Paulette macarons. Photo: chiarezza.dolce, Flickr.
If New York has given it up for whoopie pies, San Francisco is a city that has sold its soul for a box of macaroons. And I don't mean the coconut kind that get stuck in your teeth – I mean French-style macaroons (often called macarons); little, round, pastel-colored puffs of perfection. If you've ever fantasized going to San Francisco with some flowers in your hair long after the Summer of Love turned to fall, I'm here to tell you: This is where the magic went. Tune in; turn on; add ten pounds.
Like the whoopie pie in NYC, French macaroons have been dubbed "the next cupcake" here, though I don't think the fair cupcake has to pack her bag quite yet. Macaroons are cookie sandwiches made with almond meal (or flour), powdered sugar, egg whites and food coloring, surrounding a filling of buttercream, ganache or jelly. Compared to the humble cupcake, the macaroon is rarefied – and at $1.60 each, they still go faster than Oreos, and are not the kind of snack you'll be buying for your ten-year-old's birthday party.
But forget the children for a moment, and get over your French-bashing and savor the flavor of these macaroons from Paulette San Francisco. First, dig the pretty colors, man. Caribbean chocolate, lemon, Sicilian pistachio, violet cassis – each box is like a rainbow, and lasts about as long. I brought six of them to the movies with me (The Blind Side) and had to stop myself from eating the whole sample set before the film was over. (And yes, I could discern the flavors in the dark.)