Ladurée – Macaron Citron & Macaron Framboise
Ladurée hardly need introduction. They are the old guards of the French school of pastry-making, founded in Paris 150 years ago back in 1862. Not only have they been associated with the art of pastry-making for the longest time, but also tagged with big names like Pierre Herme, who worked to expand Ladurée’s chain of dessert boutiques and developed the “Ispahan” during his stint there. I was lucky to get a box of Laduree macarons recently, so here I am to share with you my take on them. I start with two simple and yet familiar flavours, lemon and raspberry. Incidentally these sharp flavours are some of my favorites too!
Macaron citron, one of my favorite macaron flavours, and the very first which I’d learnt to make more than a year back. Laduree’s Macaron citron is filled with a lemon buttercream filling compared to the lemon curd version imparted during the class. The latter is easier to manage of course.
The shells are reasonably well-made, with the characteristic and unmistakable Ladurée signature look. One who’s seen enough macarons from the big boys of the pastry world would probably agree with me that the shells of the macarons from Ladurée is quite distinct from others. The top is as wide as the base with the dome surface being very flat and folding inwards, nicely tucking the “pied” aka feet under it instead of protruding outwards. The macaronage should have been reasonably well-executed with shells very smooth but yet maintaining a certain height, hence showing that the batter was not overmixed. This is evident from the remnants of tiny “humps”or most affectionately known as “nipples” made by nozzle lift-offs, which did not subside completely signifying that the batter had considerable viscosity and not overtly runny.
And the filling? Well, I am not a big fan of buttercream fillings but the one used in Macaron citron was reasonably light on the palate, without being too cloying as what one might expect of buttercream fillings. Alas the taste of the filling was also reasonably light and refreshing. The acidity of the lemons is well-balanced by the sweetness from the icing sugar. But this could turn out to be a double-edged sword. That would be the perfect arrangement for most but those who prefer something more impactful and impressionable would most likely be left with disgruntlement. The bits of lemon zest embedded contributes to the whole piece in many ways but on the whole, it clearly lacks the punch which any hardcore lemon lover would have much preferred and probably anticipated.
Macaron framboise, showcasing one of my favorite fruits. The composition was rather simple, i.e. macaron shells with a confiture de framboises pépins filling. Once again, the shells are well-made. But they are a tad softer than the ones for Macaron citron, probably from sopping up the moisture from the confiture. But this is typical of confiture-filled macarons, they do not travel as well as buttercream ones, but the best would be ganache of course.
Prima facie, the macaron doesn’t seem to be sufficiently filled, with only a teeny weeny bit peeking out between the shells, seemingly suggesting that the confiture was spread somewhat too thinly like jam over bread. It reminded somewhat of the Macaron Framboise from Pâtisserie Mont Plus in Japan Meagre by standards when placed alongside Pierre Herme’s fellas.
Cutting a piece through to reveal the innards showed otherwise! The macaron was well-packed with confiture, filled with pips, and hence the name “framboises pépins“. I wonder if it is just me, but the amount of pips seemed much less than what I would have expected, having made the confiture myself some months back with Hidemi Sugino’s recipe. Was the variety of raspberries used by relatively Ladurée “seedless” compared to the driscolls ones we get here, or had there been a deliberate attempt to sift the macerated raspberries and hremove part of the bulk of seeds? Whichever the case, the texture was most delightful; the jam body had the perfect pectin-induced consistency while the pips most certainly lent texture to the jam without being too obtrusive and rasping. The only other shortcoming, apart from the slightly soften shells, is the level of sweetness in the jam. I found it too sweet for my taste. But as some of you would know, I’m partial to tart and sharp flavours. So it would probably work better for most of you than for me.
Would I recommend trying Ladurée’s Macaron Citron & Macaron Framboise? I would say yes but not without caution. If you love a good o’ rustic jam, then go for the raspberry macaron. And likewise for the lemon one if you welcome anything citrusy anytime. But if you had expected them to work the tastebuds to the limits, then these would probably be a tad too mild for your liking. They are quite lovely and pleasant, and would probably go very well with a cup of Ladurée’s Marie Antionette tea. Just not terribly exciting to leave a strong impression. Then in retrospect, am I expecting too much from these little almond biscuits to deliver?