Favourite chocolate, and sweet confectionary shops in Paris

Easter Chocolate Displays in Paris

If you hop around Paris today on an egg hunt, I promise you’ll be astounded by the immense choice of Easter Chocolate Displays.

As artisanal chocolate shops work flat out for one of the busiest seasons of the year, it’s no wonder that the French so aptly describe the term of window-shopping as faire du léche-vitrine, as the urge to lick the delectable displays couldn’t be higher. Who can resist Jean-Paul Hévin‘s sense of humour with that in mind for his Easter shopfront?

Hevin chocolate window for Easter

Already the choice of eggs in itself is awe-inspiring; but add to that the different-coloured chocolate hens, chicks, diverse other animals (owls, tortoises, sheep, cows), bells, and the fish that we typically find in the French chocolate boutiques.

Where can we start?  Before we get cracking with a sampling of Easter eggs (oeufs de Pâques), let’s start with the most typically French in the Chocolateries: bells and fish.

Easter chocolate bells Hevin Paris

Chocolate bells with golden fish at Jean-Paul Hévin, Paris

EASTER BELLS (Cloches de Pâques)

Listen carefully for the Church bells over Easter weekend: in France they stop ringing from Good Friday when Jesus died to Easter Sunday morning. After Church Mass, to celebrate Christ’s resurrection, the bells joyously peel around France as they fly back from Saint Peter’s in Rome, dropping chocolate eggs in gardens as the children are eager to hunt for them.

Even my girls (who are French) have always found it a crazy tradition – perhaps as parents we simply poorly described it – but imagine trying to explain to your kids that church bells had flown with wings all the way to the Vatican to be blessed by the Pope to help everyone in mourning, then returned (with no hands) to hide chocolate.

The Easter Bunny still makes more sense, even if it doesn’t figure that much in France, but over the years, more are gradually hopping into the boutiques – such as these pastel cuties from Hugo & Victor.

pink chocolate easter bunny hugo & Victor Paris

Bright coloured Easter chocolate bunnies at Hugo & Victor, Paris

WHY ARE THERE SO MANY CHOCOLATE FISH?

I’ve always been intrigued by the schools of chocolate fish in the windows.

Fish are popular for April Fool’s Day since in France it’s April fish or Poisson d’avril as the children’s chorus goes! If you’re any decently duped April Fool in France, you’ll probably be sporting a school of colourful paper fish taped to your back. There was one year I discovered that, after various not-so-discrete pressing to my back, I had been modelling a mobile primary school wall.

1-Poisson-d'avril

Eager to find out the history behind it, I  tried to go to a school of fish myself, rummaging around for more clues but the fishy story remains rather unclear. Various sources cite the most popular: it goes back to the 16th Century under Charles IX reign, who changed the New Year to the 1st January. Until then in France, the New Year started around 1st April and was celebrated by fresh fish to herald the arrival of Spring (following the zodiac sign of Pisces, perhaps). As not everyone was au courant or kept forgetting this new calendar, jokes gradually spread the custom of pinning fish on their backs.

A la Mère de Famille particularly has a huge choice of chocolate fish and scallop shells. Like eggs, many are garnished with yet more miniature fish. The smallest fish and other seafood shapes, called friture, often garnish the insides of the bigger Easter eggs or are sold simply in sachets to eat comme ça, just like that.

This year’s sample of fish can be found hooked up vertically in a line, lined up in a jigsaw pattern, or found randomly swimming in clouds.

Easter chocolate fish Paris

Chocolate fish by Pascal Caffet (praline), Jean-Paul Hévin, Michel Cluizel, Patrick Roger, and A la Mère de Famille

EASTER EGGS WITH PERSONALITY

As with outside of France, eggs are still the most popular at Easter and over the years they’ve gradually transformed from brightly decorated hard-boiled to more chocolate. Symbolising the Resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday with the rolling stone that covered Christ’s tomb, the rolling of eggs transformed death into life, bringing new life and fertility – much like a chick popping from its egg.

Many high-end chocolate boutiques, confiseries (candy shops), pâtisseries, or top hotels have created their eggs from simply chic, amusing, to popular characters, or impressive giant sculptures as works of art.

Jacques Genin has gone wonderfully wild with a vivid, brilliant lacquered look for his masterpieces this year. Otherwise there are his clowns, fish and hens to choose from.

Jaques Genin easter collection

From Far West Cowboys at LeNôtre; Peter Pan and Captain Hook at Gerard Mulot; to Mangas of Pierre Hermé (along with many others) – what about some cool scateboarding eggs at Dalloyau?

