I was looking up good dessert places on Yelp and just happened to find this place with a nice name and good reviews (and yes, I made this my lunch instead of having proper food; this happens way too often if you ever wonder why there might be a disproportionate number of bakery reviews on here). It didn’t look like much with all the construction going on outside. Little did I know that inside I would find a quaint and authentically French bakery with some of the best macarons in New York!
Ever since their popularization by Laduree in Paris, macarons have taken the dessert world by storm. La Maison du Macaron specializes in macarons, but also has the usual standard fare you’d expect to find in a Parisien patisserie, such as croissants, coffee, and various other pastries. While I found the chocolate almond croissant I tried to be underwhelming, the quality of the macarons was excellent even by my inflated standards for grading macarons.
As a primer, be sure to read fellow blogger Mijune’s (Followmefoodie) detailed guide to what makes good macarons. While you may not need to be THAT observant to enjoy them, it’s interesting to realize that there’s so much more to these little sugar morsels than you might imagine. Time for the colourful world of French sweets!
Things Roger Ate Like a Pig
Chocolate Almond Croissant – 2/6 (Okay), $4
- Croissant baked with a smooth almond and chocolate filling topped with sliced almonds and confectioners sugar
Almond croissants are my default when it comes to Parisien bakeries. I think it was my initial encounter with the double-baked almond croissant of Thomas Haas in Vancouver that sent me crazy looking for something to top that impossibly flaky and rich piece of goodness. Perhaps the only thing that can match it after years of looking is the raspberry almond croissant I had at Bouchon Bakery (but that’s the subject for another post!).
This particular almond croissant was disappointing. The normally flaky skin that falls apart upon the first bite was instead hard (and even at one of the tips burnt) and chewy. While the texture of the crème d’amandes served its purpose in contrasting the crisp outer layer, its richness was largely from eggs and butter with insufficient real almond taste. The thin layer of chocolate underneath the crème d’amandes was the sole redeeming factor to the pastry. The creaminess and quality of the warm chocolate really stood out.
Macarons (overall) – 5/6 (Excellent), $2.50 each, $12.50 for 5
- From left to right: pistachio, banana nutella, fig/cassis, plum, key lime pie
In general, the macarons were well constructed, with no visible cracks or bumps along the surfaces of the almond cookies. The shell had the right thickness and tasted distinct from the moist almond meringue part of the outer cookie layers. However, the small gap between the shell and the meringue was not consistent or present in all of the macarons tried. The “feet” or the base of the macaron was clearly distinct from the rest of the shell even if it was a little too rough. All these factors combined made the macarons in general a delight to look at!
Pistachio Macaron – 5.5/6 (Excellent – MUST TRY)
The pistachio flavor was wonderful! While artificial dyes were used to colour the macaron (as the vast majority of patisseries do these days), the flavor of the pistachio was completely natural and delicious without being overwhelmingly sweet as macarons often become. The filling was also perfectly creamy yet not too heavy to dominate the texture. The nuttiness of both the pistachio and almond made this the best macaron I tried here!
Banana Nutella Macaron – 3.5/6 (Good - Very good)
You really can’t go wrong with banana and nutella together (it’s on the menu of every single crepe shop!). The construction of this macaron was also very good; my only concern was the shell sticking to the meringue in some parts. The flavors here were light and dainty, but the Nutella flavor in particular was muted (the banana flavor took time to kick in, but I never really got much of a hazelnut hit). Even the nuts incorporated into the shell didn’t really add hazelnut flavour to complement the almonds.
I know that Nutella can overpower the taste of many fruits, but it’s always gonna be a relatively strong flavor when in combination with something like banana which makes the pairing work so well. Nevertheless this classic flavor combo made for a solid macaron.
Fig/Cassis Macaron – 5/6 (Excellent)
This macaron was a combination of fig and cassis, which is derived from blackcurrants. The filling of cassis jam was impeccable, with just the right amount of sweetness to bring out a fruity taste without being too strong. The tart of the fig came through more in the almond meringue and was a nice complement to the cassis, giving the macaron both sweet and sour elements.
Plum Macaron – 2/6 (Okay)
Giving this macaron a 2/6 despite the glowing review I wrote about its construction goes to show you how much I wasn’t digging this flavor. I expected sweet and sour flavors to be brought out like the fig/cassis but was disappointed to find neither. There wasn’t much of a plum taste at all. In addition, the texture of the filling was not nearly as smooth as the other flavors but was instead finely granulated with sugar in certain spots, giving the filling the impression of being overly sweet due to the texture, yet not very sweet in taste.
Key Lime Pie Macaron – 3.5/6 (Good – Very good)
This certainly was a twist on your typical macaron. The key lime flavor took a while to develop but became nice and strong as a good key lime pie slice should by the end of the macaron. However, the consistency of the almond meringue cookies wasn’t as good as the other ones perhaps due to some difference in composition with the key lime recipe. I missed the graham crust component of key lime pies that wasn’t really replicated in taste or in texture here, although incorporating that into a macaron would be difficult. Perhaps they would have been better off sticking to plain lime macarons?
La Maison du Macaron does exactly what you expect it to do given its name: make really really yummy macarons! This will definitely be on the top of my list anytime I’m craving little cookies of almond goodness, even if their pastries might need some work.
Date visited: Oct. 7, 2012
Price range: Under $10