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Nov 29, 2004 11:24 PM

French Macaroon Search

  • m

I recently tried the French macaroons at Bay Bread/Boulanger on Pine St. in SF and almost fainted when I was told that my 4 macaroons, 1 madeleine and baguette totaled $9!!! The macaroons were delicious, particularly the pumpkin and lemon-flavored macaroons. The madeleine was disappointing and the baguette was ok.
So where else can I find French macaroons in the Bay Area?

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  1. I like the macaroons from Bay Bread very much. Even better was one from Cafe Fanny in Berkeley. They're not made every day, and I've only had the one, but it was memorable.

    You can buy relatively inexpensive almond macaroons by the pound at the Chinese cookie factory on Stockton St. in between Walgreens and Yuet Lee (sorry, can't remember the name). They have good flavor, but they're crunchy on the outside and softish inside, rather than being chewy. I like putting them on a cookie plate with my own baked goods to serve with coffee after dinner.

    10 Replies
    1. re: Melanie Wong

      The name of the cookie bakery is MEE MEE BAKERY. They also make excellent spicy ginger cookies.(They even have chocolate fortune cookies)

      1. re: originaljoe

        Thank you, oj, yes, that's it.

        I have a vague memory of some lovely almond macaroons from one of the Italian bakeries in North Beach but can't recall if it was Victoria, Stella . . .?

        1. re: Melanie Wong
          Robert Lauriston

          I think all the Italian bakeries in North Beach make good amaretti, which are similar to French almond macaroons. Some are softer, some crunchier. Best to try them all.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            I'm remembering some chewy ones with a thin crispness to the crust with deep almond flavor. They got chewier with each passing day, but it was impossible to not finish the bag before they were at peak.

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              the mostest almondy ones i have found are at that seriously Italian Pasticceria in the Matina and Larkspur. we had another discussion about them here, they use the kernal of apricots.
              cookies can indeed get chewier as the days progress, as sugar is hydroscopic.

              1. re: sailorbuoys

                Ah yes! Emporio Rulli's do have the grandest flavor. I love chewy in a macaroon, but it's so hard to wait. The ones from Mee Mee though just get crisper and crunchier as they age.

            2. re: Robert Lauriston

              any chance i can find a really great cannoli at the Italian bakeries in North Beach? the kind that are freshly-filled on the spot, instead of the harden-frozen kind you'd find sitting around in a display case or frig.

              1. re: inmandarin

                Oops, that's not the post that bumped this topic.

            3. re: Melanie Wong

              I know that Dianda's carries almond cookies at their Mission Street outlet. I particularly like the ones with pinenuts on top, although I found them overly sweet my last time there. Their little cookie-like chocolate meringues with almonds are another addiction of mine.

          2. re: Melanie Wong

            This 2004 topic got bumped. Here's a topic with more recent posts:


          3. How is a French Macaroon diiferent from a regular macaroon?

            13 Replies
            1. re: Krys Stanley

              Not the same thing at all.

              I love the lavender macarons at Boulangerie/Bay Breads; they're worth whatever they charge for them. Their breads are uniformly disappointing.

              The best coconut macaroon I've ever had was made with ground almonds and dipped in bittersweet chocolate at Arizmendi. Unfortunately it was special for passover and it's not in the Cheeseboard cookbook.


              1. re: Krys Stanley

                French macaroons are made of ground almonds. Two cookies are sandwiched between a creamy, flavored filling. I agree that Bay Bread's macaroons are worth the $1.50 price tag. If you are a pumpkin fan, then head over there before they discontinue the seasonal flavor. It is my favorite pumpkin treat for the holiday season.

                1. re: Mari
                  Robert Lauriston

                  FWIW they're easy to make. A $6 tube of Odense almond paste makes 25-30 cookies / 12-15 sandwiches.


                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    they don't look very easy to me!
                    here's a link to the blog of someone who made some very amazing looking ones last weekend.
                    it has some great tips for anyone who seriously wants to have a go at making them....
                    I am tempted, but agree with many other posters that the Boulangerie ones are quite delectable, I would say as good as one I had at Laduree in paris, but not as good as Hermes.
                    I actually like Boulangerie's madeleines too, esp the chocolate ones, but you have to get them when they are freshly baked. Not so good the day after. I have gotten able to tell if they are new just by looking at them. it doesn't take much practice.


