For The Love Or Hate of Macarons31 October 2012
I have long detested macarons. They may look cute and colourful and promise ridiculous flavours, but these undeservedly popular biscuits frequently fall short of yumminess, and are pricey to boot. I set out to discredit the macarons, but unfortunately, while researching this article I came across some that won my reluctant, humiliated heart.
Not to be confused with macaroons–those white coconut cookies–macarons are French biscuits made from thin meringues sandwiched together with a creamy filling. Along with regular flavours such as chocolate, caramel and raspberry, they come in many exotic–some might say pretentious–flavours, such as Olive Oil, Burnt Toast, and Violet. Most macaron bakers are stingy with their cream, and the meringues which are meant to melt in your mouth don’t live up to my crispy meringue ideal.
Cacao’s Salted Caramel ($2.50), easily their most popular macaron, is not unpleasant, but fails to excite me in any way and I am just a little put off by the presence of salt in something that should be (in my opinion) exclusively sweet. To be fair, I did eat the whole macaron, despite my immediate ambivalence to the taste, but I suspect this was due mainly to my lifelong addiction to sugar.
The Lindt store offers several decent macarons (called Delices), including a 70% cocoa Chocolate ($3) and La Belle Miette sells a yummy Hazelnut macaron ($2.50), although most of their other macarons are seriously lacking in flavour. I’d rather spend my money on a more generous (and arguably more delicious) serving of brownie.
Despite my passionate dislike for these overpriced cookies, I was unwillingly won over by the macarons from Lux Bite, a café in South Yarra. Even before tasting them, it was clear these biscuits were superior to the average macaron, on account of their having twice as much cream filling. Another reason why Lux Bite won my reluctant respect was their ability to deliver what they advertised. Flavours such as Crème Brûlée and Sour Strawberry not only tasted like the real thing but were so yummy that my macaron hatred was momentarily eclipsed.
Even some of the wankier flavours at Lux Bite such as Bamboo & Oolong Tea fully lived up to my expectations, unlike Lindt’s Champagne or Cacao’s New York Cheesecake macarons, both of which essentially tasted like vanilla.
I still believe that these biscuits are overpriced and fundamentally pretentious, and their widespread popularity is due more to their appearance than their substance. However, when they’re done well, even I am an unfortunate sucker for the macaron.