Melbourne’s not so great macarons, plus rubbish in Epicure

Regular readers of these pages are very familiar with my obsession with Parisian macarons. Although I’ve recounted my baking traumas and occasional joys, described in considerable detail ways of making macarons and the hazards to psychological health, and told of encounters with the products of many Parisian patisseries, I haven’t done any product reviews. Things are changing!

This, ladies and gentlemen, meringue aliens and hypoglycaemics, is the first of two macaron review articles. This one is local.

Here are the results of the Syrup & Tang jury. Pierre Hermé of Paris, douze points. Melbourne, null points. Oh, okay, six points. I’m sorry for cutting to the chase so quickly, but Melbourne’s macarons can be summed up as somewhere between middling and utter rubbish.

Before I continue, I must digress a little to address something up-to-the-minute: I’ve held off publishing this article because I knew there was also something coming in Epicure soon. You see, I was interviewed for it. Epicure had commissioned someone to write a piece about macarons. (Let’s put to one side that I’ve written for Epicure before and you’d think I might have been the obvious person to approach to actually write about macarons. No?) That article appeared today, Tuesday 17th June, and there is no mention of me. That’s a little odd, but I could grudgingly accept that if the article were factually okay. I’d like to correct a few points:

‘a macaroon, a close relative of the meringue’ — the standard concept of a macaroon has little relation to a meringue. There is no similarity in the key processes. That’s why the common macaroon and the macaron are quite different beasts.

‘Macaroon purists insist the French petit four is called a “macaron”‘ — macaron purists do, perhaps. But they also know the difference between Italian almond macaroons, coconut macaroons and the Parisian style of macaroon. The latter is often called a ‘macaron’ for preference, so as to reduce the confusion which arises (or is spread).

‘Macaroons are the poor cousin, an English, coconut-based biscuit that is larger, much clunkier, and somehow offensive to macaron enthusiasts.’ — Macaroons are not English. Coconut macaroons are probably Scottish in origin and probably most popular in the US. Almond macaroons are widespread in Europe and seem to originate in Italy. I’m not aware of any macaron enthusiast who poo-poos the other macaroons. They are entirely different products.

‘the macaro(o)n, which dates back to the late 17th century’ — Rubbish. The Parisian macaron in its familiar form is less than 100 years old. It’s appearance in the film Marie Antoinette provoked derision because it was historically impossible.

‘”If I had a shop in Paris I would only sell macarons,” says [Laurent] Boillon, who first sold macarons in Australia in 1993’ — okay, but maybe he should read the review below beforehand. (Not the journalist’s fault.)

I could write more, but hey, I don’t get paid for it!

Now, back to Melbourne’s macarons. Let’s start at the bottom of the barrel and work our way up.

Laurent. Or perhaps more precisely Laurent Boulangerie Patisserie. I’d seen their macarons. Frequently misshapen. Sometimes for sale despite being broken and mutated. I am not exaggerating. Indeed, I regret not having had a camera on me when I saw the pitiful display at their Glenferrie Road shop. Macarons that should have been given away free or trashed.

Still, I try to have an open mind. Malvern correspondent, Josh (formerly of the Expanding Man blog), and I sat down to, um, consider the macarons at the Laurent shop in Albert Park. There were five flavours on hand. The macarons were flat and dull, with flat frilled feet extending outwards from the colourful shells. There was no visible filling.


Leftovers. We didn’t want them!

Deep inside the macarons we discovered what seemed to be a marzipan paste. In all(?) of them. Regardless of flavour. A flavoured paste for each one. A modest, thick dollop, insufficient to reach the edges of the macaron. They were very chewy. We didn’t want to finish them. Flavours were unremarkable and the pistachio seemed to have been pepped up with a strong dose of almond essence. As ‘rustic’ almond macaroons of some sort, these might pass muster. As macarons, they’re pitiful, based on what we were able to purchase. Would we cross the road to buy one? Hell no! They could throw them at me and I’d swat them away. Josh was even more scathing. Shame, Laurent.

Next on the list is Baker D.Chirico, perhaps Melbourne’s most successful artisan baker. Alas, the macarons, though miles better than Laurent’s, aren’t great. Flavours were unnuanced. The shells were okay, but texturally less-than-perfect, and with spread feet. Would we cross the road to buy one? Nup. But others might.


Some were broken or hollow. Many weren’t.

We headed for Noîsette in Port Melbourne (yet another Melbourne establishment with an erroneous and irrelevant cîrcûmflêx în îts nâme), mentioned very positively by Stickyfingers in comments previously. No macarons. ‘When does he make them?’ ‘Oh when he feels like it.’ Fine. I attempted a follow-up visit six weeks later, but had the prescience to call in advance.

Me: Do you have any macarons today?
Them: What do you mean?
Me: Do you have any French macarons today? Last time I came past you didn’t have any.
Them: Which ones? Do you mean the meringues?
Me: Maybe. I mean the French almond macarons sandwiched together with a filling.
Them: Oh no, don’t have any.
Me: Can you tell me when you’ll have some?
Them: Hang on. … Oh, they’re only making them to order now.


