Cacao’s macaron are as intense and as flamboyant as Marie Antoinette. Some of Melbourne’s best.
The world of sweets have become a popularity contest. For some reason, Melbourne has become enamoured with l’amour for macarons. Late last year, a macaron competition was covered by the print media with great fanfare, while the crafty use of social media saw floods of band-wagoning bloggers and others flock like zombies to the opening of a specialty macaron store in the inner South. This year, two slices of Paris teleported itself into a laneway and an arcade, and an advertising beetle car covered in macarons traipsed across the city. It furthermore no longer seems to be possible to have an afternoon tea without seeing these little sweet biscuits featuring on your three-tiered silver service. And, almost every chocolate/sweet specialty boutique now stocks a range of these little round critters alongside delectable traditional chocolate products. Cacao is one of these long-standing specialty chocolate boutiques to do so, but it does so well.
To walk off a lovely weekend lunch at Golden Fields, MoMo & Coco spotted the original Cacao chocolate specialty boutique just along Fitzroy Street. Stepping in to escape sudden gale-like winds, we could not resist purchasing a full set of Cacao’s macarons ($28.95 for a set, or $2.50 each, presented in a very sturdy column box), and a few chocolate bites…despite having had three too many desserts at Golden Fields. MoMo & Coco admit that we have sampled Cacao’s macarons and chocolate products before, multiple times, pre-blog and post-blog, but ahh…life is a box of chocolates, sugar and butter… 😛
The Salty Caramel Macaron is what it should be — an interplay of sweet and salty, sprinkled with salt granules, “hand harvested sea salt from Brittany.” It’s however, slightly inclined to the sweeter side. For precise accuracy, it probably should be called a Caramel Macaron.
The Tangy Lemon Macaron comprises a zesty lemon cream pressed between two lemony meringue discs. It’s strangely pleasurable as simultaneously sour and sweet. It is more powerful than La Belle Miette‘s version.
The Passionfruit Macaron is a luminiscent setting sun. A 70% single origin dark chocolate ganache is sandwiched between a robustly-flavoured passionfruit meringue. It makes MoMo & Coco’s favourite list.
The Raspberry Cream Macaron is a wholesome sweet, creamy, subtly acidic bite. It is a good macaron, but for a truer raspberry flavour, MoMo & Coco prefers La Belle Miette‘s version, it’s hard to beat.
The Strawberry and Cream Macaron is a prettily speckled white shell, pressing a strawberry filling that is beautifully evocative of a field of strawberries. Thankfully, it does not taste as artificial as most strawberry-flavoured things, and indeed, Cacao’s exquisite strawberry macaron surpasses La Belle Miette‘s version.
The Short Mac Macaron is the perfect macaron for lovers of coffee and chocolate. The meringue discs are lightly coffee flavoured, sandwiching a 70% strong dark chocolate ganache that isn’t too rich despite its 70% claim.
The Dark Chocolate Macaron is the ultimate chocolate lover’s fantasy. However, although it is supposed to be a 60% Grenade chocolate between chocolate meringue, it doesn’t quite reach that same dark velvety richness as La Belle Miette‘s version. Nevertheless, it is a good chocolate macaron.
The Jam & Cream Lamington Macaron looks like a mini-hamburger, and contains a thin slash of strawberry jam with cream pressed between two light chocolate coconut discs, sprinkled with coconut snowflakes. This lamington interpretation doesn’t however really succeed. It tastes more like a light chocolate macaron.
The Pistachio Macaron is a green little alien, crusted with pistachio flecks. If you like pistachio, you will love this. It’s just as nutty — the flavour of the meringue shell and filling, the little pistachio flecks on the surface and also little pistachio bits hiding within the cream. One of the more strongly-flavoured pistachio ones we have had.
The Fresh Mint Macaron, for some strange, we were unable to reconcile its taste to its name. It contains a filling that tasted more of a zesty lime, than a minty one. Nevertheless, a refreshing contrast to the sweetness.
The French Vanilla Macaron lives up to its name. Patriotically featuring the colours of the French flag, it’s a delicate vanilla macaron, perfect for the not too-sweet-tooth.
The Violet and Blackcurrant Cassis Macaron makes MoMo & Coco’s favourite list, an exquisite creation of blackcurrant meringe and a ganache of violet cream and cassis. It’s almost like eating a very French Kir cocktail, simply hmmmm…irresistible…
Cacao macarons are good macarons —
- In terms of appearance — Cacao’s macarons do generally suffer from “appearance injuries.” In this sampling, a few of Cacao’s macarons contained large hollow air pockets encased within their meringue discs, often sustained when macarons are baked at too low temperatures for too long. Others lacked symmetry in formation, with lop-sided shells, protruding frilly foots or barely any foot at all (foot is the rim of the shell). Conversely, slightly too high temperatures are usually the cause of these problems.There also seems to be a general tendency to be flatties, rather than fatties.
In terms of taste — If La Belle Miette can be beaten, it is perhaps in this category. All Cacao’s macarons are high-powered, vibrantly flavoursome. None are insipdly-flavoured, all-sugar mediocre messes commonly found elsewhere. The ganache filling of each macaron is generous. There are many stand-outs: Lemon, Passionfruit, Short Mac, Strawberry, Pistachio, French Vanilla and Cassis macarons. A few macarons perhaps, may be more accurately re-named (the Salty Caramel and Fresh Mint).
In terms of texture — A consistent trait from this and past samplings, most possess the sought-after balance of crispness, airiness and just slight chewyness. Never crunchy, never soggy, never sticky.
With regards to maturation – “Maturation” (ie allowing to stand for a day or so, or refrigerate for a few hours) is not necessary. Cacao’s macarons may be eaten on the day of purchase.
Overall, if La Belle Miette offers the pretty, chic, Audrey Hepburn-esque Parisian version of macarons, Cacao creates the more intense, flamboyant, Marie Antoinette-esque Versailles version (with frilly hems to match!). For consistency in texture, perfection in form, accuracy in label, and delicacy of flavour, the prize goes to macarons from La Belle Miette. For strength of taste and vividity of colour, Cacao wins the accolade. Take a box of both home and it’s like having the best of two French amants.
Dessert adventure checklist
- ☑ Dessert destination: Cacao Fine Chocolates and Patisserie. 52 Fitzroy Street, St Kilda, Vic 3182. Three other locations.
- ☑ Budget: $.
- ☑ Sweet irresistibles: Macarons.
- ☑ Must-eat: The “Passionfruit,” “Strawberry,” “Pistachio” and “Cassis” macarons.
- ☑ The short and sweet story: Cacao’s macaron are as intense and as flamboyant as Marie Antoinette. Some of Melbourne’s best.