Dalloyau easter skateboarding chocolate eggs

Dalloyau Easter 2016 Paris

Looking through the glass, Pierre Marcolini has chosen an Easter Wonderland theme, complete with this grinning Cheshire cat. Or what about a box of mini praline eggs: including pistachio, almond, nougat and hazelnut?

Pierre Marcolini Chocolate Easter Wonderland paris

Pierre Marcolini’s Easter Wonderland

From Le Manufacture de Chocolat of Alain Ducasse, you’ll find traditional artisan chocolate eggs and contemporary designer hens – but what caught my eye is this original DIY Easter Egg box for you to fill yourself, complete with a white glove for that in-boutique chic experience at home.

Alain-Ducasse-chocolaterie

Henri Le Roux has dressed his eggs Harlequin style – and, talking of clowns, Arnaud Lahrer‘s major act this year is the Circus Chocolate with Plou the Clown, sealions, elephants, and monkeys. Eggs are also clowning around at De Neuville.

Clown easter eggs Paris

Left to right: Henri Le Roux; Arnaud Lahrer; and De Neuville

We’re totally in love with Paris – and eggs disguised in an amusing collection this year from Christophe Roussel, including Paddle La Baule and Udon le mouton. Incidentally, highly glossy sheep also feature at Edwart Chocolatier. You could say they’re ewe-some. Ba-ah!

Easter egg creations by Christophe Roussel Paris 2016

Photos courtesy of Christophe Roussel, Paris 2016

 

FRIED CHOCOLATE EGGS

You’ll notice a few fried eggs (oeufs au plat) around too, such as these smashing takes by Patrick Roger and Georges Larnicol. The eggs in cartons look real – they are: except filled with chocolate praline.

Easter Chocolate Fried Eggs Paris

WHY SO MANY CHICKS and HENS?

During the 40-day Christian tradition of Lent, meat or eggs were not allowed to be eaten. Meanwhile, hens continued to lay their eggs so by the time Easter arrived signalling the end of Lent, there were so many eggs to be used.  Many hens are garnished with miniature eggs, my personal favourite being praline.  And if you’re fond of praline, try Pascal Caffet‘s plump hens, “mini Pious” and pralines made with hazelnuts from Piemonte.

Easter chocolate hens Paris

From top: Jean-Paul Hévin, A La Mère de Famille Below: photo courtesy of Pascal Caffet, and Patrick Roger

HAVE A HEART

A la Mère de Famille have also created chocolate hearts filled with the traditional fritures pralines for the upmarket grocery, Maison Plisson in the Marais.

GIANT EGGS

Just imagine the Easter bells trying to deliver some of the more giant sculptures from Rome.  What about this giant 7.5 kg  (about 17 pounds) Oeuf Plume, packaged giant ready to be delivered at Les Marquis de Ladurée? It’s garnished inside with Les Marquis’s famous mini cameos in dark, milk and white chocolate.

Easter Chocolate Displays Paris

Easter chocolate collection at Les Marquis de Ladurée Paris

 

CLOCK CHANGE

Alas, there are so many more but this is a selection of my personal best Easter Chocolate Displays in Paris. But now that I’ve “wound you up”, don’t forget in France that the clocks go forward on Easter Sunday, so let me leave you with this impressive clock egg structure by pastry chef, Pierre Mathieu at the Mandarin Oriental’s Camélia Cake Shop – available from today.

Egg clock by Pierre Mathieu, Mandarin Oriental Paris

Photo courtesy of the Camelia Cakeshop, Mandarin Oriental, Paris

I’d say it’s time to call it a marathon in chocolate. I’m sure you have enough chocolate here to nibble on until next Easter, although I’ll be posting more Easter treats in Paris every day this week on Instagram and Facebook.

Happy Easter to you from Paris!


I’m thrilled that my article on Easter chocolate in Paris is on BonjourParis.com! Please pop in and say Bonjour…

Bonjour Paris Publication Contributor Jill Colonna

Valentine Chocolates in Paris

Preparing a taster of Valentine chocolates in Paris has not been the easiest task – craving aside as I’ve been drooling in the windows – since most chocolate shops only set up their windows about a week in advance for Valentine’s weekend. Not all chocolatiers are necessarily attracted to a Valentine theme, so I’ll concentrate on them later as they gear up instead for Easter chocolates.

As you can imagine, we’re spoiled for choice in Paris, so I can’t possibly mention them all, but I’m sure you’ll find something here that tickles your fancy from 14 of the best Parisian chocolate boutiques.

If you’re into hearts, then you won’t be disappointed: the majority of chocolates are either heart-shaped or come in red-ribbon heart-shaped boxes. Some of the luxury chocolate boutiques have more emphasis on their windows, others on particularly beautiful packaging – while others are perhaps not quite as wow-factor on the presentation side, but their chocolates are definitely worth falling head over heels. Speaking of heels, Jean-Paul Hévin or Georges Larnicol will have you swooning over their chocolate stilettos, Eiffel Towers, mopeds or even pianos filled with macarons. There’s something for every budget – from the cutest of mini boxes to more decadent assorted arrangements to say I love you.

