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Even though Australia’s interest in Masterchef and its associated baking challenges has waned somewhat this year, the country’s interest in macarons has only increased. It seems like shops on every corner are baking up macarons fresh every day; however, no one seems to come up with the flavour combinations like Adriano Zumbo.
I’d love to get inside his mind and figure out what he was thinking when he decided to try out a Japanese mayonnaise or a caramelized pumpkin seed and lychee macaron, and it makes me wonder how many hundreds of flavours have been tried and discarded over the years. I can just see him pulling a Heston Blumenthal and walking down the street, asking a random person to try out his new red wine & camembert macaron.
It’s no wonder then that Zumbo’s hero (and one of his tattoos) is the storybook innovator of confectionary Willy Wonka. Flipping through Zumbo’s cookbook (which I impulse-bought at a book signing last year) certainly feels like a stroll through the chocolate factory, and his dessert train could easily be turned into a scene from the movie by simply replacing the train with a river of chocolate.
I felt like one of the kids in the chocolate factory (or at least…like a less obnoxious version of them) when I wandered through Zumbo’s new patisserie in the heart of The Star complex in the Sydney suburb of Pyrmont. All around me there were beautiful, sugary delicacies that I couldn’t possibly take home on the plane with me. Yet, despite the fact that the macarons (or zumbarons, as they have been re-christened) would very likely smash on the way home, I couldn’t help but buy a box of twelve. I’ve previously written about five of the flavours, and this is what I thought about the rest of them.
This one was quite interesting. There was a strong hit of mandarin as soon as I bit in to the macaron; the only thing missing was a spray of juice! I really liked how punchy the flavour was, with just a hint of yoghurt. The ganache was very smooth.
Popcorn and butter was by far the most bizarre flavour of the eleven that I tried this time around. It tasted exactly like popcorn that is doused in excess butter — and not just a little bit. This was like having popcorn at an American movie theater where you’ve added so much self-serve butter that it nearly drips out the bottom. It was very odd that something that tasted like popcorn was melting in my mouth, and at the same time, it was odd to eat a macaron that was covered in popcorn shavings (which made it a bit messy to eat as well).
It was a truly weird combination of savoury and sweet. I really liked the flavour, but I’m glad I only had half — I’m not sure if my stomach could have handled a whole one!
Oh wow. I’ve realised that this is usually my favourite macaron at any place I buy them from — and the flavour came out quite well when I used Zumbo’s recipe to bake them at home as well! It was like eating toffee, except it didn’t get stuck all over my teeth. Instead, the filling was smooth and gooey — so much so that when I chopped up the macaron for a few co-workers to try, it started spilling out. I found it to be a really good mix of flavours, with a hint of salt that really added to it. I could really taste the butter on my tongue afterwards.
The malted milk macaron was a bit of a non-event. I can’t say I know what malted milk is supposed to taste like, but this one just had a faint milky taste that was actually fairly similar to the custard crunch macaron. However, I loved the colour. It was a deep aquamarine colour and flecked with glitter which made it sparkle in the sunlight!
This one tasted like, well, bananas. It was less fake than most banana flavours, which meant I liked it more. The filling somehow managed to nearly replicate the texture of a real banana, which I found really interesting. All in all though, I’m not a huge fake banana fan, and this macaron didn’t really change my mind.
The best way to describe this one? A liquid brownie. It was like the best brownies, where the outside is just a bit crunchy and the inside is gooey and still steaming from the oven. The ganache was much thicker than on the salted butter caramel, which I think really reflected how rich it was. The consistency was almost like a Lindt truffle, but it was made so much better by being sandwiched in between chocolate macarons. I could have easily polished off a dozen of these alone!
Which flavour do you think would be your favourite?