I’m embarrassed to say that I did not discover the macaron until June of last year, and while they’ve been in my life for less than a year at this point, I could safely say that I cannot imagine my life without them.
Because I’m still mostly ignorant, I mistakenly thought that macarons and macaroons were one in the same. Classic mistake. For those of you thinking, “ok, you idiot,” just skip down three paragraphs. You could also skip down if you can’t handle even the most mild of vomiting stories. For those who also couldn’t differentiate between the two, a macaroon (which is how both are typically pronounced here in the US of A) is a coconut cookie that I always associated with church bake sales. I have a lifelong aversion to coconut that I could trace back to the Halloween of either kindergarten or first grade, where I vomited profusely and violently, immediately after consuming an Almond Joy. It probably had less to do with the coconut, and more to do with the fact that I regularly gorged myself until the point of vomiting as a child, but for years the taste of coconut would make me gag, and while I don’t gag anymore, I could safely say I haven’t had anything coconut in years. Weirdly enough though, as a child I really enjoyed Samosas until I realized there was coconut in them. Maybe I’ll give ita chance sometime in the future, as I used to also hate both salsa and mayo (I was a weird kid, ok), but I’m thinking probably not. Sorry coconut, it’s not you, it’s 100% me.
A macaron, is a French, meringue-based cookie containing egg-whites and almond flour, and is notoriously difficult to master, which is ostensibly what makes them such a treat. These super light, tiny cookies are sandwiched around a jelly or cream, and dyed specific colors to correspond to whatever flavor they are. I guarantee that even if you thought, like me, that a macaron was a macaroon, you would be familiar with pictures of French bakeries teaming with these brightly colored cookies.
You can join us again if you already knew all this, or wanted to skip my Almond Joy-vomit story.
Last year my mother and I went down to Lancaster for the day to celebrate her summer break (she’s a Home-Ec, sorry, Family and Consumer Science teacher), and because I’m always looking for excuses to go back to Lancaster, and happened upon the Barbaret Bakery, which was not in existence when I lived there (which is too bad, because it would’ve been a two block walk), and came across a beautiful macaron display, which I of course didn’t photograph. We asked the clerk about them, and I was finally educated to the macaron vs macaroon debacle. This place takes their French cuisine and macarons seriously, as the ones they served were imported directly from France, and then there was some nonsense about them being stored constantly at a certain temperature and air environments to preserve how delicate they were. Look, it was a year ago, and I was only half listening so that might not be entirely accurate. They were maybe the size of a quarter, but retailed for $1.95 a pop. I was sure they were going to be overpriced until I tried a simple vanilla one. THEY WERE NOT, and I believe my mother and I bought something like $25.00 worth to bring home. I don’t think many of them survived that 2.5 hour drive.
I’ve made it my mission since then to try as many macarons as I could find, however because of their difficulty, they are still pretty tricky to find, which does I guess make them more of a treat. I think I’ve done pretty good, trying macarons from Philly, New York, Lake Placid, Belfast, and a random New Jersey bakery. They’ve been tasty, but none matched up with my first macaron, that is, until I found Lola’s Dessert Shoppe, in Dunmore, PA, less than a 10 minute drive from where I work.
Lola’s has only been operating since January of 2015, and its physical location on Drinker St. in Dunmore is pretty nondescript, but it’s cookies are out-of-this-world good. Lola’s macarons are a decent size (comparative to say, a double stuffed Oreo), which as a still growing 31-year-old man, I appreciate. The size, combined with knowing how arduous these cookies can be to make also makes them seem downright reasonably priced, and since comparative to other cookies they are on the small side, it also makes it VERY EASY for me to rationalize stopping by every two-three weeks and purchasing between $6.00-$12.00 worth of macarons. They also sell macaron fruit tarts, which I’ll be staying away from, since I do not like fruit tarts, as well as mini cheese cakes; a few weeks ago I had a blackberry-lemon mini cheesecake that was A+. What I haven’t had, but what is high on my radar. is their macaron ice-cream sandwiches.
I also enjoy that they vary their flavors, so there’s always something new to try. I would like to point out, if anyone from said shop ever reads this, that if you made chocolate ganache an everyday standard, I WOULD NOT BE MAD. That was one of the best things I’ve ever consumed. Some of the other flavors I’ve had that really made an impact on my taste buds were butterscotch bourbon, eggnog creme brulee (and I hate eggnog), salted caramel, and yes, vanilla (I will never apologize for being a plain vanilla type guy).
I don’t do a ton of one-off restaurant/bake shop reviews on here, but if I do, it’s because in my mind, the place is a standout (see: The Whip), although I’ll probably leaning towards doing some more in the future. If you’re in Northeast PA, you 100% need to take a ride down here, especially because it does sit on a block of Drinker St. that also includes Cara Mia’s, which has excellent Italian sandwiches, Sweet Lush Cupcakes, and the new 3-Jacks Burger Bar,which I’ve been hearing good things about. If you happen to be traveling to Scranton, make time for this stop, and it’s worth the drive if you’re visiting Wilkes-Barre or even parts of the Poconos. Finally, if you happen to be traveling by Scranton, Lola’s is only a couple minute, well-worth detour from 81.
And their Instagram account is solid food porn for those of you into that (I sadly have a bit of a reputation at work for “constantly looking at pictures of food”).