La Maison du Chocolat (NY, Paris, London) – Macarons, The New Collection
Many bloggers have been wowed by La Maison du Chocolat’s chocolates (even Salma Hayek) but seemingly few have commented on the macaroons. The macaroon debate, among the informed, seems to be Herme vs Laduree with various regional suggestions (Payard, Jin Patisserie, Boule, Bouchon) if the writer is stuck in America for the moment. La Maison du Chocolat (LMC) has a slightly stuffy Parisian image without the long tradition of, say, Laduree but their macaroons deserve to be included in the debate. In fact, on American soil, there may not be much of an argument – they reign supreme.
There’s no shortage of accolades for their chocolates – and rightfully so. But their macaroons are deserving of the same attention. The chocolate ganache filled centers, a variation on the typical macaroon, is not so much a point of distinction as it is a confidence in their chocolatier experience. It might sound overpowering but the ganache is subtle and balanced; a complement, never a deterrent, from the shell. The flavors aren’t daring ala Pierre Herme; instead, they are more traditionally paired with the chocolate center. One approach is not necessarily better than the other as long as the execution is exemplary.
La Maison du Chocolat has a more corporate feel than Pierre Herme or Laduree. There’s no cult of personality nor a century-long tradition, but expansion does have its benefits – you can buy them in the States. Eat 2 Love says they are shipped from Paris twice a week. Surprisingly, even with this delay, they keep longer than Pierre Herme or Laduree. The macaroons had their best texture on day two but were still going strong on day four – you can bring these back for friends.
So what are the flavors and how do they taste?
The flavors on this day were LMC’s New Collection:
- Guayaquil – a vanilla shell with a dark chocolate center. The dark chocolate contrasted nicely with the vanilla, which is subtler and less sweet than you’d expect.
- Salvador – a raspberry shell with a raspberry dark chocolate ganache. It would be overload in lesser hands. The ganache had a raspberry “tint” that complemented the sweeter, more pronounced shell.
- Rigoletto – a salted caramel shell with a milk chocolate center. Salt and milk chocolate are a perfect combination – this instantly brought back memories of the Le Bernardin milk chocolate pot de creme “egg.”
- Quito – a dark chocolate shell and center. This was chocolate overload for me. I would have preferred another flavor to break up the onslaught but I would probably be in the minority here.
- Romeo – Kenyan coffee shell with milk chocolate center. Perfect. The smooth, creamy center was the perfect foil to the ever-so-slightly bitter coffee shell.
The texture is everything a macaroon should be. It has a crunch that immediately gives to the teeth but still retains a slight chewiness. The ganache is firmer than the traditional fillings which, in turn, helps its texture even more. The texture is definitely preferred to the Pierre Herme macaroons but I’m uncertain if I prefer them to Laduree or not.
A necessary stop for NYC. If you’re in London, make a stop but be sure to visit Paul Young for chocolates – my favorite in the world. If you’re in Paris, well, you might as well visit Pierre Herme since you can’t get them outside of Parisian soil (except for Tokyo.)
Official Site: http://www.lamaisonduchocolat.com/fr/
If you are further interested, here’s an excellent article on LMC’s history and techniques for making chocolate.