Some people say that they prefer salty food to sweet food. I say that these people are crazy. What they need is a swift kick in the taste buds and to get their bums over to Ladurée. The Champs Elysées location is probably the most intimidating looking of their shops, but don't let the imposing, minty fresh facade keep you from going in. You're not going to spend more money here than you would at any regular restaurant and if it didn't feel so nutritionally wrong I wouldn't have anything against making a three course meal out of Ladurée's creations.
Before you gasp at my gluttony, you should know that these four desserts were shared between four mouths. One person could probably pack away two of the pastries since they're well below the size of satellite dishes, but it's more fun and slightly less sinful to make your own dessert buffet with a group of friends.
Let's take a closer look at the yums, shall we? Just don't lick your screen.
Millefeuille confiture Fruit Rouges: Caramelized puff pastry, light vanilla muslin cream, red fruit jam, whipped cream
Although I don't like millefeille that much in general, I doubt many places make it as well as Laduree. It's beautifully constructed and thankfully tastes as good as it looks. To best eat the double decker sandwich made of fragile, crispy pastry layers. vanilla cream and jam with the least amount of structural damage you should pretend you're trying to cleanly murder someone with a deadly heart pokage and give it a good, solid stab. Make a battle cry if it helps: "WAHRHARH" [stab]. That's probably not what the patissier had in mind when he made it, but it worked for me.
Millfeuille praline: Caramelized puff pastry, praline cream, almond pralines and crispy hazelnuts
This millefeuille is like the other one except with different flavored filling...which is about as helpful as saying, "This ice cream tastes a lot like that one, but with a different flavor." If you like nutty desserts, try this millfeuille; if you like fruity desserts, get the fruity millefeuille. If you can't decide, just get both. Either way, it's awesome.
Elyseé: Cocoa "succes" biscuit, crispy praline, thin crispy chocolate leaves pure origin of Madagascar, smooth chocolate cream, chocolate zabaglione mousse, chocolate biscuit and cocoa soaked in cocoa syrup
Holy bucket of penguin joy, this was amazing. The topmost micro-thin chocolate layer mooshes into multiple layers of chocolate creamy mousse stuff which moosh some more (yes, there's a lot of mooshing action in this dessert) into a light hazelnut studded biscuit. The delicate layering of rich components deceptively gives you the feeling that you didn't just eat a forkful of chocolate and dairy in different harmonious combinations. My friends and I compared it to a Ferrero Rocher in a larger and tastier cake form. If you don't enjoy this, something is seriously wrong with you. Sorry.
Tarte Tatin: Puff pastry, crystallized caramel flavoured apples, served with cream
I know I said I didn't like fruit-based desserts as much as ones with nuts, but I wanted to focus on something simple to see how well Ladurée would pull it off, kind of like why I eat so many pain au chocolats and baguettes (actually, that's probably just because they're cheap and I find them insanely delicious). Although you can see the individual apple pieces, they had been baked to nearly the consistency of apple sauce and pseudo-transluscency. Each slightly tart and caramelized bite of baked apple filled my mouth with warmth and subtle yet clear flavors of...apple. And tartness. And the greatness of sugars heated until they turn brown. All that lay underneath the mound of soft apples was a round of delicate puff pastry whose crispiness rang so true, despite being topped by something the opposite of crispy, that you could taste the individual layers.
A general observation I would make about all the pastries we ate was that they managed to combine oppositional textures without any one muddying up another so that the eater can experience multiple sensations in one bite. Combinging the desireable textures of crispiness and creaminess could result in the not so desireable texture of mushiness, but Laduree knows what they're doing. The hard-soft combination is what I love about crunchy crusted baguettes with soft innards (and it explains why I used to stuff potato chips in my sandwiches). I want the best of both worlds.
...Unless I'm drinking Chocolat chaud, in which case I just want richness, smoothness and chocolate overload-ness. Ladurée's hot chocolate isn't too sweet, bitter, or strong, and its thickness level, while moderate when hot (although thicker than average if you're not used to the non-viscous sort of hot chocolate), could coat your stomach Pepto-Bismol style after cooling down. That's the way I like it. It is the best way. Try the hot chocolate if you enjoy ingesting chocolate without the hindrance of that pesky thing called "chewing", but if I went back to Ladurée I think I'd spend the hot chocolate money on another dessert and just stick to my carafe d'eau for liquid replenishment. The baked goods are where it's at.
An NYC food blogger, currently studying non-foodie things in Paris, Robyn of The Girl Who Ate Everything shares her discoveries with Parisist every Monday while she explores all the eats that Paris has to offer.