I am an absolute lover of Macarons. To me, there is likely nothing better than a beautifully formed morsel of crisp, chewy almondy meringue filled with ganache or fruit. Not all macarons are good. Some are downright terrible. But as part of our travels to Melbourne I had investigated ahead of time and found what were supposedly some of Melbourne's best purveyors of macaron-y goodness.
Now, I am making this disclaimer up front: everyone likes different types of macarons. Some prefer them to be crisp or firm, others favour a more yielding version. Some like lightly flavoured sweets, others prefer flavour to hit them in the face with a great socking punch. But there are some areas in which everyone agree:
1. The feet should be beautifully formed and the biscuit well risen (not too flat)
2. There shouldn't be too many air bubbles or pockets in the biscuit, and
3. The biscuit should be neither too dry nor too soft and the ratio of filling should not make the biscuit too wet
Most people agree on the above. The rest is subjective preference. For example: I believe salted caramel macarons should have a proper salted caramel filling, not a buttercream filling. I judge all those with a proper salted caramel filling to be superior to the buttercream filled versions. No matter what. Others might disagree with me. I say that's ok. But for me, there are some hard and fast things that work and don't.
But enough with the theory - let's get started on the practical element!
Our first visit was to LuxBite, a patisserie on Toorak Road in South Yarra. An up and coming establishment, they are known for their macarons and their fancy desserts and cakes.
We bought a selection of eight macarons. They usually have a selection of 16 but in an attempt to preserve what is left of my figure (can I state for the record that it's not much) I opted to try just a sample with Mr K as my accomplice and a few had sold out given we were there late in the afternoon. We chose salted caramel, kaya toast, kaffir lime, choc cherry, rose and lychee, passionfruit, strawberry cream and mandarin and saffron.
Uniformly, the feet were good and the texture and appearance were consistent, if a tad on the wet/sticky side. Our favourites were the passionfruit - deliciously tangy and light with a zingy curd centre, and the kaya toast with it's smooth sweet buttery coconut flavour. Rose and Lychee was delicate and pretty. Strawberry Cream was sweet and unctuous with a strong strawberry hit in the filling.
The others were a little more disappointing. Choc cherry was a bit boring, and we had to search long and hard for any cherry elements, the macaron being almost overwhelmed by dark sweet chocolate. Kaffir lime was a tad odd - the main element of the lime leaf added to a dark chocolate ganache filling. I see where they were going in theory, but the combination for me did not work. Sad because I LOVE kaffir lime and I was really looking forward to this one. The aftertaste was somewhat soapy.
Mandarin and saffron was a little too sweet, lacking the tang I would normally associate with mandarins. It tasted a little like sweet generic citrus. The salted caramel was buttercream based (so not a winner from the start with me) and I managed to get a whacking great hit of salt in my first mouthful. The rest of the macaron wasn't as salty but the first mouthful ruined the taste for me.
So a bit of a mixed bunch I have to say. I'd go back for the passionfruit option though, and perhaps to try the chocolate freckle and raspberry white chocolate which had both sold out when we were there.
Stay tuned for two more posts on Melbourne's macarons!