Colorful cookies now at Fashion Island

Like little tasty somethings straight off the pages of a children's coloring book, these French macarons come in hues not normally found in the edible color spectrum.

Showing off shades seemingly inspired by Crayola — a sunny yellow lemon, rosy raspberry or pastel violet cassis — the display case at the newly opened 'lette Macarons is awash with the colors of cookies.

The Fashion Island store, which is the Beverly Hills-based company's fourth and its first in Orange County, is near Nordstrom. Other 'lette locations are in Beverly Hills, Pasadena and Hancock Park.

"A lot of people come into the store and start jumping up and down, saying, 'I'm so excited! I can't believe you opened!'" said Makenna Jordan, a 'lette Fashion Island sales associate.

According to 'lette's founder and owner, Paulette Koumetz — who used the last half of her first name to name her company — the L.A.-area locations were getting customers from O.C. and even San Diego who requested a store closer to them. Thus, adding one at the Newport Beach shopping center seemed to fit the bill and meet the demand.

"Newport Beach is also representative of all of the things we love about Southern California — the beach, the sun and friendly people," Koumetz said in a prepared statement. "And I can't think of a better place than Fashion Island, with its great assortment of boutiques and restaurants."

Before being hired on at 'lette, Jordan was unaware of the great debate over the cookies' French and American versions.

While many prefer the coconut-based American macaroons, Jordan fell in love with the almond meringue French macarons sandwiched together with white chocolate ganache.

"I was really shocked when I tried it ... but I tried it and I thought it was so good," she said.

The store has 14 regular flavors, plus some seasonal ones like pumpkin during fall. Salted caramel is an easy favorite, though, Jordan said.

"It's like the perfect flavor of sweet and salty," she said.

Individual macarons are $1.70; a gift box of six is $10.50.

Most of the cookies' ingredients are imported from France, said Roni Kan, general manger of the Fashion Island and Pasadena 'lette locations.

"Ours is the quality that makes the macarons taste so good," she said.

French pastry chef Christophe Michalak, who won the 2005 Coupe du Monde de la Pâtisserie, created the recipe for 'lette's products.

The business has plans to expand to other major metropolitan areas such as San Francisco, New York and Chicago, Kan said.

"We've been looking for a few years for this location," Kan said. "Fashion Island will be right for our product because our product is a high-end product. We are so happy we found this location."

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