This is absolutely how I react when I see mochi and/or macarons:
Why am I obsessed? I have no idea. I just really, REALLY like these two desserts in particular. Maybe it’s because they’re so delicate, yet so delicious without being over indulgent. You are satisfied with just a few bites.
I’m not a big fan of pies, tarts, cake, cupcakes, or pastries for the most part, because I find a lot of it to be too buttery or covered in whipped cream (which I loathe).
The best mochi can be found in Japan.
Failing that, at Minamoto Kitchoan in NYC, USA. They also have locations in London, England and Paris, France.
Otherwise, most Japanese grocery stores sell mochi, but it’s the prepackaged stuff. It’s still okay, but it isn’t 100% authentic to me as it’s industrialized.
This is what delicious mochi looks like:
Soft and chewy on the outside, with a delicious filling on the inside.
Bad mochi, is really sweet, HUGE (like a massive cookie), and too covered in this kind of starch or powder that makes it turn white.
The best macarons can be found at these locations in order of awesomeness:
- Pierre Hermé — Paris, France (It is THE BEST place to get the best in the world. Period.)
De Neuville — Hong Kong (but not in Paris, it is HORRIBLE in Paris)Out of business!! Oct 2012
- Ladureé — NYC, USA (The Parisian location is a tourist trap with awful macarons!!)
- La Maison du Macaron — Montréal, Canada (My fave place for flavours & variety)
- Point G — Montréal, Canada (it’s right around the corner from La Maison du Macaron)
- Bar Boulud — NYC, USA (Not bad, 4 flavours, always a decent experience)
- Francois Payard Bakery — NYC, USA (I’ve only had one of them be unappetizing once in 20 times)
- McDonalds Cafe in Paris — Paris, France (No.. seriously! Cheap, a good quick fix for macarons)
- Bouchon Bakery — NYC, USA (For *PB&J macarons only! The rest ..ick)
- La Maison du Chocolat — NYC, USA (For the lemon chocolate ones only)
Where should you NOT buy macarons?
Any place not listed on here such as some of these macaron places:
- Nadege (Toronto, Canada) — Total hit and miss, no consistency & they had buttercreams. Ick.
- Butter Avenue (Toronto, Canada) — All the buttercreams are disgusting, try only the fruit ones (cassis and raspberry, the lemon one tastes like sugary lemon dish soap)
- Moroco (Toronto, Canada) — DISGUSTING. Dry, old, fugeddaboutit.
- La Maison du Macaron (NYC) — Not the same as the one in Montreal. They looked horrible.
- Macaron Cafe (NYC) — AWFUL. I have never had a macaron I wanted to throw out, and this was it
I am a SERIOUS connoisseur of macarons. You have no idea how crazy I can get, but I am also cheap and I like to get good quality macarons for a decent price.
(Laduree is a bit expensive for my budget, as they’ve just raised the prices again)
For every place listed, I’ve tried 3-4 bad places that claimed to sell good macarons and masqueraded as a the real deal — Moroco in Yorkville in Toronto is one such shameful place, and so are most of the macaron shops in NYC except for the ones listed above.
There are some stores that have a hit-and-miss quality about them — some days, SOME flavours are good, other days, it’s horrible and overcooked.
It is not worth wasting your hard earned money on an experimental taste test, as amateur patissiers are learning how to make them, and the shops are too cheap to throw them out or price them at half the price for being overcooked and a disgraceful macaron.
Nadège Patisserie in Toronto is one example of this hit-and-miss.
What makes a GOOD macaron?
I hate to say it, but so far, I’ve only found good macarons at places where the patissiers are French (mostly people from France), or run by the French.
It’s so stereotypical, but….. true. They know what they’re doing, and it comes out perfectly, each time.
Some of the time, I can just go into a macaron shop, look at the size and what they’ve done to the macaron and instantly know if it’s good or not. Then I buy one to confirm my suspicions, but lately I’ve been too scarred to keep buying bad macarons to continue wasting money.
I also don’t buy macarons where they don’t sell them on a reasonable basis. They end up sitting there, looking dry, sad, and totally NOT fresh and delicious.
A waste of ~$3, if you ask me. I’d eat the near-expired macarons for free 😉
I can tell they are awful (generally) when they’re too big, covered in sprinkles or sparkles, decorated to any kind of ostentatious degree, covered in cream, or clearly have a buttercream in the middle.
So how can you taste a good macaron?
It cannot be overly sweet. You shouldn’t be biting into it, thinking you’re eating pure sugar.
It has to have 2 thin crispy shells (top and bottom), and in between should be a ganache (like a jam, think of the texture of Nutella), sandwiched in between kind of cake-like layers.
NO BUTTERCREAMS IN THE MIDDLE ALLOWED.
That is just horrible, and not at all what a good macaron is all about. It’s a cheap, knock off, cop-out because they are too lazy to do a ganache.
If you slowly press the macaron, it should snap the shells lightly, but not crumble into any kind of dust or strange crumbly Parmesan-like texture, similar to a meringue (which is just whipped egg whites and sugar).
It also cannot be massive, and the size of your palm. It should be about 1.5 times the size of a quarter and about an inch thick.
This is not a quantity over quality thing.
If you eat anything that looks, feels or tastes like this:
- too sweet
- overly baked — it crumbles into dust or texturally tastes like dust
- overly frosted
- has cheap buttercream for the middle instead of a ganache
- has SPRINKLES or any glittery junk on it
- looks HUGE like a massive cookie that you can barely hold in your hand
- like a thick, stale, cement block — it should NOT BE CHEWY
- has coconut flakes in it — that is an American invention called the macaroon and is nowhere close
…it is not a real macaron and I feel really badly that you wasted your hard earned money tried a piece of crap of $2.15 – $3.00 per macaron.
A good macaron, should be experienced by all at least once in their life, even those who hate sweets.