Passover is the perfect time to indulge in a whole world of gluten-free desserts, including flourless cakes and chocolate mousse. And what’s Passover without macaroons? Though they share their names (“macaroon” comes from maccarone or maccherone, “paste” in Italian, referring to the traditional ingredient—almond paste—and the texture of the dough), there are many different varieties of this cookie: the classic canned (or homemade) coconut macaroon, the homey almond macaroon popular among Sephardic Jews and the dainty French version, which is not only fancier in appearance and taste (with all its different colors and flavors), but also in its name: macaron.
You can make all three types at home, or head out to one of these spots around DC to buy them and satisfy your sweet tooth during these flour-free times.
Found in most grocery stores in the kosher section and especially prominent during Passover, these soft, tropical cookies are delicious when dipped in chocolate. Usually made from a combination of sweetened condensed milk, coconut flakes and egg whites or unsweetened coconut, sugar and egg whites, they’re easy to make at home and can come from kitchen to table in under an hour.
Seeking an upgrade from the store-bought kind? RareSweets, a bakery and pastry shop in CityCenter, always has coconut macaroons on offer. Helmed by Meredith Tomason, a graduate of the French Culinary Institute’s Professional Pastry Arts Program and former baker at Magnolia Bakery, these coconut macaroons are nothing like their Manischewitz cousins.
Dog Tag Bakery in Georgetown serves both chocolate and coconut macaroons. Even better, every macaroon purchased at Dog Tag supports their program to provide a transformative opportunity for service-disabled veterans, military spouses, and caregivers through a five-month fellowship, offering an education at Georgetown University and real life work experience at the bakery.
Baked and Wired carries more than just its famous cupcakes. The coconut macaroons are also worth lining up for, as they are more like candy than cookie—lots of sweet coconut drizzled with bittersweet chocolate.
French Almond Macarons
These delicate French cookies are a true labor of love; typically made with almond flour, confectioner’s sugar, egg whites and granulated sugar, they involve beating egg whites, piping them, letting them rest, baking and then carefully filling and sandwiching them. Incredibly delicate, these cookies are best outsourced or left for a weekend baking project. Luckily, DC abounds with macaron options.
Olivia Macaron in Georgetown carries honey lavender, fruity pebbles and salted caramel macarons among its 11 signature flavors. They are also certified kosher and ship nationwide!
Macaron Bee makes its macarons from whole Marcona almonds imported from Spain. Find them at Lady Camellia, a pastry and tearoom located in Georgetown.
The DC outpost of Ladurée, a famed French pastry shop, is a 1,110-square-foot, soaring art-deco space featuring a pastel paint job, smooth white marble bar and downstairs “pastry lab” where its iconic macaron-making magic happens. Try the rose petal or salted caramel flavors.
Buttercream Bakeshop in Shaw has a rotating selection of macaron flavors, such as marshmallow, raspberry Chambord, chocolate mint and Nutella.
Le Caprice is a classic French bakery and café located in Columbia Heights. Carrying unique flavors like banana, kiwi and blood orange, the macarons here are the pride of the pastry staff.
Made from almond flour, almond extract or almond paste, these cookies can be a more robust version of a French macaron, take the shape of horns or stay round and fluffy like a classic cookie. Trickier to find around town, these are quick to bake up at home.
Olivia Macaron is kosher (but not kosher for Passover). RareSweets, Dog Tag Bakery, Baked and Wired, Macaron Bee, Ladurée, Buttercream Bakeshop and Le Caprice are not kosher.