Archive for the ‘pastries’ Category

A Preview of Winter Chocolate Creations at Un Dimanche à Paris

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014
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Un Dimanche à Paris on Cour du Commerce Saint-André

Un Dimanche à Paris on Cour du Commerce Saint-André
Photograph courtesy of Un Dimanche à Paris

In mid-September, Monique and I were invited to a preview event to taste winter chocolate creations at Un Dimanche à Paris, a restaurant located in the 6th arrondissement of Paris. When we arrived there for the tasting, we discovered that it is much more than a restaurant.

Located on a narrow 18th-century cobblestone walkway called Cour de Commerce Saint-André, the establishment houses a number of enterprises that are a-buzz with activity: a restaurant, a pastry shop, a salon de thé, and a pastry school. And to our great joy, we learned that the common theme around which all of these activities focus is chocolate—in all of its forms.

Upon entering the pastry shop, we were ushered upstairs to a large kitchen where the new winter creations were on display…and all were available for sampling!

Anna Maury - Communications

Anna Maury – Communications
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

Anna Maury of the business communications office greeted us and handed each of us a cup of thick, delicious hot chocolate. We were off to a good start!

Sapins de Noël

Sapins de Noël
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

I took one of the “Sapins de Noël” (Christmas trees) from the display and bit into it. Resting on a shortbread cookie called sablé Breton, this small confection contained chocolate mousse (50% cocoa), vanilla cream, and milky gianduja encased in a thin layer of chocolate and wrapped in a soft green cocoa-butter velours. Very rich and quite filling! The pastry will be on sale at the boutique from December 8 through December 31.

Ecorce de Chocolat

Bûche – Ecorce de Chocolat
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

Monique tried the “Bûche – Ecorce de Chocolat,” a dessert shaped like a Yule log enrobed in an irregular chocolate pastry shell fashioned to look like the bark of a birch tree. The log contained chocolate mousse (66% cocoa) and mandarin-flavored cream glazed with dark chocolate. The whole rested on a base of crunchy chocolate cookie enhanced with fleur de sel (sea salt). The pastry will be on sale at the boutique from December 20 through December 31.

Pierre Cluizel and Nicolas Bacheyre

Pierre Cluizel, Director and Nicolas Bacheyre, Pastry Chef and Chocolate Maker
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

I had the pleasure of meeting Pierre Cluizel, director, and Nicolas Bacheyre, pastry chef and chocolate maker.

Pierre Cluizel, son of renowned chocolate maker Michel Cluizel, worked for twenty-five years in the family’s business. He launched Un Dimanche à Paris as a concept store in 2011. In the dining room, he uses chocolate as a spice, and each dish contains some form of this ingredient.

Before coming to Un Dimanche à Paris, 30-year-old Nicolas Bacheyre worked for Fouquet’s (a famed restaurant on the Champs-Elysées), for Le Quinzième (a restaurant owned and created by Cyril Lignac), and for Fauchon (an esteemed caterer) as sous-chef.

The core philosophy of Un Dimanche à Paris is the concept of gourmandise raisonnée, exemplified by the creation of light-textured pastries that contain less sugar and are aesthetically pleasing to the eye. After this tasting, we can affirm that their pastries meet these noble goals.

Un Dimanche à Paris
4-6-8, cour du Commerce Saint-André
75006 Paris
Tel.: 01.56.81.18.08 (boutique)
www.un-dimanche-a-paris

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A Hands-on Pastry Workshop in the Town of Saint-Ouen

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014
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In mid-November, I received an invitation from the Saint-Ouen Tourist Office to attend a pastry workshop at a bakery in their town. Saint-Ouen lies just outside of Paris, to the north. I was going to learn how to make a Tarte choco-praliné (chocolate-praline tart)!

Boulangerie Blot

Boulangerie Blot
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

The bakery, Boulangerie Blot, is operated by Patrick and Céline Blot. It lies on rue des Rosiers, not far from the famous Paris Flea Market (which is, in reality, located in Saint-Ouen).

