This Thursday, March 20, 2014, New York is celebrating its 4th Annual Macaron Day, a sugar-filled culinary adventure where one can try as many free macarons as they can (at least that’s how we play it), all to benefit City Harvest, the world’s first food rescue organization. In honor, we put together our top favorite macaron shops in the city. (Please note, not all of these are participating vendors, for a full list check out their website.)
8. Dana’s Bakery, Gansevoort Market
If you’re looking for a hybrid–French pastry, American flavors–Dana’s Bakery will be up your alley. Flavors include Rocket Mac (celebrates July 4th in red, white and blue), cookie dough, red velvet, and s’mores. There’s a little outpost inside Gansevoort Market.
7. Meow Parlor (Chinatown)
This spot wins for most creative. Meow Parlor is a cat cafe, where you can get comfy with some feline friends and have some culinary treats. The café is separated into two facilities: Meow Parlour, which includes bespoke playpens for the adoptable cats, along with ample seating, free wifi and plenty of room for the cats and humans to roam and play; and Meow Parlour Patisserie, where the baked goods and drinks are made.
6. Bouchon Bakery (Midtown)
Bouchon Bakery was started by American-born baker, Thomas Keller, named by Time Magazine as “America’s Best Chef” in 2011. Sixteen years since opening his first bakery, Keller now has eight restaurants and two bakeries scattered all over the United States, including one in the Time Warner Center and Rockefeller Center. Bouchon boasts the classic-flavored macarons like pistachio and chocolate.
5. Macaron Parlour (East Village, Upper West Side)
One of the few locations that offers savory macarons, this unique patisserie was founded by entrepreneurs Christina Ha and Simon Tung, who both studied macaron-making with famous French chefs. This cozy boutique offers deliciously bizarre flavors like candied bacon with maple cream cheese and cheetos infused with white chocolate ganache.
4. Ladurée (Upper East Side, SoHo)
One of the best known macaron creators in the world, this luxury French bakery was founded in Paris in 1892 by Louis-Earnest Ladurée whose grandson, Pierre Desfontaines, claims to have invented the “double-decker” macaron, placing two macarons together with ganache. Also famous for their beautiful macaron boxes and French decor, Ladurée has boutiques all over the world, including one on Madison Avenue and their recently opened tearoom in SoHo. Outside the traditional flavors, Ladurée also offers orange blossom, rose petal, salted caramel and seasonal macarons.
3. Macaron Cafe (Midtown East, Upper East Side, Garment District)
Rated by Food & Wine as the best macaron establishment in the city, this adorable pastry boutique looks like something straight out of a fairytale, with dream-like macaron flavors to boot. Honey lavender, nutella, creme brûlée, jasmine and peanut butter are some of the many choices you’ll find at Macaron Cafe, created by master chef, Cecil Cannone.
2. Mille-feuille Bakery Cafe
Mille-feuille is a dream come true for a French software architect who loved to bake and one day, ditched his day job to get formal training at The Ritz Hotel in Paris. He then relocated his young family to New York City where he opened his first bakery on LaGuardia Place in Greenwich Village in 2011. So successful was this tiny bakery that he opened a second bakery on the Upper West Side. Macarons are such a passion that the owner, Oliver, even offers French Macaron Classes–a hands on session to lean how to make the perfect French Macaron.
1: Beny’s Delice
One of our favorite things are the odds and ends you can get in a New York City subway station entrance–from shoe shines to haircuts, flowers and library books. Luxury is becoming no stranger to this mix, and the latest addition is a macaron shop. Located down the subway entrance of the Rockefeller Center B/D/F/M on Avenue of the Americas and 47th Street in front of the 47th Street Diamond Exchange, you will find Beny’s Delice.
The outpost carries more than a dozen macaron flavors that change weekly and they bake everything themselves. It’s owned by Aaron Elbaz. And though a macaron is not actually “French for pleasure,” by definition as the shop windows state, we think the French would appreciate the subtlety of the humor, American style.
Originated in Italy by monks in 791 AD (though some are not sure), the macaron consists of egg whites, almond flour and sugar, which are piped into disks, baked, and sandwiched around a layer of buttercream, jam or ganache. These delicate treats supposedly made their way to France in 1533 when King Henri II married Catherine de Medici, who just couldn’t bear to leave her Italian chefs behind. But it wasn’t until the 1830s when the layer of cream was added in the middle.
In Korea, macarons are often flavored with green tea powder or leaves; in Switzerland they are much lighter and referred to as the “Luxumbergerli”; in Japan they are sometimes made “wagashi” style with sugar and rice; in the French city of Amiens, they are small round biscuits made from almond paste (similar to marzipan), fruit and honey; and in the States, the “macaroon”, coconut balls dipped in chocolate, are more popular. Traditional French flavors include vanilla, chocolate, pistachio, coffee and raspberry.
Check out a map of all the macaron shops offering free macarons on Macaron Day 2015. For more information on Macaron Day and its participants, visit macarondaynyc.com.