My daughter is a Francophile with a sweet tooth, so it’s no surprise that macarons — almond-based French cookie sandwiches — are very popular treats in our house. They’re light, colorful, a rather perfect size (not too large) and you can usually find them for $2 or less. When made from a traditional recipe, they’re gluten-free. Macarons are about as close as it gets to the perfect treat and they are very much worthy of having a day dedicated to them.
The Macaron Day tradition began in Paris in 2005 and has been adopted in the U.S. as National Macaron Day. (I’d argue it should be International Macaron Day, but they never call and ask me and I’m not about to offend the macaron-making powers that be.)
Vanille Patisserie is not just celebrating National Macaron Day at its four Chicago locations on March 20, it’s doing so in a way that benefits the Special Olympics. Talk about a win-win! Vanille will donate 10 percent of sales of all items in store and online to Special Olympics Chicago, which serves more than 7,500 athletes in our area. Mention #BreakingDownBarriers at any Vanille location and receive a free French macaron.
You can find Vanille at the follow locations: Lincoln Park (2108 N. Clark St.) Lakeview (3243 N. Broadway) Chicago French Market inside Ogilvie Metra Station (131 N. Clinton Ave.) and Hyde Park (5229 S. Harper Court).
If you can’t make it to Vanille in the city, here are a few other spots in the suburbs that we love to hit for delicious macarons:
127 S. Washington St., Naperville
We love this sweet shop in downtown Naperville with lots of brightly colored macarons that just beg to appear on Instagram.
211 W. Front St., Wheaton
This shop close to the train station in downtown Wheaton makes you feel like you could be in France.
119 N. Marion St., Oak Park
They have some unusual macaron flavors, such as Irish cream and salted caramel. While most macarons are small, this fun shop also has larger ones known as Big Macs.
710 W. Northwest Highway, Barrington
This family-owned shop has been around for decades and it’s easy to see why when you taste one of their macarons.
Note: Macarons and macaroons are two very different confections. Macarons are a sandwich made of meringue-based cookies that are flat on one side and rounded on the other. Two are held together like a sandwich with a cream or jelly filling in the middle. Macaroons are the coconut-based concoctions. Emmanuel Macron is the President of France and unrelated to either sweet treat.