February 18, 2012

HB Sweets: Ladurée Macarons come to NYC!

As I approached the Ladurée shop on the Upper East Side I was instantly enthralled by the magical window arrangement of colorful pastry towers.  This beautiful new boutique, which opened its doors late last summer, is the first of its kind to come to the United States. The original Ladurée shop is located in Paris with a history spanning over 150 years. To build upon its global success, the company has now transformed a tiny retail space on Madison Ave. into an extremely popular foodie destination. 

So what exactly is a macaron anyway? Macarons (note the spelling) are sandwich-like cookies made from eggs, almonds, and sugar with a creamy ganache filling.   They come in a variety of flavors and should not be confused with macaroons, which are denser cookies, also made with almonds, and commonly coconut in flavor.  (For more on the macaron vs. macaroon intrigue, click here to read an article from thekitcn.com).  

If you are looking for a little indulgence, macarons are the cookies for you. The ones sold at the New York shop are imported from France and made in Ladurée's special "laboratories."  My friend highly recommended the vanilla flavor (Vanille) which turned out to be my favorite, followed by raspberry.  The cookie shells were perfectly light, crisp, and smooth, with a delicious creamy center. I never knew a simple vanilla cookie could taste so good.  Amazing.  

Of course there are a few important things to know before getting addicted to Ladurée macarons: 1) there's a often a long line at the shop, and 2) these luscious treats are $2.70 a piece.  That’s right, it will cost about $20 to get half a dozen of these cookies which aren’t much larger than a silver dollar.  So was it worth the wait and the price?  I think so.  Sure, I would prefer an empty store with café tables for customers and free samples, but nothing is perfect!   

Here a few tips for enhancing your Ladurée experience:
  • Take special note of the shop hours and budget a lot of extra time for waiting in line during your visit.  My wait was only around 20 minutes, but I am told that on certain days and around the holidays the wait can be extremely long.
  • Remember that Ladurée macarons are meant to be consumed within 3 days of purchase and kept in the refrigerator during that time.  My friend advised me that the flavor of a macaron is bolder if they are brought to room temperature again, but I thought they were good both ways! 
  • Don’t eat too many macarons at one time because they are rich and you will want to savor your bites. (I did not follow this one). 
  • If you don’t want to wait in line, I did notice at least one person picking up a pre-ordered arrangement and skipping the line, so inquire within!