Laduree (Tokyo, Japan)

Ladurée Ginza Mitsukoshi
Ginza Mitsukoshi 2F
4-6-16 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-8212
Dining date: various

Ladurée Shinjuku
Shinjuku Lumine 2, 1F
3-38-2 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 160-0022
Dining date: various

laduree

I’ve posted before about the abundance and quality of sweet confections all around Japan; one of the places where I seemed to most consistently stop in was Laduree. Primarily famous for its macarons (and inventor of the standard double-decker macaron we know today), the French patisserie has 6 locations in Japan (3 in Tokyo). Two of them happened to be within a quick 10 minute walk from my apartment.

The store I stepped into most often was in the heart of Ginza, on the second floor of the Mitsukoshi department store. It’s a full service restaurant, with a counter filled with all the wonderful goods taken to-go, as well as table service with the same desserts, some savory options, and wines. The cafe offered excellent views of one of the main intersections in Ginza.

view

Of course, the macarons are a top draw with a beautiful arrangement of colorful flavors. About 20 flavors are offered.

macarons

macarons

I found the macarons to be very good, as expected. I loved the texture and the flavors popped. However, there are so many producers (both French and Japanese) of excellent macarons in Japan that I wouldn’t say these necessarily stood out. But they’re very good (and also some of the most expensive at ¥240 each), and were consistent among many visits. My favorite was probably this salted caramel variety.

sea salt caramel

In addition to the macarons, there’s a host of small cakes and treats that look equally as decadent. I tried a number of them; they were solid, but I wasn’t blown away by anything.

desserts

desserts

Ispahan

ispahan

Saint Honore

Saint-Honoré

Mont Blanc

mont blanc

Chocolate-Hazelnut Cake

chocolate hazelnut

However, if there was one thing I was really impressed with, it was the soft serve. The Shinjuku location was the lone spot that served it…but it was worth the trip out there. There were a few different flavors available, along with a variety of syrups, fresh fruit, and crumbled macaron shell toppings.

glaces

fruit

macaron shells

chocolate soft serve, chocolate macaron shells, hazelnut, caramel

chocolate soft serve

ispahan rose soft serve, fresh raspberries, raspberry macaron shells

ispahan soft serve

The soft serve was delicious, sweet but not too sweet. Each of the toppings were excellent too, and I loved the chewy texture that the pieces of macaron shell provided. So simple really, but so good!

Given only one domestic location in the U.S. (NYC), it will be some time before I visit a Laduree again. It’s one of the things I’ll miss about Tokyo.

laduree swag

Macarons

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Macarons are always some of the most attractive confections in the display case of a bakery or sweets shop. The brightly colored small cookie “sandwiches” are often some of the most expensive treats per bite too, often being at least a couple of bucks for something that’s just a couple of bites. Why are they so expensive? They’re relatively labor-intensive and require a bit of specialized technique – something I definitely have not considered experimenting with at home.

So when Hong & Kim of The Ravenous Couple invited me and a few friends over for a macaron party/class of sorts, I jumped at the chance. I mean, when else was I going to get the opportunity to learn how to make macarons? Plus, it would be the perfect opportunity to break in my new KitchenAid mixer.

When we arrived, we were greeted with a properly organized set-up. Various stations around the kitchen were put together for each stage of the macaron-making process from the weighing station to mixing to sifting to macronage to piping, and finally to the feet station.

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Kim started by demonstrating with the first batch, then we split up to make our own. We utilized a recipe from BraveTart, a huge resource on macarons (and everything else sweet).

We spun the dry ingredients in a food processor then sifted them; egg whites and sugar were mixed in a few stages (for a total of 10 minutes) to get the consistency we wanted. This is where the food coloring and flavor extracts would be applied as well, the step which would make each of our macaron batches unique.

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Dry ingredients were folded into the meringue, a step called macronage.

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Finally, the mixed ingredients were piped onto a silpat baking mat, very carefully. A template was key for us beginners!

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Once they rested and settled, they were ready for the oven and the feet station. I had no idea what this was coming in, but the feet are the distinct ruffled edges around the circumference of the cookie, the part with a very light and airy texture. Apparently, good feet are hard to consistently develop but I’m happy to say each of our batches developed them!

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Once cooked, the cookies were ready to be sandwiched with the filling of our choice.

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Here’s a tally of some of the ones we made that day:

Coffee with chocolate ganache.

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Pistachio with nutella.

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Meyer lemon with fresh meyer lemon curd.

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Ube with ube jam.

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Rose with chocolate ganache, orange with fresh blood orange curd, and durian (not my favorite!) completed the full lineup.

These were pretty tasty if I do say so myself. To be honest, I was kind of surprised how they turned out given that all of us were complete newbies to the process. I thought we achieved a nice, light cakey shell with a soft but yielding texture.  While I would like to say that making these was easier than I expected it to be, most of that was attributable to the careful step-by-step guidance we received. I’m pretty sure these would’ve been terrible had I tried to make them by myself. Thank you to Hong & Kim for hosting this party and showing us the ropes!

The Ravenous Couple: Macaron Class in Session