This morning, I was all set to publish a tirade against Pierre Hermé’s asparagus macaron, but I decided an upbeat pro-Ladurée one better suited my mood – though I continue to be unsettled that Ladurée has more great macarons than any other shop. Because believe me when I say I would love to poke holes in anything they offer . . . if I legitimately could. Even if the presentation of their pastries is routinely a bit sloppy, they do have a lot of good work, often creative (without being weird) and a very consistent product. And their macarons are just . . . a delight.
Almost every other shop has macaron issues. I won’t call the establishments out by name, but here’s an itermized list of what most of the other big boys are doing wrong : hollow macaron shells, overstuffing their macs, dry shells, fillings you cannot taste, shells that are way too delicate, bizarre textures, inane flavors/combinations. That’s not to say Ladurée walks on water. I think their cherry mac is really weakly flavored, the milk chocolate one is boring, and a few are a little too sweet. But you’re much less likely to be disappointed at Ladurée than anywhere else. And that brings us to today’s subject, Ladurée’s Noix de Coco (coconut) . . .
Alanis Morissette would have appreciated the [situational/literary] irony present here. Sing it with me: It’s like a black fly in your Chardonnay. It’s like buying a coconut macaroon that’s still a macaron. Oh, Alanis! And despite besmirching the Parisian macaron tradition by drifting perilously close to our macaroon perversions, it’s quite tasty. Though I will say it actually has slid a little too far into that forbidden zone, as the sugar content is a good bit higher than it needs to be. Maybe that was intentional, as a way to sate less sophisticated Anglo tastes – but I think they could dial it back and still appease said savage palates. That issue aside, the coconut flavor is delicious, and there’s a wonderful grain and texture to the coconut “meat” in the filling. The shell? Standard Ladurée – complementing the coconut goodness within ever so well.
I wish Jacques Genin would do macarons. He’s the one guy I bet could beat the **** out of Ladurée. Not only can I guarantee his process would involve fresh daily shipments of almonds, ground in-house and then incorporated into the mix – all within the span of 10 minutes – but the macs themselves would be texturally perfect. He would only do chocolate, vanilla, caramel, and lemon (if my hunch is right) – and they would all blow your mind. Not sure why he doesn’t already do them, since they do fit in with his pastry lineup, which is composed of 90% classics.
But, yes, Ladurée’s Macaron Noix de Coco makes an excellent purchase. Definitely a good bit on the sweet side, it might not be the best one to get a box with it alone – but tossing a couple of these into the mix of a larger assortment would certainly be a fine way to go.