Pierre Marcolini Valentines Chocolates Paris

Pierre Marcolini’s Falling in Love Valentine theme

Pierre Marcolini – the double chocolatier who makes his own chocolate from cacao bean to bar – centres around his red heart raspberry chocolates available year-round but it’s all in the packaging, ranging from a mini duo box for under 5 euros to a giant cone for 99 euros.  Other hearts have been designed to join in with names to create the mood: Seduction (raspberry pulp), Passion (milk chocolate-passion fruit), Frisson (white chocolate-lime), Tendresse (Montélimar nougat praline), Plaisir (Iranian pistachio praline), and Douceur (salted butter caramel).

Chapon and Dalloyau chocolate shops St Valentine Paris

Patrice Chapon is another chocolate maker who creates his tablets and stunning chocolates from bean to bar.  His window in rue du Bac shows off his famous Smileys along with Valentine pink hearts and rather catchy-kissy red lips.  Chocolate-moulded hearts and lips are also featured at Dalloyau, but admittedly my heart is beating to unlock their duo of pastries for two. Also well known for his chocolate kisses, Christophe Roussel continues his seductive selection of kisses and sweet hearts in Montmartre.

Foucher chocolaterie Paris St Valentine

Foucher Chocolaterie in rue du Bac, since 1819

Foucher, also in rue du Bac, has been there since the shop opened in 1819. Their heart-shaped milk and dark praline-filled chocolates are perhaps for those with a sweeter tooth. Red fruit calissons (sweet marzipan confections from Aix-en-Provence) add a different red touch.

It’s still hearts galore at Le Chocolat Alain Ducasse with a large heart to be enjoyed à deux: either a dark chocolate coconut-passion, or a milk chocolate praline.

La Maison du Chocolat Paris St Valentines

La Maison du Chocolat in Paris

La Maison du Chocolat is celebrating Valentines not just with heart-shaped boxes but the emotion of love’s infatuation with that frisson feeling or quivering. Nicolas Cloiseau explores this through his chocolates and has created a “Pop” gift box containing four themed chocolates, each provoking a slight shudder with the play of chocolate and fruity acidity or salty surprise.

There are two milk ganaches: Yellow Fusion (praline, caramel and nuts with a hint of lemongrass and lemon notes), Orange Passion (passion fruit with lime, mango and vanilla); and two dark ganaches: Striking Red (acidulous punch of redcurrant, strawberry and raspberry), Dashing Blue (Persian blue salt with praline and blue poppy seeds). The red fruits are indeed particularly striking, with the clever shuddering effect taking hold – I’m in love!

Patrick Roger chocolate Paris

Patrick Roger’s filled chocolate hearts and marzipan faces

Patrick Roger, Meilleur Ouvrier de France (or MOF, the highest accolade given to French craftsmen in their field) is known best as the chocolate sculptor who thinks outside the box.  You’ll find his latest masterpiece,  Rodin’s “The Thinker”, sculpted in chocolate in all of his nine Paris boutiques – you can still see his work in the entrance of the newly renovated Rodin Museum in Paris until 21 February.  While his love hearts are filled with an assortment of chocolates, I can’t help falling for his bright-eyed marzipan hearts.

Valentine Chocolates from Hugo & Victor, Paris

No need to “book” your Valentine Chocolates from Hugo & Victor, Paris

Have that fluttery feeling of butterflies in the stomach? Then head to Hugo & Victor with their heart and butterfly theme – and there’s no need to “book” your valentine chocolates here!

I adore their presentation this year with the cutest little dusky pink box holding four dark chocolates: a delicate jasmine tea ganache and deep love-hearts containing runny cranberry caramel. If you’re frustrated at stopping there, the sophisticated book presentation encloses more dark and milk jasmine tea ganache chocolates, along with crispy milk chocolate pralines.

Pascal Caffet award winning Chocolatier and pastry chef

Pascal Caffet, Paris

Another Meilleur Ouvrier de France, Pascal Caffet is King of pralines, using hazelnuts from Piemonte. But first I was introduced to Adam, a dark 70% Venezuelan chocolate with a heart of salted caramel ganache, and Eve, a subtle cherry blossom ganache dressed in white chocolate. On the other hand, Romeo, an Ivorian 40% milk chocolate with his crispy praline heart doesn’t yet have a Juliette – so I’ll just take at least a couple of Romeos, please. I’m hoping that next year Juliette turns up as a dark praline seducer like her other half but in the meantime, I found another “Dark Favourite” of 70% dark chocolate topped with a heart, containing a praline mix of Valencian almonds and Piemonte hazelnuts.

