It was the reason for the dash across to Saint Germain that sunny, summer Paris day.  To sample as many flavours of macarons as elegantly possible.   To soak up the certain je ne sais quoi of the boutique – and lingering only long enough before being considered a pathetic patisserie stalker by the staff.

I recently came across some notes from that trip to France.  A hand written list of all the Ladurée macaron flavours that Mr Mélanger and I wolfed down, oh, I mean gracefully consumed, over multiple visits to Ladurée during that particular visit to Paris.  The notes were carefully written on stationery from the hotel we stayed, and had been accidently tucked away in the front compartment of a piece of luggage.  Finding it brought a massive smile to my face.  Oh how I adored the texture of those macarons.  They were so delicate.  So shiny.  The flavours so perfect.  All my own macarons came up short compared with the elusive standard that I had formed in my head.

Until now.

Enter the Ladurée macaron recipe.

After wolfing down (and yes, it was wolfing down on this occasion), about half a dozen filled macarons from this batch, Mr Mélanger declared these were one of my Top 5 macarons.  A big call seeing I have posted 30 different macarons on my blog over time (if you can believe it!), and made many more.

I personally would rank these macarons in my Top 2 – the champagne macarons made for my wedding surely need to be awarded a permanent first place, no?  Either way, these Ladurée inspired macarons were sensational.  Every element exaggerated.  The shell was excessively delicate and fragile and gave away to a thick and beautifully chewy centre.

Mr Mélanger was actually shocked I had got back on the macaron saddle again, so to speak.  The last time I made macarons was almost a year ago -  back ‘once upon a time’ when I was pregnant.  The year before that, though, I had gone macaron crazy, testing batch after batch for my wedding.  It was perhaps a combination of burning out on one particular sweet, and also trying to avoid something that had become too popular, as to why I turned my back on macarons.  For a while, anyway.

This flavour is not in the Ladurée book but is a tribute to one of my favourite things in life.  Nutella.  The jar of chocolate hazelnut goodness that is banned in my house.   (L-o-n-g  story.)  Close your eyes and in just one bite you could be savouring the creamy, delicious flavour of Nutella.

I WILL make these again, and this method WILL find its way in my regular baking repertoire moving forward.  This little recipe is the closest to producing something that actually tastes like a Ladurée macaron.  (Funny that!)  And they produce the best macaron around, in my humble opinion.

{Hazelnut and chocolate macarons} adapted from Ladurée Sucre cookbook

The recipe mentioned that the shell may crack on top.  This happened to my first two batches.  So I experimented with the oven temperature, and found my perfect point was 120C (not the 150C recommended in the recipe).  You may need to adjust your temperature accordingly.  But rest assured, any cracked macarons will taste just as delicious!!!

*  Ingredients *
70g ground almonds
70g ground hazelnuts
125g icing sugar
3 egg whites + 1/2 egg white
105g caster sugar
100g dark chocolate
100g cream
25g butter

* Directions *
Combine the ground almonds, hazelnuts and icing sugar in a food processor.  Separately, whisk the egg whites to a foam.  Add a third of the sugar and whip until dissolved.  Add another third and whip for another minute.  Add the remaining sugar and whip until you reach soft peaks.  Delicately fold the mixture of ground almonds, hazelnuts and icing sugar into the egg whites.  In a separate bowl, beat the 1/2 egg white until frothy.  Then add to the final mixture, folding only to slightly loosen the batter.  Transfer mixture to a piping bag and pipe rounds onto prepared baking sheets with non-stick parchment paper.  Preheat the oven to 120C.  Allow the macarons to sit uncovered for 10 minutes.  Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes depending on your size.  Allow the shells to cool, and prepare the filling.  To make the ganache break up the chocolate and place into a bowl.  Heat the cream until it just reaches boiling point.  Pour over the chocolate to melt and combine.  Finally, add the butter.  Allow to cool and slightly set.  Once it has reached a good consistency, transfer to a piping bag and pipe ganache on one macaron shell, topping with another macaron shell.

Makes about 25 filled macarons