Underappreciated. Too many of the finest Parisian pastries are underappreciated. When Pierre Hermé first released the Ispahan, barely anyone cared to buy it. Instead of removing it from the vitrine, he kept it in for years, until it caught on and became one of his most popular pastries. That’s, unfortunately, not a luxury most shops have. So among my many aims with the site here is accelerating that process for certain chefs and their work – hoping that, if I get the word out, it can keep one of the treasures on display. After all, a casual shopper in any one of the grandes pâtisseries won’t have any context for how amazing Pouchkine’s Napoléon or Aoki’s Éclair Sésame Noir are. When too many other options in the cases have been dolled-up like supermodels of crème and gâteaux, the most humble works go unnoticed and, as I said, terminally underappreciated.
When it comes to Un Dimanche à Paris’ Macaron Réglisse, I never got the opportunity to write about it before the decision was made to take it out of rotation. It just didn’t sell enough for Un Dimanche to justify making them. But we’re going to remedy that today. These macarons, #13 on my list of The 38 Best Pastries in Paris, need to come back now … and forever. So let me first describe to you exactly how amazing they are, then detail the steps both we and they need to take to restore them to their rightful place in the canon of contemporary Parisian pastry.
Even as you approach for your first bite, the delicate aroma of réglisse mingles with soft notes of Caribbean molasses. Your lips embrace both halves of the shell and instinctively read their coarse sugar granules – like a sweet braille – as saying “sinfully delicious”. Then, as you cleave through the tender French meringue and allow your tongue to carry away a morsel from the body of the macaron, those granules of sugar instantly begin to dissolve and light up your taste buds. Electric. It’s only another second before this already magical experience transforms into something verging on religious perfection. The grain – the unapologetic grit – of the firm crème within the macarons is unlike anything you’ve experienced. It rakes seductively against your tongue, exploding with deep, dense, primal tones. Réglisse has rarely, if ever, known a more beautiful expression.
With every bite, you drift into a more languid delirium. These aren’t just macarons; they’re an intoxicant. As perfect on a sun-filled afternoon as on a dreary, rainy morning, enjoying these is among the requirements for a life truly well-lived.
Let me preface the following by saying I adore Un Dimanche à Paris. Quentin Bailly is a tremendously gifted chef pâtissier. Pierre Cluizel is a national treasure of France and a genius of chocolate. And Perrine de Longevialle is the greatest director in all of Paris’ patisseries, putting everyone else to shame. So take the following comments as a high complement. I care enough to be completely blunt . . .
The color of these is just not working. Yes, it’s reminiscent of the color of réglisse, and it made for a better diversity of colors in the case, but it’s a dull hue that wasn’t inspiring people to buy these macs. Everyone hates the black color Ladurée and Pierre Hermé use for their réglisse, too, so it’s a general problem where réglisse is concerned.
What about having a two-color approach? The top shell could be pink, and the bottom shell could be purple. The crème on the interior would be white. That would be beautiful and make it a true standout. Alternately, and perhaps even more likely to help, pick another appealing color or combination and accent it liberally with lustre dust, as Cafe Pouchkine does with many of their pieces – example: Café Pouchkine’s Caramel-Chocolat Macaron. Of course, no matter what, keep the same raw sugar granules on the shell, as those are part of the magic of these macarons.
Réglisse is also just not the most popular flavor to begin with, so can we sex-up the name? What about “Pure Réglisse” or “Réglisse à l’Ancienne” as the French name and “Traditional French Licorice” as the English translation on the tag? Tourists love nothing more than “authentic”, “traditional” and “ancient” things, especially when it comes to France and Paris. That approach alone could make any macaron flavor the hot seller.
As for you, my dear readers, I need you to do me a favor – but one that benefits not only me, but you and all of humanity. When you visit Un Dimanche à Paris, please please please ask if they have the Macaron Réglisse. If your French is not the best and it feels funny to say “réglisse”, just request the “black licorice macarons”. If you truly love réglisse and would be willing to buy a full box of them, express your sadness that you cannot do so. Should you happen to know anyone heading to Paris soon – someone who loves black licorice – pass this page along to them and encourage them to swing by Un Dimanche and badger the staff for a Macaron Réglisse.
And, if by chance Un Dimanche brings these back soon, make sure to buy at least one – if not a dozen – of them. Yes, they have quite a few amazing macarons there, but aside from the equally amazing coquelicot, it’s this réglisse that will truly blow your mind.
So, yes, absolutely snag the Macaron Réglisse … once they come back. Until they return, request them every single time you visit the shop. Even if you don’t like réglisse, these are one of the few confections that could change your mind. And if you already enjoy the flavor, I’m 99% certain these will thoroughly wow you. They are transcendent.