Favourite chocolate, and sweet confectionary shops in Paris

Bonbons! The Best French Sweet Shop in Paris

I literally stumbled into this sweet shop the other day in the 5th Arrondissement.  It was raining cats and dogs and, instead of taking the metro back to Châtelet, drifted with the howling wind as it directed me downhill like some kind of sweet calling. The sudden sight of glistening jars filled with chocolates and bright pastel confections halted my track and lured me indoors. I stepped back in time like a curious, mesmerised child into this haven in Paris. It’s le Bonbon au Palais.

Table of French regional confectionary at Le Bonbon au Palais, The best sweet shop in Paris

I remembered Carol Gillot of ParisBreakfasts talk about this sweet shop and its owner, ‘Professor’ Georges. Well, here he was in person, proudly presenting his range of the best regional and artisanal sweet delicacies from around France all under one roof. As he says on the giant blackboard, life is much more beautiful with sweets or candies. His shop resembles a classroom from yesterday, with Nicolas and Pimpranelle looking on (yet another story: Antoine and I dressed up in PJs as the children’s TV characters at a fancy dress party, only to discover that everyone else was in elaborate Carnaval of Venice costumes.)

Georges at Le Bonbon au Palais, specialist of French regional sweet candies in Paris

With Brassens (another Georges) singing and strumming his guitar on the vintage radio, Georges opened several giant apothecary lids as he explained some  delicacies while I tasted and relished in the jolly Georges ambience.

Pierrot Gourmand sucette artisanal lollies the oldest lollipops in France

The Pierrot Gourmand symbols of the Comedia dell’Arte displayed France’s oldest lollipop, or sucette.

Georges Evrard created the Pierrot Gourmand company in 1892 and invented the first lollipop in 1924.  It was also one of the first companies to envelope lollipops in printed paper. The milk caramel was the original flavour, nicknamed ‘Pégé’ for P.G.  Pierrot Gourmand now sells around 140 million lollipops each year.

Lyon sweet candy speciality les coussins de Lyon

I’d already fallen in love with le Coussin de Lyon (chocolate ganache perfumed with curaçao) during my gastronomic weekend in Lyon. Here, Georges also had framboise (raspberry) and myrtille (blueberry) versions plus the Coussin’s sweeter cousin in bright yellow (top right), Le Cocon de Lyon. The cocon resembles the silk worm’s cocoon, paying homage to the silk-weavers of Lyon.

apothecary jars of traditional sweets from all around France at the Bonbon au Palais

Barley sugars, jellies and fast emptying jars of salted caramels from Normandy and Brittany line the pristine, glossy white shelves.

almond marzipan calisson speciality French sweets from Provence

How many times have I visited family in Provence but I never knew about the Calisson de St. Rémy?  It’s not quite as sweet as it’s popular and brighter yellow oval Calisson cousin since it’s made with different almonds.

spicy sweet piments of Vaucluse, candy speciality in Provence

Mother-in-Law in the Vaucluse has certainly never introduced me to these spicy sweets, either. Instead she orders traditional candied fruits from Apt from the factory shop by the kilo.  I’ve still got two kilos of candied ginger and orange peel left to add to desserts and macarons.

french candy sticks and love heart lollipops at the best sweet shop in Paris

I’ll have to return with my girls and our pocket money. There’s so much more to learn about French candies. Meanwhile, I’m hiding my Bonbon au Palais bag under my desk like a naughty squirrel. Georges said these delicacies can keep for up to 6 months so all the more reason for me to keep them aside and savour them on the palate (notice the play of French words with palet/palate and palais/palace).

the best regional French sweet confiseries

These Tas de Sel from the Loire (literally translated as salt stacks) and Tétons de la Reine Margot from Pau in the Pyrénées-Atlantique, (meaning Queen Margot’s nipples) are definitely for secret, special, oh-là-là moments.

Queen Margot's nipples tetons de la reine chocolates

Like this wonderful moment.  I’ll tell you why next time, but meanwhile we’re finally off on that summer holiday we cancelled last year.  I just need to taste another téton de la Reine Margot, just to ensure my chocolate palate gets the taste of orange and the Cognac.

A bientôt!

