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Wil Wright's macaroons

The incomparable small ice cream chain in LA, Wil Wright's, used to serve wonderful small macaroons with every fountain order. My memory says they had a distinctive almond flavor, and a perfect crunchy/soft texture.

I imagine other Angelinos experienced and remember these. Anybody have a recipe (or source) that they think is close?

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  1. I remember them from Wilshire Blvd and the one in Palm Springs, my granparents and mom loved that place. You had Wil Wright's, Baskin Robbins and Carnation, boy am I dating myself.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Burger Boy

      Peppermint candy ice cream. Enough Said. :) Does anyone know about the web site? Email is returned - is it defunct? the web said they still had some in retail - I would drive miles for a pint.

    2. were these french macaroons or coconut?

      1 Reply
      1. re: Baby Ruth

        I think they were like those Italian ameretti cookies.

      2. They were more like french macarons -- except they weren't sandwhich cookies. Sort of like a plain almond macaron, except bigger and no filling. The only place I know that makes anything like them today is the Los Angeles Country Club. They happen to be my favorite cookies of all time. I wouldn't be surprised if they were using the Wil Wright's recipe, in fact, as I'm sure they've been the same for as long as I can remember, which is close to 40 years.

        3 Replies
        1. re: DanaB

          DanaB, you have it exactly right, and I'm not surprised that they are your favorites.

          This has been a useful exchange. I had thought that macaroons were coconut by definition, and never understood why none of the others I've had tasted like -- or compared to -- the ones at WW. After Baby Ruth's question, I looked up French macaro(o)ns, and discovered that there's no coconut in them at all. Found what looks like a worthwhile recipe, too.

          Thanks, all!

          1. re: Tony Miller

            Will you please share a link to the recipe?

            1. re: charva

              I received this recipe a while ago from someone but have not tried it yet. I too have such fond memories of Will Wright's. The best ice cream soda with extra seltzer served on the side and of course the cookie!

              Like Will Wright's Macaroons

              1 (7 ounce) tube almond paste
              3/4 cup sugar
              2 egg whites, lightly beaten
              1 tablespoon flour

              Combine almond paste and sugar. Add lightly beaton egg whites until
              mixture is smooth and not runny. Mix in flour until well mixed.

              Drop batter by teaspoons (or less for smaller cookies) onto greased
              and floured foil lined baking sheet. Bake at 325 degrees 15 minutes
              (10 to 12 minutes for smaller cookies). Cool slightly before
              removing. Makes 2 dozen cookies.

        2. that is an old memory for me but the shop in Newport Beach pre-dated a lot of the current development in that tony/tacky part of OC. It was a classic, little wrought iron chairs and yes, the macarons. They have a web site:

          http://www.wilwrights.com/

          1 Reply
          1. re: corydon

            to bad they do not tell you which markets carry their product, I would love to buy some.

          2. Wow, just the mention of Wil Wright's brings back many fond memories. And yes, those macaroons... My memory also says they had a distinct flavor of a sweet almond, crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. But soft not in the way that many baked goods can be soft, but in a way that's very hard to describe. Let's see, the texture started out crunchy, but as you bit more into it it would change and become softer as you bit down.

            I'm still finding the softness of the WW macaroons hard to describe, but let's try this: as a kid I would spread a very thin smudge of honey between two slices of plain white bread and compress it until it was nearly paper thin and uniform, not quite solid, but definitely not liquid, almost something in-between, if this makes any sense... The macaroons at Wil Wright were like that on the inside as you bit into them...

            Would love to come across something that comes close to that as well. The Lazzaroni amaretti are too "baked" to have this kind of magical consistency, but they were somewhat similar in taste... (And they are [the Lazzaroni amaretti] indeed very good in their own way).

            1 Reply
            1. re: cgfan

              used to buy something just like this at an Armenian bakery on Lankershim just north of Victory. I will have to have a look see if it is still there, this was back in the mid 90s.

            2. I can vaguely remember going to Wil Wrights in Pasadena and Westwood as a young boy. Usually after we would had seen a movie (Ocean's Eleven, How The West Was Won, The Thomas Crown Affair or something like that. Yes, I"m talking mid to late 1960's here)

              It was like RELIGION the way they would bring the chocolate soda itself, then a little extra soda water which was poured into a tiny clear fluted bottle also offerered you in case your soda ran 'dry.' Then of course the perfect little macaroon cookies in rice paper printed with the Angel's face. (HEAVENLY GOOD HEAVENLY DELICIOUS) I was always so enthralled with the entire experience the whole time I was there.

              Was it just my innocent child like exquisiteness? Or was Wil Wrights really such a special place? I guess I really will never know...

