When it comes to dessert and pastry trends, I suppose it was only a matter of time before we embraced the twee. First there was cupcakes, then there was doughnuts. We were due for a dainty reprieve, and I am all about macarons. I love them for their merciful lack of excess (usually), their subtle sweetness (usually), and their small size (again, usually). By nature, macarons are delicate French pastries that make for the perfect afternoon snack, rather than gut-busting extravagance that renders you sugared up and useless for the rest of the day. They also happen to be beautifully lustrous and artistic, and when done right, macarons can show just how refined and elegant a pastry can be. Such is the case at Lincoln Park newcomer Sugar Fixe, the first city location for the Oak Park-based bake shop. Sugar Fixe is right at home in the twee epicenter of Lincoln Park along Armitage, filled to the brim with a dizzying array of rainbow-hued macarons and macaron-like desserts.
Sugar Fixe is one of the first devoted macaron shops to sprout in Chicago, on the heels of another shop in West Town (Bon Macaron). Do I sense a trend? This one is more of a cafe and bakery than retail-oriented Bon Macaron, though, shining the spotlight on macarons in ways unforeseen in Chicago. Make your way to the pastry case and gawk at the array of flavors and colors. There's well made classics like pistachio, chocolate, and raspberry, along with seasonal flavors and offbeat varieties like lychee-rose, red velvet, and snickerdoodle. I love a macaron shop that has fun with the notion of an uppity French pastry, embracing their whimsical side with cupcake macarons, chocolate-dipped strawberry macarons, and hot cocoa macarons. That cupcake macaron, specifically, is quirky and treacly in all the right ways, with an appearance and flavor akin to sprinkle-flecked cupcake frosting, aka the best part of any cupcake. I also love the heart-shaped red velvet macaron, a special for February, with a subtle, tangy cream cheese filling. Flavors may skew wacky and cheeky, but the skill is clearly evident in texture and body of each macaron, as their egg white-based sugar shells lend a delicate crackle around each creamy, fruity bite.