Madame Blot and Group

Madame Blot and Group
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

Pastry Dough

Pastry Dough
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

Madame Blot had prepared the dough for the tart in advance. All we had to do was to place it into a tart mold. (There was one mold for each of us.) Then she prepared the ganache (filling), while at the same time talking about the ingredients that she was using. I quickly realized that there wouldn’t be much “hands-on” in this workshop, but that didn’t matter too much, because I also realized that this was a rare occasion to be part of an all-French group experience. There weren’t any Anglophones to talk to!

Madame Blot Preparing Ganache

Madame Blot Preparing Ganache (Filling)
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

Catherine Taking Notes

Catherine Taking Notes
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

One of the participants, Catherine, took careful notes. There was a lot of discussion between Madame Blot and the participants about ingredients, technique, and so on. It was enough for me to keep up with the spoken French as the words whizzed by me at super-speed.

Tom Filling the Pastry Shell

Tom Filling the Pastry Shell with Ganache
Photograph by Saint-Ouen Tourist Office

After Madame Blot finished preparing the ganache, we each spooned it into our pastry shell. At this point, the tart should have gone into the oven to bake. After it cooled, it would be finished off with a topping of croquant praliné (crunchy praline). However, as time was short, Madame Blot had already prepared and baked a number of ganache-filled tarts. She brought these out for us to top off with the praliné.

Preparing Croquant praliné

Preparing Croquant Praliné
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

Some of the participants took a hand at mixing the croquant praliné. Many hands make light work!

Catherine Filling the Pastry Shell

Catherine Spreading Croquant Praliné onto Her Tart
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

We spread a layer of croquant praliné onto our tarts.

Tom Squirting Chocolate From Piping Bag

Tom Squirting Chocolate From Piping Bag
Photograph by Saint-Ouen Tourist Office

After we spread the croquant praliné, we squirted chocolate from a piping bag to decorate the tart. It wasn’t as easy as Madame Blot made it look!

Tom's Work of Art

Tom’s Work of Art
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

I thought that my handiwork was particularly compelling.

Catherine's Masterpiece

Catherine’s Masterpiece
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

Catherine displays her masterpiece.

Marion Landry-Stoffyn - Chargée de l’Accueil et des Animations

Marion Landry-Stoffyn
Chargée de l’Accueil et des Animations

Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

Thanks to Marion Landry-Stoffyn of the Saint-Ouen Tourist Office.

Patrick Blot and His Daughter

Patrick Blot and His Daughter
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

And thanks to Monsieur and Madame Blot for inviting us into their bakery.

Saint-Ouen Office of Tourism
30, avenue Gabriel Péri
93400 Saint-Ouen
Tel.: 01.40.11.77.36

Boulangerie Blot
49, rue des Rosiers
93400 Saint-Ouen
Tel.: 01.40.11.08.15

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Kouglof by Gerard Mulot

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013
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Kouglof by Gerard Mulot

Kouglof by Gerard Mulot
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

Pastry-maker Gerard Mulot was born and raised in the Lorraine, a region in eastern France. He first tasted a buttery-rich kouglof, a specialty of that region and of Eastern Europe, when he was ten years old. Years later, when he became a baker, he vowed to create kouglofs with the same rich taste that he experienced at that moment in his childhood.

We purchased the brioche-like cake from his bakery on rue de Seine and took it home to taste. It had a golden-brown, soft crust and a yellow, bread-like interior. We found the cake to be buttery, but slightly dry (as brioches tend to be). The dryness was compensated by moist, delicately-sweetened raisins incorporated in the crumb. We ate the kouglof for dessert, but it would make a great pastry to serve with 4 o’clock tea.

Gerard Mulot
76, rue de Seine
75006 Paris
Telephone: 01.43.26.85.77

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Meet Michael D. Poole – Chocolate and Pastry Maker

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013
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Chef Michael D. Poole

Chef Michael D. Poole
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting Michael D. Poole, firehouse chef from Seattle. He’s in Paris honing his skills on macarons, one of the products that he sells alongside his French chocolates back on the West coast.

Michael has been coming to Paris for a few weeks every year since 2000. He first came to study basic cooking at the Cordon Bleu and continued at that school year after year until he received the Grand Diplôme in 2003. He returns every summer to work with chocolate and pastry makers, learning new techniques and reviewing old ones. He has applied his skills to chocolate making and now sells French chocolates at six different retail outlets in Seattle, as well as on his Web site.