                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      when I worked at TFL these cookies were the bane of my existence! it took bay breads months to perfect theirs, and even longer to perfect the cannele.
                      the cookies are not made with marzipan, but rather blanched almond meal & meringue.
                      some have come up with ways of adding "wet" ingredients to the meringue, but it is indeed quite tricky. I recently had Pierre Hermes' rose macaroon in Paris and I melted into the sidewalk!
                      Although I have innumerable bones to pick with Miette, the Pistachio Fr. macaroon is worth splurging on. They have gone to the outer edges and use whole raw almonds, making for a less than smooth texture, but delicious end product. (in fact the person making them there used to b the person in charge of making them for Bay Breads... funny that.)
                      the only one ok at bouchon Bakery is the caramel one, but that bakery has extremely serious consistency issues!!

                      1. re: blueboi

                        Since you mention the cannele, which I consider one of the best things made in SF to put in one's mouth, my dad had his first one today. We were parked in front of Starbucks and he asked me if they had anything besides coffee (my parents are very innocent with regard to fast food). I said that there were some pastries. He asked me for a "big soft cookie". Instead I walked a few doors down to Rigolo intending to get him a couple madeleines. Sold out, so instead I got a cannele and a blueberry financier, and my picky dad liked them both.

                        We've tried making almond macaroons at home with little success. I'm glad to hear that it has bested others as well.

                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                          the first time I had those canelle at Chez Nous, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. they are just SO SO good.
                          My boyfriend's ex-roomate (French) has the Canelle moulds and has long since thretened to teach me how to make them , but I suspect they are every bit as tricky at the macarons!

                          1. re: Sixy beast
                            Melanie Wong

                            Unfortunately, I think you're right about making cannele.


                            1. re: Melanie Wong

                              There are good recipes out there for canneles, including Bay Bread/Boulangerie's, but the real issue is the expense of buying the copper molds (which really are necessary and expensive!) and being sure they become well seasoned over time through repeated use. Also, as the canneles bake and the wax melts, it seeps out onto the sheet pan and can be the cause of a nasty burn if you're not very cautious. If you have the time and patience , you will in time have everything you need to do the job!

                        2. re: blueboi

                          I, too, recently had the rose petal macaroon at Pierre Hermeé and, while the cookie itself had a great texture, I felt that the flavorings were all off. The white truffle one was purely vile, and the olive oil-vanilla was pretty bad as well. I liked the flavorings of Lauderées much better, especially the violet-cassis one... At both places the caramel et fleur de sel varieties were magical.

                        3. re: Robert Lauriston

                          There are really 3 different cookies that sometimes seem to get confused.

                          There is the Almond Macaron St. Emilion, which is a dense, chewy cookie made with almond paste and egg whites, etc. This is a different cookie from the Macaron Parisienne, which is the sandwich cookie made from almond meal and egg whites, etc., and filled with various types of creams, etc. (These are definitely not easy to make. With a broad assortment of flavors, only in a high volume production setting can one get the testing and practice down over time! )

                          Then there is the coconut macaroon, which most people know as a mound of coconut, egg whites, etc.

                        4. re: Mari

                          actually, you can probably google online for a recipe by Pierre Herme for chocolate macarons. It's fairly straight forward, I wouldn't call it easy, but it is not tricky and the first time my french bf and I tried it the macarons came out very nicely. we thought it was comparable to the ones at Bay Bread(but certainly not against the littles jewels from Laduree in Paris) both in flavor and texture, the only missing thing was appearance since neither of us can pipe perfect rounds to save our lives ;)

                          current macaron favs in SF
                          #1 Bay Bread
                          #2 Miette
                          #3 La Nouvelle Patisserie(but only the raspberry kind)

                          1. re: Trill

                            I've piped hundreds of them, and a trick to making perfect rounds is to stand the tip straight down (not angled, as one usually does) and then go over them with a moistened finger to smooth out the point, if there is one. Ooops - should this go into Home Cooking board?

                      2. The macaroons at Bay Bread go for $1.50 each and are very close to being worth it. I like the hazelnut ones.

                        1. There is a place called Miette in the ferry building that has them. I had them once and remember they were good but rather expensive.


                          1 Reply
                          1. re: dork

                            I love macaroons, and was excited to see them once when walking by Miette, so, despite their price, I treated myself to two (hazelnut and pistachio). Very disappointed. Terribly bland, when what makes a macaroon is flavor. The filling was almost like grocery store bakery icing.

                            I love Laduree's, and after the comments below, Pierre Herme is on my list for next time I'm in Paris. The very best macroon I ever had, though, was a chocolate one at Pierre Gagniere, as part of the amuse bouche before the dessert course. No bigger than a quarter, but what outstanding chocolate flavor.

                          2. I was just at Bouchon Bakery this past weekend, and had some great French Macaroons. Too bad they were $2.50 each!