The macaron has made a comeback. Okay, maybe they never went anywhere—but look around town these days and you’ll see these colorful meringue cookie sandwiches dotting bakeries, pastry shops, restaurants, and even delis. Am I complaining? Not even close.
Like cookies, and IPAs, I am obsessed—and apparently so is Houston. Macarons probably what cupcakes were to the 2000s (i.e., soon-to-be-ubiquitious), but that’s okay. You just may want to stock up while you can as soon every pastry chef in town is going to realize that they’re all selling the same thing and they all run out of new flavors to make.
Before that happens though, we have a formidable collection of choices at the present time. Each little shop and bakery seems to have their own macaron speciality. Many even take a seasonal approach to their designs, offering a flavor for only a few weeks at a time.
Petite Sweets, part of the BRC and Liberty Kitchen family, focuses much of its attention on the sweet little meringue cookies. And the River Oaks dessert shop has been doing it longer than most. Ashamedly, last time I was there, after trying to decide which flavors to leave with, I simply said, “Just give me one of each please.” The lady next to me, who was already there trying to decide when I arrived, apparently found that to be a fairly helpful approach, as she then ordered the same.
Macaron by Patisse—also in River Oaks—focuses soley on the sweet filled meringues. Bite Macarons in West University serves up some of the most artistic macarons out there, some painted to look like slices of kiwi, lemon, and orange. Sweet in CityCentre, Common Bond in Montrose, Ganache Dessert Bar in Spring, Dolce Delights in Midtown, Ooh La La Bakery in Katy, Oui Desserts in Upper Kirby, and Tout Suite in EaDo all do them really well too. And Revival Market in the Heights even devotes case space in its market to Rebecca Masson's Fluff Bake Bar macarons. Take it from one of her assistant bakers (me) who sneaks macarons all the time, her unique flavors are a delicious and refreshing take on the classics you find dotting most pastry shops.
So is this macaron trend really just a trend? Half of the shops named above are barely two years old. The rest aren't much older. While the macaron as we know it has been around since the early 19th century, and some French pastry shops have served them for over a century, their popularity in America comes and goes. In fact, the great macaron vs. cupcake debate first popped up over five years ago, notably in publications on the East and West Coasts. Houston tends to pick up on trends a little later, though, and the debate is still fairly fresh here.
So before you, I, and the rest of the city eventually tire of macarons, run out and grab yourself a few dozen. There are some truly fascinating flavors and concoctions happening in Houston right now, and it would be a shame to miss this trend at its height.