Macaron Melee Part 2: Essence vs. 21 Cakes

The macaron craze of 2010 may have died down -- we haven't seen quite as many photos of the colorful sandwich cookies flavored with everything from salmon to strawberry gracing the pages of our favorite food porn sites -- but the Parisian treats haven't lost their elegant appeal.

And that leads us to this week's battle.

Recently, we received a press release from Scottsdale's 21 Cakes that stated they have people "waiting at the door" for head baker Linda Schneider's macarons and that the little cookies (available Thursday through Saturday) sell out the day they hit shelves.

Wow! Those must be some good macarons!

Last summer, when we saw that Scratch Pastries was making macarons, we put them up against those from Essence Bakery, which has been making the French cookies before most of Phoenix even knew what they were. Essence won that battle, and now we want to see if they can still reign supreme now that newcomer 21 Cakes has entered the ring.

May the best macaron win!

In One Corner: Newcomer 21 Cakes

The Setup: Head baker and owner Linda Schneider follows the traditional French method of making macarons. She starts her process on Mondays, and by Thursday has 200 French macarons in three flavors ready to go. We stopped in last Saturday afternoon and picked up a bag that contained two key lime and two raspberry cookies.

The Good: The macarons were the perfect size for the mini cookies and had a nice hue. Both the key lime and the raspberry had the appropriately flavored buttercream, which was creamy and sweet.

The Bad: There is sweet and then there is sweet. These cookies were so sugary I could barely get through both bites. Both the key lime and the raspberry had an artificial taste. But the worse part of these little guys was the shells -- they were hollow, flavorless, and inconsistent in size and shape. And not just one -- all four of them were puffs of air with a sickly sweet buttercream smear.

Location Info

Essence Bakery Cafe

825 W. University Drive, Tempe, AZ

Category: Restaurant

21 Cakes

7001 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, AZ

Category: Restaurant

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My Voice Nation Help

A great update, thank you! Macarons are not easy to need to follow a good recipe and work on your technique!. If any readers here want to learn how to make macarons - here's a guide that shows how to create smooth and round macarons that look amazing everything , step-by-step :)

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