He recently began offering macarons at a couple of the retail outlets, hence his current interest in perfecting his macaron-making skills. This summer he is working at Pâtisserie Chocolaterie Pascal Pinaud on rue Monge, where he has learned to get the consistency he was seeking in his macaron batter (which consists of egg white, almond powder, and powdered sugar). He wanted his macaron shell to be a little bit firmer than what he’s been producing until now. Michael is a perfectionist in his craft and doesn’t stop until he gets it just right. Not that any of his customers back in Seattle were complaining, mind you!

Macarons

Michael’s Macarons
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

Back in Seattle, Michael offers four different flavors of macaron to his customers: lemon, pistachio, coffee, and chocolate. He will soon add a fifth, orange. Hence, I purchased these five flavors, all of which he had made at Pâtisserie Chocolaterie Pascal Pinaud using Mr. Pinaud’s recipe. I took them home to try. Here are our tasting notes:

  • Lemon – mild, sweet lemon flavor
  • Pistachio – the almond in the macaron is more pronounced than the mild flavor of the pistachio.
  • Coffee – thick, creamy filling; relatively thin lower macaron shell.
  • Chocolate – this macaron felt heavy in the hand due to the density of the flavorful chocolate cream.
  • Orange – this was our favorite. A strong orange taste that reminded me of the Dreamsicle of my youth. My partner declared that it tasted like candied orange.

    All of the macarons had light but firm shells, which allowed us to pick them up without crushing the delicate crust. When bitten into, they were chewy. They all had a creamy filling.

    We think that Michael’s customers in Seattle will be pleased with the new orange flavor that he plans to introduce!

    Check out Michael’s Web site!

    And if you are in Paris, stop by Pâtisserie Chocolaterie Pascal Pinaud to try any of their nineteen different macaron flavors:
    70, rue Monge
    Tel.: 01.43.31.40.66

    Metro: Place Monge (Line 7)

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  • Le Royal by Delmontel

    Wednesday, May 29th, 2013
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    Le Royal by Delmontel

    Le Royal by Delmontel
    Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

    We stopped by the award-winning bakery and pastry shop of Arnaud Delmontel a few weeks ago and purchased Le Royal, a chocolate pastry in the form of a cube. Covered with dark chocolate syrup it has a hard-shell top and a chocolate mousse filling. When I bit through the dense mousse, I discovered a crunchy shortbread crust, which provided a nice contrast to the soft texture of this confection. The bittersweet chocolate flavor of Le Royal will please most chocolate aficionados.

    Delmontel
    9, rue des Martyrs
    75009 Paris
    Tel: 01.48.78.29.33
    Open every day from 7:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. except Tuesdays.

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    Pastel de Nata

    Wednesday, May 15th, 2013
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    Pastel de Nata

    Pastel de Nata
    Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

    Where do you go in Paris when you find yourself yearning for a pastel de nata, the delicious custard pastry from Portugal? Why, to a butcher shop, of course!

    Madame Gosnet of Boucherie Pascal Gosnet sells these pastries at her counter at 119, rue Mouffetard in the 5th arrondissement. We purchased two and took them home to taste.

    The pastry has a golden-brown, flaky crust and an unevenly browned egg-yolk-yellow top covering a pale-yellow custard filling. The crust is chewy. (It is difficult to cut with a knife—better to eat it by hand.) The custard is mildly sweet, moderately dense, and slightly grainy. In a word, they taste just like the pastéis de nata that we had in a coffee shop in Lisbon many years ago. Served warm, they are delectable!

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    Tasting Ladurée Confections

    Wednesday, February 13th, 2013
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    When we stepped into the Ladurée shop at the Carrousel du Louvre recently, we couldn’t resist buying a couple of their confections—they looked so appetizing! We took home a Corolle Feuilletée Caramel and a Tarte Citron.

    Corolle Feuilletée Caramel

    Corolle Feuilletée Caramel
    Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

    The Corolle Feuilletée Caramel consists of sticky-sweet caramel in a buttery pâte feuilleté (flaky pastry) shell covered with a caramel-flavored, whipped-egg-white confection. This is a treat for confirmed caramel fans only…as we are!

