It all started a few months ago at work, when, during a client meeting, macarons became the topic of discussion. Though we could agree on campaign ideas, we could not agree on who we thought made the best Macarons in Toronto. So we decided to throw a macaron taste-off at our next meeting.Three main Toronto patisseries were the top contenders on this taste-off: La Bamboche, a patisserie with two locations in Toronto known for serving authentic French macarons and croissants; MoRoCo Chocolat, a leading purveyor of luxury chocolate and the city’s most luscious chocolate boutique; and Nadege, a patisserie in the Queen West area featuring traditional French delights.
With two bottles of Prosecco on-hand, a work agenda and a dozen macarons from each contender, we began a blind tasting between a panel of eight food savvy women.
The macarons from each store were placed on a plate, exactly a dozen on each, on top of a piece of paper that was numbered and had the name of the macaron maker hidden underneath. Only the event planner knew which number matched back to its corresponding store. The judging criteria was as follows:
- Taste – based on sweetness and “melt-in-your-mouth” feel
- Texture – the texture of the outer shell, the texture of the inner shell, and consistency (cookie-to-filling ratio)
- Flavour – based on only three main flavours for exact comparison purposes: Chocolate, Vanilla and Strawberry (lavender for those that did not offer strawberry)
Each contender could be awarded up to 5 points for each criteria. The macaron shop with the most points, will be crowned Best Macaron Maker in Toronto.
To kick-off the challenge, we started by defining what a macaron is. A macaron is a sweet meringue-based confectionery made with egg whites, icing sugar, granulated sugar, almond powder or ground almond, and food colouring. The macaron is commonly filled with ganache, butter-cream or jam filling sandwiched between two cookies.
Macarons have become the ultimate delicacy in baking due to its rather complex cooking process as they require planning, precision and patience. They are also one of the most coveted pastries at parties and events. And apparently at work meetings too.
After many “yums” and “hums”, we found a winner (contender #1) that had excelled on all three criteria based on having a chocolate ganache filling that was simply decadent and slightly chewy with a perfect 1:1 ratio. A crunchy, but not crumbly, outer shell with no large air bubbles or empty pockets; and the most versatile flavours, hitting home-run with its chocolate and lavender kind for the perfect balance of sweetness and nuttiness.
Our favorite all-around winner, MoRoCo Chocolat, with 61 points, was officially named Macaron maker of the year!
MoRoCo was chosen as the winner for hitting all marks. It also won additional praise for offering unique flavours that we continued to try after the taste-off. Lavender cassis, pistachio and red velvet, were all favourites that we fought to get our hands on.
When pitted against each other, it was a bit disheartening to find minor faults with macarons that we had previously thought were the best. The other two contenders by no means had bad tasting macarons; they were almost as good as the winner, but with nuances on texture or flavour.
Nadege took second spot with 57 points, only 4 points shy from the winner.
Though Nadege was a favourite first for a few of us given its silky smooth shell and the fact that their macarons had the perfect bit-size diameter, compared to MoRoCo’s larger version; the filling was a bit too chewy for our taste and some felt it was too sweet.
La Bamboche, to my surprise, took third place with 45 points.
From all three shops, the macarons from La Bamboche had the best melt-in-your mouth feel with a filling that was slightly chewy yet not overpowering. We found however that their filling-to-cookie ratio was not an exact 1 to 1, and some commented the outer shell was a bit too crumbly.
Admittedly so, all three stores had killer maracon concepts but the panel of judges was a tough one. All women in these panel had years of eating-indulgence experience and most of them have traveled to French cities were these delicacies originated. So the verdict was in, and like it or not, this macaron taste-off proved us nobody really knows what “best” means, until a blind tasting is on.
A big thank you to my agency and clients for being a conduit to this amazing day of Macarons and Prosecco.
Until next time Foodies!