If you’ve stepped foot inside the cute French shop Marcel Market in Bishop Arts, you know that a glass dome is the first thing you see. Inside are the best macarons I’ve found in town—made by lifestyle bloggers who go by We the Birds.
(A note about why I’d be so excited: As a Parisian, I am always looking out for patisserie. Croissants, pain au chocolat, the crunch of laminated dough or the joy of an almond filling. One thing I’ve struggled to find are the confection that’s easy to botch, to make too sweet, too crumbly, too chewy, too fake. I found them when I tasted these. I also found a lot of other things, which I wrote about here.)
For Natalie Knowlton, macarons are an obsession. The macaron lover is half the duo of sisters, Sarah and Natalie, who founded We the Birds in 2015. And the lifestyle they’d particularly like you to adopt is macarons, the fragile ground-almond confection that invites you to a sweeter side of life.
Romanticizing, Natalie daydreamed about France. “I’d get baguettes and put them on a bike and pretend I was in France,” she says of days when she lived near a French bakery in South Carolina. The passion didn’t remain ephemeral. Back in Dallas, determined, she spent a year developing and tweaking recipes to come up with the one she liked. “At one point I quit my job,” she says. “I’ll take three months …” was the thought.
The year allowed her to learn how to infuse natural ingredients into each element of the confection—the shell and classic buttercream—using fresh herbs, extracts, liquors. It’s a tricky calculus, a balancing act of moisture levels and of assessing what flavorings worked: not liquid, because the domed shell would deflate.
We the Birds’ ephemeral creations exist in a classic, unchanging collection that includes flavors like strawberry champagne and dark chocolate sea salt. Seasonal collections change, like fashion. In the summer, there were watermelon-enhanced shells with a buttercream center infused with fresh chiffonaded basil and mint. In the fall, pear macaron shells were filled with a warmly spiced pear and vanilla bean buttercream. Others held a fresh fig and cardamom jam center. The chocolate in a spicy mango dark chocolate or a dark chocolate coconut caramel maracon is decadent. Key lime coconut-matcha surprised the taste buds with tang.
They are stunning. “I started painting them with gold to elegantly mask imperfections,” Natalie explains—a diversionary tactic that turned into a signature. As objects, their bespoke macarons themselves are gorgeous. Marbled, with geodes, feathers, or animal prints, they tend toward beautiful, elegant, muted tones and metallic shades. It stands to reason. Their creators love beautiful objects.