Food

Battle of the Fancy Madison Avenue Chocolate Bars: Ladurée vs. La Maison du Chocolat (Plus Some Macaron Porn, Too)

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If you’re going to spend $10 on a chocolate bar, it had better be a damn good one. Or so you’d hope. But what do you do when the market becomes flooded with overpriced chocolate bars? How can you know how to best blow your weekly paycheck on cacao? Well, kids, that’s what Battle of the Dishes is for. This week, we paid a visit to the just opened Ladurée (864 Madison Avenue, 646-558-3157) hoping they’d be selling delicious patisseries like at the original in Paris, but alas, only macarons and chocolates (and, oddly, sweet-scented perfumes and candles) could be had. And since we’ve already done a macaron smackdown, chocolate it was. And who better to battle Ladurée than La Maison du Chocolat, its equally Francophilic neighbor, located just eight blocks north. Behold the battle of the fancy Madison Avenue chocolate bars. Plus some pics of Ladurée’s macarons because clearly we weren’t going to go and not buy any. What kind of person would torture herself like that?

Wanting to get something a little more exciting than plain old chocolate, we opted for the 100 gram (3.5 ounce) 56% dark chocolate bar with hazelnuts, priced at $10. The package suggested consuming it by November 30th, 2011, indicating that it contains few stabilizers that would preserve its shelf life. Bolstered with lots of hazelnuts, the chocolate was smooth and very palatable, with honey and vanilla-ish undertones. It’s sweet, yes, and true chocolate purists might quibble at the lower cacao percentage, but all in all, it makes for a nice chocolate bar for snacking. Plus, the simple elegance of the lilac-colored box embossed with gold lettering drew us in right away. What can we say? We’re suckers for pretty packaging.
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Moving on, we stepped into La Maison du Chocolat, which unlike Ladurée, was blissfully empty (Ladurée wait time was about 10 minutes). They didn’t offer a dark chocolate bar with hazelnuts, only a milk one, so we went with the dark chocolate and almond bar, also priced at $10. Their bar, though is only 75 grams (2.6 ounces), meaning that on price per volume alone, you’re paying 25% more than Ladurée. The chocolate is 60% and scored into larger squares filled with finely chopped almonds. While certainly echelons beyond what Hershey could ever aspire to, the chocolate lacks the richness and viscosity of the Ladurée one. Its flavor is slightly more one-note and less complex. Still good, but not OMG-chocolate-orgasm good.

And for the winner and your daily dose of macaron food porn…
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Ladurée wins! We were smitten with the chocolate, which was both better tasting and a better deal than the La Maison du Chocolat one. So all you macaron haters still have a reason to check out the new Madison Avenue store, which looks like this:

And for the chocophobics, here are the macarons:

The macarons are priced at $2.70 apiece, and come in the following flavors: raspberry, green apple, vanilla, coconut, strawberry-mint, coffee, lemon, pistachio, cassis violet (our personal favorite), chocolate, orange flower, rose, and salted caramel. A sign also notes that the cookies must be eaten within three days of purchase.

Having sampled the cassis, green apple, and coconut on our way home, we can say that they do taste just like the ones in France (which makes sense since they’re shipped over). Because of today’s rain, though, we felt that the cookie might have been slightly affected by the humidity in the air, since the treat felt slightly denser as opposed to flaky. Still, though, if you’re a macaron fan, Ladurée really is the Platonic ideal.

For more dining news, head to Fork in the Road, or follow us @forkintheroadvv or me @ldshockey.