I have many food obsessions. Inconveniently my interest is often piqued while living in locations where said obsessions are all but obsolete, further intensifying my need to find them. I discovered my love of French macarons while residing in Columbia. Sampling these delightful pasteries was only available if one ordered them online from such shops as L’Epicerie and Melange Sucre or mastered the art of baking themselves yourself. I encountered a somewhat easy recipe for espresso blackberry macarons, which utilized jam rather than buttercream. The fabulous baking blog Cannelle et Vanille provides many macaron recipes, but they are too ambitious for me and my unpredictable gas oven.
Then I found myself living between NW 21st and 23rd Avenues in PDX and my hunger for macarons was finally satiated. My first stop was Ken’s Artisan Bakery, where I discovered these pastries were the size of my palm. Ken offers two standard flavors – chocolate and spiced chocolate, spiked with cayenne pepper. Two others options are always offered and those flavors rotate. I have tried mango and pistachio. Of all the macarons I have tried as of yet in the city, Ken’s has the best texture. A good macaron is filled with rich buttercream or ganache, but its true test of quality is its shell, which should be simultaneously crunchy and chewy.
Moonstruck Chocolate is known for its cocoa confections, but its macarons do not disappoint. During my last trip to the shop I embarrassed Mao by ordering one of every flavor. Moonstruck understandably is more inclined towards pastries with emphasis on chocolate and as far as I know they do not rotate their flavor options. The macarons are delicious, but their texture is not quite as good as Ken’s. If you are more inclined to rich chocolate and caramel flavors, then Moonstruck is perfect.
There are seemingly endless bakeries in this city to find my beloved macarons. I have not ventured far from my home base in search of these as I am beyond content with what my neighborhood as to offer. But, one of the first places I plan to visit for macarons outside of the Northwest section of PDX is Pix Patisserie. Their flavors are endless. Just perusing their website I am tempted to hop in the car and drive to their location on SE Division Street to try the kalamansi lime, cassis violet and rose macarons. For now I will focus I will supress that desire and focus my macaron obsession on Ken’s.