If you’re like me, you may have a slight obsession with macarons. Nothing brings me greater joy than trying new flavors of the delicious French dessert whenever I can.
These delicious sweet treats aren’t to be confused with another popular dessert, the macaroon. I’ll admit I definitely didn’t know the difference until recently. However, if you ask any baker or pastry chef, they’ll tell you otherwise.
Macarons vs. macaroons
Macaroons are made of ground almonds, egg whites and sugar, usually topped with shredded coconut. Sometimes they’ll come dipped in chocolate or finished with a flavored jam. They look like mini coconut biscuits, if you need a visual.
French macarons, on the other hand, consist of almond flour, egg whites, and sugar and various flavors to make a meringue-like base. They are baked into mini cookies, then filled with flavored creams.
While they may have originated in France, there are a few places that make and serve them right here in Charlotte.
Check out this list of 6 spots to help you get your “macaron on.” (Yes, you knew about at least one of them already.)
Of course, Amelie’s is likely the spot you thought of first. This French cafe is known for its macarons. With multiple locations throughout Charlotte and with the OG open 24/7, you will have no problem getting your hands on the sweet treat anytime you want.
“Our French macarons are our top selling pastry, with seemingly endless flavor possibilities,” said Mary Jane Wilson, Amelie’s executive chef and operations director. “Brainstorming the new flavors is one of our favorite activities. We introduce new flavors for the seasons and special holidays.”
Most popular flavors: The pistachio and raspberry take top honors for their year-round flavors. Currently, the lavender lemon and cotton candy have been a hit among the seasonal flavors.
What to pair it with: Mary Jane suggests matching your macaron with a cup of Pure Intentions coffee. You can also pair a seasonal flavor with the matching seasonal drink. For example: Have your lavender lemon macaron with a glass of lavender lemonade.
This bakery in the Belmont neighborhood is one of several locations throughout the state. People typically head to Burney’s for the croissants, including a stuffed option. But they also offer a daily assortment of macarons.
Choose from flavors such as coconut, orange, pistachio, hazelnut, strawberry and mango.
Most popular flavors: The popularity in flavors can change as often as the menu. However, if we had to choose just one, it would be strawberry.
What to pair it with: Any of the TAZO tea blends sold at Burney’s pair great with the macarons. Go for the Earl Grey blend.
This University City ice cream shop takes a different approach to the French dessert. Instead of a traditional macaron, the folks over at Ninety’s have created some insane-looking macaron ice cream sandwiches.
Most popular flavors: The strawberry shortcake macaron is made up of strawberry ice cream rolled around in homemade strawberry shortcake crumble (similar to the outside of a Good Humor bar) sandwiched between two strawberry macarons and drizzled with strawberry sauce.
The Fruity Pebbles macaron is made of vanilla ice cream rolled around in Fruity Pebbles, sandwiched between two Fruity pebble-flavored macaron shells with a drizzling of condensed milk.
The Samoa cookie macaron consists of coconut ice cream rolled around in crumbled Samoa cookies, sandwiched between two coconut macaron shells and drizzled with chocolate syrup and caramel sauce.
Want to pair it with: A large coke float or your favorite soda.
Chef Sylvain Rivet and his wife, Jo-Anne, opened this bakery in 2013. With much of the menu at the SouthPark spot specializing in French pastries, you can guarantee macarons are a solid option.
All macarons are made in-house, and they offer 8 year-round flavors including vanilla, pistachio and the house standard “Bee Sting,” a honey-blackberry mix. Seasonal flavors are also on the menu.
Most popular flavors: “All our flavors are very popular, depending upon individual taste. But blueberry cheesecake has pretty close to a cult following, as does rosé champagne,” Jo-Anne Rivet said.
What to pair it with: Rivet suggested green tea with fruit-flavored macarons, while white tea is a great pairing with flower-based flavors. As for the chocolate, vanilla and birthday cake varieties, coffee and espresso drinks are the perfect sidekick, she said.
Villani’s Bakery moved from Concord to Chantilly/Plaza-Midwood area in 2018. You might not expect a New York/Italian-style bakery to have French desserts, but don’t overlook this spot when you’re craving a macaron.
Most popular flavors: We say go for the nontraditional: Panthers, Fruity Pebble or Capt’n Crunch macarons.
What to pair it with: French coffee, of course. A cafe creme or cafe noisette should feel just right.
This made-from-scratch mobile bakery is owned and operated by Chef Samantha Allen. As far as the macarons go, you can get your hands on them every Wednesday and Friday in the Plaza Midwood area. Sam’s Shasta Camper is usually parked in front of Moxie Mercantile. You can also place a direct order.
Most popular flavors: Vanilla bean creme, passion fruit, cinnamon custard and pistachio.
What to pair it with: Allen said a sparkling rose or champagne is always a must with a macaron. Coffee is never a bad pairing, either.
Reporter’s note: RIP to Le Macaron, which was franchised and operated by a native Frenchman, Moussa Mamba. Le Macaron was originally included in this lineup, but it has since closed its Metropolitan location. We’re looking forward to seeing where Mamba reopens, and we’ll be lined up for the the Madagascar black vanilla and raspberry macarons.
What’s your favorite macaron in Charlotte? Let us know in the comments.