.
Coquette has a mind-blowing list of at least 70 brightly-colored flavors, including categories like “spirited”, “from the garden”, “nutty”, and “fruity”. Among many traditional flavors, the maple bourbon, key lime, and peanut butter banana caught my eye. Some flavors can even be dipped in chocolate to make a unique statement. Six new flavors are offered each week, but you can special order any flavor with one week’s notice in quantities of at least 12. In addition to macarons, they make elaborate cakes and tarts, eclairs, and french cream puffs. Coquette also serves craft cocktails and small savory plates like oysters and cheese boards, so the macarons could cap off a night of indulgence right in the center of Cleveland’s University District.