About two weeks ago, a new storefront opened up on West Davis Street in Oak Cliff, near Spinster, Glass Optical and Davis Street Espresso. Joy Macarons, it's called, and it offers macarons, obviously. But don't expect to meet a baker named Joy when you visit.
"It's Liz, by the way," the owner said when I visited, as she handed me her card as I thanked her for her time. The name Joy painted on the shop's front window wasn't a person but an emotion: the feeling owner Liz Lanier hopes you will experience when you take a bite from a bright yellow macaron expecting only sweetness and lemony citrus and are instead greeted by the briny prick of fleur de sel, too.
When I first walked into her shop, she was piping batter onto large silpats printed with small circles as targets. When she was done with the sheet she picked it up and patted the pan from underneath, making sure bubbles in any of the soon-to-be-cookies came to the surface. Then she disappeared around a corner.
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All of this is on display because the kitchen is enclosed in a glass box within the shop's outer walls. It looks a lot like an apple store but is decidedly more delicious, and a lot less expensive as long as you're not shopping for a massive catered affair. You can see the mixers, bins of almond flour and containers of lavender flours as soon as you walk in. Mixing paddles, whisks and other tools hang on one glass wall from taught steel cords. And in the middle of it all is Lanier, in her custom-tailored chef's jacket and suede Nike high tops, baking hundreds of tiny French sandwich cookies at a time.
Her surroundings are a significant upgrade. For the past four years, Lanier has been working out of her home kitchen, learning how to whip the egg whites just so, and how to pipe each cookie so it would bake up as desired. Along the way, there were oily cookies with shiny shells, and dry cookies with cracked ones. There were cookies that rose too much and others that could have stood in for tiny, sweet pancakes, and eventually there were macarons that were just what she was hoping for.
Lanier's macarons have a soft, tender texture and an airy consistency that will convince you that eating seven at a time is acceptable. This is good news, because there are around a dozen flavors on display at any time, and she's got some innovative flavors beyond the traditional chocolate, vanilla and pistachio you'll find elsewhere. Don't miss the buttered pecan macaron that packs a whole pint of ice cream flavor into a couple delicious bites. There's also a pumpkin macaroon for the fall, and a chocolate chip cookie dough for the sugar addicts. Each one will set you back two bucks, which can seem like a lot for a tiny cookie, but these guys pack a ton of flavor and personality. Just don't get their names mixed up. Like the signage, some of these cookies aren't exactly what they seem.
Joy Macarons, 839 West Davis St., joymacarons.com