              Personally I think it was Wrights, because as a open minded easily fascinated child of 1960's Los Angeles, I got out and about a quite lot, due to my "city-adventures" Mother.....and was not usually easily impressed....................and so confidently in my little 7 year old heart, I knew what was good, and what was very special, and Wil Wright's was both.

              I would give up very much, very much indeed, to experience Wil Wright's again.

              Paul Peterson
              Baby Boomer

              2 Replies
              1. re: Paulfrancis

                I'm delighted that you remember WW so fondly.

                My grandmother was the office manager at the plant, my uncle worked in the plant, and I was a soda jerk at various times at three of the stores. Since it was a family place to me, I remember it with pride as well as gustatory nostalgia.

                There was great attention to detail about the place -- the recipes, fixtures, equipment and decor were all specified in detail by the original partners. I haven't tasted the ice cream or the macaroons in probably 45 years, but I remember it all with great delight.

                1. re: Tony Miller

                  I too, worked at Wil Wrights. The one in Beverly Hills. I remember one of the waitress, Else. Great lady! Growing up, my Dad would always get hot fudge sundaes to go, and we would enjoy them at home. When I was about 16, I was hired to work there. To this day, best ice cream I can remember. Oh the good old days!

              2. I think of Wil Wright's often when I drive by their old sites. And loved their almond macaroons.

                I also think about Blum's and their fabulous sundaes and cakes!

                3 Replies
                1. re: SilverlakeGirl

                  Two things.

                  Emil's Swiss Pastry has a simple almond macaroon similar to Wil Wright's. They have moved and are now on Santa Monica Blvd closer to the 405.

                  Ah, Blum's. 50 years later I remember their sundaes, especially the Scheherazade. What I loved about the place was that you could go there after an 8th grade dance when still too young to drive, and your parents could sit in the coffee shop in front, while you and your date sat in the elegant dining room along with all your other friends.

                  Emil, of Emil's Swiss Pastry, was the pastry chef there in the late 1050s. It was a very, very small world.

                  1. re: Paliman

                    Almondette Sundae.

                    I used to go there often with my classmates from Marymount Girl's School. So, yes, 8th grade.

                  2. re: SilverlakeGirl

                    The biggest kick I got out of Wil Wright's macaroons was the little envelope they served it in. As for Blum's I love their Emerald Isle Parfait.

                  3. Here's a recipe I got from a friend of a friend and it's really close to what I remember getting with coffee ice cream at the Wil Wights in Beverly Hills. The recipe from "handletaper" also looks good. In fact it might be better. The ones I made seemed a bit too sweet.

                    8 oz almond paste
                    2 egg whites
                    1 1/4 cup superfine sugar

                    Beat until blended in the Cuisineart. Spoon onto parchment paper and bake a 275 degrees. They will increase two times.

                    Here's a great description of the place and coffee ice cream by Candice Bergen:
                    http://www.wowowow.com/entertainment/...

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: abseygale

                      I also have many fond memories of WW - both in Los Angeles and Newport Beach - if memory serves, the NB survived the others by several years. But surely, the mac's had coconut in or at least on them? Am I imagining that part??

                      And can anyone tell me where the Pasadena branch was? Lake Street?

                      1. re: Selter Head

                        The Pasadena store was on Colorado Blvd around the corner from the Pasadena Playhouse.

                        1. re: bsl2000

                          the Pasadena store was where Sachi Sushi is now, fronting on Colorado, on the arcade just across from Yahaira's.

                    2. Boy, do I remember those cookies! Wil Wrights, Beverly Hills. I actually grew up and never knew what that flavor was until someone told me: almond.

                      I MISS WIL WRIGHTS (and CC BROWN'S...)

                      Thanks for the recipes!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: isofood

                        Oh, and the amusement park/pony?/donkey rides where the horrible Beverly Center is now...

                        1. re: isofood

                          It was pony rides, never any donkey's that i remember.

                      2. Over the years I managed 6 Wil Wrights Ice Cream shops. A French lady in Los Angeles made the macaroons for Wil Wrights, the stores that were far away from LA like LaJolla and Palm Springs the macaroons were put on Greyhound Buses and sent as freight to the stores. I had the sad task of closing the last of the stores in Newport Beach, Ca. In the mid 70’s.

                        There were stores in Palm Springs, LaJolla, Beverly Hills, Westwood Village, Van Nuys, Tarzana, Pasadena (Aaron Spelling filmed a Christmas episode of the TV show “Family” there. 6th &Barendo in Los Angeles, the factory/ store on Santa Monica Blvd, Newport Beach, Ca. in the early 70’s 1971 I think Wil Wrights America in Huntington Beach, Ca. and West Covina, Ca. were opened.