Pascal Caffet Paris, chocolates and pastries

Pascal Caffet – for a MOF, he’s just as wonderfully nutty as his pralines

I know. This was meant to be just about chocolates but I couldn’t resist the look of Pascal Caffet’s frozen Valentine’s dessert for two, the Cocooning: 70% dark Venezuelan chocolate mousse and biscuit, red fruits and Bourbon vanilla crème brûlée.  See? Don’t get me started but I’m swooning at the patisseries again.  Philippe Conticini says “Say it with a Cake” and entices us into the Pâtisserie des Rêves with his glistening red Pommes d’Amour.

patisserie des reves paris Valentine gifts

There are many more new stunning patisserie beauties arriving in the shops at the end of the week, just in time for your Valentine’s weekend.  Pastry chefs are showing some tempting teasers of classic large macaron hearts filled with raspberries: Pierre Marcolini adds vanilla and yuzu, Angelina adds rose and redcurrants for a “Heart to Heart” and although Pierre Hermé couldn’t have a Valentine’s Day without his famous Ispahan macaron heart of rose, raspberry and litchi, his 2016 creation is a “Venus Heart” of quince, apple and rose. Dalloyau may still have a heart but also a second pastry for two shaped as a love padlock. The most incredible I’ve seen so far is the “Cache-Coeur” from Un Dimanche à Paris with a heart suggesting a rather heart-shaped bust below a plunging neckline. Oh-là-là!

In the meantime, for multi-taskers, celebrate the Chinese New Year and Saint Valentine’s together. The Pâtisserie des Rêves are saying it with fortune cookies containing love messages.  And if you’re planning on Popping-the-Question, then even that hidden message can be easily organised too!

Happy Sweet Valentine’s Day from Paris! Go on – melt your other half…


 

This article is featured on the Bonjour Paris Publication.

Festive Paris Magic at the Patisserie des Rêves – 2015 Yule Logs

A touch of Christmas magic arrived in Paris this week with a tasting of not one but three new French Bûches de Noël or Yule Logs.  Launched by the Pâtisserie des Rêves at their tea salon in BHV Paris it was also a unique opportunity to chat with the extraordinary pastry chef behind them, Philippe Conticini and creative director, Thierry Teyssier.

Just walking into the pink pastry boutiques of La Pâtisserie des Rêves in Paris reminds me of that enchanting scene in the film, Mary Poppins; as the family jumps on a carousel, wooden horses take off and they ride in the air to discover a cartooned magic kingdom, then sip tea from porcelain cups.

But imagine opening up a secret door into a delightfully real theatrical world – with oversized glass bells announcing an ever-changing line of exquisite pastries, giant pink spiral lollipops standing to attention in jars, with a pile of humped-back madeleines, buttery-rich financiers and viennoiseries all sitting on the counter. It’s no surprise that children are also the focus of attention here, with special goûter (a French afternoon teatime snack) days organised especially for the little ones.

Patisserie des Reves Paris BHV tea salon

Literally the “Patisserie of Dreams”, the unique concept of the Pâtisserie des Rêves was born in 2009 when chef Philippe Conticini and theatre and hotel entrepreneur, Thierry Teyssier (owner of Maison des Rêves), partnered their talents together to create the first pastry shop in Rue du Bac.  Over the last six years, the internationally acclaimed pastry chef and creative artistic director have expertly aimed at rekindling precious childhood gourmet experiences to create a memorable magic experience in pastry for the next generation.

Chef Conticini aims at awakening the senses by modernising traditional French pastries with his own magical touch of surprise to the likes of the Saint Honoré, Millefeuille, seasonal tarts and Paris-Brest pastries – all still his signature pastries that have global gourmets queuing in his boutiques from Paris to Japan and now in London.

Today Philippe Conticini is not only one of the world’s most prestigious contemporary pastry chefs, he’s also one of the rare chefs to have also achieved a high-level cuisine career in the savoury world too.  He literally grew up in the kitchens of his parents’ restaurant, south-east of Paris in the Val-de-Marne area, and by 1986 was co-owner of the Table d’Anvers until 1998, catching a Michelin star along the way.  During that time (1994) he was creator of the verrine: instead of serving dishes horizontally on plates, they’re served vertically in transparent glasses – a brilliant idea making desserts also easy to transport, now copied the world over.

Philippe Conticini and Thierry Teyssier

Philippe Conticini and Thierry Teyssier

Ten years before the Patisserie des Rêves was the turning point when he shot to international fame while with Petrossian Paris. In 1999, while creating a café-boutique concept for the house in NYC, he baffled the culinary world with his unexpected dishes around a Caviar theme, wowing American gourmets. In the space of just 5 months after first being featured in Food Arts Magazine, news spread quickly of his immense talents and within only 18 months he was awarded a Michelin Star.

