Thursday, November 2

Paris, Je t’aime: A little Investigation… (part two)

If I were a cookie, I would be a macaron. No question.
The flavour, the texture, the colours, the shape -
it’s just the best cookie.
The taste of the crunchy and slightly chewy outside, and soft and smooth inside…:it’s heaven between 2 little shells.

Making good macarons - not to be confused with the coconut macaroon - is however difficult and a real art. You can find in almost every sweet cookbook a macaron recipe and on Google more than 28.000 hits will appear on your screen from recipe sites and fellow bloggers, but the recipe for the perfect macaron is, and will probably always be, a question for us humble human beings.

The basic macaron is made of almond flour, icing- and granulated sugar and egg-whites but what amount or what the masters include extra? Perhaps Pierre spits for his final touch 3 times in the batter or David Holder gives each macaron a little blessing before he let them enter the shops... Who knows. (note: if you do know - please send me a mail!)

Macarons don’t exist here in Holland. The average Dutchman does not know what it is - and doesn’t care - and considers a bought slagroomtaart (cream cake) as a true delicacy. Well, bon appetite - Grrr…
That’s another reason why I’m so delighted about Paris. Everywhere you look are little (and large famous ones…!) bakery’s, patisseries and chocolatiers with the most beautiful display windows, loaded with freshly baked goods.
You name it; croissants, pain au chocolat, millefeuilles, éclairs, madeleines and of course…macarons (!) In every thinkable colour and flavour, beautifully lined up, waiting to be bought.
What do you think about marron et thé vert matcha or perhaps a huile d'olive et vanille macaron?

Time for a little comparing examination (!)
I wish I could have sampled from every shop I came across, including Maison du Chocolat and Laduree but it was just too much. Very unexpected and kind of new for me, but there was just too much good food.
I’m still bummed about that last one. Especially because now I read EVERYWHERE that Laduree has the best macarons…
Well, nothing to do about it; I just HAVE to go back - o boy, what a pity…;)

So I stayed with Fauchon and Hermé.
I lost my heart to Fauchon when I was ten. It was my first time in Paris and I sat in the beautifully decorated tearoom behind my chocolate tasting plate, all feeling special. Such an experience for a little girl.
And Hermé; do I have to explain?? I was just dying to go to Hermé - I read so much about him and his incredible creations and his latest book PH10 is standing so high on my wish-list…(hint!)

For my comparing, I got from both a chocolate and a coffee macaron -
Fauchon (below) and Pierre Hermé (above), and the 2 flavours; coffee (left) and chocolate (right)

The results:
*drum roll….*
It wasn‘t very difficult:

Fauchon’s macarons are fine. Great even if you haven’t tasted the perfect one. They have a very soft (in my opinion too soft…) centre but a good, strong chocolate/coffee flavour. They are chewy, have in proportions very thick shells and little filling and chewing is not really required with these macarons.
Hermé’s macarons are simply heaven. Compacter, a good bite and an explosion of flavour. And as you see on the picture a perfect, thick ganache centre, which will soften and melts deliciously in your mouth…
Easy calling: Hermé is the winner(!)
*yeeh, yeeh! Applause, applause…*

Wow, now I haven’t even written something about his almighty shop or my other purchases(!)
See here two wonders of the master Pierre Hermé;

The Plaisir Sucre - From bottom to top: hazelnut dacquoise, milk chocolate-hazelnut spread, a layer of chocolate ganache, a dark chocolate sheet, another layer of chocolate ganache, a chocolate sheet, chocolate mousse, and one last chocolate sheet…

And the Surprise Ball - I’m not 100% sure what was inside here but I think…- a chocolate biscuit layer, chocolate ganache, a chocolate sheet, more ganache, mascarpone and caramel, covered with a thick chocolate layer…

I was speechless - how does he come up with it??
It was just perfect. Heaven. Al the flavours 'fit' with each other.
And so is his entire shop - everything looks incredible and is made with such care, love and preciseness.
Well, I definitely know what I want for Christmas this year…

Pierre Hermé
rue Bonaparte 72
Tel: 01 43 54 47 77

Rue de Vaugirard 185

place de la Madeleine 24-26-30
Tel :


Scott at Real Epicurean said...

Ah, it looks so soft and squidgy in the middle! I want it!

Robyn said...


Soon, soon.

I did try 7 small macarons today (shared, so more like 3.5). I'm proud of your macaron eating! :)

Brilynn said...

I think I'd sell my soul for a pierre herme macaron...

wheresmymind said...

Surprise sugar...yum!

faith said...

Hermé is so amazing, isn't he? I love looking at his recipes and seeing the flights of imagination he takes, piling on more and more flavors that still all click together somehow. Lovely pics of your trip to Paris, Julia!

I had a rose geranium macaron from Miette in San Francisco last summer and it was marvelous.

Bron said...

