My quest to start a whoopie pie stand of my very own in a Chicago farmers market.
I recently made the rough journey…okay, 25-minute walk on one of the nicest days we’ve had in a while…to Bittersweet Pastry Shop with my boyfriend and a few old friends to try some macarons. If you’ve never been, I would highly recommend going if not for the gorgeous pastries, at least for the clean, chic atmosphere. It’s just a really beautiful, light-filled cafe (and it doesn’t hurt that both times I’ve gone they’ve had mouthwatering samples of their cake at the door).
I mean just look at the table decoration:
And the scrumptious café au lait:
Anyway, the macarons: they had four available flavors.
I have been to Bittersweet before, but it was pre-macaron-stand-dreams, so while I did try the macarons, I didn’t really pay them enough attention. However, this time you can be sure I paid them enough attention. As did my companions.
Bittersweet macarons in one word: different. In a few words connected by ellipsis: not really macarons…more cookies. They’re fine if you like cookies and cookie sandwiches, but these really lacked the light, crispy shell, soft interior feel of what I think of when I think macaron. The almond was especially bizarre. Some thoughts on the almond included, “it’s hard!” and “kind of stiff” and “it’s like an Oreo.”
“No, it’s not crumbly like an Oreo. A stale Oreo maybe.”
My boyfriend took a bite of the almond and all of the filling shot out of the sides. Really? I feel like that’s kind of unheard of in a macaron. They all were served straight out of the cooler, and this shooting-out-the-sides phenomenon happened even after I allowed them a good 10 minute warm-up. I know first hand that temperature has a big influence on macarons, and I’ve seen that said elsewhere. Cold buttercream just isn’t a desirable texture, so I think Bittersweet’s macarons would fare much better if kept on top of or next to the refrigerated case instead of inside. But alas, I do not run Bittersweet.
As for the other flavors, Cassie said the raspberry was “intense” and that she felt the sugar flowing directly into her veins.
I thought the raspberry was the most traditional in texture, and had quite a good complex flavor. A bit chewy in texture like the others though. The pistachio was also good, but standard in flavor. Maybe the only one I would order again.
The chocolate was…
…well let’s just say it wouldn’t win any macaron beauty contests. It looks like they just didn’t grind their almonds fine enough, resulting in a super bumpy shell.
It also wouldn’t win any macaron texture contests as evidenced by my face at first bite:
The ganache, while intensely chocolatey and delicious, was extremely dense. The cookie itself was also thick and toothsome. It was just a good chocolate cookie, but I wouldn’t call it a macaron. I’m not even being a snob or macaron purist (really, guys!). It was just completely crispy shell-less.
If I had to compare these to Vanille’s, I would say the chocolate certainly beat Vanille’s in terms of flavor, but Vanille has Bittersweet knocked out cold in terms of texture across the board. Maybe they were just old. Maybe they were just cold. Either way, they just weren’t macaron-y.
Just for fun (because macarons are supposed to be fun):