Today, in between being a TV star with appearances of the popular French equivalent of the Great British Bake-Off show – among others – he teaches the sensation of taste with ongoing workshops, and continues to revitalise the universe of scents, taste, textures, flavours, and presentation that generate that special Madeleine de Proust feeling of déjà-vous (or should I say déjà-goût?).

You would think with all of these credentials, chef Conticini would be distant. It couldn’t be more the opposite since for myself, it was memorable magic in itself for him to chat informally, demonstrating his modest sincerity, and willing to share in his most intrinsic form of expression through pastry.

Buches de noel Patisserie des Reves Paris

Bûches de Noël 2015

Chef Conticini stresses that his take on the classic Christmas Yule log is simple – yet his three Bûches have taken 2-3 months to prepare. It takes time to produce something so tecnicially complicated, he says, and that has to appear effortless, to as to remind us of the traditional French festive dessert from childhood but with that modern Conticini touch.

2015 Christmas Yule Logs by Philippe Conticini

Vintage Vanilla Yule Log

This is for pure vanilla fans looking for that creamy intensity, rolled to a black centre of vanilla grains with touches of griotte cherry throughout. He suggests finely grating a touch of lime zest to finish off the dessert: the lime delicately magnifies the vanilla beautifully.

Millésimée au Chocolat Yule Log

What’s Christmas without chocolate, they say? Classic chocolate and vanilla are worked into a symphony of textures and its warming sensations of silky dark chocolate are sumptuously progressive.

Praline lemon French Christimas Buche 2015 from Patisserie des Reves

Main photo courtesy La Pâtisserie des Rêves

Praline-Lemon Yule Log

Following his signature Paris-Brest with an extra secret praline centre, it’s no surprise that his famous praline continues to excite the senses here. On a base of salted crunchy praline and a light hazelnut sponge, the lemon is extremely delicate within a vanilla mousse with a round finishing sensation.

Extra fine Praline chocolate bars

Together with Carol Gillott, of Paris Breakfasts fame, we tasted the range of new chocolates for Christmas.

Christmas chocolate praline bars patisserie des reves

Following on the success of his white chocolate collection, the new collection is presented in a magic box of golden secrets for the festive season, with 10 extra-fine mini tablets revolving uniquely around praline. The praline predominates the palate – whether it’s dark, milk or white chocolate – but the whisper of raspberry, fleur de sel, lemon or coconut make each nibble a special treat.

I particularly loved the milk chocolate and passion fruit, as he leaves the fruit seeds in the chocolate, giving it that extra fine crunch. I don’t normally like seeds in pastry cream, but here it’s a surprise that works.

Philippe Conticini and Thierry Teyssier new book

Having already published award-winning recipe books which are also a reference for professional chefs, Philippe Conticini’s latest, Souvenirs Gourmands, is now on the shelves and co-written by Pascale Frey.

I couldn’t resist snagging my own as an early Christmas present from hubby since it’s filled with delightful childhood gourmet memories of 50 French celebrities (Alain Ducasse, Guy Savoy, Christian Lacroix …) with their favourite souvenirs linked to their recipes that are all given the Conticini twist. I’m sure we could entice them to produce an English version too.

New book by Philippe Conticini, Souvenirs Gourmands

As famous bear of ParisBreakfasts was creating his own gourmet sensations to treasure, Carol Gillott wowed Monsieur Conticini with her exquisite watercolour of Rue du Bac, just one of her Paris map creations since illustrating the first one for my book, Teatime in Paris!

Carol Gillott Paris maps rue du Bac

As the first patisserie in Rue du Bac, the Pâtisserie des Rêves has been such a go-to address that other prestigious pastry boutiques have followed suit to join in one of the most sweet gourmet streets in Paris. In June this year, Chef Conticini was chosen as Godfather of the first ever Bac Sucré event, to celebrate the talents of his artisan neighbours.

Fortune cookies by Philippe Conticini

Also just in time for Christmas, are pink gift cards which will come in handy for pastry lovers (hint, hint, Antoine) – but this is my favourite lucky hit: the new buttery Fortune cookies with their subtle hint of coconut.  It’s perhaps the French answer to pulling British Christmas crackers at the table. As I opened mine, the message read:

Le Bonheur est toujours à la portée de celui qui sait le goûter.
“Happiness is achievable to those who know how to taste”.

That simply sums up the essence of Chef Conticini’s sweet magic.


