One cannot be a true macaron connoisseur without having heard the brands Laudreé or Pierre Hermé. Both highly regarded bakeries for the macaron, they have different approaches both in methodology and ideology. There is a lot of discussion between who’s macaron reigns supreme. I decided to take on the ultimate challenge of reproducing both recipes in my own kitchen and deciding for myself. Understanding that I won’t be able to produce the exact same results, I’ve decided that today I will be focusing on the shell of the macaron and developing my stance on the “Pierre Hermé vs Laudreé” issue based off of their unique techniques.
Laudreé has been credited as being the first macaron bakery and the first bakery to have commercialized the macaron as we know it today. Many describe entering a Laudreé boutique as magical and there is no doubt that their macarons have set the standard sky high with the sudden popularity macarons have been garnering. Laudreé is home to many traditional flavors such as chocolate, citron (lemon), framboise (raspberry) also with more seasonal flavors as well.
On the other hand, Pierre Hermé, is established as a bakery. A side note to point out is that Pierre Hermé originally worked at Laudreé developing his own vision for macarons. It doesn’t come as a surprise that Pierre Hermé’s macaron flavors are a lot more bold and dangerous including things such as olive oil vanilla, saffron coffee and traditional flavors such as bitter chocolate and salted caramel.
Today I am going to explore the merengue technique and the resulting macaron shell. Laudreé employs a French meringue technique which is what I’ve used in the past. The French technique is straight forward, where the sugar is whipped in with the egg whites and the dry ingredients are then folded into the meringue. On the other hand, Pierre Hermé utilizes the Italian meringue technique. The Italian meringue involves adding a hot sugar syrup to a stand mixer that is whipping egg whites. The dry ingredients are then combined with a portion of egg whites and then folded into the meringue. Although the technical differences between Italian and French exist for all meringues, when it comes to macarons the technicality means two different pastries. Italian meringues are labeled to be more stable although the technique is more tedious. French macarons are straight forward but leaves more space for mistake.
The criteria for the pastries today: appearance, taste, texture each worth 5 points and the overall flavor worth 10 points. I’ll be sharing the recipes in separate posts, pending on popularity I may or may not do a photo guide for these things because the technique (especially the Italian meringue) may seem a bit daunting (but is totally doable!).
Pierre Hermé’s macarons came out with thicker and more even feet. The shells were also a lot more smoother. The feet of the macaron citron bent inward slightly which is signature to Laudureé. I personally thought that the inward feet of Laudreé were more classy but these shells were a lot more delicate and therefore more easy to ruin.
Laudreé macaron shells were a lot more sweeter compared to Pierre Hermé. In fact, they had over 200g more sugar used in their recipe given a similar amount of eggs and almond flour. This taste wasn’t too apparent in my taste test because the tartness from the lemon cream balanced it out. That said, the sweetness might be more overpowering if the macarons were any other flavor.
In my personal opinion, Pierre Hermé’s texture was far more supreme than that of Laudreé’s. Although the macaron citron had a similar texture right of the oven compared to the macaron pistachio, after aging for 24 hours, I found Pierre Hermeé’s macaron texture to hold better with age. In taste tests of 11 people, a majority appreciated the chewy texture while a minority appreciated the light texture of the Macaron Citron.
My roommate described the macaron pistachio as whimsical and playful whereas my other roommate described the macaron citron as light and not overpowering.
Overall, Laudureé was delicate and light. The flavors were traditional but left an impact on my pallet. Laudreé was slightly more addictive and made me want to keep taking another bite. Although the macaron citron was tart, it was definitely not overpowering. The flavors of the shell were more delicate which complimented the lemon cream.
In contrast to the popular opinion, I found Pierre Hermé’s macaron to be more subtle and complex. The flavors were mellow and it played very well with the texture of the macaron shell. The pistachio flavor lingers in the mouth. The only downside to these macaroons was the buttercream which melted extremely easily.
For the winner between these two macarons from the distinguished bakeries, Laudreé’s lemon macaron offered better appearance and overall flavor which earns 15 points total. Pierre Hermé wins out in terms of the macaron shell taste and texture. That said, the winning macaron is the macaron citron. This was confirmed by a taste test of 6 to 5 in favor of citron.
For the purpose of testing the macaron shell recipe, I’d say that Pierre Hermé’s recipe wins. I attribute this due to the use of a an Italian meringue instead of a French macaron which left more space for mistake on my behalf.
In the future, I would love to try a Laudree macaron flavor recipe using the shell of Pierre Hermé. I think this would produce results that would appease to more people.