Well, I finally made it to Ladurée. Open since 1862, Ladurée was Sofia Coppola’s choice for the sweet treats served in her film, Marie Antoinette. The place is usually packed with tourists, but yesterday being rather gray and rainy, I thought I’d give it another shot. There was still a line, of course, but at least it was all contained within the foyer of the small shop/tearoom on Rue Royale. I decided to stick with the basics, and ordered a St. Honoré, a chocolate réligieuse, and a millefeuille praliné.
For photos and descriptions of how great (or not great) they were, read on…
The millefeuille was pretty good. I could tell that it had been sitting in the case for a day or so, as the puff pastry was less than crisp. But it was cooked through, with many buttery layers. The filling was soft and creamy, and had a pronounced caramel flavor that bordered on too sweet. In the middle was a layer of gooey French praline – buttery caramel with bits of almond and hazelnut, which pushed it into the realm of decadent. I actually ate half right when I got home, while Nick had the other half this morning with his coffee. He really enjoyed it. I bet the sweetness was more balanced with a strong cup of Italian-roast coffee.
We were disappointed with the réligieuse. The top got a little smashed on the Métro ride home, but that wasn’t the issue. The pâte à choux was tough, the filling was scarce, the glaze lacked chocolate flavor, and overall it was too sweet. Surely a pastry institution such as Ladurée can put out something better than this.
And they do: the St. Honoré. Good puff pastry base, copious diplomat cream nestled between tiny filled choux puffs, topped off with a generous amount of whipped cream and toasted almonds for good measure. But wait! The best part! The caramel holding it all together was still crunchy! It looks as though some of it may have succumbed to the moisture in the fridge, but by no means all of it. We were pleasantly surprised and thoroughly pleased with this one.