Armed with a prepackaged assortment of macarons from Pierre Herme, and a "one of each, please" box from Laduree, I conducted a totally unscientific taste test in the midst of the LONG flight from Paris to Los Angeles. I felt like a naughty toddler, taking a bite out of one and putting it back in the box, then taking a bite out of another. I'm sure the guy sitting next to me thought I was a barbarian. Oh well...what I won't do for food research.
Here are my notes...they are not nearly as complete as I wish, because it was hard to balance both containers on the small tray table, along with some water, my journal and a pen...and of course it got bumpy during the time. Oh well. For what it's worth:
First glance -- the ones from Laduree are smaller. (I purchased the mini ones from both places.)
First bites (and confirmed through the entire time) -- the Herme cookies are softer, with very little crust or crunch, whereas the ones from Laduree are crisp/crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside, filling is a bit thicker, too.
Chocolate -- Laduree has more intense flavor.
Caramel -- Herme had a more pronounced burnt sugar taste (a plus). Laduree tastes more caramely, and I can taste the salt, also a plus. A flavor tie...it would depend on what type of caramel experience I'm in the mood for.
Coffee -- Herme cream has more intense coffee taste.
Mocha -- My notes say "Herme does coffee well. Intense coffee flavor in the biscuit; chocolate cream inside is good."
Other flavors of Herme I tried and recorded -- almond, rose, olive oil & vanilla (interesting!), passion fruit with chocolate.
Other Laduree I noted -- rose, pistachio, raspberry which was brilliant in flavor.
All in all, I vote for Laduree hands down. I love the texture of their macarons so much better. I like having the bit of crunch in the beginning, and that bit of a chew in the center of the cookie, then hit the smooth thickness of the filling. The Herme ones, though nice in flavor, were just soft all around and a bit on the mushy side.
Oh, and what did my hubby think? He'd rather eat Oreos. *sigh* It's a good thing that man loves garlic or I don't know how we'd stay married!!! :)