Saturday, August 14, 2010

Chocolates by Cacao: Chocolate Macarons in Cleveland Park

When the Coldstone in Cleveland Park closed sometime in early 2009, I have to admit that I was not very upset because 1. their product isn’t all that great and 2. I lived nearly three miles away at the time. When I moved to my new place just off Connecticut Avenue this summer, I started to wonder what might ever go in that spot. I found out that as of the end of July, Chocolates by Cacao, which is run by Jacques Poulain, was opening up a shop in that space. Now I was actually thrilled that Coldstone had left, because it ushered in what could be a great chocolate shop about half a mile from where I live.

The shop is relatively nondescript at this point, aside from the second-story sign that you see from across the street if you know to look for it.

Once inside, I was glad that I knew to look for it. The chocolate aroma hit me the minute I walked in, and I was greeted by many delicious chocolate treats, including cookies, pastries, various nuts and fruits dipped in chocolate, truffles, chocolate bars, macarons, and even gelato. I passed on the truffles and chocolate bars for now, since I’m nowhere near finishing off my supply from Chicago, though I do plan to come back to see what those are like. Since today wasn’t all that hot, the gelato also seemed best reserved for another day. This narrowed me down to the baked goods, and the macarons looked delicious. I picked up two chocolate macarons to enjoy, with a friendly chef who I believe was Mr. Poulain himself packaging them for me.

I found the smaller size of the macarons to be refreshing, given that a lot of desserts these days are so oversized that they could be a whole meal – not that I’m opposed to having an entire dinner composed of chocolate every so often.

A bite into this cute little treat reveals that the outer meringue is not too fragile, which makes the treat easier to enjoy as a whole. I’ve had macarons in the past that were so light and airy that they crumbled and made it almost impossible to enjoy the meringue and filling together, but this macaroon had a slight crunch on the very edges with an almost cake-like interior. While the meringue didn’t have much chocolate flavor, it wasn’t overwhelmingly sweet, so the balance was still enjoyable.

The ganache-like filling boasted a slightly stronger dark chocolate flavor, and was also well-balanced with a hint of sweetness. Though the filling was fudgy and worked well with the meringue, the treat was not that chocolaty as a whole. The whole creation is subtle in flavor, sweetness, and even size; however, I could go for a little more chocolate flavor.


Chocolates by Cacao: Wonderful shop far too close to where I live. Many delicious-looking treats available.

Chocolate macarons: Well-proportioned, great textures, could have more chocolate flavor.

Cost: $1.50 per macaron


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