Le Bonbon au Palais
19, rue Monge
75005 Paris

Metro: Cardinal Lemoine

 

A Chocolate Easter Walk in Paris

Come and join me on a brisk Easter chocolate walk in Paris’ Easter Playground! I say brisk, as it’s still remarkably chilly for this time of year but let’s be optimistic: it’s a great temperature for transporting Easter chocolates.

Swinging over to Fauchon at Place de la Madeleine, it’s showtime in the City of Lights. Their chocolate eggs look like they’re dancing the Cancan.

Their bird-patterned chocolate eggs are also decked out in chic, cheeky pink bows. Chick, chick.

Pierre Hermé has a more mini chocolate egg design for his Easter windows this year. But don’t be April fooled, his bigger oeufs are nesting inside.

While Patrick Roger‘s window creations are not quite so mini, except for the piles of bells and fritures, or small chocolate/praline fish and seafood. Why fish? The French celebrate April Fools’ Day as Poisson d’avril and somehow chocolate fish find their way into sachets. I love having an excuse to munch on these while patiently waiting for the Easter eggs.

How can you transport this gigantic sculpture from Roger’s Madeleine boutique? No wonder they didn’t transfer this egg to the sculpture gallery upstairs. It’s just about as big as the staircase!

Spot the odd one out? No chocolate in this window since we’re at Brentano’s American Bookstore at l’Opéra but they always have such a cute vitrine next to Hermé’s boutique.

There’s another odd photo here, too. I cheated, as this isn’t taken in Paris but from my ‘local’ chocolaterie in St Germain-en-Laye. Pascal le Gac makes the most exquisite chocolates and macarons.

Speaking of macarons, check out Gerard Mulot‘s take on a giant multi-coloured macaron Easter egg! Apologies for the shiny windows and a stationary fire truck interfering in this photo, but it’s better than seeing the pompiers and all the folk peering in, too.

Arnaud Larher‘s chocolate Angry Birds are causing a lèche-vitrine (window-licking) sensation in rue de Seine with disgruntled bird game lovers. Emile, the Gorilla looks rather friendly. Personally, I prefer his Springtime macaron towers with Easter Bunny chocolate lollies.

It’s time for the bell at playground time at Pierre Marcolini’s boutique in Rue de Seine, Paris. His limited edition chocolate bell is designed to celebrate the 850th anniversary of Notre Dame Cathedral. My lucky children not only  had the Easter Bunny deliver their chocolate eggs, but also the French chocolate bells, signifying the bells ringing from the Vatican. Somehow, I just couldn’t explain to them how the bells managed to leave the chocolate for them. Bad Bunny-mummy person.

Meanwhile, the chocolate an pastry walk continues with Context Travel. Next time you’re in Paris, come and join in the fun. For Easter, enjoy these chocolate bonus recipes below:

Chocolate Layer Cake

Chocolate Cream Desserts

Chocolate Bacon Macarons

Chocolate Mendiant Easter Bonnets for Chocolate Macarons

Chocolate & Beetroot Fondants

Chocolate Pots de Crème (guest from That Skinny Chick Can Bake – appropriate, no?)

Passion Fruit and Milk Chocolate Crème Brûlée

Chocolate Crunchy Trifle (Katerina, guest from Diethood)

Chocolate Chip, Banana & Almond Cakes

Don’t be caught out on 1st April: Poisson d’avril!

Just one question: when do you have your Easter hunt? If it’s on Monday 1st April, be warned. The Easter Bunny may play a few tricks…

Happy Easter weekend!

Update: Come over to French Village Diaries, where I’m being interviewed by Jacqueline with some fun questions for her France et Moi series.

Patrick Roger’s Chocolate Cake for Easter

Patrick Roger's chocolate cake

Patrick Roger’s Chocolate Cake

Keeping the kids amused during the French school holidays is always fun. Fancy art museums in Paris? What about checking out sculptures, made entirely out of chocolate?  This is how Patrick Roger’s Chocolate Cake happened.

There’s been much hype around chocolatier Patrick Roger’s new boutique at La Madeleine so it was time to enjoy the Patrick Roger experience in Paris with his out-of-the-box chocolate sculptures under one roof. As the tourists poured in and we looked around for the rest of the sculptures, we discovered the upstairs gallery was closed to the public. What? You mean…? We …. can’t see any more today? Dark chocolate lumps formed in our throats.

