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Confections of perfection

November 12, 2011|By Lisa Dupuy
  • Pauline Marasek and a selection of her brittle at her shop in Burbank on Monday, November 7, 2011. (Roger Wilson/Staff Photographer)
Pauline Marasek and a selection of her brittle at her shop…

It seems these days, to stay afloat, businesses have to diversify, mechanize, franchise and super-size. But I believe to be really good, you’ve got to specialize.

A growing crop of local food purveyors are finding their niche in specialty gourmet foods, particularly confections. Their small businesses might be housed in charming shops on hip walking streets or in simple storefronts off the beaten path. In fact, some avoid the expense of rent altogether and conduct business online (see sidebar).

Here are a few outstanding specialty sweet shops in the Tri-city area:

'lette macarons

14 S. Fair Oaks, Pasadena

(626) 793-5551

Open 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Nothing like those coconut macaroons you either loved or hated as a kid, these delicate Parisian cookies are a feast for the eyes as well as the palate. The beautiful colors hint at the unique flavors within, flavors like lemon (good and tangy), rose (an acquired taste) and Caribbean chocolate (incredible). These cookies taste heavenly, but it’s more about the textural experience. First, your teeth crack through an eggshell-thin crust to a light almond-scented meringue interior and finally into a jelly-like, deeply flavored ganache. Handmade in their Beverly Hills kitchen, the macarons are sold separately ($1.70) or packaged in a chic box ($10.50 for 6; $19.50 for 12).

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Pauline’s Handmade Brittle

1926 W. Olive Ave., Burbank

(818) 955-7700

Open 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday

Pauline Marasek used to front an indie rock band, but seven years ago she turned her creative talents to nut brittles. She’s still a rock star in my eyes. All of my friends are getting this brittle for Christmas. The thick chunks are rich and buttery with just the right amount of crunch. The best part is they don’t stick in your teeth. According to Pauline, that’s because the brittle is fresh, kept at the right temperature and made with the best ingredients. The classic pecan brittle is a best-seller, especially with the dark, white or milk chocolate coating. Equally delicious is the Spicy Dark Peanut Brittle with Sea Salt, cayenne-spiced peanuts in brittle dipped in good dark chocolate with a hint of salt. Quarter-pound bags of most brittles are $6.75, and one-pound gift boxes start at $18.50. As my 85-year old mother-in-law said, “This stuff rocks.”

Paradis

2323 Honolulu Ave., Montrose

(818) 248-1004

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