                        My favorite was Tarzana, it was by itself set back from the street and looked like a little dollhouse very unique. My favorite Ice Cream was Chocolate Burnt Almond and at Christmas time the Nesselrode Bula made with real Myers Rum, sort of like a fruitcake ice cream. Ahh the memories

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: bsl2000

                          Thank you, Bsl2000, for this fascinating insight.

                          1. re: bsl2000

                            Back when I was teenager, I worked at the Beverly Hills location. A waitress, Else, was my favorite person there. Agree with the Nesselrode Bula, great ice cream. Hot fudge sundae with the best vanilla bean was my favorite. Love the macaroons too!

                            1. re: bsl2000

                              Wow, we could have a reunion of Wil Wright's alumni! I worked regularly as a fountain guy at the Santa Monica and Pacific Palisades stores, and occasionally as a fill-in guy at the Westwood store. I'm not sure of the precise year, but it might have been the summer of '57 or '58. My grandmother, Flo Dawson, was the office manager at the factory, and my uncle, John Dawson Jr., worked in the factory and at the Westwood store -- both in the early '50s.

                              Chocolate Burnt Almond and Nesselrode Bula were among my favorites too, but probably remember their coffee and peppermint stick flavors at the top of the list. Even their vanilla was extraordinary!

                              1. re: Tony Miller

                                All of these posts bring back the most wonderful memories! We frequently went to the one in Westwood as a family when I was a little girl. The little wax-paper envelope holding that cookie...but I was especially enamored by the logo...that little angel boy....I'd love to find anything at all that still bears the logo....any thoughts?

                                1. re: Tunamaroo

                                  I am told that it was McConnel's in Santa Barbara that was the real Wil Wrights. Last December I emailed them to see if I could find some Nesslerode Bula and they responded immediately. You might give them a try.

                              2. re: bsl2000

                                What are the chances that any of the glassware still exists that had the old logo of the little angel boy? I've been searching for those little parlor glasses in antique shops for years!!

                              3. Ferraro's Bakery &Restaurant
                                3444 N Los Coyotes Diagonal
                                Long Beach

                                Their macaroons are the closest to Will Wright's that I've found. They also make sfogliatelle.

                                1. I remember the one on Ventura Blvd in Sherman Oaks near the corner of Van Nuys Blvd. Ooops I mean Vanuys not sherman Oaks. It was on the border really.

                                  1. The best Macarons that I have had are from XT Patisserie in Fullerton, California. The Pastry Chef Xuan, grew up in France and worked in Pastry shops growing up. Xuan has worked for Daniel Boulud at Daniels in NYC, Wolfgang Puck and currently works as a Pastry Chef in L.A. at The Peninsula Beverly Hills Hotel. His Macarons are the Very best that I have ever had. You can order them through his website www.xuanpatisserie.com

                                    By the way, the French call them Macarons, but the Italians call them Macaroons. FYI

                                    -----
                                    Peninsula Beverly Hills
                                    9882 Santa Monica Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA

                                    1. Great post!! I loved Wil Wrights too! Esp. in Westwood after a movie. Choc Burnt Almond with the chocolate whipped cream/fluff and the macaroon. I make those macaroons but sorry, won't share my recipe because I sell them at my cookie biz. Great memories--there will never be another WW's. bsl2000, thanks for the info--isn't it great that you were part of cherished LA history? :-)

                                      1. Hi Tony! Wil Wright's macaroons is one of my favorite subjects of all time. Every so often, my Dad would take the family to Diamond Jim's for dinner, then a movie and we would top off the evening at Wil Wright's for a cone and the obligatory macaroon in the little cellophane wrapper. I haven't been able to find anything close since 1968! I looked for a recipe, however, and I found the following. It looks about right. It gives a starting point from which one could adjust and tweak. I remember how impossibly moist they were. So a certain amount of undercooking and then refrigerating them under plastic wrap would accomplish that. I think honey is best for that special chewiness, but if the original recipe really calls for granulated sugar you wouldn't want to change that. Maybe castor, or fine sugar would be better? It would desolve more quickly and thoroughly. To get a crunchy outside and keep the inner moisture, I would think at least some of the cooking time has to be at a high temp. Anyway, hope this is what we both have been looking for since childhood. I've lived in NW Arizona for the past 20 years. I've greatly missed home in general, and all the little treasures that only we natives know best, like Grenblat's Deli in Hollywood. Keep L.A. Together for me. I hope to be home before too long. JimB in Kingman.
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