Duchess Bake Shop needs no introduction. You love it, I love it, everyone loves it. Basically this whole review is pointless but let's just get on with it.
Since opening their doors in October 2009, Duchess has grown and grown into the famous Edmonton landmark it is now today. It was even featured on Buzzfeed's list of "23 Bakeries Around the World You Need to Eat At Before You Die." Even though Buzzfeed may have questionable journalism, it's a proud moment to see one of your city's bakeries make the cut. We don't have much to brag about otherwise.
Every morning and basically throughout the day, you can very well expect a line-up out the doors. It is literally impossible to snag a table unless you're one of those early birds (eh, I love sleep too much), or if you come later in the day when everything is basically sold out. Such a dilemma.
Duchess stands tall and proud on 124th street, with a magnificent black awning advertising macarons, croissants, pies, cakes, and tarts. You're basically salivating even before you walk into the door.
We took a quick walk over to Duchess after we were finished at the 124 Grand Market, so this was taken later in the day around 5pm. And no, your eyes aren't playing tricks on you. Those are empty tables and chairs at Duchess Bake Shop. Such a rare sight.
Before you even approach the bakery counters, you are greeted by a large wooden cabinet, well-stocked with packaged treats to take home. Usually they will bag up (or tube up) their shortbread cookies, ginger cookies, meringues, marshmallows, and other goodies. They were also selling bags of coffee courtesy of Matchstick Coffee Roasters, a company based in Vancouver.
Seeing as though the display cases were literally only a quarter full (the only remains left were what you see in the first picture, plus some shortbread and meringues at the other counter), KN and I both grabbed their assortment of macarons, a total of 9, which are already boxed up and ready to go for $17.50. The girls working the counter recommended that we put the macarons in the fridge as soon as possible, probably to prevent the fillings from melting in the heat.
As a baking enthusiast, macarons are horribly finicky to make - I've made them about 4 times in my life and could never get them perfect (or how I envision a macaron to be). Duchess has them down to a tee, with a crisp shell and a chewy interior. My only criticism would be that their flavours could borderline on being too sweet. My favourite macarons that I have tried (so far!) belong to Yann Haute Patisserie in Calgary. I still dream about their red velvet macaron. (Sorry Duchess and the city of Edmonton for betraying you!)
But overall, I think it's awesome how Duchess has their classic flavour line-up, as well as a cast of 3 rotating monthly flavours. It keeps it exciting. For the month of July, they were: fig and honey (purple), Kentucky peach (literally peach coloured), and carrot cake (orange).
Carrot cake actually tasted like carrot cake surprisingly. The filling was a cream cheese, probably blended with spices you expect in carrot cake, such as cinnamon and nutmeg. The fig and honey was a pretty subtle flavour, while the Kentucky Peach was not my favorite. Who knew that Kentucky Peach is actually an alcoholic drink? Not this #grandma.
Their classic flavours include: salted caramel, coconut, pistachio, lemon, dark chocolate, and rose. My favorite is the salted caramel, obviously.
Besides their macarons (which are worth trying if you haven't had them before), I would recommend their lemon meringue cake, their key lime tart, and their tartiflette! But honestly, get anything you want because any pastry in general is not a wasted calorie.