Tag Archives: macaron

Cozy French Bakery on the UWS – Mille-Feuille

In the midst of midterms, it seems like I am always overwhelmed and constantly counting the days till the warmth of spring break.  So when I was figuring out which bakery to try this week, I expected to just make a quick stop and hurry back to campus for some more studying.  But when I entered Mille-feuille Bakery, something made me want to stop and stay for a while.  Maybe it was the friendly smiles that greeted me as soon as I entered or the hip New York City atmosphere infused with the charm of a French patisserie. Or perhaps the bright and colorful display cases full of macarons, pastries, croissants, sandwiches, and so much more.  Whatever the reason, I quickly shed my heavy winter coat and claimed a seat with a prime view of the desserts.

the display cases
the display cases

Like always, I was immediately drawn to the seasonal fruit tart, a dense and flavorful cake topped with raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries.  Of course, I had to purchase some macarons to go, and the classic flavors of raspberry, dark chocolate, and salted caramel shone through in these hand-made treats.  The flavor that really stood out to me, however, was the rose macaron.  Although it seems like a strange flavor, the faint sweetness and scent of rose does not overwhelm the macaron, but rather, gives it a softer and more unique flavor.

the beauty of my seasonal fruit tart
the beauty of my seasonal fruit tart

However, possibly the best moment of my visit to Mille-feuille occurred when I was given a free baguette.  I still have no idea what I did to obtain said baguette, but I happily accepted it without question and enjoyed it later in my dorm room.

my free baguette accompanied by the chocolate, salted caramel, and raspberry macarons
my free baguette accompanied by the chocolate, salted caramel, and raspberry macarons

With these sweets in front of me, I let the soft guitar music with French vocals lull me into a much-needed moment of relaxation that I had not had in a very long time.  Although the space is relatively small with the atmosphere of a cozy neighborhood bakery, there is still plenty of space for me to return, this time with my backpack full of homework.  Because everyone knows that Environmental Science reading is much easier when accompanied by a macaron.

 

 

Address: 2175 Broadway, New York, NY 10023
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Macaron Heaven

From the very first time I tried a macaron in Paris, I was instantly hooked.  Macarons (not to be confused with the coconut macaroons) have a unique texture that cannot be found anywhere else: a crunchy outer shell while soft and gooey on the inside.  And of course, their vibrant colors make them beautiful to just look at.  Although I have seen macarons as an option in many French bakeries, I had never been to a place whose main focus was the macaron, and I was eager to try a specific patisserie that I had read about over winter break.

the exterior of Macaron Parlor
the exterior of Macaron Parlor

Just a short walk from the 86th Street station, Macaron Parlor Patisserie is a safe haven for macaron addicts tucked away on the Upper West Side.  With a modest exterior and a cozy seating area, it has all the character of a small neighborhood bakery, allowing the macarons to take center stage.  The display case is full of a wide range of colors and flavors, and it will undoubtedly take a while to pick your perfect box (it took me a good five minutes of just staring at the options).

Macaron Parlor prides itself on offering traditional macaron flavors like dark chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry, but the patisserie also has fun creating unconventional flavors that cannot be found anywhere else – notably Cheetos, Red Velvet, or Candied Bacon with Maple Cream Cheese.

the packed display case
the packed display case

As an avid lover of the raspberry/chocolate combination, I immediately fell in love with the chocolate ganache inside my raspberry macaron, and the bright pink interior helped to ease my sadness that Valentine’s Day (the day to eat chocolate and sweets with absolutely no shame) is over.  I was pleasantly surprised with how similar the red velvet macaron tasted like my favorite cake flavor, down to the cream cheese filling.

From bottom to top: creme brûlée, caramel fleur de sel, dark chocolate, red velvet, hazelnut, and raspberry chocolate
From bottom to top: creme brûlée, caramel fleur de sel, dark chocolate, red velvet, hazelnut, and raspberry chocolate

Though I was not feeling quite adventurous enough to try a savory flavor like Cheetos, I am excited to pick out new combinations for my future purchases.  These little, colorful pieces of heaven are just enough to brighten up any dreary winter day (and it is impossible to take a bad picture of them).

