We find out if budget fast food macarons are worth the hype. 

When it comes to sweets, macarons have a rather sophisticated reputation, conjuring up images of afternoon teas in glitzy cafes on the Champs-Élysées in Paris. Well, that’s how our reporter Daiki Nishimoto sees them anyway, as he’s never had the chance to try them in all his 30 years of living in Japan. That’s not to say they don’t sell macarons here —  there are plenty around, including at branches of esteemed French chain Ladurée — but Daiki’s tastes run along the cheaper side of the dining spectrum, so he’s just never come across them.

However, Daiki recently found a place that sold macarons that were well within his budget, and that place was…McDonald’s.

People tend to see what they want to see, so every time Daiki has visited the golden arches, his sights have been set on fries and burgers, so the macarons have long been in his blind spot. Yet, when he heard that the chain had added a new yuzu macaron to its menu for a limited time, the macarons suddenly became front and centre in his field of vision, with their 190-yen (US$1.25) price tag making them particularly appealing.

When he discovered he could buy a box of five for 850 yen, he was sold, opting for the yuzu, along with raspberry, vanilla, and two of the chocolate.

▼ At 170 yen each, these macarons were a bargain.

While the price was definitely within his meagre budget, this made him wonder if the macarons might be lacking in quality or flavour, so he kept his expectations low as he took the first one out of the box.

▼ Despite his low expectations, the macaron looked beautifully smooth and delicate.

▼ Picking it up with his hands, the surface was slightly sticky, probably due to the sugar content.

Slicing it in two to get a good look at the cross section, Daiki was impressed by the chocolatey layers, and when he took a bite, he told us the texture was indescribable. As a first-time macaron-eater, he was captivated by the unusual texture, describing it as somewhere between a cookie and pie crust. The chocolate cream was soft and airy, creating a pleasant contrast to the crunchy chewiness of the shell, and as he chewed, he became acutely aware of the macaron’s exquisiteness.

Fascinated by the unique nature of the sweet, he moved on to the vanilla flavour and found it to be much sweeter and richer than the chocolate variety. Still, it wasn’t very strong and it didn’t leave a sticky aftertaste, and the balance between textures and flavours was impressive.

The third flavour, the raspberry, was a nice departure from the sweetness of the first two macarons, with its refreshing aroma and fruity sour taste creating an irresistible flavour. Daiki reckons this would be the one he would recommend to anyone coming to McDonald’s macarons for the first time, but he still had the new yuzu flavour to try.

The limited-time yuzu variety was in the same family as the raspberry, with a similar freshness but a totally different flavour. The tart notes from the citrus blended perfectly with the cream, but it was the richness of the butter contained within the cream that Daiki found most impressive. For him, this was a sweet that was venturing into new territory, carving its own path on Japanese and Western fusion desserts.

Although he ate the four macarons in quick succession, Daiki’s palette never tired of eating them, with the flavours and textures exciting his taste buds with every bite.

In Daiki’s opinion, these were sophisticated sweets, and if these budget versions were anything to go by, he can’t imagine the level of sophistication offered by more expensive varieties. However, judging by the reviews of McDonald’s customers in Japan who rave about the macarons being great value for money, he may never have to splurge on the more expensive ones, and why would he want to? As Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg revealed on a recent trip to Japan, the food here at McDonald’s is worthy of a Michelin star.

Photos ©SoraNews24
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