Owner Mark Wagner of Decadent Macaron and his wife Stephanie are excited about their new Gilbert bakery.  (David Minton/Staff Photographer) 

Mark and Stephanie Wagner’s search for the perfect French macaron took six months and hundreds of batches of test cookies before the Gilbert couple created a recipe for the perfect meringue-based confection.

“Our real kind of secret sauce was creating the butter cream,” said Stephanie Wagner. “Our feelings are it’s a lot different than most macarons.

“We like to use more butter and less sugar so it’s a lot silkier and more health sensitive but tastes much better. It got more of a delicate texture to it than the traditional American butter cream, which is sugary.”

Now, residents can get a taste of those colorful bite-size treats locally at the Wagners’ first brick-and-mortar location at Verde at Cooley Station at Williams Field and Recker roads. It opened Jan. 23

“Our goal with the new location is more variety of flavors and expanding the menu a bit,” Stephanie said.

Previously, since December 2018, Decadent Macaron was selling its sandwich cookies inside the Palette Collective in Chandler, which houses a variety of merchants in studio spaces. The couple closed their Chandler location Jan. 20.

While before 15 to 20 of the over 40 different flavor options were baked daily, the Gilbert bakery offers more flavors that will be rotated, Stephanie said.

The flavors include salted caramel, mint chocolate, red velvet, strawberry, chocolate peanut butter and key lime.

The overall fan favorite is churro, Stephanie said.

The couple’s 2-year-old son, Greyson, also loves the meringue-based sweets.

“His favorite is churro,” Stephanie said. “He is our chief tasting officer.”

Besides flavors to suit just about every taste bud, Decadent Macaron also bakes up specialty cookies molded into shapes such as avacado, unicorn, Baby Yoda, pumpkin and cactus.

Some of the new menu offerings will include cheesecake with a macaron crust instead of the traditional graham crackers and tiramisu with macarons instead of ladyfingers, Stephanie said.

Other yummy desserts in the planning include creme brulee in various flavors rotated out and a variety of croissants.

“And we are going to team up with local bakers to wholesale their items,” Stephanie said. “That is how we started out and we wanted to do the same for other small bakers starting out.”

The Gilbert location also offers a full-service coffee menu.

The business, which now has six bakers, up from the one employee when it first opened makes well over 200 to 300 macarons daily. The quantity increases if there are special orders.

While Stephanie manages the day-to-day operations, husband Mark handles the bookkeeping.

“He makes sure I stay in budget,” she said.

Mark not only balances the books but he inspired the couple’s venture.

According to Mark, he was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and Raynaud’s disease at the age of 17. When he was 26, he changed his diet to primarily gluten-free. But the new eating habits meant it was challenging to find a dessert that would not damage his body.

And that was when Stephanie introduced him to macarons that uses almond flour instead of wheat, rye and barley, which contain the protein gluten.

“Macarons were always my favorite,” said Stepahnie, who has a sweet tooth. “Living in Gilbert it was very hard to find good ones.

“We always went to Scottsdale and Phoenix for them and we got tired of the drive.”

One day, as Stephanie explained, the newlyweds watched a show where people were baking macarons and they decided why not give it a try themselves.

“We began playing around with it and failed miserably,” she recalled of their initial attempts. “We decided to read up on everything on macarons, watched a lot of videos and created our own recipe.

“As soon as we really learned the art of macarons is when we started to have success.”

Successful batches given out to family and friends led to strangers contacting the Wagners for the sweets.

“When that started we thought maybe this is a business,” Stephanie said. “We went through the proper channels, through the environmental (services) and licensing to become an actual business.”

Stephanie gave up her day job as a professional nanny while Mark remained as a real estate specialist.

Initially the bakes were done in the couple’s kitchen at home and from there they grew and located to Chandler and now Gilbert.

Although macarons are credited to the French their roots are in Italy. Each country has its own take of the cookie and Decadent Macaron opted for the French version.

“Italian is very more forgiving and there’re less chances of mistakes,” Stephanie said. “French is a little temperamental but we feel the taste is better because there’s not as much sugar and it’s not as hard.”

A box of 12 macarons starts off at $24 and one specialty shaped macaron will set a customer back $4.

Stephanie attributed the macarons’ cost to the use of high-quality ingredients and the time it takes to bake them.

“They really are a labor of love,” she said. “So, for instance today we will be working on stuff that we are going to bake tomorrow.”

She explained that the macaron shells need to rest or dry out overnight before they can be baked.

Macarons reportedly are as popular if not more than cupcakes.

“It’s about the look and taste,” Stephanie explained. “It’s a very delicate French pastry. It’s very pretty and so lot of people like it for the aesthetics and when it’s done well it tastes amazing.

“It’s the perfect size for a nice little treat. You don’t feel like you’re overdoing it with dessert.”

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