 

This post is linked to my first article now featured on
BonjourParis online publication


 

The three Bûches de Noël will be available as of 10th December. Both the praline-citron and chocolate bûches are now available as individual portions.

Patisserie des Rêves
93 rue du Bac
75007 Paris
Tel: +33 1 – 47 04 00 24

 

Pure 100% Cacao Chocolate Mousse Recipe by Patrice Chapon

How many chocolate storefronts do you know resemble dark chocolate?  Every time I walk past the Chapon boutique in Paris’s growing sweet-lined rue du Bac, I could almost lick off the writing imagining it’s made of cocoa butter and gold leaf.

You may remember my visit to the first ever Bac Sucré Event in June this year, where I already wrote a bit about Chocolaterie Chapon. During the event, my daughter Lucie and I signed up for a short talk by Patrice Chapon, explaining how he has been making his chocolate since 1985 from “bean-to-bar” from his workshop in Chelles (a suburb 20km north-east of Paris).

Chapon chocolate maker Paris

Originally a restaurant chef then pastry chef in Deauville, I love how Monsieur Chapon then popped over the Channel for a short stint as official ice-cream maker to the Royal Family at Buckingham Palace – how cool is it to have had the Queen Mother surprise you one day with rose petals from the royal gardens, asking you to make a sorbet with them? After inspiration from Harrod’s food hall, he realised his real vocation was back in France making chocolate and by 2005, he opened this second shop in Paris.

It takes 10 days to make the chocolate as we see it in the store. Even the cacao growers in the tropics (10° North or South of the Equator) are amazed at what final result can be achieved from these simple looking beans.

He procures the beans after they’ve been fermented and dried, then does the rest himself. He grills them – 20 kilos at a time – for about 30 minutes at 105°C until they start to smell and taste like chocolate, even if still bitter at this stage. After grinding to obtain cocoa nibs then 8 hours maturing, he adds sugar (and powdered milk for milk chocolate), he continues to grind then liquify the cacao by a method called conching. Any acids or bitterness disappear after at least 48 hours and as if by magic, the end result after tempering and mixing, we’re left to discover the end result.

Chapon chocolate shop Paris rue du Bac

Tasting our way through the characteristic tropical-patterned packaged chocolate bars, each variety has its own subtle but particular flavours: Cuba has notes of spice and exotic fruits, Lucie agreed that Ghana has banana notes, and Madagascar has real after-notes of red fruits.

With wide-eyed children looking on at the generous samples laid out in front of us, Chapon surprised them with his witty Willy Wonka remark in French, “With this ticket, adults have a tasting of a chocolate mousse cone; children have their tasting of salsify” (which is a popular root that’s served as vegetable here, especially I hear at the school canteen). Their confused expressions were quickly transformed as their eyes feasted on chocolate lollipops.

domes fondant au sel or salted dark chocolate domes best award paris

My eyes were for the salted praline Dômes au Sel, winners of the Mairie de Paris Chocolate Grand Prix in 2003.

Chapon chocolaterie Paris rue du Bac

True to the chocolate bars, the mousses were so dense in chocolate, yet light and airy.  Chapon states that he uses about 20-30% less chocolate in his mousses due to the high cocoa content than more standard chocolate mousses that our grandmothers made.

As I left the boutique, realising again that I’d bought way too much chocolate (confessions of a chocoholic), I noticed that the recipe for the legendary chocolate mousse was printed on the brown paper bag.

pure dark chocolate mousse Venezuela Chapon

With so many chocolate varieties to choose from, I thought I’d be adventurous and go for the 100% pure cacao Rio Caribe of Venezuela.  On the tablet’s back label, it even specifies “100% minimum”, which would excite any cocoa connoisseur!

If I have to make one remark, the recipe’s chocolate quantity of 185g isn’t that ideal for us shoppers, since most of the tablets are 75g and so with two bars I was 35g short of pure Venezuela.  As it’s 100%, also note that it’s drier than most classic mousses.  The aftertaste is intense – a little goes a long way to appreciate the flavours. Just as in wine-tasting, I’d even go as far as to say that this chocolate mousse is earthy or as we say in wine terms, “sous bois” or undergrowth (for more on tasting, see my post about different notes on the nose).  It was almost leafy or, dare I say, mossy. In French, moss is mousse – so I’ll leave you to groan at your own pun!

Chapon Paris Chocolate Mousse Recipe pure cacao

Chapon Chocolate Mousse Recipe

Patrice Chapon states the best chocolate to use for his mousse is either Equagha, équateur, Mexique or 100% Rio Caribe. His new tablet, Brésil, would also be good.

