Monday, July 22, 2013
Macaron boon: DFW’s 5 best bite-sized confections
We sampled macarons of many kinds -- traditional vanilla, pistachio, and even violet and bacon.
Since macarons are the one thing I would take with me if I were to be stranded on a Desserted Island ... oh, crap, you mean Desert Island? Ok, well, I choose macarons anyways; I thought it was about time I do another best-of list. I actually plan to make this a regular feature whenever the mood strikes me. After all, if you see a best-of list featuring one of your favorite desserts, you can make a BINGO game out of it ... or something.
I was essentially going to do a Top 10 list, but that would probably cover almost all of the places in the area that carry macarons. I actually counted 14 that I personally know of (not including places like Trader Joe's and Central Market).
I have been lucky enough to sample macarons from some of the greats, such as Ladurée and Pierre Hermé in Paris. Plus, I do a lot of traveling and macarons are always on the to-do list. I am thankful that I have been able to indulge in this resplendent confection all over the world. So, my standards are quite high.
I have had some good macarons in Dallas from places not on this list. But, if they did not make the list, it is probably for two reasons: First, consistency. If macarons are not eaten or frozen right away, their shelf life is very short. If you leave them in an open pastry case all day and they don’t sell, they should probably be tossed out. Nothing is more unpleasant that biting into a stale macaron; especially when I am paying anywhere from $2-$3 each. I hate to see such a dessert work of art go bad like that. The second is the ever important ratio of filling to cookie. There shouldn’t be so much that it oozes out of the side, but there should be enough that it balances well with the delicate meringue. More often than not, I find that I can have the same macaron from one place two days in a row, with too much filling one day and not enough the next. Just call me the Goldilocks of macarons.
So, I placed an order for my favorites and any new flavors I may not have tried. (I'll take any excuse to eat macarons.) Here are the top 5.
1. Crème de la Cookie and Toni Rivard kiosks in Stonebriar and NorthPark: One of my first macaron encounters in Dallas was with Crème de la Cookie/Toni Rivard. They offer up the giant “palm sized” macarons I love. I got spoiled by macarons the same size when I visit Bouchon Bakery in Vegas and LA. There is always a new flavor they are trying. My favorites are the chai and pumpkin, but you can find such seasonal flavors like peppermint and coconut lime. The pumpkin and chai are spicy and full of fall, and I can place an order for a dozen of them whenever the mood strikes me. I have long since wished bakeries would think outside the macaron box when it comes to flavors. Crème de la Cookie and Toni Rivard have my favorite in terms of the standard pistachio, chocolate, and vanilla flavors.
2. Hospitality Sweet serves up macarons in the traditional bite size, and you know what they say about things that come in small packages. The salted caramel has layers of buttery caramel and a light buttercream sandwiched between the two meringue shells. The Lemon Meringue has a tart lemon curd filling that leaves you wanting more. Don’t even get me started on their traditional buttercream filling that is loaded down with almond flavor.
3. Cupcakes Cubed: Tucked away in a nondescript shopping center in Frisco, this suburban cupcake shop featuring square cupcakes offers anything but the traditional macaron. Red velvet happens to be my favorite. They offer a snickerdoodle that is to die for, violet if you’re a floral fan, one loaded up with bacon, and a cotton candy that happens to be my new obsession! They are always coming up with a new flavor, so you never know what you’ll find.
4. Rush Patisserie: You can contact Samantha with macaron ideas, and she will interpret them into unthinkable combinations. You won’t find a list of flavors that are on her website, because she likes to challenge herself. I sent Samantha an email with some flavor ideas, and she came up with such flavors as a vanilla-honey in the raw, orange cinnamon, and a Biscoff. If you want macarons from Rush, placing an order (one dozen minimum, with 4 flavors) is your best bet. Sometimes, you will be lucky enough to find a few macarons in her pastry case from leftover orders ... unless I get to them first.
5. Layered Bake Shop: Be still my heart. I could never get tired of the whirlwind of flavors that Shannon is coming up with. There is always something new. The first macaron I ever tried from Layered Bake Shop was the brown sugar spice macaron. I was pretty sure it could not get better than that until last week when I was presented with red velvet cookies and cream, s’mores, and strawberries and cream. If you like the idea of red velvet cookies and cream, it comes in cupcake form too. Too much to handle? Probably; but I will take a dozen, please.
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