One day I hope to know this pleasure!
Nobody makes macarons here in New Zealand :-(

Julie said...

Any investigation that involves eating lots of macarons is an investigation worth carrying on. Most delcious!

Julia said...

Hi Scott, I’m on the same level - am thinking of going back for just one more macaron…

Hi Robyn, wow - 3,5 is as well not nothing! ;) hurry and go to herme - it’s so goood.
(you can understand I’m by the way very, very jealous you have at least the possibility, right?) ;)

Thanks for popping in Brilynn - same here!!!

Hi Wheresmymind! Big surprise indeed! ;)

Hi Faith, you expressed it spot on - I totally agree! That macaron sound amazing - was it a real rose flavour? I had once rose ice cream but it tasted a bit like strawberries…

Hi bon - I know what you must feel - nobody here in Holland makes macarons as well…
But it is indeed a good excuse to head off to Paris, right??

Hi Julie - haha, yes! Great thinking! ;)

angelika said...

Hi Julia, I am indeed with you when it comes to speaking about culinary Paris - maybe you have seen on my blog my great Paris adventure on a barge tied opposite of St.Louis - it was at the end of September. I am not such a macaron fan but I think we are a little spoiled here in Vienna as for sweet delights. Thank you for your kind comment on my blog, I do appreciate it so much, and: what an exciting life for such a young lady !!! Have fun, angelika

Lauren said...

I loved your ode to macarons here. I have yet to visit Paris; Hopefully sometime soon in my life. It's seem you've been very fortunate in travels! Looks delicious.

Welcome back. I'll be looking forward to reading more.

peabody said...

Nice comparison...a tough job...but someone had to do it :)

gattina said...

this write-up is so cool! I never see/taste macarons, only see them from other bloggers, for some reason my perception is they're quite small. Now with that photo you holding them, oh... nice and big!
I really want that suprise ball too!

veuveclicquot said...


The picture of the macaroons (halved or half-eaten ;) ) lead me to agree with you. I'd rather much have Hermé's!! There are some things, though that I love at Fauchon. Gosh I miss Paris!! :)

Julia said...

Haha, thank you Angelika! I Loved reading your Paris write-up, what a beautiful pictures!! All that water with those little lights….*sigh*
You don’t like macarons?? You mad me curious; what is your favourite sweet then? =)

Hi Lauren - thank you so much for your sweet comment!
I know; but we love to travel so much - discover new places and see more of the world…and with this blog I come across even more places I now want to visit…;)

You’re right Peabody…- I HAD to do it; no choice at all…;) LOL

Hi Gattina - haha, glad I got you interested! ;)
I don’t have the courage yet, but sooner or later I think I have to try and make them myself as well. As perfect as can be. I know I can’t get out of it...

Hi Veuveclicquot - oh, yes I miss Paris as well so much!!!
It was indeed not really difficult…=) but I agree with you about Fauchon’s charm; their ‘bread’ section for example - without a doubt the best pain au chocolat EVER! (we did a little comparing about this as well…!)

ooishigal said...

Great test!
My favorites are the Ladurée mint and rose flavoured, it's very subtil :)

jenjen said...

Great "research" work Helene! I haven't heard much of Fauchon, but was sort of cheering for Mr, Herme's macaroons. I just love that man, hopefully I will get to sample his pastries soon. G has promised a trip to Paris in the near future! Yay! I'll be coming to you for recommendations.

eliza said...

wow those macaroons looked tasty and gigantic! your story & pictures about paris makes me want to go back, this time with a list of places to try!

MEM said...

OK, is it true that there is not ONE place in all of Holland to get a macaron? I do not see a paris trip in my crystal ball anytime soon, but I would very much like to see a half-eaten macaron with my toothmark on it in the ol' ball o crystal if you know what i'm saying.

This is in fact a serious macarons in Holland?

Julia said...

Hi Ooishigal! Wow, that sounds great! Yum!

Hi Jen, Paris: Yeeh! You lucky girl! ;) I love Herme, he’s brilliant. Have a great time!

Thanks Eliza, haha - I want to go back as well!

Nopez; absoluut geen enkele macaron.
naja - niet de echte dan - in de Utrechtsestraat bij Kuyt zag ik eens, bij het voorbij lopen, in de etalage iets wat op een macaron leek - snel naar binnen... - maar het bleek 2 bitterkoekjes met een plaatje chocolade te zijn die ze macarons noemde... (!)
laat we het er op houden dat ik niet meer zo blij was ;)
maar ik ga ze binnenkort zelf proberen te maken!
oja, als jij toch een macaron tegenkomt (in je glazen bol) - laat het me weten! =)

Merce said...

mmm delicious! you really should have tried laduree's though. their rose macarons are the most fantastic things ive ever had the pleasure of tasting... every year when im in paris, im always intent on bringing home a big batch with me, but somehow (surprise!) they never even seem to make it to the plane.
oh well. next time!

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