While macarons may have been perfected and popularized by the French, the bite-size meringue cookie sandwiches actually trace back to eighth century Italian monasteries, where bakers referred to them as “maccherones” and “priests’ belly buttons.”
Centuries later, San Francisco pastry chef David Almaguer puts his own savory spin on the tradition. He just launched Macarons D’Amour, a macarons delivery service out of his home kitchen in SoMa.
A Salinas native who moved to San Francisco at 18 to study pastry at Le Cordon Bleu, Almaguer learned the ins and outs of the industry working the ovens at a number of well-known confectioners.
Almaguer said he learned a modern take on baking from pastry whisperer William Werner at Craftsman and Wolves, where unusual shapes, laminated doughs and glossy coverings are all de rigueur.
During his tenure at Mission Pie, the use of seasonal ingredients became essential to Almaguer’s own baking practice, and now he’s applying this same rule of thumb to his macarons. He added that he’s looking forward to the summertime, when stone fruits like peaches, plums and apricots will enter his flavor rotation.
Until then, Almaguer said he’ll continue to roll out novel savory iterations of the classic French pastries. He’s developed a roasted cherry tomato macaron garnished with rosemary that tempers the sweet and salty. For macaron traditionalists, he said his raspberry macaron—filled with buttercream and topped with a sprinkling of raspberry dust—has quickly become one of his bestsellers.
Macarons D’Amour is Almaguer’s second gig—he works the overnight bakery shift at an SF Whole Foods location—so he spends his days batching out macarons in his home kitchen. He said he began working on the concept in January, and while the humid rainy season caused his first several batches to fall flat, he can now make 40 immaculate buttercream sandwiches in around 30 minutes.
Almaguer’s business model is fairly simple. He said he fulfills most of his orders via Instagram and TikTok direct messages. His brother-in-law, Michael Liu, helps him deliver the macarons within San Francisco’s city limits.
As TikTok continues to catch fire among experimental home chefs, Almaguer said he’s hoping his macarons will blow up on the platform, citing examples like San Jose mobile panaderia Zeledon’s, which has racked up millions of likes on TikTok.
Almaguer told The Standard that opening your own bakery may be a clichéd goal for a pastry chef, but it’s been deeply rewarding for him.
“Food makes people happy,” he said. “I saw the satisfaction it brought to people I was working in bakeries all over San Francisco. But it’s great to have a place of your own.”
To that end, Almaguer said he hopes to expand out of his home kitchen soon and ultimately open a brick-and-mortar bakery for his macarons.
Why macarons? “I think there’s a certain amount of ‘je ne sais quoi’ about them,” he said. “They’re just so good.”
Sarah Holtz can be reached at [email protected]