Onwards to La Tropézienne in Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn. The owner, Guillaume, left a comment recently in one of my macaron articles.


Macarons from La Tropézienne, June 2008. (Note that the broken shell was my fault.)

I first tried his macarons back in November. They looked great, but the shells had been left to crust for a long time before baking and were thick and too crisp. The filling was a heavy buttercream, weakly flavoured. The second visit, a fortnight ago, saw macarons which looked less attractive (see above — not quite within Parisian standards). The flavours were interesting on paper (orange caramel, raspberry, chocolate), but while the chocolate was a pleasant ganache and the orange caramel was strongly flavoured, the raspberry was an underflavoured buttercream. Disappointingly, the macarons didn’t appear to be fresh. The shells were almost soft (offering no resistance at all) which indicates humidity or staleness. The potential is there for a good product, but with such variation between November and June, I don’t know if they are achieving a consistent product. Would I cross the road to buy one? No. Other people do and should when the macarons are fresh.

And finally, my almond-crunchy friends, it’s time for Vue de Monde. Yes, Melbourne’s most written about French restaurant brand sells macarons in their Café Vue. At least, that’s what I’d been told. I sent my sister on a purchasing mission.

Sis: Do you have any macarons?
Them: Any what?
Sis: Do you have any macaronnzzz?
Them: Ummm… do you mean the macaroooooons?
Sis: {Sigh} Do you have any?
Them: I’ll go and check. {Laughter is heard from the kitchen.} They’re not ready yet.
Sis: I’ll come back.

When my sister returned she was told that the pistachio ones hadn’t worked (alarm bell number one) but there were chocolate and orange ones. She bought two for me.

Let me explain the alarm bell: What hadn’t worked? Macarons aren’t sold on the day they’re made – they need to mature for a day or two. They aren’t filled on the day of sale either. What hadn’t worked that morning?

My sis hefted a large red box to the rendezvous point. Inside were two mammoth, weighty macarons. I looked inside. The surface of the shells was porous (alarm bell 2) and uneven (alarm bell 3). These are being sold as macarons? (no, sorry, ‘macarooooons’)


Crunchy, heavyweight oddity from Vue de Monde.

Vue de Monde’s macarons are very heavy. As a snack, they’re very rich and filling, possibly overly so! They’re quite tasty. I’d buy them as a weird sort of cake. There’s nothing wrong with the diameter — large macarons are common in France — it’s their tenuous resemblance to a good macaron which disturbs me. At A$3 they’re a good deal, especially compared to the crap brownies you can buy for the same price or more elsewhere. But as macarons, no. Would I cross the road to buy one? Possibly, if I felt like cake.

The shell was thick and crunchy. These babies had been left to crust for hours, perhaps a day. The fact that piping marks were clearly visible indicates the batter was too thick or otherwise flawed (and might never work for a real macaron). And despite the crust and thickness, one shell still showed a fissure.

I don’t know if this was an aberration, not having seen other exemplars, but given the multiple problems, I wonder if they know what the product should actually be like. Permit me to assist:


Orange macaron with chocolate and seville orange marmelade ganache.

Making macarons isn’t easy, especially for home cooks. But it isn’t horrendously difficult for pastry chefs working in professional kitchens. I doubt that Melbourne lacks the talent, so I’m left wondering if some of these businesses are content to assume that punters will still buy mediocrity for lack of an immediate comparison. Excuse my cynicism.

For the closest thing to a serious macaron, go to La Tropézienne. For an entertaining, crunchy, rich cakey thing, go to Vue de Monde.

(Thanks to Josh for planning the first part of the macaron crawl!)

90 thoughts on “Melbourne’s not so great macarons, plus rubbish in Epicure”

  1. What timing! I had my first brush with Cafe Vue’s macarooooon last Friday and was wondering what they were getting at. Seemed more like a macaron but not really even that. I was planning to consult with you once I got my post up later this evening. 🙂

  2. The epicure article must be a bit of a blow! Sadly, however, I expect they probably didn’t approach ‘you’ to write it because they might have ended up with an article with a bit of substance…

    Tant pis pour eux (says DC in a pépé le pew accent!!)

  3. I hear your pain and I love that you are so passionate about the sublime macaroon. I too seek the perfect macaroon and alas, have been unable to find it even in my own kitchen thus far. Should you find it, please post it!
    We need more macaroon police out there! Let’s not take it any more! We demand the perfect French confection in Australia…is there not a French chef with an ounce of macaroon pride? I support you Duncan!

  4. I hear you Duncan!
    I’ve also had a macaron petit four at Jacques Reymond and fondly thought back to your salted caramel macarons, and wished I was eating that instead.
    So I guess the market is pretty open then for someone who knows what they are doing? (nag, nag);)

    I totally agree with you on Laurents macarons, I’d duck too, they are shite.

