Macarons get a lot of attention in Paris. Decked out in pretty colors and delivering incredible flavors to match, they can steal the show at any of Paris’s top pastry shops, or pâtisseries. The beauties above are from Ladurée, which many macaron aficionados say are the best in Paris. The macarons shown on the left at Georges Larnicol look awfully nice, too.
While a visit to Paris always includes a sampling of macarons, I like to try some of the macaron’s overlooked siblings, and on this trip I found myself coveting kouglofs and kouign amann. Although the best way to enjoy pastry is to have it the day it is made, I find as a traveler that I often want to enjoy them with my morning coffee, which means buying them the day before and keeping the bag tightly closed until breakfast the next day.
Imagine starting your day with a pot of strong coffee delivered to your room and breaking open this gorgeous kouglof from Pâtisserie Mulot in the Latin Quarter. Pretty sweet. Actually, despite its sugar coating kouglof is not terribly sweet and this brioche dough is meant to be a little dry. But trust me, this deceptively simple-looking cake is all yeasty, buttery, raisin-studded deliciousness. Perfect for dunking in coffee or eating as is. You won’t want to leave your room until you’ve finished off every last crumb.
And just before my flight home, I tucked into Pierre Hermé and picked up his equally divine kouglof. This one, shown on the left, includes the traditional addition of almonds. I highly recommend trying both.
Kouign amann is another pastry I had read about on Dorie Greenspan’s blog and decided it was one I had to try on my next trip to Paris. And when I read about the kouignettes at Georges Larnicol on David Lebovitz’s blog and unexpectedly found myself walking in front of the shop on boulevard Saint-Germain, I knew the universe was working on my behalf. I was stunned by the sheer number of kouignettes on display.
These are mini versions of the kouign amann, a pastry from the Brittany region of France, made of butter, puff pastry, and sugar that is baked till it is browned and super caramelized. There are about a dozen flavors to choose from, and in uncharacteristically French style, you pick up a pair of tongs and fill your own bag. It will be hard to pick just one.
Back to Ladurée. While you’re waiting in line deciding which flavors of macarons to buy and in what size box, be sure to add a palmier to your list. I had one day and had to go back the next for another. Ladurée’s palmiers are the biggest and best I’ve ever had—another puff pastry creation that is at once buttery, caramelized, and flaky.
So good, in fact, that I bought two the morning of my flight home to Chicago. They traveled well and brought me a sweet souvenir of my week in Paris.
21, rue Bonaparte
(and other locations)
Tel 01 44 07 64 87
76 rue de Seine
Tel 01 43 26 85 77
72, rue Bonaparte
(and other locations)
Tel 01 43 54 47 77
Maison Georges Larnicol
132 Blvd Saint-Germain
Also 14, rue de Rivoli
Tel 01 43 26 39 38