Thursday, 12 July 2012

Parisian Sweet Treats

The charming window display at Laduree
There are too many tempting sweet things to eat in Paris, from the little cakes and pastries to pain au chocolat...

But my favourite at the moment are macarons.

Apparently this is the proper name for them, not to be confused with coconut macaroons which are small cakes made with ground almond and dessicated coconut.

Laduree was established in 1862 for fashionable Parisians
Perhaps I like macarons because they have shells made from meringue, a combination of egg whites and sugar that must be carefully prepared to ensure success.

And Paris has a few confectionary places that do excellent macarons, and I tried two of the more famous places, Fauchon and Laduree.

The latter is the queen of macarons since it has been around since 1862. The store and restaurant on Champs Elysees are undergoing a renovation now and so a pop-up store on the sidewalk is doing its best to serve eager customers (ie tourists) who patiently wait in line. But it has many other locations around town including the basement of the Louvre complex and the airport.

Apparently Laduree sells some 15,000 macarons everyday which is a pretty amazing feat. And perhaps the vast majority of the consumers are not French.

It was Pierre Desfontaines, the second cousin of the Laduree founder Louis Ernest Laduree who came up with the idea of putting two meringue shells and joining them together with ganache filling in the early 20th century.

The pistachio, peppermint and Ghana chocolate macarons
I bought three to try -- Creme de menthe or peppermint flavour, Ghana chocolate, and a relatively new one called "incroyable" or "incredible", featuring two pistachio-flavoured shells and the filling is almond marshmallow. The last one has a nice texture, though the filling is not as intense in flavour as the first two. Nevertheless the macarons are very good, but the meringue shell is on the crumbly, crispy side.

The company also has a range of non-edible merchandise, particularly having a partnership with Hello Kitty. There are 15-euro notebooks with covers featuring colourful macarons with the infamous feline head, and even boxes to hold macarons with Hello Kitty's face on them.

Meanwhile Fauchon also does some good macarons, and I tried blackberry or cassis, caramel and chocolate praline in a bronze colour. The fillings were intense in flavour and not as crumbly as Laduree's. However the selection of flavours is smaller, but perhaps easier to decide which ones to try, non?

Caramel, cassis or blackberry and chocolate praline macarons
Too bad Hong Kong's humidity is so high, particularly in summer otherwise I'd bring some more back home to sample.

Oh well -- perhaps best to savour and remember in Paris.

Laduree Champs Elysees
75, avenue des Champs Elysees
75008 Paris
+33 (0) 1 40 75 08 75

24-26 Place de la Madeleine
Paris 8eme
+33 (0) 1 70 39 38 00

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