Ladurée have been well-known for their macarons in Paris for over 100 years. But in recent years, macarons have gained popularity outside of Europe and needless to say, this little French confection has become a sensation in Hong Kong as well. And some might even agree with me that the macaron is the new cupcake in town.
Ladurée opened its first shop in Hong Kong in TST’s Harbour City, following another in Central’s Landmark and the most recent Tea Room in Causeway Bay’s Times Square. I was doing some shopping after lunch last weekend at Times Square and came across the Tea Room located on the third floor. I was drawn in by the pretty pastel colors of the kiosk and couldn’t resist buying a box of their macarons.
The perfect macaron has round, smooth shells with a shiny sheen, a visible filling and has a balance of textures and flavors. The shells should have a thin crispy crust and a slightly chewy, airy meringue interior with complimentary fillings of ganache, buttercream or jam. They are extremely delicate and have beautiful colors to match the variety of flavors.
I got myself a box of 6 macarons ($190) and it wasn’t an easy task to only select 6 flavors from the 18 varieties Ladurée offered. I finally decided on the traditional Raspberry and Chocolate (but, the sales recommended the Pure Origin Columbia), the popular Salted Caramel and Pistachio and the new seasonal flavors Lemon Verena and Marie-Antoinette.
My favorites were the Raspberry – which had a perfect balance of sweetness and acidity, the Salted Caramel – which was heavenly rich and creamy offset with a twist of saltiness, and the Marie-Antoinette Tea – I was a bit skeptical about this bright tealed color macaron at first, but the fondant cream infused tea won me over.
Despite macarons made from only a few simple ingredients of egg whites, sugar, ground almond and icing sugar, they are quite pricey! Ladurée charges $190 for 6 and $250 for 8, packaged in their beautiful pastel colored boxes. Or you can pay a few extra bucks to get their limited edition “designer” boxes (currently they are promoting a blue jewel-decorated Marie-Antoinette box).
Why do macarons cost so much? Are we solely paying for the beautiful packaging or is the cost of making macarons really that high? About a year ago, I went through a phase of obsessively making macarons, trying to produce some decent batches. What I’ve learned from that experience is that the technique is very difficult and extremely labor intensive and ground almonds are relatively pricey.
So do I think Ladurée’s macarons are worth $32 a pop? My feelings are mixed. These delicate treats are truly heavenly (as long as they aren’t overly sweet) but I’m not sure I can justify paying $32 a piece.
- A macaron is a French meringue-based confectionery commonly filled with ganache, buttercream or jam sandwiched between two cookies.
- Some say the macaron cookie originates from Italy (introduced by the chef of Catherine de Medicis in 1533). It was later in the 20th century when Pierre Desfontaines sandwiched the 2 cookies together making it the popular French macaron it is today.
- Macarons is often confused with macaroons, they are actually 2 different types of cookies. The foodnetwork has an interesting article about this.
- They can be stored in the lower part of your refrigerator for a few days and taken out 10-15 minutes before you’re ready to eat them.
- Chocolate and rasperberry are the traditional flavors.
- The 2 well-known techniques used to make macarons are the French and Italian method.
Ladurée Kowloon, Shop 3224, Level 3, Gateway Arcade, Harbour City, TST / (852) 2175 5028
Ladurée Landmark, Shop 211, Level 2, The Landmark, Central / (852) 2579 0311
Ladurée Tea room, Kiosk G, Level 3 Times Square, Causeway Bay / (852) 2509 9378