Macarons in the City

Last year was my first living and NYC, and pretty early on in my adventures through Manhattan (mainly the West and East Villages), I discovered a deep love for macarons. Yes, that is MACARON, spelled with one ‘O’, not macaroons. What is the difference, you ask? Macarons are meticulously made French dessert pastries, consisting of two merengue cookies with a filling based on their flavor. Macaroons, are a coconut cookie more common in the US. Both kinds of cookies are delicious, but macarons have won my heart.

Here’s why: There is an art to baking the perfect macaron. Those familiar with the logistics of normal meringue cookies know that the light, melt in your mouth quality of meringues comes from a simple combination of egg whites, sugar, and maybe a little cream of tartar. Macarons step this classic recipe up a notch by adding almond flour to the mix. When done right, this addition provides the cookies with a crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside, melt in your mouth consistency, in other words, utter yumminess.

Just as quintessential to the art of macaron making and consuming, is choosing the flavor. Classic French macarons flavors include Rose, Vanilla, Chocolate, and Pistachio, but many NYC macaron shops utilize seasonal fruits and flavors to customize their menus throughout the year. My favorite flavor is Rose; the delicate floral pairs so well with the delicate design and pastel coloring of the macaron. But don’t take my word. Hit up any of New York’s macaron shops and taste test flavors from Salted Caramel to Cheetoh. For a classic French take on the flavors listed above, check out Ladurée in Soho or on the Upper East Side. For innovative combinations hit up Bisous Ciao in the West Village. For an all American spin like Cheetos or Red Velvet look no further than Macaron Parlour  on St. Mark’s Place in the East Village. And to learn more about the art of baking macarons, check out Ladurée’s pastry cookbook. The packaging itself is so beautiful, you may never want to remove the book, but definitely do. Inside you will find the culinary world’s best kept secrets for perfect macaron. Whatever you do, be sure to eat your heart out.

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Ladurée, and Macarons in New York

I had my first macarons a couple summers ago when I was visiting my friend Diane in Paris and she took me to her favorite Ladurée pastry shop. The scooter ride over had been quite perilous: after weaving in between moving traffic, zipping in front of cars in the incredibly chaotic Place de l’Étoile round-a-bout, and the sudden stops that pushed us both to the very front edge of the scooter seat at every red light, I was glad to make it to our destination in one piece. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to suggest that Diane is a bad driver, and despite the danger it was pretty fun to feel like one of the many Parisians who travel everywhere around the city on their scooters. But I nevertheless was happy to arrive there with all limbs unscathed.

Anyway, the macarons proved themselves more than entirely worth the adventure it took to get our hands on them. To begin with, that particular Ladurée pastry shop boasts an elegant decor and sophisticated atmosphere, as should be due for such a delicate and beautiful pastry as the macaron. I ordered the rose flavor, and upon Diane’s recommendation, the orange-blossom one as well. I was not disappointed. These confections exhibit a wonderful diversity of texture and delicate flavor: the outer cookie shells are crispy on the outside and soft and almost uncooked on the inside, and the airiness of the filling beautifully complements the almond nuttiness of the outer cookies.

The summer after that initiation into the macaron world, I went on a macaron-making craze. I was determined to recreate those delicate pastries myself, but after countless less-than-perfect batches of caramel, coffee, chocolate, and wild blueberry flavor attempts, I finally decided to succumb to partial defeat and leave it to the professionals. These little delicacies had seemed easy enough to make, but I soon figured out that they require so much precision as well as a reliable oven. I’m not the biggest fan of baking with exactitude and didn’t have an oven suited for the task, so I wasn’t able to produce quite the results I’d hoped to achieve. It’d be best to enjoy the ones from dependable pastry shops instead.

As of last week it’d been a while since I’d had my last macaron, so when I found myself craving one without wanting to have to trek all the way over to the Upper East’s Ladurée boutique, I decided to walk a few blocks from campus down to the Silver Moon Bakery. I wasn’t even able to wait to get back home to sit down and thoroughly enjoy my macaron; before I was halfway back home, the only evidence left of it was a few crumbs on my fingers. It hadn’t been rose or orange-blossom, but it felt so good to bite into the familiar outer crunch and chewy inside, with the exterior nuttiness and more delicate filling flavor. I’d missed eating macarons a little more than I’d thought–I won’t be making myself wait quite so long for the next one.

