I know, I've made you wait much too long for the second part of my Paris Pastry Binge, but it's finally here. Besides the binge at Pierre Herme, I sampled sweets at some of the best pastry shops in Paris. Major flavor players in this binge were chocolate, caramel & pralinè, but there were also a few citrus and pistachio notes included in my sweet selection.
Silver serving plates & tea pots, a pastry case with gilded ornamention, fine china, marble columns, and a glass-topped bar; its opulence was enough to bring you back to the 19th century and a salon de the of nobility. I adored this place! If I were ever have a patisserie of my own, I would want it to look like this one. The pastries, mostly French with a Russian twist, are as fancy as the salon. Each and every pastry was exquisite and finished with a dusting of gold. The teeny tiny shop is on the ground floor of the Printemps Mode store. The pastry window looks onto the street and beckons even the most anti-carb person to indulge inside. We sampled only three patisseries, and it took at least 20 minutes to decide which three.
The Forêt Noire (black forest) had all the elements of a classic black forest cake, chocolate, creme chantilly and Kirsch-soaked cherries. All set inside a chocolate cup. This was my friend's favorite, and because of that, I think I had only some of the chocolate topping and a cherry. It's ok though, as I didn't share much of the Caramel Pur Caramel with her. The eclair, generously filled with a light caramel pasty cream, had an extra suprise inside, thick & gooey vanilla bean caramel. The choux croustillante, seems to be the trend as we saw the crumbly covering on almost all choux pastries in Paris, added a bit of texture to the creamy eclair; perfect for caramel lovers. (I'll certainly be recreating this one at home!). Also very good was the Noir d'Or (black gold). Honey-scented chocolate mousse, vanilla cream, and a very thin layer of crostillante on top of an almond biscuit cake.
Carl Marletti Patisserie is a little pastry shop situated at the south end of rue Mouffetard in the 5th arrondissement. A sleek long and narrow shop with the pastries laid out in a case that stretches the length of the shop. I love his choux pastries and must admit that we sampled one not photographed. Oops, forgetting to take a photo of the Regligeuse Pistache, we devoured the little "nun" filled full with pistachio cream. The Aveline is a symphony of hazelnuts and praline, with another choux croustillante. It's sliced and filled with two types of pralinè cream, caramel and candied hazelnuts. The Desir is a chocolholics' dream, chocolate mousse on a chocolate biscuit with a sliver of chocolate croquant adding just a bit of crunch. All of it is coated in a chocolate glaze and topped with cacao nibs.
Pastry chef Phillipe Contacini adds much playfulness to his pastry shop of dreams and to his pastries, recreating classics in avant-garde and childlike twists. We sampled his flower-shaped Paris Brest, named the best Paris-Brest in Paris by Le Figaro. It lived up to its billing. A pralinè coulant oozes out of the center of each ball of pralinè pastry cream. We also tried the Limonata. It was better in theory than execution. A combination of lemon cream and meringue muddled together in the shape of a lemon, it was too sweet and had little lemon flavor.
Their website states: "Welcome to Haute Patisserie," and the pastry shop is just as haughty at Hugo & Victor. Pastries sit on stands behind glass casings like jewels in a jewelry shop and the chocolates come in Moleskin-like boxes. Although you feel as if you must speak in hushed tones in the store, the staff was very jovial and helpful. The Kaffir Lime Tart (combawa) is a brillant burst of citron in a crunchy, albeit strangely colored, short crust. The Hugo Chocolat blends tonka bean and lime together with chocolate mousse. Diced candied lime dot the lime-syrup infused chocolate torte. I also tried a few of the financiers the size of a 2 euro piece. My friend laughed at me as I paid 1.50 euros for each. Except for the little bit of combawa creme on the lemon financier, they were a dry disappointment.
Sadly for me, but not for my wallet or waistline, the Paris pastry binge of 2011 has come to and end. I'm sure I'll have more pastries to share with you on my next visit.
Addresses of patisseries visited:
64 Boulevard Haussmann (8th arr.)
in the Printemps Mode store
+33 (0)1 42 82 43 31
51 rue Censier (5th arr.)
+33 (0)1 43 31 68 12
Patisserie des Reves
93 rue du Bac (7th arr.)
+33 (0)1 42 84 00 82
Hugo & Victor
40 Boulevard Rasp ail (7th arr.)
+33 (0)1 44 39 97 73
Join me in Provence for a French Pastry Culinary Vacation 2013 and learn how to create some of these and other classic French pastries! Details here: Pastry-Making Vacation in Provence