Friday, April 13, 2012

Educating Ourselves on Macarons

Merely Sweets
260 W. Birch
Brea, CA 92821

Wow, we have done some firsts around Eating My Way Through OC lately. We recently did our first review in the city of Brea. Now this will be our first full on bakery review, which just happens to be in the city of Brea. Crazy, how that works!

My family has recently been introduced to macarons. To be honest I had never had one until a few weeks ago. I had read about them on other peoples blogs, but had not gotten around to trying them. I really did not understand the hype surrounding them. I was still trying to distinguish between macarons and macaroons. I think I got that part down now. Macaroons that have an extra "o", are the coconut based cookie that we grew up with. These are found on shelves in your local supermarket. Macarons are a sandwich like cookie, that comes in a variety of flavors and colors, with filling inside.

I went to Merely Sweets with my Mom, after going out to lunch. She was raving about these macarons, so I was very excited to give them a try. Merely Sweets is a small bakery in the downtown district of Brea. This area has really been cleaned up since the last time I was here. Lot of stores and restaurants all over the place. Merely Sweets is a very clean/sterile bakery. White is definitely the dominate color here. All of the baking is done in the back, away from prying eyes. Let's see what they have in store for us.

Merely Sweets does not have a large space, so there are really only four glass cases full of baked goods. They featured about six different cupcakes when we were here, some tarts, a few varieties of cookies and some buttery looking palmiers, that I will have to try on future visits here. For now though, I was focused on macarons.

My first lesson that I learned about macaron's are that these little suckers are a little pricey. $1.65 apiece, or $18.50 for a dozen, which brings them down to about $1.54 each. Merely Sweets had 10 different flavors  the day we were here. Some of the more interesting sounding ones were, Gingerbread, Earl Grey, and Vanilla Bean. My Mom did not want to mess around with any of these flavors, she already knew what flavors she wanted. So we picked up a dozen and headed home to disperse them among the family.

My favorite macaron of the day was this Salted Caramel version. I have been on a real salted caramel kick lately. The two flavors work so well with each other it is frightening. My first bite of the macaron I was surprised how soft they were. They kid of melted away in my mouth. The flavor was dead on what it was supposed to be, salted caramel. These were also richer than I imagined they would be.

In my family there is great debate over which one of these two macarons is better. The salted caramel, or this one the Peanut Butter and Jelly. I liked this one, but I give the edge to the salted caramel. This one reminded me of being a kid. The PB&J were right on. Again the outer shell dissolved right after the initial crunch, leaving the taste buds to savor the peanut butter and jelly. A very close second to the salted caramel.

The Hazelnut Chocolate did not reach the critical acclaim that the other two macarons did. They were good, but the hazelnut flavor did not shine through. Got more chocolate here.

Cake Pops seem to be all the rage right now as well. My nieces each had one of these. These are definitely not like Tootsie Roll Pops, it only takes three bites to finish these things. Five year old Lillie said, "this is the best cake pop I have had!" Pretty bold statement for a five year old, that has had her fair share of cake pops in her half decade of life.

Merely Sweets was a great place to be introduced to macarons. They were a lot better than I had imagined. These will be the macarons that I judge all others by. I am also pretty happy that I finally learned the difference between macarons and macaroons.

Out of five Big Mac's, (because macarons are so popular in France, that even McDonald's sells them), five being best to zero being worst, Merely Sweets gets 3 Big Macs.

For more information on Merely Sweets, click here:

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