    Tarte Citron

    Tarte Citron
    Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

    The Tarte Citron is a smooth, lemon-pie filling in a crunchy pâte sablé (shortbread) crust. We both found that the filling lacked the zing that we hope for when we bite into in a lemon tart. Lemon tarts shouldn’t have mild flavor—they should have the pucker power of lemon zest!

    In spite of the disappointment, we were pleased to learn that a Ladurée pastry shop is located so conveniently to the Louvre.

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    Queen for a Day!

    Friday, January 4th, 2013
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    Monique with Crown

    Following our initial tasting of the Galette des Rois on Wendesday, we finished it off today. Monique found the fêve hidden in her slice and wins the honor of Queen for a Day. She also gets to boss me around for 24 hours.

    The Fêve

    The Fêve

    I wanna be King next year!

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    Galette des Rois – Unbagging!

    Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013
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    After New Year’s Day, Kings’ cake is a big tradition here. We hustled down to Le Fournil de Mouffetard to buy one.

    Galette

    The cake is made with buttery puff pastry and frangipane (almond paste) and doesn’t disappoint. Inside the bag is the cake and a cardboard crown. The crown is to be awarded to the person who finds the fêve (trinket) that has been slipped into the confection.

    Galette 3

    The cakes that I saw in the supermarket had all collapsed. The one that I purchased at the boulangerie held its shape. Its crust had a beautiful brown color.

    Galette 5

    The almond filling was moist and not overly sweet as some of the fillings that we have tasted. It didn’t take too long to finish off the slice that we had each cut for ourselves.

    Galette 4

    We didn’t find the fêve, but only ate half the cake. We’ll surely find it tomorrow! Who will wear the crown?

    Le Fournil de Mouffetard
    123, rue Mouffetard
    75005 Paris
    Tel.: 01.47.35.07.96

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    My Day at the Paris Cookbook Fair – Part II

    Friday, March 9th, 2012
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    I attended the Paris Cookbook Fair yesterday. For me, the fun took place at the food and beverage stands and the cooking demonstrations.

    Festival du Livre Culinaire

    There was one area in the exposition hall that was dedicated to products from Brittany. There, I met Adrien Auroy, sales representative for Coreff, an artisanal beer-brewing company in Carhaix, France. I tasted three of the beers that were on tap: a blanche (white), an ambrée (amber), and a stout. Of the three, I was most intrigued by the blanche for its refreshing, spicy taste. Adrien told me that it was flavored with coriander.

    Adrien Auroy - Sales Reperesentive of Coreff

    Adrien Auroy
    Photo by www.DiscoverParis.net

    Because man cannot live by beer alone and (presumably) needs intellectual stimulation, I left the food hall and went to see the presentation of a new book, Food on the Silk Road. There, three chefs recounted their adventures traveling the silk road in China in search of the foods that eventually found their way to Europe.

    Chakall - James McIntosh - Jimmy Yang Jimei

    Chakall - James McIntosh - Jimmy Yang Jimei
    Photo by www.DiscoverParis.net

    In another part of the exposition hall, author Teresa Severini Zaganelli gave a talk about her book Grapes in the Glass, in which she endeavors to teach youngsters and adults about wine production and responsible drinking.

    Teresa Severini Zaganelli

    Teresa Severini Zaganelli
    Photo by www.DiscoverParis.net

    In the French Show Kitchen I watched Chef Cyril Rouquet make an orange-flavored Saint-Honoré. This classic French cake is a circle of choux pastries on a pâte feuilletée base. The choux are filled with crème chiboust and the cake is finished with whipped cream. Lots of calories here, but who is counting? After samples were distributed, I sneaked back for another bite!

    Cyril Rouquet

    Cyril Rouquet
    Photo by www.DiscoverParis.net

    I will continue the saga of my day at the Paris Cookbook Fair tomorrow! I still have to reveal the amazing technique that I learned for making Bad Piggies’ Scrambled Eggs.

    The Paris Cookbook Fair will run through Sunday, March 11.

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