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The sweet and sugary story of macarons
2015-06-11
By Li Anlan

Ever since macarons started appearing on dessert menus in China, these sweet meringue confections have won the hearts of many.

This classic French confection, also known as macaroon, is made with egg whites, granulated sugar, icing sugar, almond powder and food coloring.

Macarons come in a variety of colors and flavors, from classics like lemon, raspberry, chocolate and pistachio to innovations like green tea, bacon or maple syrup.

A single macaron can cost up to 30 yuan (US$4.92), and more complicated desserts made with macarons cost more than 60 yuan.

The high price reflects the difficulty of making them, especially the ones with the signature “foot” — a ruffled ridge around the inner rim of the cookie shell — that require the highest-quality ingredients and the most precise steps of creation.

A perfect macaron has the right shape, color and texture, with no air bubbles inside the shell and no excessive taste of sugar. It should melt in the mouth.

Macarons found locally may be flown in from France or made right here in Shanghai.

Here are a few places where you can find the best of them.

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Miss Ma

This macaron shop, opened in 2014, is known for its unique vegetable macarons. The combination works better than you may think.

Miss Ma uses carrots, beets, spinach, chili peppers and wheatgrass to make its macarons. The lilac colored treats are made with purple cabbage instead of food coloring. There are also hawthorn cranberry macarons with dark chocolate mousse fillings, beet and sea salt nut macarons and pumpkin wolfberry macarons with white hyacinth beans.

The macarons cost from 12 yuan to 15 yuan per piece.

Tel: 6877-7726

Address: 3/F, Shanghai World Financial Center, 100 Century Ave

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Le Reve

French pastry chef Pascal Molines opened his first Asian patisserie in Shanghai. And it’s a dream, just as the name says. The macarons at Le Reve feature some distinct varieties you won’t find anywhere else, like hairy crab macaroons in a sweet and savory flavor, and osmanthus.

Priced at 25 yuan per piece, the macarons at Le Reve are mildly sweet.

Tel: 6329-0161

Address: 1/F, Yifeng Galleria, 88 Yuanmingyuan Rd

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Ladurée

The luxury French bakery and confection brand founded in 1862 by Louis-Ernest Ladurée is considered one of the best makers of macarons in the world.

In 2014, Ladurée opened its first Shanghai store. People waited in long lines to buy a box of the famous macarons. The imported product costs 23 yuan per piece.

The most popular flavors include rose petal, raspberry, chocolate, strawberry mint and salted caramel.

Ladurée made the colorful pastries in Sofia Coppola’s film “Marie Antoinette,” so there’s even a Marie-Antoinette macaron in a flower tea flavor.

Tel: 5466-8373

Address: 1/F, Grand Gateway Mall, 1 Hongqiao Rd

W+S Café by Napoleon

This boutique café of French design and furnishings is known for its chic setting and its signature Joffre dessert (68 yuan).

Named after the famous French field marshal who led forces on the Western Front in World War I — from which Huaihai Road got its former name Avenue Joffre — this delightful dish is made with fresh raspberries and pastry cream layered between rose-colored macarons.

The sour tinge of the raspberries offsets the sugary flavor of the macarons.

W+S Café also has classic flavor macarons packaged in gift boxes.

Tel: 6422-7716

Address: 1298 Huaihai Rd M.

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Jean-Paul Hevin Chocolatier

Award-winning confectioner Jean-Paul Hevin is not only known for its handmade gourmet chocolates, but also for its macarons.

A package of five macarons is priced at 148 yuan. Top choices include dark chocolate, fig and passion fruit.

The sugar level of these macarons is not as high as in others. They are crispy on the outside and moist on the inside, and unlike other brands, the macarons don’t come in bright colors.

Tel: 3842-0833

Address: L2-35, IFC Mall, 8 Century Ave

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