  5. Sweet and as airy as meringue is the best you could say about the Epicure article. It would have been so different had you been weilding the pen or waving the fingers – so to speak.

    Aaah yes, since Guillaume Brahimi commissioned David Menard of Noisette to supply his new restaurant, a great many of my favourite items have disappeared from the store including les Macarons, marshmallows and my beloved Palmiers. I suppose Monsieur Menard can only stretch himself and his little bakery so far.

    I hope you sampled something at Noisette in lieu of the macarons.

    Thought you might like this blog post on a cooking class with Pierre Herme that features a sexy Passionfruit and chocolate macaron photo.

  6. Thanks to all commenters. Grocer, I’ve eaten three children, knocked out an old man with three fennel bulbs and written to Kim Jong Il for some cyanide spray.

    Thanks for the explanation of the redirection of resources at Noisette, Sticky. Interesting. I saw the blog post you refer to the other day and was very jealous. Anyway, it seems macarons remain a restaurant product here — Darren Purchese used to make them at Fenix, i think, plus you mention Guillaume and Jack mentions Jacques Reymond…

  7. The article in the epicure was very disappointing. It seemed rather quickly put-together without a lot of substance.

    Anyway, I linked back through your blog to your macaron posts – very interesting and informative!

    Laurent used to give away a free macaron when you bought an ice-cream cone. From memory, (this was about 5 years ago) I really liked the ice-cream and kinda liked the macaron. But maybe that’s just because it was free. 😛

    My fave macarons are Pierre Hermes! Choc and Passionfruit. Divine.

    xox Sarah

  8. Duncan, I love how.. ahem.. picky you are about macarons (and justifiably so, judging by some of those macarons you tasted).

  9. Duncan, am I the only one that spots a business opportunity here for you? Your salted caramel, violet (totally amazing), rose and orange macarons look ten times better and tasted fantastic.

    That Vue macaron looks hideous. Most of the others ones don’t look that great either. Even I’ve managed to luck it and make one batch of macarons that looked better than all of these.

  10. Thanh, that’s very kind. Jackie has been nagging me for a while too;) And at this rate it’s entirely possible I’m pissed off enough to actually move in the direction you’ve both encouraged.

    Funnily, the Vue macaron was quite pleasant (if too heavy/big/alien) and I’d probably eat one again. As cake. Hideous is a pretty good description! You should have seen the look on my face when I opened the box.

  11. What an excellent review of macarons! I think one important trait to make a good macaron is to have the sheer passion for them. Even after a stressed day at my day job and I have to come home to fulfill some macaron orders the hubby says he could see my face light up when I make them. Especially when I pipe the filling and put that top shell on and watch the fat buttercream or ganache peek out betweeen the two cookies – I just love that part!

  12. Face it, Duncan.

    You are the Macaron Maestro, The Mogul of Macarons, The righter of Macawrongs, The Sheik of the Shell,

    You have spoiled me forever with your violet macarons. I seriously do not believe, anywhere in the world, I will ever again experience the amazement that I had when I bit into one.




    I will selflessly offer my services as your official taster.

  13. Oh dear oh dear… really, mine *aren’t* that good, though I’m glad people have loved them that much. Really. Put them next to the seriously good ones and mine are like orange juice concentrate against freshly squeezed beauty.

    (I don’t mind the title ‘The Righter of Macawrongs’… very good one PG!)

    Welcome Veron! Lovely to see an overseas macaroniste on board:) It’s fun isn’t it:)

  14. I like your descriptions Ella.

    Dunach, if your macarons are only orange juice concentrate, I can’t imagine how good the French ones are. Did you read the link Sticky put, those PH macarons sound so good. I think yours look as good, but you might have to come up with a lot more flavour combos. The Isaphan macaron sounds so good.

  15. Thanh, have you just given me a Vietnamese name?

    Yep, Veron’s pics on her site are great. I’m so jealous of her experience in a class with PH. I’ll be posting pics of more macarons in an upcoming *Paris review*. In the meantime, my birthday post also had a pic of the Ispahan;)

  16. Duncan, I would have *loved* to have seen your face when you opened the box with the Vue macaron. Put me down as another lover of your macarons 🙂

  17. “so I’m left wondering if some of these businesses are content to assume that punters will still buy mediocrity for lack of an immediate comparison.”
    I think this is a key point!!! I feel incredibly disappointed by some of the products and eateries that are recommended or promoted in Epicure- at times I wonder if it’s me or them who has lost the plot??? A criticism of blogs and bloggers I have encountered is that they are anal and pedantic, but for me- a non-blogger with a much more than passing interest in food (read: obsession), Epicure increasingly strike me as pack of dilettantes. The more I learn about the food I’m interested in cooking and eating, the more Epicure irritates me with it’s breezy, bourgois, advertising-maximised approach. They fail to recognise that blogs are not actually about Journalism – although some bloggers also happen to be great writers. To me they are about conversation more than anything, and the intensification of specific interests/knowledge (for example, Macarons). At the end of the day in a media duopoly, I think I expect too much of Epicure- they have enjoyed a lack of pressure from competitors and dominance of the food media. The fact that JL manages to get paid three times- in epicure, GT and melbourne monthly mag- for essentially the same review, case in point. I think food-nerds like me read Epicure because it’s there, not because it’s particularly good. Their market is actually the average, voyeuristic punter, and the upper middle classes who eat expensive food because that’s what rich people do, not because they know anything about it- or particularly care. Apologies for the long-windedness of this post- will conclude by saying that next week I’m having a baking night with a friend who wants to make Macarons, and I know whose instructions I will be referring to!!!

