One of Melbourne’s finest macaron-makers opens an elegant macaron boutique, perfect for a Paris-in-Melbourne rendezvous.
These dessert-only bloggers have taken you on a pilgrimage through Melbourne’s macarons, reviewing macarons from La Belle Miette, Cacao, A La Folie, Luxbite, Little Feat, Macaron de Paris, Macarons Fine Patisserie, La Tropezienne, Chez Dre. Allow us to conclude the tale with what is, in our good opinion, one of Melbourne’s top two, finest macaron maker. Macarons by Josephine. Previously, we have had the opportunity to sample Josephine’s macarons from Merricote and a number of CBD stockists, including Earl Canteen, The Moat, and the now-defunct Breadwell. Just before the end of 2012, a little store quietly opened along the bustling mish-mash of trendy restaurants and run-down shops along Sydney Road in the inner-north suburb of Brunswick.
Designed by Sasufi — a Melbourne-based French designer with a distinctive disposition for the modern whimsy — Macarons by Josephine is an interior decorating beauty straight out of the glossiest magazines. It has an unmistakeable nouveau parisien style — its neutral background accentuating a textural myriad. On one side of the shop, a glacial white wall has been cut with soft panelling, with recesses holding a military line-up of imported French teas. In bold contrast, the opposite wall is washed in midnight purple and dotted with an assortment of beautiful vintage porcelain plates. White wooden chairs surround individual and communal brown tables perched on a black floor. The front counter holds three glass cabinets — one populated by a rainbow’s spectrum of macarons and two exhibiting a variety of Mediterranean-brown pastries and friands, and on a second visit, exquisite raspberry and chocolate tarts. It is at once, expansive yet intimate, sparse yet elegantly ethereal.
Macarons by Josephine are priced at $2.50 for one round critter. They come in a white cardboard box, wrapped in patterned tissue paper, sealed with a cameo sticker, and placed in a lovely embossed shopping bag. Below is our little treasure trove of 9 macarons purchased from the Brunswick store.
The Rosewater Macaron is one of our favourites from Josephine. By contrast to La Belle Miette‘s version, this one is more true in nature. Its more subtle, delicate taste develops about mid-way through sampling. The buttercream filling counters the typical heady scent perfectly.
The Raspberry Chocolate Macaron is a good morsel, but La Belle Miette‘s Raspberry Ganache remains our personal benchmark for raspberry macarons because of its explosive richness.
The soft perfume of the Orange Blossom Macaron perhaps requires a slightly more sensitive palate than ours to appreciate its whispers which manifests towards the end, and flickers away quickly.
Josephine’s Passionfruit Chocolate Macaron is another MoMo & Coco favourite, with its silky chocolate ganache infused with a delightful passionfruit twang. It is not a sharp citric spark, but rather, nuanced and well-balanced. It has universal appeal.
MoMo & Coco do not like pistachio in desserts at all. However, Josephine’s Pistachio Macaron possesses less harsh tones compared to other pistachio macarons, and wins us over.
The Peppermint Dark Chocolate is another favourite of MoMo & Coco, an intense, utterly irresistible after-dinner minty experience. The luxurious slash of dark chocolate offsets the usual sugary-ness of macarons perfectly.
The Black Sesame Macaron is well-executed — its distinctive charcoal-like flavour comes through immediately and lingers for some time. It will however be a divisive macaron. You will either love or hate the savoury black sesame accents.
Although not available on the day that we visited the Brunswick specialty boutique, we have sampled other macaron flavours by Josephine from CBD stockists. We commend her speckled Salted Butter Caramel, officially Melbourne’s best salted caramel macaron. Ever. Compared to most other salted caramel macarons, it is very well balanced between sweet and saline. It is neither a diabetic-inducing sugar drip nor the Dead Sea. What does it taste like? It tastes like a delicious kiss from a delicious man who has emerged from the sea.
MoMo & Coco also note the Earl Grey Macaron, bisected by a whispery sweet white chocolate ganache layer. A poignant wake-up call with characteristic twinkling hues of bergamot, we love to sneak this little one in at morning tea.
Josephine also stocks a luxurious range of loose-leaf teas for $32 a tin. Founded in St Petersburg in 1867, Kusmi Tea is presently headquartered in Paris. Because we love our teas so very much, we simply could not resist to add another to our tea caddy. What a lovely tea party we had that afternoon! Tea of imperial Russia, macarons of France. As pictured below, the Anastasia, a very fragrant Russian interpretation of the English Earl Grey using leaves sourced from China and Sri Lanka. A truly perfect accompaniment for Josephine’s macarons.
We once called it that La Belle Miette had perfected the mini burger of the 21st-century bourgeoisie, but having sampled most of available flavours by Macarons by Josephine, we may just have to eat our words…
In terms of appearance – Josephine’s macarons are consistent in appearance — the shells are never cracked and do not hide airpockets nor empty shells. The feet (the hem of the shell) are moderately-high, not overly-frilly, never protrude and are always present. The shape is desirably and voluptously fat and round, rather than flat. It’s sweet symmetry at every angle. However, the shells are not quite as smooth as La Belle Miette. But compared to all other macarons in Melbourne, they are the closest to proper bite-sized shape and further, their colouring are also more “natural” than the pervasive tragedies of over-dyed macarons.
In terms of taste – When a flavour explosion is required, it is present. Where a more subtle infusion is appropriate, it manifests. Josephine’s macarons are distinctive in that they are not saccharine at all. Yes, even La Belle Miette tends to border on diabetes-inducing. In Josephine’s macarons, any sweetness is softened by a pleasantly musky end-taste from the almond shells, and also the macaron’s flavour itself. All flavours are excellent, but our personal favourites would be: Rosewater, Passionfruit Chocolate, Peppermint Chocolate, Salted Butter Caramel, Earl Grey. The ganache filling of each macaron is a highlight — creamy rather than overly sugary.
In terms of texture – Of the macarons purchased from the new Brunswick boutique, texture was a consistent melt-in-the-mouth balance of crisp, spring, air and slight chewyness. Not crunchy, not soggy, not sticky. However, when purchasing from CBD stockists, be sure to ask when the macarons were made/delivered to avoid dehydrated corpses. Mostly consistently delectable though.
- With regards to maturation – “Maturation” (ie allowing to stand for a day or so, or refrigerate for a few hours) is not necessary. However, wrap them in an air-tight container and place to maintain their textures. Good to eat for two days thereafter.
The macarons from that MoMo & Coco have not yet had the opportunity to sample are the more uncommon of flavours — Pernod Ricard, Le Rob, Jasmine Blossom, Chestnut Cognac and the Foie Gras. So dear readers, if you ever sight any of these elusive flavours, please do do do let your dedicated Dessert Correspondents know! Overall, it is an absolute plaisir to know that we no longer need to play hopscotch between one cafe to another in search of Josephine’s macarons. For exquisite macarons in Melbourne, traipse to Brunswick to rendezvous avec Josephine.
Dessert adventure checklist
- ☑ Dessert destination: Macarons by Josephine, 365 Sydney Road, Brunswick, Vic 3056.
- ☑ Budget: $
- ☑ Sweet irresistibles: Macarons.
- ☑ Must-eat: The “Peppermint,” “Salted Caramel” and “Earl Grey” macarons.
- ☑ The short and sweet story: One of Melbourne’s finest macaron-maker opens an elegant macaron boutique, perfect for a Paris-in-Melbourne rendezvous.