Secret Home Operation: Kitchening with Carly
Last visited: March 9, 2011
Location: Metro Vancouver, BC
Address: Home based
Price Range:$10 or less, $20+ for full tarts
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!
- Home based
- Pastry Chef Carly
- Trained in France
- Specializes in Macarons
- Traditional & innovative
- All natural ingredients
- Cooking classes available
- Seen at local markets
- Elegant desserts/packaging
- Great gifts
- Pre order required – carly]@[kitcheningwithcarly]dot[com
**Recommendations: Vanilla Bean Macaron with Lavender Butter Cream, Natural Almond Macaron with Rosemary Salted Caramel and Vanilla Cream, Espresso Macaron with Avocado Cream
I feel like the biggest tease showing you this post. Why? Well because Kitchening with Carly is owned and operated by Pastry Chef Carly who operates her business from home. Therefore these macarons can only be ordered, which means they’re not as easily accessible. Another reason is because Carly personally invited Sherman and I for an exclusive tasting of her baked goods… oh gosh I feel like I’m rubbing it even more… and Sherman’s photos are not going to help, although they’re good enough to be featured in a magazine!
I was first introduced to Carly’s macarons in the form of what I call a “Macaronwich“, a macaron filled with gelato, a concept that was in the works at Bella Gelateria. Of course this isn’t what an authentic macaron really is, but it was still a fabulous idea that combined a couple of my favourite desserts. I did only try the cookie part of the macaron, which doesn’t really count either, but I mentioned them in my Macaronwich post which Carly ended up replying to – see here.
Carly specializes in authentic French macarons and she can actually customize whatever flavours you like. Her flavour combinations range from very traditional to incredibly exotic, and I personally always lean to the more unique flavours. I admit, they are quite pricey and it’s probably due to the nature of her business, however the macarons she offers speak of a traditional French macaron recipe, innovative and sophisticated flavours, and pretty perfect presentation. Nonetheless I’ve also had the opportunity to bake macarons at Stuart’s Bakery see here, and that basically showed me why macarons are so expensive.
There’s a whole lot of bakers operating from home nowadays, but it doesn’t mean their products aren’t good enough to be featured on the shelf. I tried to showcase a bit of this philosophy at Vancouver’s 1st Cupcake Challenge I hosted last year as well. My intentions were to highlight the small local bakers who are just as passionate, or at times even more passionate about their products. I don’t want to take away from companies who can afford large store fronts, but I do love to give fair game to those who don’t have them. In the end it’s about the quality and flavours of the product and as long as it’s available to the public, I’m happy to be the taste tester and share my thoughts openly and honestly.
Note: This was a tasting session so Carly is still in the works of perfecting recipes and adjusting flavours.
On the table:
**Vanilla Bean Macaron with Lavender Butter Cream – 6/6
- $2 minimum of 4
- This was my favourite! It’s one of the best lavender flavoured macarons I’ve had. The last lavender macaron I’ve tried was from Thomas Haas and I’ve also tried the ones from Bakery Nouveau and I actually liked this one the best.
- It tasted like a Lavender flavoured London Fog. It was very light, not too sweet, creamy, moist, crispy, full of vanilla flavour with the perfect amount of lavender to accent.
- The lavender flowers were infused into the butter cream so you weren’t biting on the actual flowers. She infused it for just the right amount of time and it wasn’t bitter or too floral at all. The butter cream was so light and not greasy too.
- The vanilla bean macaron was bursting with specs of real vanilla bean and the vanilla was so strong in flavour and enhanced even more by vanilla extract. The intense vanilla flavour offset the strength that lavender can carry sometimes, but both flavours were still very apparent and played well with each other.
- Out of all the macarons this one was also nuttiest with the ground almonds really coming through too.
Raspberry Macaron with Creme de Citron and Italian Meringue – 3/6
- $2 minimum of 4
- This was perhaps one of the prettiest ones, but the raspberry macaron tasted like strawberry and the lemon cream wasn’t very strong.
- The pink colour was actually achieved through beet juice, since it’s made with all natural ingredients.
- I tried her very tangy lemon tart with raspberry jam prior to the macarons so I found this macaron very underwhelming for the bright, bold, and tangy fruit flavours it was supposed to represent.
- It wasn’t really tangy at all and I could only taste the lemon flavour when I had it separate from the macaron. I just expected much tangier and it wasn’t that sweet either.
- It was topped with an Italian Meringue that was very light and almost marshmallow like, but I really wasn’t a fan of it. It was torched but not crispy or caramelized.
- The texture of the macaron was stellar though, moist cookie and crispy shell.