185g Pure Origin Chocolate Chapon (I used 100% Venezuela Rio Caribe)
100g semi-skimmed fresh milk
1 egg yolk
6 egg whites
37g cane sugar

Chapon chocolate mousse recipe ingredients

1. Heat the milk until it boils. Grate the chocolate in a large bowl.

2. Pour the hot milk over the grated chocolate and stir gently until well mixed using a wooden spoon.  Add the yolk and continue to stir until the mixture is brilliant.

3. In a separate bowl, whip up the egg whites using an electric whisk, adding half of the sugar at first and then at the end when they are whipped and fluffy (but not firm).

4. Gradually incorporate the egg whites, folding it in delicately until all mixed together and smooth.

5. Either keep it in the bowl or transfer to individual serving bowls (I would suggest little ones here, as this mousse is so intense!)

6. Refrigerate overnight (I suggest covering with cling film) and enjoy next day.

Pure chocolate mousse Patrice Chapon Recipe

Serving suggestion: scoop the mousse …

or spoon into Almond Tuiles from my new book, Teatime in Paris!

100% pure chocolate mousse recipe by Chapon served with French tuiles

Serve with French Almond Tuiles for dessert

If you’re in Paris, either drop in and taste the mousse for yourself at Chapon’s boutiques.
They will also be taking part again this year in the Salon du Chocolat, 28th October to 1st November, Porte de Versailles.

Chapon
69, rue du Bac, 75007 Paris
Tel. 01-42 22 95 98

Information on the 2015 Salon du chocolat.

UPDATE!

For more chocolate and pastry treats, join me and my friend, Ann Mah, for a tasting down rue du Bac in Paris.

Discovering the Best Orangettes, Rue de Miromesnil Paris

“Do you like orangettes?” My friend, Francis was grinning, almost expecting me to react with a shrug and say, “Yes but I’m not their biggest fan, plus Antoine and the kids are not that hot on them either.”

Before I knew it, determined to convince me otherwise, Francis met me in Rue de Miromesnil (in Paris’s 8th Arrondissement) for a taste of Guy Perault’s speciality, Orangettes or candied orange peel covered in dark chocolate.  If you thought you’d tasted Orangettes before, then just try them again here.

Rue de Miromesnil Paris

Growing up in Scotland, chocolate candied orange peel was my Granny’s favourite, my Mum’s favourite and chocolate gingers were always top of Gran’s list at Christmas. As they generously shared them, I would pass since they were a waste on me.  Do you remember Terry’s Chocolate Orange? Well I preferred stretching my pocket money on these popular flavoured chocolate segments with orange oil, wrapped in crinkly orange and silver paper, resembling a real orange; I thought it looked more appealing (or “a-peeling”?) but it was perhaps the packaging that spoke more than the contents. I can’t imagine there was much real chocolate or cocoa solids going on in that orange – or in these other orangettes, either.

Just opening the door of Orangettes & Co. heady wafts of chocolate and orange hit this distant memory.  With chocolate machinery right at the entrance and dark chocolate oozing out of a continuous tempering machine, this signalled a more sophisticated product – far from the industrial kind I had been used to.

guy Perault orangettes Paris

Monsieur Perault welcomed us into his small manufacturing shop, where his orangettes are considered as fresh products, using no preservatives. He dedicates his time to the laborious job of making the candied citrus fruits himself, selecting the best organic oranges from Spain, Sicily, Corsica and South Africa at the market in Rungis.

Although you can’t tell the difference in the taste of their origin once they’re transformed into candied fruit, the only telling factor is texture as a result of the thickness of skin.

how to candy orange peel

He took us into his tiny kitchen where the candied fruit are centre stage in a giant pot.  The jackpot is to replace as much water in the peel with sugar in order to concentrate the flavour and conserve it.  It can take Guy up to 10 days to make this happen.  It’s a real art: he checks the right proportion of sugar to orange using a simple weighing method called le pesage – Rolling Stones style!

We tasted the orange at the point when it’s just ready to be coated with chocolate. Mon Dieu! The orange wasn’t overly sweet, just concentrated in flavour and so soft that it melted on the tongue.

candied orange peel

At this point he coats the peel with 73% good dark chocolate, which he gets from the Chocolaterie de l’Opéra (Avignon).  After trying different percentages of cocoa solids, he arrived at this one, which he feels compliments the orange beautifully.

Orangettes have a much thinner coating than you normally see for orangettes elsewhere.  He takes a bit of a risk with such a thin coating, as it’s more prone to pearls of sugar arising from the fruit. Guy Perault’s theory is that the chocolate should take second stage, as it should be the fruit that shines through. It’s true: elsewhere I’ve seen orangettes with a thick coating of chocolate: this makes it easier for the manufacturer to sell his product since it has a longer shelf life.