  18. Thanks, Agnes!

    Welcome Jessie. Love your project (visit Jessie’s site!). And thanks for the input too. Foodmags do have a difficult line to tread — advertising is essential for their survival, so they don’t want to challenge the lifestyle readership too much — but intelligent articles should be able to strike a balance between information and reader comfort (we’ll ignore the unrealistic pedants). Using non-specialist writers to write in a foodmag is, of course, stoopid, but happening more and more.

  19. Sorry Duncs, a typo regarding the name.

    I saw that Ispahan macaron on your birthday post. It looked so good and that’s the one that caught my eye on Veron’s post about her day with PH. I can’t wait to make these yummy macarons *wink wink*.

  20. Glad you enjoyed tape projects site!
    To be fair to Epicure, which I realise I have just slagged off out of hand, they do have some great contributors doing interesting features on regular basis. It is the dumbed-down “lifestyle” angle that I can’t relate to. I started reading Saveur a few years ago and have since keenly felt the absence of anything comparable in Australia. Well, aside from all these good blogs, actually!

  21. Not having tasted a macaron, I did find something in one of those cake shops along Acland St in St Kilda that could be one? It didn’t have the smooth shell, but it dissolves with the crunch, and I do like the ganache inside.

  22. Hi Duncan,
    I just wanted to let you know how much I have enjoyed your blog! It’s probably the best online macaron class I know! Thank you soo much for it! Keep inspiring!

    I stumbled onto an amazing world of macaron and what a wonderful world it is.

    In Sydney, Lindt cafe does pretty good macaron – though they call it delice. I have never tried Adrian’s – love to see what that is like.

    BTW – happy belated birthday – this comnpletely inspired by our GOD, master picasso of pastry, PH, and dedicated to you for your generousity of sharing.

    Kobe the beefeater

  23. Welcome KtB… do you have a blog? Your URL seems to be wrong…

    Thanks heaps for your comment! Glad it has been inspiring for you:) (And nice photo, thanks!)

    I’m looking forward to trying the Lindt ones, in no small part because I’ve heard both praising and damning descriptions of their product. We shall seeeeeee.

  24. Duncan… very interesting, and almost too well-timed. I was taken to Maling Road Canterbury for lunch on Saturday, and we chanced a table at Brown’s Bakery – and what should be nestling on a display tray but a small contingent of tri-coloured macarons? Very small, smaller than I have encountered previously, but appeared perfectly formed, even down to their rough-trod little feet. Alas, I did not sample any, so cannot offer enlightenment there, however, they did appear to be the genuine article… (but I can heartily NOT recommend their hot baked goods – tasteless beef glue masquerading as a sausage roll, and ghastly microwaved beef pies… UGH). Still, perchance their sweet baked goods will prevail?

  25. Do you think those Vue ones were meant to be a joke? Perhaps they really were making them look like a Big Mac. Looking forward to more of yours sometime.

  26. Right-o, I’m well jealous of having to listen to you lot rhapsodising over how wonderful Duncan’s macarons were. Send. Some. To Perth. Please!!

  27. Cupcaker, i popped into my local Brown’s this morning and yes, they too now have UGLY macarons. Couldn’t be bothered trying one today. Little plump things with sharp nipples. Again, I have to say this looks like cynical business — we’ll sell you shit because we think you might not know any better.

    JSL… you’ll just have to try making your own:) Come on!

  28. Nipples on macarons? Good grief!!!!! I fear that Brown’s has gone the way of Laurent – mass wholesale production to supply each outlet, instead of individual store production… when will these “bakers” learn that customers DO know crap from Adam? What a shame they weren’t up to par… the hunt is on!

  29. Oh I think the centralised production has been there for a while. Even a brand like Philippa’s in Melbourne has probably managed to maintain an impression of the ‘artisanal’ despite having moved some time back to much more industrial production (if I correctly understand some of the bitching from artisan bakers).

  30. Just thought I’d add that I’ve seen macarons at Jones the Grocer in the revamped fresh food market of Doncaster Shoppo. They didn’t look particularly inviting. *Sigh*

  31. I remember having a VdM macaron shortly after tasting yours at the first bloggers banquet, and I was pretty darned disappointed. I expected the good from VdM to be rather better than they were (although I don’t think anything can beat home-cooked).

