There’s a macaron obsession slowly sweeping over the world. They might even become the “next cupcake”; God knows anything would be better. But what is it about these little guys that makes them so adored? Well, I’m not sure, but I am totally willing to speculate.
I believe there’s a certain elitist appeal to having an ordinary macaroon, minus an “o”, that has nothing to do with macaroons at all. It’s like if you took the word typhoon, changed it to typhon and then told someone that you found yourself in the middle of one on your last vacation. They’d go, “Oh, my God, that must have been terrible!”, but you’d just chuckle knowing that a typhon was the warm heavenly jasmine-scented breeze that sometimes overtakes the South Pacific. See how cool that got all of a sudden? The second most appealing facet of the macaron is that they’re unnecessarily expensive. When a small box of anything cost $30, it’s just going to seem incomparably amazing. It’s like how a Lanvin winter coat isn’t that much nicer than any “ordinary” $1000 coat from Neiman-Marcus, but it is somehow exponentially cooler because it costs $4000. Number three on the list of reasons these little ones rule is that they are individually small enough to feel like you’re not destroying your diet with one. You’d feel bad buying an 800 calorie Saint-Honoré, but a 100 calorie macaron just doesn’t seem so evil. Even if you wind up eating a dozen in one sitting, their size makes it feel almost excusable. And, perhaps most importantly, they really are delicious and come in an insane range of flavors. A few people hate them, but 99% of everyone can find one to love: chocolate, lemon, cassis, rose, pistachio, cherry, raspberry, licorice, mango, lime, vanilla, and on-and-on. Among my favorites is Ladurée’s Fleur d’Oranger (orange blossom)…
As I described it in my Top 17 Best Pastries in Paris list, the experience of this macaron is like eating springtime. Put another way, one might say that Vivaldi’s Primavera revs into full orchestral mode right on your tongue. Do-do-do-do…do’-do’-doooo Do-do-do-do…do’-do’-doooo. Sorry, just having a flashback there! It is at once intensely floral, yet sophisticated and soothing. A few more “s” words, seductively smooth, perfectly describe the texture. It’s just an experience unlike any other. The delicate macaron shell adds a dainty touch to the overall effect. I’m otherwise at a loss for words; it’s fundamentally indescribable without you having one yourself.
I’m in the camp of those who enjoy assaultive macaron experiences. While I adore subtlety on virtually every other pastry front, I want my mouth to feel pleasantly violated by a macaron. That’s why cassis, licorice, and fleur d’oranger are my three favorites at Ladurée. Offbeat, intense flavors, they’re ones you will either love or hate. I always wish they’d add a fiori di Sicilia one to the mix. Not too dissimiliar, it’s a potent blend of vanilla and citrus tones that you wouldn’t believe. I’ll just cross my fingers and hope that Ladurée one day feels inspired.
Now, having eaten way too many macarons, there’s one thing I’d like to share with you guys. Do not eat your macarons right away. The shops keep them cold so that they don’t spoil; there’s a lot of egg and buttery deliciousness in many of the fillings. You need to let them get up to room temperature. Torturous as it may be to give them 2-3 hours to chillax, you must. That’s when the flavors and textures come to life. It’s the perfect point at which to eat the dozen you just purchased, within the span of 10 minutes. Not that I have any experience doing that (I eat two dozen, and it only takes me 5 minutes).
If I only I knew how to make these for myself! I almost have the macaron shell down, but then I need to figure out the filling. Why can’t Ladurée just come to America?
So, yes, definitely grab at least one Fleur d’Oranger macaron. Alongside raspberry and caramel, it’s probably the most fanatically loved of Ladurée’s macarons. Not necessarily the most popular, but it’s one people get extremely passionate about. Vive le macaron Fleur d’Oranger!
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