Chocolatier Patrick Roger’s chocolate sculptures at La Madeleine, Paris

Tails between our legs, we headed down Rue Royale. There’s yet another Patrick Roger boutique around the corner but attention, it’s well hidden. If there are too many people in the boutique at Place de la Madeleine, don’t waste your time – whizz over to the other one at the end of Cité Berryer, Village Royal (off Rue Royale on the right), just 5 minutes’ walk away.

As if by chocolate magic, Patrick Roger appeared that evening on France’s popular TV show, Top Chef. He was hosting a Chocolate Cake Challenge. The competing professional chefs’ faces were a picture when they saw Patrick’s alluring cheeky face appear but displaying his grand ‘MOF’ uniform: Meilleur Ouvrier de France, 2000. As he demonstrated his recipe, it called our next holiday activity; Amateur but macaron-style!

Patrick Roger chocolate cake

THIS is when I can eat out of a bucket!

This was also a good excuse to use the most exquisite cooking chocolate from our local chocolate factory. As the Chocolaterie du Pecq only open their doors to the public in December, I’d gone bananas and stocked up with a whole cupboard of their products! The paradox? They supply their chocolate to Menard’s La Chocolatière in Tours, where Patrick Roger started out his career!

Patrick Roger’s Chocolate Cake

By Patrick Roger for Top Chef

Cake:
5 egg whites
210g caster sugar
1 egg yolk
100g flour, sifted
50g unsweetened cocoa powder
100g butter
80g hazelnuts, finely chopped

1. Using a mixer, whisk the egg whites, adding the caster sugar gradually until you have firm peaks. Add the egg yolk and continue to mix.

2. Fold in the flour with a large spatula and add the sifted cocoa powder. Gently melt the butter in a saucepan and mix into the batter with the hazelnuts.

3. Pour into a rectangular mould (I used a silicone rectangular cake mould) and bake 30 mins at 160°C. (I found with my oven that I needed to bake it for 40 minutes at this temperature).

4. When cool, cut the biscuit into 3 slices horizontally. (As you can see, I didn’t cut them as precisely as Patrick Roger did and regretted this afterwards!)

Patrick Roger chocolate cake

Syrup:
100g water
100g granulated sugar
100g rum
2  vanilla pods
the zest of an orange

5. In a saucepan, boil the above ingredients and scrape out the vanilla seeds from the pods.

6. Using a brush, cover each layer with syrup.

Patrick Roger chocolate cake

Chocolate fun for the school holidays

Ganache: (600g)
300g cream
40g honey
40g butter
300g dark chocolate (I used 64%)

7. Boil the cream with the honey, and pour onto the broken chocolate bits and whisk gently. Add the butter. Mix using a hand blender.

8. Cover the biscuit layers with the ganache, one on top of the other. Leave to rest for 30 mins then cover the cake with cocoa powder.

9. Using a stencil, dust with icing sugar to decorate.

Patrick Roger's chocolate cake

Patrick Roger’s chocolate cake

Bear footprints? Well if you saw the weather in Paris last week, it snowed. Big time!

We were just left with un petit problème: we had too many chocolate macaron shells. A few of them managed to eat up the little extra ganache that was left but the rest have gone straight in to a pastry box in the freezer ‘bank’. That way the next chocolate dessert can be decorated with macarons with no effort at all!

Patrick Roger's chocolate cake

Patrick Roger’s Chocolate Cake

Our family verdict? For chocolate dessert fans who don’t like their cake too sweet and appreciate the intense bitter chocolate flavours coming through, you’ll adore Patrick Roger’s Chocolate Cake.