    I’m currently trying to find some in Canberra… no luck to date, maybe I’m looking in the wrong places. Although I have found quite a few macaroons.

  32. Dear S&T, I was just that slightly disappointed to read that you did not include the macarons sold by Fuji Mart.

    I had an odd hankering for macarons today and meandered into Fuji Mart to find myself purchasing 6 black sesame macarons for $7.50. They were in perfect shape, not overly sweet and absolutely divine.

    All I know of them is that they were baked at a certain Amami Bakery in Bentleigh East and had roughly 7.5g of fat each 🙂

  33. Welcome Cat. As no-one had tipped me off about Fuji Mart until this week and I don’t have a magical divining rod for macarons, Fuji Mart wasn’t on my radar. I shall attempt to get out that way soon.

    Sarah, any idea where Jones the Grocer is sourcing theirs from?

  34. Not sure.. I can’t say they looked too great though, hehe. I’ll try and get a photo, and ask them next time I’m in Shoppo!

    xox Sarah

  35. your post really full fill a macaroon fan , i have a more worst situation in my kitchen , miss use of macaron , consider torturing macaron beauty, but i really like the your post, very helpful ..

  36. Hi Duncan,

    I stumbled across this blog entry recently which I thought was most enlightening and I agree that the Epicure article seemed a little vague and fluffy to me even though I know little about macarons. I’ve never had a macaron before but I know some food bloggers are absolutely crazy about them so I had decided to go out and sample at Laurent after reading Epicure (since I haven’t seen any in Noisette, my usual haunt, for a while) but I have since decided to delay my first macaron experience. I have seen photos of what they are supposed look like on blogs and the evdience in your photos here was a little appalling, especially the Vue de Monde ones. Maybe I need to be adventursome and try to bake some.


  37. i had one at Cafe Vue at one of their cocktail nights a couple of weeks ago, and I couldnt finish it. It had honey poured over it and in the middle was whitechocolate icecream. it was too sweet and the macaron itself was too sweet and crumbled to bits as i bit into it.

  38. Have you heard about Adriano Zumbo in Balmain, Sydney? He is causing quite a stir with his macarons. Whilst I’m not a food critic (just a foodie), I’ve tried Pierre Hermé macarons in Paris and Zumbos are on par. His website doesn’t give you any information but there have been a couple of blogs that mention him:

    I’m addicted to his macarons. It’s worth the flight to Sydney.

  39. A very timely comment, Nadia! I’ve just been in Sydney and am writing up some observations. Zumbo is *not* going to win any prizes… at least not from the three I sampled. More on this in the next few days.

  40. Hey, I just came to Melbourne in April to study and I am craving for macarons. I am from singapore and macarons are very popular there and there’s this place with good macarons, you can check it out at but coming here to Melbourne, i haven’t been able to find any good macarons and I LOVE THEM I MUST HAVE ONE EVERY WEEK! lol, do u know of any gd places tht would have them? I kno u mentioned a few in ur article but perhaps there are new places which make them now? haha, or do u make any for sale??? I would glady buy ur Lavendar ones, they are my fav flavours along with rose and pistachio

  41. HI Felicia. The comments here and in later macaron posts give you all the info currently available about places in Melbourne.

  42. dear Duncan,
    just ate a macaron from aJapanese grocery shop near Prahran market. It is just divine! Asked them who made them, answer: a Japanese pastry chef, that goes under name of Amami patisserie.I would like to have his address, but they would not reveal it. I checked with Yellow and White Pages, but to no avail!
    Don’t know if you have any idea how I could contact that Amami patisserie? We have a small cafe, and would like to stock his macarons.

  43. I have never eaten a macaron outside of Melbourne, and hence was of the belief that they are pretty things that look tempting but taste bad. However, we did get a chocolate flavoured one from Jones the Gorcer (Chadstone) and it was edible, or at least more edible than the previous ones I’ve had to force down. *sigh*

  44. I came across your page when googling for new bakeries, and your article on macarons interested me. I can understand your pain. I live in Melbourne, and I adore french pastries – particularly mont blanc and strawberry frasier. A lot of the cake shops here are lackluster; they subsituite creme chantilly with buttercream, dry dacqoise sponge or cut corners by using bad quality sugar.

    The best macarons are from Le Petit Gateau (Lt Bourke) and Tea Room (NGV). For macaroons, Philippa’s of Armadale makes a decent selection.

  45. Welcome tsu. It would be a miracle if Le Petit Gateau is producing anything really great, but your mention of it gives us some hope, I guess. Macaroooons (Philippa’s) don’t matter.

  46. Hmmm, this is a fairly interesting article you have there Duncan. So far I have only tried the ones at Lindt. If there aren’t that many good macaroons sources in Melbourne as what you said, I might consider going back home in Singapore to find that elusive awesome one.

    Is there anything I should take note of macaroons in terms of taste and texture?

