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They pay homage to their environs, too, in the design of their packaging. The “Monumental” box that holds 40 macarons is emblazoned with a line drawing of Washington landmarks, and the “Barracks Row” box that holds 16 is decorated with an anchor, a nod to the nearby Navy Yard.
In addition to a rotating cast of about 10 macaron flavors and 15 cupcake offerings, the shop also offers loose teas, shortbread cookies and even a savory treat, a parmesan-spiked hazelnut-thyme cracker, that begs for a glass of wine to drink with it.
Timothy mans the store, while Winnette continues working full time at NIH. But the one thing she won’t leave to the baker whom the siblings hired are the macarons. She makes them herself, either before or after work.
Exquisite care goes into each. The shells contain only four ingredients: egg whites, almond flour, powdered sugar and granulated sugar. Combining them, though, is the tricky part. “It’s all in the technique,” she says. The final product must have a smooth top and a little ruffle on the bottom edge, known as “feet” or “pied.”
After baking, the gems are aged for 24 to 48 hours, a process that allows them to soften and their flavors to meld.
And for all the attention lavished on the macarons, the Sweet Lobby’s cupcakes aren’t exactly chopped liver. Lemon cupcakes are made with cream steeped in fresh lemon zest, and the chocolate features Valrhona, a fudge filling, and a whipped ganache frosting crowned with chocolate pearls.
The siblings have found that they’re going through so much citrus zest that they’re planning to introduce some kind of juice offering to make use of the naked fruits accumulating in the kitchen.
Winnette is diplomatic when it comes to the inevitable cupcake-vs.-macaron debate, even though she’s clearly a macaron partisan at heart. “There will always be a place for cupcakes and their nostalgic perfection,” she says. “But the macaron ...”
She trails off.