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.)

- chuck

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.

  • http://www.roboppy.net/food Robyn

    LMDC’s macarons are my favorite in NYC! I only wish they would make macarons without chocolate…

    …which is silly because they’re a chocolate shop. But I’d rather just have a caramel-only macaron than a caramel and chocolate macaron. Or just vanilla and not vanilla and chocolate.

    Ah well, I guess I shouldn’t complain. :)

  • http://eat2love.wordpress.com jo jo

    guess what — la duree is opening its’ first nyc branch in the plaza hotel in the fall. then – we shall see.. ha!

  • http://www.blogsoop.com/blog Doug

    It looks like I’m in good company with these commentors.

    I’m glad you came across jojo’s piece – her picture’s are beautiful.

  • http://afewreservations.com Jenn

    I can’t wait to read your review. Really curious to hear what you thought. Maybe it was just an off night…for both me and the restaurant.

  • http://www.teich.net/blog Olivia

    These do look excellent. I have to confess I was disappointed with those from Herme, which I found too sweet and slightly artificial. I’m surprised though that San Francisco’s own Miette (a stone’s throw from your house!) doesn’t rank in your list of top contenders?

  • ChuckEats

    I didn’t like Miette when I first tried them but everyone keeps saying they are very good. Since I walk by it 2-3x/week, I’ll give them another shot and report.

  • Tim

    Miette’s are mediocre (though I like the old-fashioned cupcake quite well!). In any event, one can discount anyone’s judgement who declares macarons from Pierre Herme taste too sweet or slightly artificial. PH’s are sublime.

    New York really doesn’t have any excellent macarons when compared to those of Paris from even less celebrated places. So far I’ve found the NY LMDC macarons wanting though I turn to them on occassion.

  • ChuckEats

    Out of 4 visits to Pierre Herme, and a few delivered from others’ Paris trips, they have only excelled once. The rest have been too sweet to be sublime. They are almost always very good but they’re not perfect.

    I was at Miette today but the line drove me bonkers so I didn’t pick any macaroons up. Then the gelato line drove me bonkers. Then I just picked up some *excellent* (plain) sheep milk yogurt from Bellwether Farms and I was happy – easily my favorite yogurt stateside (above Redwood Hill’s goat yogurt, my former favorite.) I don’t understand everyone’s enthusiasm for the Saint Benoit yogurt – horrible texture and it lacks acidity.

  • Jj2244

    next time you are in paris try the poulet de bresse en vessie at the resto in the bristol hotel. for me the best haute chicken dish in the world.

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