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 SO MANY CHOCOLATE FISH IN FRANCE?

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, sea-lions, 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

 

CHOCOLATE FRIED EGGS

You’ll notice a few chocolate 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 FRENCH CHOCOLATE 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

CHOCOLATE HEARTS

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, dubaiescortstars.com 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.

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

Spring Around Paris with Oranges for UK Mother’s Day

Somebody responded to this photo of an orange tree on Facebook by saying, “Thanks Jill but I don’t have to be Parisian to enjoy oranges”. Of course she was right. But she didn’t get the point.

Clementines in a Florist in Paris

For a start, I’m not Parisian – although I do have a French-Parisian diary.  It’s useful to note that Mother’s Day in France is on Sunday 29 May but each year I’m taken by surprise and suddenly remember what my diary doesn’t tell me: in the UK, Mother’s Day comes on 6 March.  So now we know I’m dead for forgetting my Mum’s day on time for Sunday, let’s walk around Paris together and talk about oranges.

At this chilly time of year, orange trees feature in many Parisian florists, decorating their entrances to brighten the path.  I always dream when I pass them, wishing I was living in Versailles with an Orangerie to look after them in style. We don’t live far from Versailles, but I’m sure if I took an orange bush home, they would just wilt and die on me so I prefer to window shop.

Oranges florist Paris winter

Just around the corner from this little florist off Rue du Bac, is a rather highbrow gourmet patisserie, Hugo & Victor on Boulevard Raspail.  The decor is stunning: dramatic black walls highlight their exquisite pastries which all centre around a seasonal theme. Oranges being the sweet seasonal jewels of the day, I know Mum would be so impressed watching the chic assistant pack this glistening blood orange tart into a simple black interior pastry box. The black box emphasises that this is pure pastry art, decorated with supreme segments and cubes of marshmallow.

Hugo & Victor orange tart and oranges in Paris

Back home, tasting the tart’s sumptuousness with different layers from compote to cream to its shiny glaze, I wanted to rustle up something with orange too – but a LOT simpler.  The signs were all there: our local market (Mum loves coming here each time she visits) was piled high with clementines and untreated oranges, begging to be grated, juiced and segmented for some kind of citrusy dessert.

While a creamy orange curd is just perfect as a topping on crêpes, I couldn’t help opening up Teatime in Paris and playing around with a few recipes.

Dessert Ideas from Teatime in Paris

The idea behind Teatime in Paris is to mix and match some of the recipes and I give ideas for variations throughout the book. One of my favourites in the Tart Chapter is a Lemon and Passion Fruit Meringue Tartlet. As the orange doesn’t have the same tart zingy taste as lemon, there was no need to add the sweet meringue and so the tartlet was even quicker.

It’s also just as simple to change the citrus juice – as I weigh the juice in the book rather than give it in volume (I give the exact amount needed for the juice which is far more exact). So I added just one passion fruit and made up the rest in orange juice to create an orange and passion tart.  It’s certainly not as arty and professional looking as the tart in Hugo & Victor here but I can tell you the acidity of the passion with the orange was divine.

Orange and passion fruit tartlet with macaron

I show you how to make crumble choux puffs in Teatime, with discs of craquelin or crumble before baking. This time, I added a pinch of orange powdered food colouring as I creamed the butter for the crumble and this was the result: Orange Crumble Choux puffs.

orange citrus French patisserie ideas

Filled with the passion fruit and orange tart filling, these crumble puffs are given the macaron hat look with a few macaron shells stored in the freezer bank.

Orange choux craquelin crumbles with macarons

Orange and Passion Fruit Crumble Choux Puffs

There are perhaps no orange primroses at the Eiffel Tower, but these white and yellow primroses have been cheering us up with their bright colours while we’re now dashing in between les giboulées de mars (rain storms of March). Our UK “April showers” are in March in France: again, our French vs UK diaries are reversed! Yesterday in between sunshine, we even had snow and today a hailstorm! Which reminds me: my Mum always looks beautiful in scarves.

Primrose flowers at the Eiffel Tower winter spring Paris

There’s something warming and exotic when you add a touch of orange blossom to cooking or baking. I guess  it’s too late to send Mum these Chocolate, Honey and Orange Blossom macarons from Teatime in Paris.

Chocolate and orange blossom macarons Teatime in Paris

So if you’re in the UK and live near your Mum, spoil her like mad this Sunday. I know my Mum would love these lusciously rich and buttery chocolate chip Financiers from the first chapter of Teatime in Paris. I simply added the grated rind of an orange to them for some extra zing with a cup of tea.

Chocolate and orange financiers from Teatime in Paris

I know you don’t need to be in Paris to enjoy oranges or daffodils at this time of year, but here’s wishing all of you wonderful Mums the most lovely Mothering Sunday this weekend in the UK – and with a copy of Teatime in Paris, why not bring a touch of Parisian spring to your kitchen?  And to my own, dearest SuperMum, I look forward to spoiling you on your next trip. Hurry and spring back to Paris soon!