Ah, French macaroons. The cute, one (or two) bite meringue style pastry sandwich, also spelled as “macaron,” is perfect for a mid-afternoon break or to set out for company after lunch or dinner. You can find a really simple recipe by award-winning Chicago pastry chef Gale Gand on a Food Nework site. But when you are looking for a bakery’s selection, you will want to know what places do a really top job of turning out these French taste treats.
(Photo Credit: Ambrosia Euro American Patisserie's Facebook)

(Photo Credit: Ambrosia Euro American Patisserie’s Facebook)

Ambrosia Patisserie
710 W. Northwest Highway
Barrington, IL 60010
(847) 304-8278

The place to go for luscious pastries in the northwest suburbs is Ambrosia, Debby and Richard Rivera’s Euro-American patisserie in Barrington. If you go here you will have a hard time leaving with just the macarons (their spelling) because everything in the pastry case looks scrumptious. This is an area that does a lot of entertaining and benefits, so Ambrosia’s macarons are often leaving the shop by the box-full. Typically, there are about eight varieties, mostly classic flavors, but also include a few fun flavors such as passion fruit. Ambrosia has been in its current location in The Foundry of Barrington shopping mall for 23 years.

Lincoln Park
2108 N. Clark St.
Chicago, IL 60614
French Market
131 N. Clinton St.
Chicago, IL 60661
3243 N. Broadway
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 868-4574

Pronounce Vanille as if the “l”s were “Y”s and you will do fine at any of this top pastry shop’s locations. Started in 2002 by a couple of folks from France and now owned by Sophie Evanoff, most of the pastry chefs here trained at Chicago’s highly regarded French Pastry School. Along with turning out really delicious macaroons, Vanille is known for its broad selection. Your problem here is deciding which of the 15 regular choices to take and if you should also add a seasonal choice such as the carrot cake macaroon, the tequila  or margarita one. Tip: you might want to also try the lavender macaroon made with real lavender or the rose one infused with rose water. Flowers are often used in French cooking and pastries. If you’re concerned about dairy, ask which macaroons are dairy-free.

(Photo Credit: delightfulpastries.com)

(Photo Credit: delightfulpastries.com)

Delightful Pastries
Jefferson Park
5927 W .Lawrence Ave.
Chicago, IL 60630
(773) 545-7215
Chicago French Market
131 N. Clinton St.
Chicago, IL 60661
(312) 234-9644
Old Town
1710 N. Wells St
Chicago, IL 60614
(312) 255-0724

Opened as a bakery by Dobra Bielinski and Stasia Hawryszczuk in Chicago’s Jefferson Park neighborhood in 1998, Delightful Pastries has since expanded to the Chicago French Market downtown and the Old Town neighborhood as bakery-cafe combos. You will probably want to try one of each, but be sure to get the passion fruit because the jam filling is a specialty made there.

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Gourmet Frog
316 Green Bay Road
Highwood, IL 60040
(847) 433-7038

North suburbanites are familiar with Froggy’s a popular special occasion French restaurant in Highwood. Many area residents also know its offspring Gourmet Frog started in 1987. Sitting next to the restaurant, Gourmet Frog is a popular place to pick up yummy quiches and tarts when company is expected. What shoppers don’t usually know unless they have stopped in is that the bakery also has delicious macaroons. The macaroons are not usually listed on the website. But people in the know often add macaroons to their order once they see them.

La Fournette
Old Town
1547 N. Wells St.
Chicago, IL 60610
(312) 624-9430
Lincoln Park
2468 N. Clark St.
Chicago, IL 60614
(773) 360-1761

In the short time since Alsace natives Pierre and Michele Zimmerman opened La Fournette in Old Town about four years ago, their traditional French bakery has become a popular place to relax and pick up something to take home.They have since added a Lincoln Park location. Part of the fun of going to either place is to try their creative macaroons. Think Linzer with hazelnut and raspberry jam or Earl Grey with chocolate and caramel.

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Jodie Jacobs is a veteran journalist who loves writing about Chicago, art, theater, museums and travel. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.