(Little beauties. Found on La Tartine Gourmand)
It's been a long time since I've written a Finger Lickin' Friday post. Too long, really. But I really couldn't pass up the opportunity today to tell you all about my trip to Maison Laduree in NYC and the deliciousness that ensued.
Maison Laduree, as most of you likely know, is a world-famous patisserie that originally opened in Paris in 1862 as a tea salon. The shop(s) has become one of the most talked-about sweet-spots in the world thanks to the incredible confections that they make - most notably their french macarons - and their stunning brand design (well, for design geeks like me, that's one of the reasons I love Laduree!).
(Hello, adorable packaging. Picture found on Lobster and Swan)
French macarons are delicate little cookies made of ground almond and a meringue-like egg white batter sandwiched together using a myriad of fillings such as ganache, buttercream and jam. They are frustratingly finicky to make: too much mixing (the macaronage - the most important step) and you get wide, flat wafers. Too little mixing and they puff up. Too hot and they crack. Too cold and they don't get their little feet (the ring of bubbles along the bottom that signifies a well-baked macaron). I've attempted them myself to no avail. I'm a bit of a haphazard chef, so the finesse that these require isn't totally suited to my abilities (or lack thereof!). But, dang, if they aren't delicious!
(Beautiful Laduree box and delicious macarons. Found on Fashion + Class & Jetlag)
In any case, this past August, Laduree opened their 1st US location. The beautifully decorated shop is located in the Upper East Side of Manhattan and has made quite a splash in the NY sweets-loving scene. So, obviously, this past weekend while visiting my wonderful older brother in NYC (for his birthday! Happy Birthday, Alex!), I knew I had to make a trip to macaron mecca. On Sunday afternoon, we set out from the hip East Village to the decidedly more fancy-pants destination of 70th and Madison Avenue. Having been a far-away fan of Laduree for some time while never having actually tasted their goodies, I was giddy with excitement. While I knew that the opening had drawn crowds, I was not prepared for the 30+ minute-long line that we found upon our arrival at 4:30 in the afternoon several months after the grand opening. People really want macarons, it seems. We debated for a moment just throwing in the towel, but I knew I would regret not visiting so we settled in for a little people watching and mingling. Alex is a pretty great big brother.
(Waiting in line to get into the shop.)
It was a long wait for a 1.4" diameter cookie, but I'm happy to report that Maison Laduree did not disappoint. We got a sampling of flavors that included Pistachio, Salted Caramel, Blackberry, Coconut and Chocolate and they came beautifully nestled in an adorable little box. The macarons were the perfect mixture of delicate crunchy shell and soft, chewy inside and creamy, luxurious filling. The flavors were balanced and mouthwatering. And, while not cheap ($2.70 per plus the cost of a box if you don't want them in a wax-paper bag), they did live up to the hype in my mind. I'm already dreaming of my next visit!