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Mac Daddy: Lovely and Amazing Macarons by Pierre Herme

I'm going to start Macaron Day (March 20, natch) by saying something bold: Macarons are not the new cupcake.

Don't get me wrong--in spite of this statement, I am not a macaron hater. It's just that I firmly believe that a good macaron is harder to come by than a good cupcake. Too sweet, too eggy, too chewy--the pitfalls with macarons are numerous, whereas cupcakes, like pizza, seem to go by the adage that even when they're bad, they're still kind of good.

If, however, all macarons were made like the ones at Pierre Hermé, it might be a different story.

Dubbed the "Picasso of Pastry", Pierre Hermé is basically--dare I say it--the mac daddy, the closest thing to a rock star that the macaron could possibly claim.

This is a lot to live up to for pastry pilgrims like myself, and so when we approached the macaron mecca on Rue Bonaparte, I must confess to a soupcon of hesitancy. 

But you know what? If there is a macaron that will make you a believer, it is probably going to be from Pierre Hermé.

We picked up three from the eclectic menu: the Marron et the Vert Matcha (chestnut and green tea), the Fragola (strawberry-balsamic), and the Magnifique, an unlikely pairing of strawberry and wasabi.

(Warning: I'm about to wax very poetic about these little burger-cookies.)

I said it on Serious Eats, and I'll say it again. Biting into one is like biting into a cloud: the macaron is light as air, and yields perfectly to the generous dab of ganache, which is smooth, rich, and creamy without having a texture that is incongruous with the delicate cookie base.

And that's just the texture--the flavors are just as thoughfully balanced and delicious. Each of the flavors we sampled, while unusual, not only worked, but worked well. This was most notable in the strawberry-wasabi flavor. The wasabi was not so much a smack as a whisper, giving the sweet strawberry a little nudge and certain je ne sais quoi. It wasn't spicy per se though, and you really shouldn't be scared of it.

So what is this all to say? Pierre Hermé makes a mean macaron. If you're in Paris, go there.

Pierre Hermé, various locations in Paris (we visited the one on Rue Bonaparte); online at pierreherme.com.

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Reader Comments (15)

Friends of mine just got back from Paris and they did the ultimate macaron taste test... Pierre Herme vs Lauduree... they said hands down the Pierre herme macarons were far superior in taste and texture... but they ALL look so good to me!

It's Macaron Day? Why didn't anyone tell me? Too bad there aren't any good ones in Vancouver...coincidentally, yesterday I had to skip an old NPR Food podcast because there was an entire story fawning over the new fad, macarOOns. I was so mad.

March 20 | Unregistered CommenterLydia

Agreed <3

March 20 | Unregistered CommenterLyns

Since today is La Journee du Macaron in Paris (and new York too) there's about a half hour to 45 minutes line outside of Pierre Herme today. Though there's always a small line outside of Pierre Herme ;-)
My favourite there will always be l'Ispahan. Lychee, rose, raspberry... it's just so good!

March 20 | Unregistered CommenterLaetitia

Yes today it was fantastic for French macaron!! I write an article in my blog...

Je vous souhaite une belle découverte de mon blog.
A très bientôt et en espérant goûter un jour vos merveilleux macarons!

March 20 | Unregistered CommenterJulie

beautiful. macarons. love! agreed, not the new cupcake. no comparison. macarons are wonderful little party cloud burgers and cupcakes are perfect delightful combinations of moist cake and frosting. both are delightful in their own right!

March 21 | Unregistered Commenterlyndsay

Can Paris please come to NYC or NJ?!

March 22 | Unregistered Commenterzara

I was in Paris in November and Pierre Herme was the first stop....on Rue Bonaparte, of course! The shop looks more like a high-end jewellery store than a pastry boutique. We watched a woman buy approximately 300$ of macaroons and then we bought 4......my preferance was for the OLIVE OIL macaroon. They were all divine, however.

March 22 | Unregistered Commenterfranzel

Oh, how I loved everyone's macaron stories. Really, though I say they're not the next big thing, they do have a certain...je ne sais quoi...no, not even that...they have a certain magic!! Especially when purchased in paris. Though Franzel: eek! I can't believe (or maybe I can) that the lady in front of you in line bought so many!

March 22 | Unregistered CommenterCakeSpy

I've never in my life tasted a macaron, and I think I need to remedy that. However, from this blog entry I get the impression that I need my first macaron to be a really good one -- anyone have any ideas where to find a great macaron in Seattle?

March 23 | Unregistered Commenterstatgirl

If I remember correctly, the macarons were about $4.00 a piece......my daughter and I thought the person in front of us was obviously going to visit her grandchildren!

March 25 | Unregistered Commenterfranzel

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