Best chocolate orangettes in Paris

Guy doesn’t just make candy oranges: he uses the same procedure for his lemon peel (citronnettes), grapefruit, mandarine, bergamot, cédrat (Corsican over-sized, thick-peeled citrus fruits), ginger and also produces chocolate coated figs.  For lovers of After Eight chocolates, you’re in for a treat with the real thing here.  His mint leaves are not with a fondant centre but are fresh mint leaves taken from the middle of the plant, covered in egg white and coated with chocolate.  So thin, so dainty, so chocolatey minty and healthy with it.

 

Guy Perault's office orangette drawers

We tasted a mandarinette here.  I’m not the biggest fans of mandarines since there are so many pips but the flavour was so prominent – and concentrated like this, I’d rather eat them this way from now on!

I’m sure Gran was watching me test the chocolate gingers from above. Crikey! This is how I like my ginger with a real kick!  For ginger amateurs, he uses organic ginger from either China or South America, such as Peru or Chile and I can second that they have more concentration of flavour!  As it’s pretty strong, only one or two are just enough to have the flavour lingering…

Chocolate drawers

I love the drawers in his chocolate office. Now this is my kind of filing!

You can’t help but be impressed with the filing system here.  What about this for a shoe or handbag drawer? Sorry Antoine, but this is my kind of football.

Chocolate-maker Guy Perault in Paris

I couldn’t resist getting as much as possible for the family to try. Antoine’s first reaction was, “Why did you buy so many? You know I’m not that keen on chocolate orange peel ….”
Then he tasted them. It just goes to show that you can’t say you don’t like something until you try!

Although Guy recommended that we eat them all within 3 weeks, we were still nibbling on them 2 months later.  Not a sugar pearl in sight and I can tell you, I now love orangettes – particularly the citronettes, chocolate gingers and the wafer thin mint leaves.

So, if you like Orangettes, you must taste them; if you love Orangettes, this is a must stop in Paris!  And if you fancy taking part in a 2-hour workshop on Saturdays (up to 8 people max.), who you gonna call?  Monsieur Perault!

Orangettes & Co
110 rue de Miromesnil

75008 Paris

Tel: 01 – 42 65 53 05

Metro: Villiers

The Teatime in Paris Pastry Walking Tour!

It’s great to be back in Paris and settle into a good old routine! As I’m starting to get organised around a more serious school year’s schedule, this rentrée is different.

Thanks to my lovely colleagues at Context Travel, I’m thrilled to be leading a brand NEW macaron, pastry and chocolate walking tour to coincide with my new book.

Welcome to the Teatime in Paris Pastry Walk!

Macarons chocolates and teacakes in Paris for teatime

If you love Paris, pastries, chocolate, macarons and like to bake at home, then this walking tour is right up your street.

Just as I do in the book, I’ll be walking you around some of the finest pastry and chocolate boutiques, pointing out some of the lesser known spots along the way.

Madeleine area and rue saint honore in Paris

Don’t come after a large lunch: we’ll also be tasting many of the finest and award-winning éclairs, tarts, financiers, canelés, madeleines, macarons, chocolates and pralines, just to name a few.  With Autumn on us, it’s the perfect time to enjoy a taste of decadent hot chocolate too.  As we sample, we’ll talk about their Parisian history and how they’re made – so for budding bakers, your questions are welcome.

Patrick Roger Chocolate Madeleine

The tour will take place on Mondays and Tuesdays until end October – ideal for that long weekend trip – as these days are best for enjoying the boutiques at our own pace during 2.5 hours and avoiding the more hustle and bustle of the 8th arrondissement at peak times. And with no more than 6 people in the group, it’s a personal experience.

To finish off, included in this one-off exceptional tour is your own copy of my new cookbook and armchair sweet travel guide. For an idea what’s inside, see About Teatime in Paris.

Teatime in Paris: A Walk Through Easy French Patisserie Recipes

For those of you not in Paris, don’t worry; it doesn’t stop here. With Teatime in Paris you can make your own Parisian-style hot chocolate, teacakes, macarons and pastries for a special teatime at home.  Thanks to Waverley Books, there’s a special offer until the end of September on Amazon.co.uk.

It’s also competition time in the UK over at Party Pieces. So hurry – you still have until noon on Monday 14th September to enter the Teatime in Paris UK giveaway. You could be one of the 4 lucky winners… good luck!

Teatime in Paris pastry recipe book and guide to patisseries in Paris

Have you tried these Chocolate – Earl Grey Tarlets with Orange-Liqueur Crumble Puffs yet from the Tea Party chapter? I’ll be continuing to make recipes from the book on my FB page or instagram feed.

In the meantime, I hope to see you very soon on the Teatime in Paris Pastry Walk with Context Travel .

Jill x

P.S. I forgot to tell you the most important part: it’s also simply great fun!