**Natural Almond Macaron with Rosemary Salted Caramel and Vanilla Cream – 5/6
- $2 minimum of 4
- I loved the concept of this one. The whole salted caramel combination has been making quite the trend in the last couple years. I really love the flavour, but it was starting to wear out for me, so I was really happy to see the introduction of Rosemary!
- The only thing is that the Rosemary wasn’t very strong and I’d like to have tasted it more. It was infused into the caramel and it did bring a piney and earthy flavour in the background, but I had to look for it.
- It was the chewiest of all the macarons and the caramel wasn’t sticky, but creamy and sweet, and there was a little caramel filling the centre as well.
- I could have also used more salt and there was a sprinkle of fleur de sel on top, but I would have liked more so that I’d have the salt crystals in every bite.
- I actually found the almond flavour more apparent in the lavender macaron and the vanilla was a bit overpowered as well and came unnoticed.
- I suggested having the Rosemary stronger since it is in the name.
Toasted Coconut and Curry Macaron with Mango Jelly – 1.5/6
- $2 minimum of 4
- I’ve had a curry macaron before, but it was a savoury appetizer and filled with salmon mousse. They also had it with curry chicken too. It was amazing so I was hoping to relive that experience here, but the flavours were off. I really wanted to love it too.
- In this case it was still being played as a dessert and I think it serves its purpose as a savoury appetizer because the curry was very overpowering.
- I could smell the curry before I even took a bite and it was followed by heat at the end.
- The texture of it was all too soft and a bit mushy from the jelly and I could only taste the texture of the toasted coconut on top, but not its actual flavour.
- The mango jelly was not so apparent in mango flavour and it was almost like a mango chutney, but it wasn’t very sweet at all. I lost that natural mango flavour and sweetness.
- I did suggest reversing it and making a coconut macaron with a mango and hint of curry filling, which I think could work as a dessert.
**Espresso Macaron with Avocado Cream – 5/6
- $2 minimum of 4
- This is acquired, but it worked out so well for my palate. It was exotic, different, unique and new.
- The espresso was almost chocolatey and malted and although strong it wasn’t bitter or overpowering with espresso.
- The espresso was apparent and then the avocado cream was super light and almost like a mousse. It definitely tasted like avocado but it wasn’t rich in texture but nice and airy.
- It was like an espresso latte with the lightness of the avocado, and since the avocado was sweetened it just added that creaminess the espresso flavour needed.
- It was really interesting and if you’re mentally prepared for the flavour combination and open minded I think it could win a lot of people over.
- It was a perfect combination of sweet and a savoury in a very new way and the hint of bitterness from the espresso and the sweetness from the avocado almost made it taste like a dark chocolate. It was fantastic!
Cocoa Macaron with Dark Chocolate Chili Ganache – 4/6
- $2 minimum of 4
- This was very good, but it was also not very surprising, except for the fact that the heat is stronger than I was prepared for.
- The heat came at the end, but it sure did linger and I did like it, but it wasn’t that different for me either since chocolate and chili is quite a popular combination.
- The chocolate was strong, rich, bold and earthy and the chili flakes were infused right into the ganache so it had quite the kick to follow.
- The ganache wasn’t as creamy, but quite dense so it kind of took the delicate aspect away from the chocolate macaron cookie part.
- Made with all natural ingredients.
- This is one of her favourite desserts and it’s Sherman’s as well. I don’t normally order lemon tarts, but I do enjoy them.
- It’s made with 5 lemons and the zest of 3 so its definitely has quite the lemon tang.
- It was almost a golden orange yellow colour and it’s because it’s made with all organic eggs.
- There’s also a layer of almond pastry cream in between the tart shell and the lemon custard, but it was more for functionality than flavour because I couldn’t taste it. It worked keeping the crust from getting soggy though.
- lt was definitely one of the creamiest lemon tarts I’ve had. It was smooth and creamy and almost silky and there was a bright zing to it. You can almost tell by the photo that it was incredibly fluid rather than having a firmer structure. It just melted in your mouth, and the citrus zing just cut through the richness.
- The tartness and sweetness was well balanced and the tart shell was a basic salted tart shell with a tender crumb that wasn’t crunchy, yet not soggy.
- I was kind of hoping to taste the layer of almond cream but the tang of the custard did overpower it, although it wasn’t intended to really play a role in adding flavour anyways.
- It was served with a home made frozen raspberry jam which was bursting with raspberry seeds and full fruit flavour.
- It wasn’t actually that sweet, but the flavours of the raspberry and lemon were so incredibly bold that it would satisfy any tangy tooth.
- The biscotti was pretty fantastic, but they were almost like cookies.
- They were soft rather than crunchy and they didn’t seem double baked or heavy on the cornmeal.
- The best thing about them was that they were full of almond flavour and loaded with slivered almonds. It was so packed with almonds it was almost chunky and I loved that!
