Cafe Society

Palettes' macaroon ice cream confusion

We've been jealously eyeing the French macaron trend as it spreads like wildfire through culinary hot spots like New York. Our search for these delicate almond meringue confections in the Mile High City had yielded nothing to satisfy our curiosity, so it was with great interest that we noticed them incorporated into a dessert at Palettes, the Kevin Taylor restaurant inside the Denver Art Museum.

For anyone lagging behind, these are French macarons, a light, egg white-based cookie often sandwiching a layer of buttercream or fruit filling. In writing, you can usually tell them apart from the coconut-heavy macaroon by watching for the omission of the extra "o." Usually, but not always. The dessert menu at Palattes boasts a "pistachio French macaroon sandwich with pistachio cream and chocolate syrup," but the "French" qualifier tipped us off.

The dessert is a riff on a filled macaron, but a scoop of ice cream takes up room in the middle. Pistachio colors the cookies and ice cream a mellow green, which is pretty against the pool of dark chocolate and red berry garnishes. The macarons themselves are good, with smooth surfaces and perfect little feet; the outer layer is lightly crisp and gives way to a slight chew.

Unfortunately, the impressive tower is very difficult to eat, so we were reduced to sawing at the cookies with the side of our spoon and fishing for bites of ice cream. The ice cream is more icy than creamy and crumbled into chunks, and while it's a lovely accompaniment to the fresh berries, the dark chocolate syrup is so prevalent that it immediately drowns out any subtle pistachio flavor. We were hoping for a light pistachio treat, and instead got chocolate soup with really fancy croutons.

We love that pastry chef Jason LeBeau is experimenting with the French sweet, even if this particular dish isn't a home run. Those jonesing for the real thing might consider a stop by Prima, the Kevin Taylor restaurant in the Hotel Teatro. The classic macaron is in rotation with petit fours that come with your dining bill. You can also call ahead to special order a batch; flavors include chocolate, strawberry, and--of course--pistachio.

Pistachio French macaroon sandwich $9.00