Living right outside a metropolitan hotspot filled with rainbows of macarons, Andrew, a sophomore at the University of Maryland, has never tried one. That all changed last weekend. Andrew found himself on M Street in Georgetown, amid the bustles of people and the cut-out hearts that adorned almost every glass window in town. Upon entering Georgetown, one thing above all else is very clear: it is Valentine’s Day in a week.
Settled right across from each other, Dean & DeLuca, a gourmet grocer, and Olivia Macaron, a macaron specialty shop, both have their display cases prepped for the day of love with a rosy rainbow of macarons that would make any lover swoon. In a time when picking out the perfect macaron is more imperative than ever, we challenged Andrew, the macaron virgin, to figure out which macaron is better: the gourmet grocer’s or the specialty shop’s. To make sure the playing field was as even as possible, Andrew tried the red velvet from both shops – a sure-fire Valentine’s Day favorite. Hopefully, the verdict will spare someone from purchasing a macaron from the inferior side of the alley.
We asked Andrew to judge each macaron using four criteria: 1.) presentation, 2.) texture of the outside, 3.) texture of the filling, 4.) overall flavor. To make sure that we come to the best conclusion possible, we found a seasoned macaron-er (myself) to also judge the macarons.
This was definitely the tastiest test ever.
Andrew on Dean & DeLuca: “I definitely think it looked nice, the colors were there, the little specks added a nice touch to it. But it was a little bit less circular; it was more misshapen. It was also kind of flat, at least compared to the one from Olivia Macaron.”
Andrew on Olivia Macaron: “This one was much more circular, it looked more perfect. There were fewer imperfections except for a couple bumps, but overall it was a nice looking cookie.
The macaron-er: I believe that if the smoothness and specks from Dean & DeLuca’s macaron were combined with the fluffy height of the Olivia Macaron’s offering then we would have the perfect macaron. The Dean & DeLuca macaron seems to be a little too flat, while the Olivia Macaron one is just too bumpy. Unfortunately, I don’t think there is a clear winner in this category.
Texture of the Outside
Andrew on Dean & DeLuca: “It was very chewy. It wasn’t what I expected when I first bit into it. But, it had a nice, crisp outside which was very delicious, and then it just kind of fell apart; I didn’t have much to chew on besides the filling.”
Andrew on Olivia Macaron: “I could definitely taste the biscuit more here, there was much more to chew on.”
The macaron-er: The one from Olivia Macaron is much more fluffy, light and crisp, which is what I personally prefer in a macaron. Dean & DeLuca’s is much more dense and moist, taking on almost a cake-like quality, while still remaining pretty thin. This is a big contrast to the outside of the biscuit, which is very crisp. It ends up being surprisingly chewy.
Texture of the Filling
Andrew on Dean & DeLuca: “I thought the filling was very nice, it definitely had that red velvet taste that you would expect.”
Andrew on Olivia Macaron: “The filling was much more present, it was much sweeter, more creamier. I felt like the cream here was more light and fluffy.”
The macaron-er: Due to the fluffiness of Olivia Macaron’s macaron, you can taste the cream a lot more. This is because the textures of the biscuit and the filling had a greater contrast here in comparison to the Dean & DeLuca macaron, which has a denser biscuit that kind of blends into the cream. They are both sweet (’cause would it be a macaron if they weren’t?) but the ones from Olivia Macaron seem to be sweeter. Since I have a major sweet tooth, Olivia’s takes this round.
Andrew’s Verdict: “While the Dean & DeLuca one still tasted like red velvet, the Olivia Macaron one had flavor that was just more there.”
The macaron-er: It’s a tough call, but the red velvet flavor is more present in the airier, creamier and fluffier Olivia Macaron macaron. Maybe it’s the chewiness of the Dean & DeLuca macaron causing it to detract from the overall flavor.
The macaron virgin and the macaron-er both agreed: the Olivia Macaron pastry is the superior macaron. This makes complete sense, since Olivia Macaron is focused solely on the art of macarons, while Dean & Deluca dips its toes into a number of other treats. The Olivia macaron is fluffier, airier and creamier, causing it to be sweeter – just how a macaron should be. Plus, these macarons are cheaper. A single Olivia Macaron macarons goes for $2.20, while Dean & Deluca sells theirs for $2.50.