  47. Duncan, your comment (number 30) may be on the money. I feel a little like the odd one out as so many comments are from fellow macaron lovers, who know a good macaron. Never having tried one, bad or good, I’d have no idea. I know what tastes good, but if one has never had the pleasure of the best, how can one know
    the worst? The fact, for instance that macaron shouldn’t be crunchy, is something I only know now, having read your blog. Surely there must be many more like me. People trusting they are eating the real deal. Those who have perhaps had dodgy macaron, but have NO idea they are dodgy as this is all they have known?

    Now you see, I am fortunate enough to have you educate me, I am tempted, all be it nervously to try my hand at macaron. I now know a good one has ‘feet’, but no nipples! I know they need to sit but not for too long. I will refer to various books as well before attempting.

    I am enlightened, but the light is still a crack in the door I think. Until I am fortunate enough to taste a really delicious authentic macaron, I’ll be unsure if anything I can create is decent, and perhaps trying to find one in Melbourne is pointless still some twelve months after your review?

    *How shameful of staff at Vue to laugh at your sister.

  48. Hi Coby, I was like you previously, having never tried a macaron from a “professional”. The only ones I could go on were Duncan’s, but I still knew they were fantastic. You just know when something is good. Obviously, you do need to have other references to separate the best from the worst.

    A macaron shouldn’t be crunchy, but if you prefer eating it that way, you can make them like that. It’s just that the way things are meant to be is usually the best tasting. A macaron just tastes so much better when the shell is a bit crunchy and then melts away in your mouth with the middle slightly chewy.

    I think you should just give them a go. The worse that can happen is they won’t turn out right in terms of looks and texture, but usually they still taste really good. The thing most people get hung up on, myself included, is trying to get the macaron perfect in terms of taste, texture and looks. But I’ve found that the “bad” ones still tasted delicious.

    You should check out the ones at Cafe Lindt. I tried 4 flavours (strawberry, pistachio, hazelnut and champagne) at the Chadstone store, and two were excellent (strawberry and champagne) and two were ok. That will give you a starting reference point, until we can both make it to Paris to try what are supposedly the best ones.

    Hope all that encourages you to join the macaron craze and give them a try.


  49. @Coby, Thanh: great comments, both!

    Thanh’s most recent Lindt experience (Melbourne, *empathically not* Sydney) indicates there may be occasions when their local pastry chefs are producing a good product. I still hear occasional good reports about Noisette in Port Melbourne too, though have never seen the evidence to try it.

    Thanh is absolutely right, Coby — even (most) not-quite-perfect macaron attempts yield something that is enjoyable with a nice ganache or buttercream inside. It is *essential* to follow a recipe (any, or mine) carefully, and to accept that it might take one or two goes before things come close to the correct appearance.

    And it is certainly the case that *most* people immediately understand why the Ladurée or Hermé macarons really are exquisite if they get to try them… the difference between a crunchy/overly chewy/underfilled/etc mac and one which has a lightly crisp shell, a soft middle, a good filling is striking and like a thunderbolt for many who have never tried the real deal before.

  50. Thanh and Duncan thanks to you both. I can only *expect* then to initially end up with mediocre macaron when I create them myself and work toward magnificent! Would really have preferred to have tasted excellence so I had a taste-texture point of reference, but having had a picture painted for me in words, I might have a reasonable idea of what to aim for, and I am grateful:)

  51. After trying Laduree macaroons in Paris I too have been obsessing about them ever since. I have for years tried to buy decent macs in Melbourne without much luck. My most recent attempt almost resulted in a broken tooth (Jones the Grocer at Chadstone. So far the macs from [EDITED due to spam from the shop mentioned, name now deleted], although the ones at the new Chadstone Lindt cafe aren’t bad. My obsession rubbed off on a friend who did the mac class at Savour last week. This week she took a few of us for a 9-hour lesson which resulted in some pretty nice macs ‘tho we have a long way to go. Have just reread your old mac blogs which, having joined the ranks as a macaron tryhard cook are now even more relevant. Thanks for the great hints. I love Haigh’s voilet creams and would love to make voilet macs…can I source the flavourings in Melb.?

  52. Thank you for your lovely site and your fantastic information on macarons. I have become a macaronophile and am obsessed with perfecting the little darlings. I have been making macarwrongs of late with a few macarons showing there little feet (slowly but surely you have to chip away). Just a little question for you. I have heard from Savour in Melbourne that Herme has actually come to Savour to do a workshop with the staff there. I have also heard that he was a consultant for the Delice (Lindt macarons) for the Sydney Lindt shop. Could that be true?

  53. I would just like to say that the macaron I had at Vue du Monde, ie in the actual restaurant not at Cafe Vue, was small, perfectly formed and very good. No porosity or cakiness I could detect. Not in Pierre Herme or Laduree’s league though, of course.

  54. This post answers my question from another post- sorry I didn’t find it sooner. I can’t believe that shoddy Epicure article (did it really list almond milk as an ingredient??).
    Have you been to FujiMart? I love the place for my Japanese supplies, and for the crazy $2.50 homewares section but I haven’t tried the macarons. Yet.

