Tuesday Tip/We Go Wednesday - HAB vs TJ Macarons & A Cupcakes Giveaway!

photo by Flickr user Sweet Merveilles
OK, so I had to do some abbreviating or the title would have been even longer! Yes, there is a giveaway but you are going to have to read through the whole post but it will be worth your time.

I'm talking about macarons, people, you know you've seen them everywhere! No, silly, not MACAROONS that are shredded coconut, French MACARONS. Oh, there is a difference.

Shops that carry them (and I mean outside of their birthplace, France) are a dime a dozen in places like NY and LA but out here in Seattle there are only about 3 places I know of and recommended with very good authority from those high up on the dessert pole; Honore Artisan Bakery in Ballard, Bakery Nouveau in West Seattle and Le Panier Very French Bakery in Pike Place Market.

photo by Not Martha
My mission is to go to all 3, and since I'm closest to Ballard, Honore is where I started.  As you can see, macarons come in a myriad of colors and are perfect for every single occasion.  Remember I got hooked on them at the Bake Sale For Japan? Well, I could not rest until I got me some more.

Thus our visit...
Honore Bakery macaron

...it is seriously a hole in the wall but when you first walk in, that all goes away when you see what they have.  I will not bore you with the details of how much money we plunked down for all of our treats, but at $1.90 a macaron alone, it wasn't a cheap trip.

Pinwheel cookies and chocolate stuffed croissants for the boys...

...and a few macarons to taste and share and bring home...raspberry, milk chocolate filing with passionfruit, coffee and milk chocolate.

Oh, such yummy goodness, and a surprise inside the raspberry.

Now, what is the TJ you ask? Well, it is none other than Trader Joe's who I recently learned carries macarons in the frozen dessert section.  Mind you, we have just had them fresh off the shelf so of course we had to compare. The box of 12 is $4.99, already way cheaper than their bakery counterparts, but since they only come in chocolate and vanilla, not much variety.

30 minutes of thawing out later, and we are set. I assembled my taste testing team.

We'll just say if you've never had the real deal, the Trader Joe's version is really good.  But since we have, even the boys were like 'eh'.  Which is saying a whole lot, with their refined palates and all. The macarons from Honore are soft crusty on the outside and chewy goodness on the inside.

The Trader Joe shells were definitely good, the same soft crust but way smaller and the filling was like piped frosting and you can see how the vanilla collapsed on bite impact. The bakery ones did no such thing. In fact, the vanilla is billed as buttercream although they do call the chocolate filling 'ganache'. The chocolate held up way better and was chewier.

I guess the old adage holds true; you get what you pay for.  I'm sure somewhere French people and foodies will snort and spit on the floor.  But if you are having the need to serve them en masse, they will do. I certainly will be. My crowd has not had them before, so it will be fabulous to them.

********THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED*****************
And while we are on the subject of sweets, we stopped at a Barnes & Noble and look what I spied...

I picked up 2, one for me and one for you! When the Better Homes & Gardens special publications come out, I snatch them up because once they are gone, you are moving heaven and hell to find one.  They do have the projects online, but of course I love looking at magazines with pretty pictures. This issue is full of cute cupcake ideas, recipes, decorating and a fabulous cupcake party that I'm seriously crushing on...a scalloped tablecloth with gummi ring accents?

If you don't already have one, here's your chance!

How To Enter
1. If you've had macarons, where is your favorite place to score on them? Is it a local bakery? An online shop? Do you make them yourself? Leave a comment and share the knowledge!


2. Leave a comment letting us know what is your favorite cupcake to eat/make?

Giveaway ends next Tuesday, April 26, at 11:59 p.m. PT. Winner will be chosen by Random.org, and contacted by email. Winner will have 24 hours to respond otherwise an alternate will be chosen.

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