It took less than a semester at the University of Minnesota Duluth for Maddie Carlos to realize that she and college weren’t a match. Baking? That, she loved. “It wasn’t something that I was good at,” she says. “But I had a passion for it.”

Immersing herself in a two-year professional program proved to be tuition well spent. Three years ago, Carlos opened Something Sweet by Maddie Lu in Coon Rapids, where she and her 30-plus employees turn out custom cakes, playful cake pops, lavish cupcakes, cream puffs, fancy milkshakes and a huge array of macarons.

Last fall, the entrepreneurial 23-year-old Anoka native took her handiwork to a higher-profile platform and launched a tiny Mall of America outpost.

As its name implies, Macarons by Maddie Lu focuses on a single product. The distinctive sandwich cookies are showcased in 21 flavors, including caramel-espresso, pistachio, honey-lavender, Nutella and s’mores, and they’re all done up in the vivid Sunday comics colors that make these French imports so visually appealing. And popular.

Carlos leaves the filling and sandwiching duties to others. But as a measure of her meticulous nature, she hand-pipes every macaron that goes into the oven, an undertaking that she estimates to have taken on no fewer than 700,000 times. “It’s a difficult task, but consistency is important,” she says, fluent in a baker’s perfectionism. “It’s hard to believe, but I’m still not sick of them.”

Does she bake in her off hours? “Never,” she says with a laugh. “I don’t even have flour or sugar at home.”


Macarons by Maddie Lu: 166 West Market, Mall of America, Bloomington.
Something Sweet by Maddie Lu: 12772 Riverdale Blvd., Coon Rapids. 763-323-3236,