  55. to answer corry’s question (#60), ph is lindt’s consultant for their delice line as well as their entremets.

  56. Just in from Browns at Maling Road, Canterbury. Absolutely awful macaroons, as they call them. Small, cheap both in price ($1.85) and quality. A range of flavours offered, I bought a blood orange and a pistachio. The pistachio was flavourless and as crunchy as a piece of honeycomb although not as chewy. I prised apart the blood orange and the filling fell onto my plate in bits. Mean and well below acceptable quality. No sheen on either.

  57. @Corry & catgrrrl: in the end it doesn’t matter who is consultant to anyone if the manufacturer can’t actually produce the goods. (And increasing reports to me about Lindt Melbourne would indicate there are exactly the same awful quality issues as at Lindt Sydney.)

    @baker: Fujimart’s macarons look nice. I haven’t tried them as I got sick of paying for crap macarons in Melbourne.

    @KK: Par for the course, sadly. Thanks for the info!

  58. Re the Laurent macarons – I recently enquired at the Chadstone store regarding an order for my wedding breakfast of 30 assorted macarons. My list of questions included lead time required when ordering, shelf life and recommended storage. The reply saw me leaving the store with no further thought of ordering the product from Laurent ‘Well, they come in frozen, so lead time need only be a day. You just tell us when you want them, we’ll take them out of the freezer that morning and you could collect them within 30 minutes as they only take this long to thaw. As for shelf life, they are good for one day only’. I don’t know a lot about macarons, except good ones look delightful and (ideally) taste the same, but the thought of a frozen product really turned me off. I think I’ll have to fly to Paris for the wedding!!

  59. @MissShirley: Freezing is a pretty common technique in commercial contexts and doesn’t necessarily have a bad effect on the product (I’ve been experimenting recently). Care has to be taken in slow defrosting. However, why on earth would you buy the rubbish macarons at Laurent??. They have been so seriously substandard on most of my visits.

  60. Clearly I will no longer consider ordering from Laurent; I naively enquired with them having enjoyed some of their other baked goods in the past. But now I have seen the light and have been well and truly educated by the results of your research and will be visting La Tropézienne this weekend to see what’s on offer. I should not be outraged if they too stock a frozen product? If so do you have any tips for a successful slow defrost?

  61. @MissShirley: La Tropézienne might be ok. They certainly seem most consistent in the relative quality of their product. In reality, it shouldn’t be the customer who has to deal with the frozenness issue. The macarons should be delivered to you in correct edible state, post-defrosting. I would make it very clear to whichever provider you choose that you will not pay for product which is soft or inconsistent.

    Freezing is just one of those necessary evils of small-turnover environments. Macarons are labour intensive, so making a large batch and freezing is expedient, and okay if done well. (There is even frozen product being imported from France, perhaps for use in hotels or catering, though not what I’d recommend for the personal touch of a wedding.)

  62. Duncan thank you for your macaron wisdom. I feel reassured about the frozen product issue but will do as you say and insist on consistency of quality and non-softness.
    [EDITED due to spam from the shop mentioned, name now deleted] recently advertised a Strawberry and Rose version as part of their Valentines Day promotion. They have an outlet in Doncaster so I shall investigate and report.

  63. Definitely give Le Tropezienne a try. We went there Monday to try their macs after seeing last Sat’s Age A2 revue, and found them to be VERY good – certainly better than most of the others available in Melb and equal to [EDITED due to unrelated spam from the shop mentioned]. We met the charming pastrycook Angela, who I’m sure will be delighted to help you with your wedding macs.

  64. Hi Duncan,
    Love your sight and your honesty, it is so refreshing… I too go crazy for a macaroon and have not yet found a decent one in Copenhagen Denmark where I am writing from!
    I’d like to send my Aussie sister in Melbourne some french macaroons and wonder if you have a better idea. To bad Pierre Hermé hasn’t found a way to provide them to your end of the world! Can you provide a better option than la Tropézienne, internet address??? Much appreciated and thanks,

  65. Just went Melbourne macaron-stalking from deprived Tassie. First stop, Noisette. It has been almost three years since my last Parisienne macaron, so I was well and truly in a state of high anticipation. Noisette was the first stop. They looked a bit puffier than I remembered, but I was hopeful. Chocolate, the obligatory pistache, and the recommended lemon. Not perfect by any means…a bit too chewy. They were just on the bland side, except for the lemon (my server’s recommendation), which tasted to me strongly of lemon essence (yuk). I would never get the lemon again, but as macaron starved as I was, the others weren’t terrible. I was eager to be generous. Then
    Laurent. Non, non, non. All generousity departed. Inconsistently shaped and actually misshapen smaller macarons (macarooooons). Too everything. Crunchy, chewy, bland. I had to stop my server from giving me a broken one – which he then sheepishly added to my box gratis. There were several dead ends in the search for the elusive macaron: Liason’s pastry chef apparently left to start Baker D Cirico (I am definitely out of the loop)…and they had sold out (of macarooooons). Lindt Cafe’s “Delice” were the best of the lot. Lightly crispy, melt-in-the-mouth shell, not too chewy. Champagne and black currant were quite nice, some others a bit bland. At least I didn’t have to call them macaroooons! Still, with no macarons in Tasmania, it was a fun trip. I cannot understand why we have such a hard time replicating the macaron.

