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Taste Test: Starbucks Macarons

I mentioned before that 2010 will be the year when cupcakes take a backseat to the ethereal, candy-colored French macaron. The macaron — not to be confused with the dense, coconut-flavored macaroon — has spread far and wide beyond Ladurée, the Parisian pastry shop where it was first created nearly 80 years ago, to Japanese patisseries, American bakeshops, McCafés, and, now, Starbucks.

From Dec. 13 to 25, a limited edition 12-piece macaron set will be available in select Starbucks locations. Made in France by Château Blanc "exclusively for Starbucks," the $9.95 gift box includes two pieces of each of the following flavors: coffee, pistachio, raspberry, vanilla, chocolate, and lemon. Being the slight macaron snobs that we are, we didn't know what to expect. Read our thoughts after the break.

The first thing that came to mind when we got the package was: How can a massive chain such as Starbucks keep macarons — which go stale so very easily — fresh? The short answer is that they can't. Our gift box arrived sealed with tape on the sides, but that simply wasn't enough to prevent them from having a slightly dried-out, crumbly texture. The fruity flavors, like raspberry and lemon, fared much better among our tasters than the far less popular coffee, pistachio, and vanilla.

The coffee macaron was a huge disappointment, considering Starbucks is the most recognizable coffee brand in the history of the world. The cookie didn't taste like coffee, except for the filling, which had a bitter aftertaste. The vanilla was barely discernible, and one taster described the pistachio as tasting "like a Froot Loop." The chocolate, with its extremely fudgy, dense center, was pretty good — but it would have been better off it it had been called a brownie.

Overall, with their less than fresh texture and grainy cream fillings, these macarons weren't something we'd buy again. They weren't bad, but we'd rather buy a handful of quality macarons from our favorite local Patisserie, Miette. What are your thoughts on Starbucks high-end French pastries?

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