For the best tasting macarons, look no further than these three places.
Light and airy, yet luxuriously decadent in a blithe Parisian style, macarons are the elitist response to the cupcake trend. Freshness is key with macarons, so your best bet is to get them at a local bakery. In Chicago, Vanille Patisserie is the place to go. But if you don't want to tramp around in the slushy snow, there are several online options where you can order a box of these meringue-based treats from the comfort of your home. A foodie's affordable substitute for a vacation in the French Riviera.
Nicole Lee Fine Chocolates offers a colorful mix of interesting flavors, from a light and fruity raspberry to a smooth genmai green tea ganache. The caramel fleur de sel had just the right amount of sea salt sprinkled throughout, although the bright orange color was a bit jarring. Hazelnut praline and an ethereal lemon were another couple of stand outs. If you prefer more subtle flavors, look to the vanilla olive oil for hints of savory swirled with sweet. Macarons are delicate, to be sure, but these are shipped in a cleverly constructed box, with each macaron nestled in a nook for protection. In a box of twelve, only two were cracked at all and the rest were in perfect condition.
Eastern Cookie has many tempting flavors as well, divided into categories like nutty, tea, spices, fruity and beans. In the spices category, a lavender macaron with chocolate ganache was pleasing both to the eye and tongue. A vanilla almond macaron with raw honey creme anglaise was perhaps the standout of the bunch, the honey creme offering a playful yet sophisticated sweetness. The macha macaron with adzuki bean filling and fruity raspberry were close runners-up. Next up to try are the saffron with pumpkin filling and black and white sesame.