- I’m guessing she uses almond extract or even ground almonds in the cookie because the almond flavour was quite intense giving off a very nutty flavour and tender crumb.
- The chocolate one had soft chocolate chunks throughout with some plump cranberries and both biscotti had so much chunky ingredients that I got a piece of almond or chocolate in every bite.
OMG – i LOVE LOVE LOVE macarons but they are so darn hard to make that buying them always seems like the only option 🙂
i totally heart lavender flavored things granted that they don’t taste like soap – this one time my friends and i went to eat at monbella (now closed) and they had the best lavender butter ever – ever since, i’ve been hooked – the lavender/vanilla macaron combo looks so good and i’m glad the rating on it is perrrrfect!
all the other flavors seem very classic but when i came time to reading your review on the curry one, i had to reread that sentence a couple of times because it made sense to me – wow! the color of this macaron was a bit dark and the texture seems more rough than the other macarons – must have been the curry powder… yummmers for avocado cream though
the price points for the macarons are reasonable considering the amount of work that goes into them and these flavours do seem a bit more creative than the other ones i’ve seen before – i used to eat a bunch of macarons at say see bon and they were about the same price – macarons are definitely a luxury!
Those look so cute not to eat! Too bad I have a bit of toothache lately otherwise i am all over them!
Great review, and funny timing – I sampled Carly’s delicious work last night.
I agree with your reviews (though I didn’t try the curry macaron).
Here are a couple more thoughts:
– the lemon in the raspberry macarons I had really popped. it wasn’t sweet (good) but definitely had a noticeable, but not overpowering, lemony tang (also good). I’d give it a 4.5/6.
– in the salted caramel macaron, the rosemary was wonderfully present – I didn’t have to go searching for it. this was my favorite, though my girlfriend said when sampling *your* favorite – the vanilla bean and lavender cream – “Wow! It’s like biting into a cloud!”
@Linda – Thank you so much again for your lovely comment! 🙂 Mmmm Say See Bon is great, bu too bad she had to close operations :(…. you’re right it is a very labour intensive baked good so that’s when it does make it worth it 🙂 I love your passion for macarons too!
@Miss Jane – toothaches go away no? 😉
@kareem – thanks for YOUR feedback! 🙂 you should try her lemon tart and then you’ll notice more of a contrast with the lemon… but again food is really personal so I totally respect your opinion. I’m glad you enjoyed her macarons as well! Thanks for commenting and sharing your thoughts with other readers who may see this post.
I had the opportunity to indulge in some of these beauties last weekend. By far the salted caramel with rosemary was my favorite, and I am not a fan of rosemary really. I thought that the flavor definitely was present but not in a over powering way.
My second favorite was….. probably the chilli and ganache cocoa macaron. This was just simply good.
I loved what you had to say and the time you spent on the details of your review of these little, terribly good, morsels that get me into trouble they taste so good!!
Loved the feature!! Great job.
@Jodi – Welcome to my blog! Ahh so since you’re sensitive to Rosemary that’s probably why you felt it was apparent enough? See for me I like it and was expecting a stronger hit… but again it’s all personal.
Thank you for your sweet comment! Yeah I’m usually pretty detailed in my posts and I definitely think a post on desserts deserves the same amount of time and attention as any savoury food out there.
Thank you for commenting!
Ready for their public debut at Vancouver’s First Annual Foodie Feast!
@Carly – And we’re very proud to welcome them and YOU!
Seriously Mijune, I just love the details of your descriptions of these macaroons. These also look fabulous and wonderfully inventive. Macaroons are totally hot in Vancouver right now. I hope they stick around a while without degrading to some cheap, poor replica of what they should be as people try to capitalize on the trend. I’ve yet to try Carly’s, but boy do I ever need to.
@Ben Garfinkel – Wow! The fact that you read them already means a lot! Lol I’m just really passionate about food and don’t really expect that people would actually read by essay like posts… so coming from you, CO-OWNER of Foodists… that means a lot. Okay… now shrink your head =p
Carly – where are you?!?! You need a contact number… her site is linked to my post at the top where it says: Restaurant: Kitchening with Carly… just click on that link.
Thanks Ben for visiting and commenting!
Vanilla Bean Macaron with Lavender Butter Cream was another one of my favourites at the Foodie Feast. Sometimes lavender can be overpowering, but this macaron had the right amount of lavender to go with the vanilla. It was very pleasant!
I had lavender hot dogs at a lavender festival in Washington State. They were interesting to try out, but the lavender was too strong!
@David – I thought the same!! Glad to hear we agree on that lavender one!
Um WHAT?!?! Lavender HOT DOG?!?!?! INSANE!!! I want to try!
The lavender hot dogs are at the Sequim Lavender Festival:
@David – thank you!!
those loook yummy 🙂