Postcards from Paris : Macaron à la main

My first macaron, with fabulous "feet"

Kelcey achieves a gold star worthy achievement in the Culinary world: making her own macarons.  Notoriously complicated and time-consuming, Kelcey’s story and pictures and recipe lead the way.

I’m a pretty lucky girl. For one, I’m in Paris. Two, I’m not working, interning, or bombarded with extra-curriculars. Third, I am surrounded at all times by amazing food. And finally, my study-abroad program organizes things like macaron-making classes for us, which is exactly where I found myself last Tuesday morning at 10 AM – in a professional kitchen learning to make macaron from an expert French baker. Does life get any sweeter?

Considering I don’t think of myself as a baker in ANY respect – my baking comfort zone doesn’t go much further than banana bread and brownies – the fact that I not only made macaron but made REALLY FREAKING GOOD macaron was awesome. And my macaron even had feet. “Feet ,” in macaron language, refers to the little bubbly looking portion of the shell immediately below the smooth top that indicates you achieved the perfect whipped consistency in your batter to make the cookie rise ever so delicately, as opposed to puffing up like a soufflé or spilling out all over the cookie-sheet. Never in my life have I been so excited about “feet” in my whole life. Except maybe after a really good pedicure. Continue reading Postcards from Paris : Macaron à la main

Review: Bouchon Bakery

Welcome to my Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Ever since the beginning of the semester, I have interning at Good Housekeeping in the Kitchen Appliances Lab on these days. As an extra bonus, I treat myself to a breakfast at Bouchon Bakery, on the 3rd floor of the Time Warner Building in Columbus Circle. After almost 2 months, I can say that I have tried almost every pastry in their display case (which is quite an accomplishment seeing how extensive it is).

When I first visited Bouchon, I felt like I had been transported to a small corner of Main Street, Disneyland. The display cases and decorations–even the lettering and fonts–reflect the whimsical and fun-loving style. However, the pastries at Bouchon are much better and the prices are a (little) cheaper. The display is divided in four sections: desserts, baked goods, savory, and seasonal items. Breads line the back wall of the small space.

I have it down to a science now. I arrive at 8:20 and snag a table that overlooks the circle. (These tables are very difficult to get since there are only 4 of them, each seating 2 people. I was saw two ladies get in a fight over a table… Luckily, at 8:20, there always seems to be an open table. However, if I buy my coffee and pastry first, then I am left table-less. I always leave my lunch bag on a table to claim it.) After I’ve staked out my table, I go to stand in line. (Usually, there are only 1-3 people in line.) Every once in a while, there is a new pastry or a variation on an old favorite. After two months, I can say without a doubt that my favorite pastry is the Sweet Croissant. This is croissant dough shaped in a small square with a dollop of cream cheese frosting on top–it is the perfect beginning to the morning. I always eat around the center, saving the giant dollop of frosting for the last bite. (Since August, variations have included pistachio, peanut butter and jelly, and cranberry pistachio. My favorite remains the original.) Another delicious pastry is the pumpkin brioche which was introduced last Monday. And if I’m in a sweet mood, I opt for the pain du chocolat. This pastry practically has a bar of chocolate in the middle. Needless to say, I never ask for the calorie count.

When it comes to coffee, Bouchon is a step above Starbucks, but not quite as good as Kaffe 1668. I’ve ordered the cappuccino so often that the ladies behind the counter have my order memorized. Although, at times, I switch it up to a double macchiato, depending on how tired I am that morning. The cappuccino balances out the sweet pastry and has no need for added sugar.

By 8:45, I head out of Bouchon for the Hearst Tower. It truly is the perfect place for a quick breakfast on the way to work–and you can tell from the clientele. Most people are in business suits, and those who aren’t, are in work-out clothes. Sometimes, I’ll grab some bread for the day or a macaron for a friend later in the day. (I even shipped some to a couple friends.) These brightly colored pastries may be small, but they are packed with flavor. The flavors of the Fall: pumpkin and pomegranate/cranberry (accompanied by the usual chocolate, vanilla, and pistachio).

It is evident that I have been won over by Bouchon Bakery. If you have some spare moments (and some spare money), I would head down to Columbus Circle for a treat.

(For a cappuccino and pastry, I typically spend 7 dollars, about the same as Starbucks. Bread is priced at 1.50-4 dollars, depending on the item. Macaron, good-sized ones, are 3 dollars.)