Thursday, April 17, 2014

Chantal Guillon Macarons

I eat a surprising number of macarons, for someone who doesn't really like them.  It isn't like I've never tried good macarons.  I've had the ones from Top Chef: Just Dessert's winner Yigit Pura, at Tout Sweet.  I've had the famous Luxemburgerli from Zurich.  Not that I think macarons taste bad, but in the realm of sweet treats, I would just never pick them.

Well, unless we are talking about foie gras macarons, like the black sesame and foie mousse filled ones I had at a special dinner at Alexander's.  And for regular, sweet macarons, Sugarie does an incredible job.  They showed me that I am actually capable of liking macarons.

Yet somehow, I've wound up at Chantal Guillon Macarons several times.  If you look at the Yelp reviews, these are pretty much the best macarons you can get in San Francisco.  They have ~700 reviews, and still average 4.5 stars.  That must be saying something.

The store is located in Hayes Valley, and sells pretty much exclusively macarons.  You can order coffee or tea to go with your macarons, and they also have bite sized ice creams, but basically, macarons, in more flavors and colors than you can imagine.  A beautiful shop, for sure, but I'd only go back if looking for a gift.
Raspberry-Lychee, Pumpkin Spice. $1.80 each.
No, they didn't look like this when I picked them up.  I tried so hard to be careful so they would not get crushed on my journey home but ... alas, macarons are such delicate creations!

I started with the raspberry-lychee.  When I was trying to decide which type to get at the store, the worker told me that this was more on the lychee side of things, and very sweet.  He was correct.  I did enjoy the strong lychee flavor, and the subtle raspberry combined nicely.  It was intensely sweet, as he warned.  Overall, nice flavors, but still, just a macaron.

I moved on to the seasonal pumpkin spice variety.  The filling was creamy, pumpkin-y, and well spiced.  But again, just a macaron.  If I wanted pumpkin pie flavors, I'd just have a slice of pie.

Overall, these were good for macarons.  The exterior shell was crisp, the cookie light and fluffy.  The fillings were flavorful.  I liked them more than most macarons, but at the end of the day, I still would not pick them over another type of dessert.

$1.80 each seems about normal for macarons.
Coconut - Milk Chocolate. $1.80.
I was in the area again, and decided to give Chantal Guillon another try.  They get such rave reviews!

I went for the coconut milk chocolate.  The cookie did have a nice coconut flavor, and it was delicate and light.  I'd prefer it to have a bit more of a crispy exterior, but it was decent.

The filling however was just sweet overload.  I guess there was milk chocolate in there, but mostly it was just sweet, sweet, sweet.  I'm a girl who likes my sweets, and this was too much, as it overwhelmed the coconut flavor that I liked in the cookie.

I wouldn't get this again.
2 Piece Gift Box.  $4.50.
A good friend of mine loves macarons, and she was having a bad week, so I decided to surprise her with a little treat.  Individual macarons are $1.80, but they just come in a little bag, and even if you are crazy careful, they get easily smushed, as you can see above.  So I splurged for the gift box, which protected them well, was sealed with a fancy label, and had a little ribbon on top.  If you are gifting macarons to anyone, I recommend going this route.

I selected the green tea and the dark chocolate for her, and she enjoyed them far more than I would have.  The chocolate was her favorite, and she said it reminded her of molten chocolate cake.  That sounds like an endorsement to me!
Chantal Guillon Macarons on Urbanspoon
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