Time Out Sydney

Who makes Sydney’s number one macaron? Time Out asks three formidable sweet fiends to judge the best of the best

The judges

Christine Manfield: The owner of Universal is one of Sydney's leading dessert chefs and recently toured Tokyo's best macaron shops.
Ross Lusted: The head chef of the acclaimed Bridge Room is one of the most knowledgeable and well travelled minds in the business. 
Peter Gilmore: The TV regular and boss chef at Quay is renowned for his sweets, from tiny meringues to the city's best ice cream. 
 

The method

Three judges known for their dessert expertise came together at Time Out HQ for the ultimate mac-down, a taste-test to decide who makes Sydney's best macaron. Macarons from our five best stores were tasted blind, each store offering a variation on a berry, a salted caramel and a chocolate macaron. The macarons were scored on texture, flavour, lightness and presentation, the numbers collated, and the macaron-makers ranked from one to five. As you'd expect from a panel of industry experts who really know their cakes, bikkies and macarons, they were tough. Really tough.
 

The results...

1. MakMak

Newtown

JUDGE'S PICK
You can order these babies in several restaurants and cafés around town (Duke, Baffi and Mo and Café Lounge serve them), though MakMak mostly runs as an online store – though there is a Christmas pop-up store. All three judges agreed the berry flavour came out on top. “It’s quite perfect-looking,” said Gilmore. “The gloss on the top is just beautifully formed. The flavour’s more natural [than the others]. It’s delicious!” Gilmore and Manfield did say that the biscuit component of the chocolate and caramel macarons was “a little dry”, though Lusted was impressed with the natural-tasting flavours of both the biscuit and filling. By much more than a whisker, each voted MakMak number one. $2.50 per macaron, minimum order of 12.

2. Adriano Zumbo

Balmain

The patissier so famous he renamed the macaron after himself (it’s ‘Zumbaron’ in his stores) now has four shops*, two cookbooks, a TV show and just launched his own bake-at-home ‘Zumbaron’ range. But what of the product? For our judges it was a unanimous … “OK” when it came to the finger bun number (yes, this was as close to fruit as Zumbo had available!) Both Gilmore and Lusted commented on the lacklustre tops on the chocolate – “it’s like the sugar crystals haven’t been mixed in properly”– though they were loving the caramel. “[The ganache] is salty, it tastes like properly made caramel, not a fake substitute,” said Manfield. 02 9810 7318. adrianozumbo.com. $2.50 per macaron.
*All closed the day of the mac-down – judges tried the Zumbarons a day later. 

3. Ladurée

Sydney

Newcomer Ladurée is fresh from Paris (and snap-frozen in Switzerland) and a firm favourite with the hordes who line up for hours inside Westfield Sydney for a taste. (It’s worth it for the beautiful packaging alone – nothing says “oh yeah, I have disposable income” like swinging one of those green bags!). But appearance was inconsistent, and Gilmore wasn’t impressed with the texture. “I find it crumbles up too much, and it’s moist [inside]”. There again, the caramel number fared better for Gilmore in the flavour stakes. “I don’t mind the caramel inside, and the macaron isn’t falling apart as badly as the berry one.” $3.20 per macaron.

4. Baroque Bistro

The Rocks

TIME OUT STAFF PICK
This Rocks patisserie is often cited as the best mac-house in town – and Time Out staffers agree. They advanced on the tasting’s leftovers like a cloud of aggressive bees, and while other macarons were met with indifference (they’re a picky lot!), Baroque’s caramel got a unanimous “yay”. However, Manfield said the berry was like “eating cotton wool” and Gilmore homed in on texture and density: “You’ve got a very thin surface that’s dry and then it’s wet all the way through.” The judges were more positive when it came to the flavour of the caramel, though Lusted called the ganache overwhipped and “more like a mousse”. $2.70/$3 per macaron (take away/eat in). 

5. Cre-Asion

Surry Hills

This little café just on Berta Street specialises in macarons, and is huge with the lunchtime crowds seeking a coffee and a little kookily flavoured sweet treat. The main issue here, according to Manfield, Lusted and Gilmore, was the consistency in the cooking process. “It’s been cooked too fast, so it’s crisp on the top but not in the rest of the biscuit,” said Lusted. But while none of our chefs were all that enamoured with the gold spatter on the tiny macarons, our staffers were a little less affronted. “They’re super pretty,” said visiting Time Out Melbourne editor, Jenny Valentish. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding. $2.70 per macaron.

 

 

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