100 Favorite Dishes 2013: No. 57, Macarons at Ganache Dessert Bar

Photo by Kaitlin Steinberg
My most recent haul: gingerbread, dark chocolate, green tea, lavender honey and passion fruit.
This year, leading up to our annual Menu of Menus issue, Kaitlin Steinberg counts down her 100 favorite dishes as she eats her way through Houston. She'll compile a collection of the dishes she thinks are the most awesome, most creative and, of course, most delicious in town. It's a list of personal favorites, things she thinks any visitor or Houstonian ought to try at least once and dishes that seem particularly indicative of the ever-changing Houston foodscape. It's a list to drool over.

I have a lot of respect for bakers who can construct perfect macarons, because I've tried it and failed numerous times.

My macaron endeavors weren't quite as embarrassing as my recent gingerbread house construction nightmare, but I've never been able to get the simple French cookies to look as uniform as professional bakers do. When I see macarons that look so perfect that they make me wonder for a moment whether they're real or sculptures, my next thought always turns to flavor. Too many macarons look great but taste either too bland or too sweet.

The macarons at Ganache Dessert Bar in Spring, though, are pretty much perfect.

Photo by Kaitlin Steinberg
Ganache macarons are crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside.
Of course, the rest of the food at Ganache looks pretty good, too, but I've never been able to make it past the macarons. They glimmer like little multicolored gems resting in their lit-up case. They call to me.

The most wonderful thing about the macarons at Ganache isn't how pretty they are (though that certainly helps). It's how much they taste like what they're supposed to taste like.

Sounds pretty obvious, I know. But often, macarons taste like something vague and sweet and crunchy. These macarons really taste like salted caramel and lavender and cafe sua da and green tea. In fact, the green tea is so strong, I almost think it tastes too much like green tea. And I love that!

Right now, Ganache's pastry chef, Michael Jones, is churning out seasonal flavors like pumpkin and gingerbread, and they're just as delectable as the more classic chocolate and vanilla bean. I also recently discovered the passion fruit flavor, a speckled orange cookie shell with a creamy, tangy passion fruit and caramel center.

Which brings me to the texture. When you bite into a macaron, the crust should crack. Your teeth should sink slowly through the gooey center of the cookie and into the firm filling, which will give a little chewy resistance. The macaron should maintain structural integrity, even with a bite out of it. But more than two or three bites, and it will probably crumble altogether.

Every single one of the dozens of macarons I've tried at Ganache is 1. Beautiful; 2. Delicious; and 3. Structurally sound.

And because of this, I'm willing to drive all the way from my home in Upper Kirby to Spring for just a few delectable French desserts. You should do the same.

The list so far:
No. 100: Bangkok Fries at Boheme
No. 99: Almond Croissant at Phoenicia
No. 98: Bulgogi Tacos with Kimchi at Chi'Lantro
No. 97: Soft Pretzel from Mongoose Versus Cobra
No. 96: Chicken and Waffles at Adair Kitchen
No. 95: Sweet Potato Gnocchi at Brooklyn Athletic Club
No. 94: Foie Gras Mac & Cheese at BRC Gastropub
No. 93: Vuelve a la Vida Soup at Connie's Seafood
No. 92: Homeroom at Bernie's Burger Bus
No. 91: Lobster Cake Benedict at Sorrel Urban Bistro
No. 90: Uncle Daryl's Cake at The Chocolate Bar
No. 89: Porchetta e Fagioli at Giacomo's Cibo e Vino
No. 88: Sesame Soft Balls at Golden Dim Sum
No. 87: Crab Daddy Bao at Fat Bao
No. 86: Ham, Egg & Cheese Crepe at Melange Creperie
No. 85: Pork Tamales at Irma's
No. 84: Greek Burger at Hubcap Grill
No. 83: Lobster Roll at Maine-ly Sandwiches
No. 82: Grilled Ahi Tuna at St. John's Fire
No. 81: Catfish and Grits at The Breakfast Klub
No. 80: The Marie Laveau Sandwich at Sandy Witch
No. 79: Carnissima Pizza at Coppa Osteria
No. 78: Mortadella Sandwich at 13 Celsius
No. 77: Lamb Lollipops at Américas
No. 76: The Heights Burger at Gratifi
No. 75: 'Date With a Pig' at Sparrow Bar + Cookshop
No. 74: Taco al Pastor at Taco Keto
No. 73: Chili Cheese Mac from Jus' Mac
No. 72: Chicken Pot Pie at Kenny & Ziggy's
No. 71: Lazy Lane Frites at Brasserie 19
No 70: Banana Split at Cloud 10 Creamery
No. 69: Dozen Raw Oysters at Pappas Seafood
No. 68: Green "Hurry Curry" at Nit Noi
No. 67: Bad Ass Hambur-Torta at Pistolero's
No. 66: Enchiladas de Mole at La Guadalupana
No. 65: Shorty Mac at H-Town StrEATS
No. 64: Squirrel Master Burger at Cottonwood
No. 63: Bánh Mì at Les Givral's Sandwich and Cafe
No. 62: Korean Spiced Brisket Plate at Revival Market
No. 61: Old Fashioned Frito Pie at Armadillo Palace
No. 60: Patata e Funghi Pizza at Pizaro's
No. 59: Baklava French Toast at Harry's Restaurant & Cafe
No. 58: Grilled Cheese at The Golden Grill

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