Friday, February 20, 2009


So most of you who read this blog know that, J'adore les macarons. Seriously, they are my Achilles' heel. There are several shops here in Paris that are famous for the macarons, and in fact they are in almost every patisserie. I had been meaning to go to one shop in particular, Pierre Hermé, and finally put it on the itinerary for after class today. I have to confess that it was exhilarating being in that shop, and the experience seemed ritualistic. I joined the back of the queue, and examined the other pastries as I waited my turn. I didn't have my camera and oh boy, did I miss some good photo ops!! The Canelés were so dark (that's another field trip entirely), the tarts so shiny! Finally it was my turn, and although I had planned on ordering just a few, I found myself asking for a box of seven. Well here goes nothing!

I ordered (listed as pictured, top to bottom):
-Truffe Blanche & Noisette
White Truffle & Hazelnut
-Chocolat Pure Origine Mexique (aka "Mexique")
Single Origin Mexican Chocolate
-Vanilles du Mexique, de Tahiti & de Madagascar (aka "Infiniment Vanille")
Blend of Mexican, Tahitian and Madagascar Vanilla Bean
-Rose (I think you can translate that one)
-Fruit de la Passion & Chocolat au Lait (aka "Mogador")
Passion Fruit and Milk Chocolate
-Thé Jasmin

Problem was, I was with a friend and we were going to get a drink, and I wanted to wait until I got home so I could properly photograph my treats. Even I was impressed by my self restraint, waiting several hours before opening the box, then having to wait a painful twenty minutes more for my camera battery to charge! This I had to document, my first experience eating the famous Pierre Hermé macarons.

The box they came in was very thoughtfully designed. The seven macarons fit inside comfortably, not one was smashed, but close enough together to prevent them from rattling around. The four flaps open up to present the macarons waiting to be enjoyed. And enjoy them I did, very very slowly. I laid them all out on the open box, so they could breathe, if you will...they had been cooped up with that truffle macaron, and this ain't your chocolate truffle macaron. This is a macaron with real white truffle, the fungus that grows under ground that dogs or pigs search for. Needless to say, I HAD to try one, but I was a bit worried the other macarons would have 'essence de truffe'. I felt a bit like a surgeon, carefully maneuvering the macarons, placing them one by one on the plate for a photo, then slicing each one in half to savor. I ate half of each in the order I thought would be best for a tasting, such as you would with cheese.

The Cassis Macaron was surprisingly intense. I love fruit and fruit desserts in general; however, I didn't have high expectations for the cassis, but I will gladly be proven wrong any day by this cookie. There were even bits of real berry in the creme, for an extra punch of flavor, although it was never lacking. Cassis is simply french for blackcurrant, a very common berry in Europe, and similar in flavor to other dark berries; black berries, raspberries, blueberries.

Next was the rose, and I had high hopes for this one because I always love rose scented pastries. Well, Pierre Hermé did not let me down. Not only was there a perfect amount of rose aroma and flavor, but the buttercream! The buttercream was so buttery, and perfectly salted too. What makes a good pastry a great pastry? Salt. Seriously, nothing irks me more than a bland under-salted pastry, whatever it be; cookie, buttercream, ice cream, cake, don't even get me started!! This Rose Macaroon was perfect, and it will be hard to top.

Now, onto Vanilla. "Infiniment Vanille" that is. There are chocolate people and there are vanilla people, and I am neither. Granted as a kid, you couldn't get me near vanilla, I always had chocolate ice cream, but now as an adult, I have taken after my mother and fallen in love with almond and lemon desserts. However, whenever vanilla is done properly, it gets my attention. This macaron had three types of vanilla bean in the cookie and the creme, and it was intense! I mean this is how you do vanilla, not some softly scented cookie, but a bold, bourbony and floraly vanilla cookie. Wow, this could convert some chocolate folks.

I was very excited to try the Passion Fruit and Milk Chocolate Macaron for two reasons. First, I love Passion Fruit, it is always pleasantly acidic and zesty. Second, I don't like Milk Chocolate, or very rarely do I. Well, this macaron proves again that Pierre Herme really knows his flavor combinations and I should be a little more trusting of him. The Milk Chocolate mellows that acidity of the Passion Fruit, without muting it at all. What a pleasantly surprising combination. I could eat several of these. The ganache I imagine is milk chocolate and passion fruit puree, since all you need for a ganache is chocolate and a liquid, the liquid is usually cream, but can be substituted for espresso or perhaps passion fruit puree. I will definitely be trying to make these.

"Mexique" is for chocolate people. This single origin Mexican chocolate macaron was sublime. The cocoa in the cookie gave it a red glow, and the ganache in the middle, of which there was plenty, was dark chocolate at its perfection, chocolate made supple by cream and butter. It is much harder for me to describe this macaron, but I think I did roll my eyes back in my head upon tasting it. Any chocolate lover MUST try this one, and in fact, next time I might have to do a sampling of the five chocolate macarons offered.

Finally, there was the White Truffle & Hazelnut Macaron. Now, if you have stuck with me here, and paid attention, you might be asking, wait that is only #6. And you are right, apparently that Jasmine at the end of the counter that I asked for was a misplaced tray of Truffle Macarons. A pleasant surprise for me, as I ended up with two of them, but maybe not so pleasant for the unsuspecting patron expecting a gentle Jasmin Tea Macaron and finding this is their bag. Wow, the aroma was intense enough that I was concerned the other macarons' flavors would be compromised having shared a box with it; however, their time together was short and the other escaped unharmed. Inside the macaron, was a toasted hazelnut, which was a fantastic compliment to the earthy and musky truffle. No surprise now that this is a great combination, but the balance and execution of this macaron was impressive.

This will definitely not be my only trip to Pierre Hermé, and hopefully I won't go too often. Now that I have tasted an assortment of flavors, next time I will do a more focused tasting, perhaps just chocolate macarons. Oh, and if you were wondering, I did eat all of them. And it was fantastic.

1 comment:

  1. Okay now I'm getting seriously concerned you aren't coming back. . .