Baker, Cook, Writer, Pursuer of Gastronomic Joy


When one thinks of a bakery, one will likely conjure images of buttery croissants and stacks of cookies behind a glass. Apron-wearing servers behind a counter perhaps working a coffee machine. Maybe even some savory pastries. And let’s not forget the paper and office supplies. No? You don’t tend to get your thank you cards with your Sunday doughnut? Well, me neither. But you could if you go to Maman’sFidi location, tucked in the middle of a Paper Source. While the front of the store is all things stationery, the counter in the middle serving baked goods bridges the gap to the back where one can sit down (if there’s room) and enjoy a full meal. Not a concept I had ever experienced before, but with a cookie endorsed by Oprah, it seemed inevitable that I was going to soon. And while this is the only Maman location situated in this way, its proximity and unique set-up demanded to be experienced.

So on a cloudy December day my pal Emily accompanied me to this paper/baked good emporium. The only paper store with outdoor seating, it seemed we had come to the right place. The inside was far more packed with people than I had anticipated, with the back section completely filled with patrons having lunch and the front increasingly filling with paper-seeking patrons. The slightly cramped surroundings made me want to order quickly and just get to the outdoor seating to enjoy, despite the possibility of birds. I got the Oprah-approved nutty chocolate chip cookie and a chai latte, while Emily tackled the chai spice beignet and a latte. And because it looked so enticing, we purchased an apple ginger walnut loaf cake to share.

While there are many nutty chocolate chip cookies out there, this one has the distinction of being filled with macadamia nuts. Usually, this Hawaiian nut is a favorite to pair with white chocolate, a kind of chocolate I cannot abide and only consume when options are limited (but that’s another post). I therefore hardly ever have them in cookie form, and frankly usually only have them when gifted them either plain or covered in chocolate by friend-of-the-blog Nick when he is home. But the buttery nut has so much to recommend it, so I was excited to see how it played with the chocolate chips rather than not-chocolate-fake-morsels.

Yet while the cookie contained this classy nut, it was otherwise fairly unspectacular, leaving little space for the nut to shine. With the cookie itself not being particularly chewy, soft, or crunchy, but toeing a middle line towards ordinariness, the nut was come upon with a sudden, thick crunch that just seemed out of place and undeserved. And while the chocolate was pooled in melted gobs, there was not as much of it as those blotches may have suggested. Therefore, there was hardly any macadamia/chocolate interplay. Sure, two perfectly good things on their own. But a chocolate covered macadamia nut is freaking great. Why not bring something about that to the chocolate chip cookie?

I hoped that maybe the chai latté would help take the cookie up a notch. Perhaps having a spiced beverage to dip the cookie in would make it a little more interesting. But the chai wasn’t particularly flavorful either. It was a little thin, and just a touch sweet, but I didn’t really get any of the warm complexity I love in a good chai.

So it was up to the apple ginger walnut loaf to wow me. But while the loaf enrobed in chocolate with the candied ginger placed perfectly on top looked beautiful, it also failed to deliver in the spice department. The aspect of the three descriptors I got the most of was the walnut because there were undeniable chunks. But the apple was barely there, perhaps adding a little bit of moisture – though it was not as moist as a loaf cake should be – and the only ginger I got was from the candied piece on top. While the edges were pleasant to nibble on because, well, chocolate, that meant that most of it wasn’t particularly appealing. The loaf was unable to deliver the warm spices promised in the name, to the palate.

Unfortunately, Oprah’s recommendation was found to be lackluster. Not detestable, but not anything I would put on a favorites list myself. Though it does have me thinking about the possibilities of macadamia nuts. How might I incorporate them into my own baking in more interesting, non-white chocolate involving ways? Might I be able to take Maman’s concept and make it all it could be? We’ll just have to wait and see for when I have access to a suitable oven and ingredients.