Editors’ Choice (Tie)
Caramel French Patisserie, Salem
Standout Qualities: You’ve never had a macaron as good as what you’ll choose from the rainbow array found in this light-filled Salem shop. Gorgeous tarts, tiramisu, and hazelnut crème eclairs all but guarantee you’ll find a reason to buy more than you were planning. Bring dessert home; they’re open until 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
What’s Unique: Master chef Dimitri Vallier worked under French legends Paul Bocuse, Gaston Lenôtre, and Daniel Boulud and earned specialties as a pastissier, chocolatier, and confiseur (a confectionary expert).
281 Essex St., Salem, 978-594-0244, caramelpatisserie.com
Standout Qualities: The kouign amann—a French-style pastry made with laminated croissant dough—will bring you back for more, and the scones have a perfect balance of sweetness from a recipe that took owners Brian Murphy and Michael Shea hundreds of batches to perfect.
Insider Tip: On Sundays you can go to either the Market Square location or the Newburyport Farmers’ Market in the south end, where they also sell their baked goods.
3 Liberty St., Newburyport, 978-255-4076, figtreekitchen.com
A&J King Artisan Bakers, Salem
Standout Qualities: Sweet and savory breakfast pastries and treats from biscotti to walnut sticky buns are handmade with an emphasis on using local ingredients when possible, which means the menu of pastries evolves throughout the year.
48 Central St., Salem, 978-744-4881, ajkingbakery.com