  66. @Birgitte: velkommen. Check for their telephone number.

    @Margaret: thanks for your own survey of product in Melbourne. Sounds like you struck a good day at Lindt, cos I hear increasing numbers of people complaining about how poor their quality control is.

  67. I would ask my normal readers to excuse the following:

    To the spamming PR bastards with IP and email addresses,,, DO NOT EVER leave a comment here again. Promoting your overrated shop with pseudo-genuine enthusiastic comments is in breach of the terms of this site and just bloody rude. Piss off. Your shop will NEVER be mentioned on this blog again and all previous mentions have been erased.

  68. Hi Duncan,
    your salted caramel is tops! does yours become dull as it cools? i know that if you over mix it, it does. why are you so definite about the 108c?

    i have spent several weekends slaving over the elusive “m” so have a few questions…
    1. how do you get the sheen? my later efforts have looked promising but after cooking they are dull. i do have a fan forced oven (your recent info on ovens as always excellent!) and wonder if this is the problem?
    2. you mention ‘silpat’ i have stuck with silicon paper +/- canola spray wirh pretty good release results. why do you prefer the former?
    3. i want to add a liquid flavouring to the macaron how do you alter the ratios to accommodate this?


  69. @timham: your comment should really have been under the relevant article. The sheen is reputedly related to the age of the eggwhite, but I’ve never had a problem with sheen, so can’t verify that. I don’t prefer silpat. You need to experiment for yourself with the flavourings. I can’t divine the amount or type or viscosity of the stuff you’re adding.

  70. I was in Albert Park at a place called Salon T in Bridport St today and noticed they had some cute pink macarons. I had already ordered so didnt get one, but they looked delicious. I’ll have to go back and check them out. Has anyone else tried theirs??

  71. Also, Im an at home macaron (not macaroon) baker – and Im in love with the book “I (heart) Macarons” by Hisako Ogita – Ive had pretty good success at home. I especially love the section on what to do with the left over egg yolks.

  72. I love macarons…so much fun experimenting with different flavours and what not. Still a lot to learn, I’ve certainly had a few failures.

    I also hate it when people call french macarons ‘macaroons’….I noticed at Laurent the sign for them read ‘macaroon’ and it disturbed me.

    I haven’t actually tried the macarons from Le Petit Gateau, but I saw them numerous times when I was doing work experience there and they looked great (they even had a mentos flavoured one one time!)…they sell them there most days, but they change their flavours around regularly…..Apparently they’re good….I intend to go back and test this for myself one time.

  73. Duncan, I think I could give you a run for your (macaron) money – having only ever tasted yours I went on to make my own and damn, they are so good! I cannot believe those pics you posted, how on earth do they get away with selling such rubbish?? so, I’m now selling mine at my local farmer’s market and anywhere else that will have them. =) I just love love love baking these little beauties. thank you for inspiring me!

  74. I just had to add something, I was hooked on macarons from a trip to Japan a few years ago when I picked up a 6 pack of Pierre Hermes. Since then I have wandered around trying to find ANYTHING that is of any comparison in Melbourne. After trying numerous independent bakers and chocolate cafes (and once, I tried Laurent… so disgusting) I have come to the conclusion that the Lindt macarons are the closest I will ever come to a proper macaron in Melbourne. Then again, I haven’t had a Duncan’s one.

  75. Mor people in Tasmania seem to be hearing about Macarons (Master Chef?)…and the number of terrible imitations is increasing. Bleh. Lots of people thinking that they know what they are but really have never tasted a REAL one.

  76. Lani, did you find out the contact details for Amami? I was in Fujimart the other day and they are giving out his email address for orders.

  77. I don’t pretend to know a lot about macarons, but have sampled a few and I like the ones at [NAME OF ESTABLISHMENT REMOVED] – have you tried them?
    Whoule love to hear what you think of them!

    [Duncan’s editorial note: Mention of one establishment in Melbourne (edited out above) has been banned on this site for a long time due to the number of self-promoting comments left by them (a PR technique known as “shilling”). This ban applies to all mentions of the establishment on Syrup & Tang, even by presumably genuine commenters such as the person above.]

  78. I have just heard about a new restaurant in Canberra that sells them: Dieci e Mezze in Mort St, Braddon. The reviews of the restaurant seem good, so let’s hope les macarons sont aussi bons!

  79. Due to the high number of comments attempting to advertise various producers, I’m closing the comments function on this post. I’m not willing to sift through the seemingly genuine and the fake comments to try and maintain the honesty of the comments, so it’s easier to just stop them.

Comments are closed.