I know it’s not yet the season for hot chocolate (City Bakery had its 20th Annual Hot Chocolate Festival in February this year, just in time for Valentine’s Day), but for a chocolate fanatic like me, hot chocolate is welcome any time of the year. And if I can have it with mini macarons, why not?
I met a friend for a “coffee” at an outlet of Francois Payard Bakery (FPB) that opened recently near Columbus Circle in NYC. From this post, you know that I am not really a coffee drinker, although I love the smell of coffee. You know where I am going with this post on hot chocolate when I am talking about my “love” for coffee – I had the hot chocolate at FPB. It was more milky than chocolatey, and lacked sugar too. Nothing compared to the hot chocolate one can have at Godiva outlets (apparently only in “season” from what I remember, “season” is winter). If you have never tried it, please do so when you can and let me know how you like it, or at Via Quadronno or its sister restaurant Bottega del Vino in NYC or at City Bakery during its Annual Hot Chocolate Festival or at Apostrophe in London. It was in 2003 in Apostrophe London where I had my first small cup – about 4 – 6 oz. – of thick, dark, semi-sweet, goeey, pure chocolate goodness / decadence with minimal milk.
Now about the mini macarons. I call them mini macarons, because they were 1.5 inches wide in diameter. We bought the small pack of 3 macarons to share – the flavors were Chocolate, Caramel, and Cherry Pistachio. They were in the refrigerator and were cold to touch. In my opinion, macarons are (as are many other food dishes – except sorbets, gelatos, icecream etc. – you get the point) more enjoyable, when they are not cold. I tried the cherry-pistachio macaron first – because it looked suspiciously synthetic – I try to save what I think is the best for the last. It had a small sliver of chocolate (ganache?) inside the pistachio spread. The pink color and the taste did not feel natural at all. Next, the debate was whether the chocolate macaron would follow next or the caramel one. On a whim, I chose the chocolate macaron next. This was sweet and chocolatey, with the center chocolate (ganache?) filling being cold and dense. Not bad overall. Now the only macaron left was the caramel – this was the BEST!! It had soft caramel filling inside that spread instantly through the mouth with a sweet and slightly salty taste that did not make it cloyingly sweet, unlike the large, super sweet ones at Bouchon Bakery (has seasonal flavors). The merengue cookies in all the macarons were moist, yet crumbly and slightly sweet as one would expect. Overall, the mini macarons were quite good – you will enjoy them.
I am yet to try the macarons (mini or regular) at Maison Laduree (will wait for the craze for these macarons to slow down; I do not have the time or the patience to wait in line when the line goes around the block), La Maison du Chocolat, Macaron Cafe, Mille-Feuille Bakery, Almondine, La Maison du Macaron, Financier, or at any other place in NYC where macarons are available. Or better yet, I should try the macarons in Paris on my next visit there (whenever that may be).
I love the mini macarons of Looka Patisserie – sold at Whole Foods in NYC. These are frozen and you need to thaw them out for an hour before eating them. The chocolate, vanilla, and pistachio are delicious – they will literally melt in your mouth. I am not a fan of the raspberry flavor. Try all of them and let me know what you think. These mini macarons are my stand-by dessert for unexpected guests. Why do I like mini macarons, you ask? Because, I can try more flavors without feeling full if the macarons are smaller (not a good idea if you are trying to shed a few pounds, perhaps, macarons themselves are not a good idea when you are on the weight-loss trail).
- Macaroons are different from Macaron (French) – although many people think they are synonymous
- Macaroons are made as far East as in Tuticorin in South India – they are made with cashews and egg whites
- National Macaron Day in 2012 was on March 20
More about the best macarons in NYC at Zagat, Serious Eats ( here [from 2012], here [from 2011] and here[from 2007]) and at Chowhound.
I almost forgot to add more details on the latest outlet of Francois Payard Bakery in NYC. I was surprised to see salads (including a vegan one), soups, and some sandwiches in this bakery. I promise to write a post about the food when I eat lunch at this Francois Payard Bakery.
Meanwhile, if you eat macarons at any of the places listed above, please share your thoughts.
You’ll love the dense, rich, dark hot chocolate at Marie Belle in Soho. Grand St. I believe, not far from FCI. Try it next time you are in the nieghborhood…and you’ll also fall in love with the beautiful chocolates they make!
Thanks, Rachel! I will check out Marie t Belle for the hot chocolate and the chocolates. I now know where to head for my chocolate fix.