Patrick Roger's Chocolate Cake
Prep Time
25 mins
Cook Time
40 mins
Total Time
1 hr 5 mins
 
For chocolate lovers who don’t like their cake too sweet and appreciate the intense bitter chocolate flavours coming through, you’ll adore this layered cake by Patrick Roger, Meilleur Ouvrier de France and legendary chocolatier in Paris, who thinks outside the box.
Course: Dessert, teatime
Cuisine: French
Servings: 12 people
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
Cake:
  • 5 egg whites
  • 210 g caster sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 100 g flour sifted
  • 50 g unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 100 g butter
  • 80 g hazelnuts finely chopped
Syrup:
  • 100 g water
  • 100 g granulated sugar
  • 100 g rum
  • 2 vanilla pods
  • the zest of an orange
Ganache: (600g)
  • 300 g cream
  • 40 g honey
  • 40 g butter
  • 300 g dark chocolate I used 64%
Instructions
  1. Using a mixer, whisk the egg whites, adding the caster sugar gradually until you have firm peaks. Add the egg yolk and continue to mix.
  2. Fold in the flour with a large spatula and add the sifted cocoa powder. Gently melt the butter in a saucepan and mix into the batter with the hazelnuts.
  3. Pour into a rectangular mould (I used a silicone rectangular cake mould) and bake 30 mins at 160°C. (I found with my oven that I needed to bake it for 40 minutes at this temperature).
  4. When cool, cut the biscuit into 3 slices horizontally. (As you can see, I didn't cut them as precisely as Patrick Roger did and regretted this afterwards!)
For the syrup: In a saucepan, boil the above ingredients and scrape out the vanilla seeds from the pods.
  1. Using a brush, cover each layer with syrup.
For the Ganache: Boil the cream with the honey, and pour onto the broken chocolate bits and whisk gently. Add the butter. Mix using a hand blender.
  1. Cover the biscuit layers with the ganache, one on top of the other. Leave to rest for 30 mins then cover the cake with cocoa powder.
  2. Using a stencil, dust with icing sugar to decorate.
Recipe Notes

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

Hey – was it you who walked on our chocolate cake? Patrick Roger’s Grizzly chocolate sculpture

Christophe Roussel Macarons at Montmartre Paris

Did you really think I’d tasted enough macarons in Paris after the last post? Admittedly, I make my own macarons at home but when I’m asked regularly which macarons I prefer in Paris, I should be able to help you out. That’s a sign of a macaronivore. There are so many pastry shops that sell macarons, it’s difficult to get around them all.

I’ll leave that to you but I can’t let you come to Paris – or go to Montmartre and Sacré-Coeur – without stopping in for macarons and chocolate at Christophe Roussel. It should be part of every guide’s spiel on the petit train in the area to mention this too.

sacre coeur paris Montmartre

I first tasted Christophe Roussel’s macarons at the Paris Salon du Chocolat in October last year. What was particularly impressive was that each macaron was half dipped in Valrohna’s Guanaja chocolate (70% cacao.) What’s more, I appreciated his main store was in La Baule in France but only recently discovered that he’d opened up a new boutique in rue Tardieu in the 18th, just a few macaron feet away from Montmartre’s steps and the queue to the Fenicular Cable.

Stepping in to this snazzy boutique that was once another souvenir shop, I could see something going on backstage for all to see: Christophe Roussel, the pastry chef in person, placing the final touches to his giant raspberry and lime-basil-raspberry macarons. Adding spots of intense raspberry compôte, he finished off with his unique supplier’s stock of Tulameen bionic raspberries. Who wants another Eiffel Tower lighter or pencil sharpener from a touristy souvenir shop when you can feast your eyes and go up to Montmartre tasting this?

Christophe Roussel macarons Montmartre

This fourth boutique opened last year and together with his talented aroma-professional-tasting wife, Julie, they have a real creative duo here as the shop’s name implies, ‘Christophe Roussel duo créatif avec Julie‘. Can you imagine waltzing in to such a classy pâtisserie, being able to chat away with the creative genius couple as they offer tasting samples to curious tourists, lured in by the macaron sign and Marie-Antoinette style dress in the window?  I can tell you that in Paris, there are not many boutiques like this that give everyone such a friendly welcome!

Christophe Roussel macarons Montmartre Paris

While relishing in a tasting of the lemony cheesecake and passion-tarragon macarons (with the passion lingering on the palate for a full couple of minutes, followed by the hint of tarragon), I couldn’t choose. Do you have problems making decisions too?  So I ended up buying one of each. That way I could share them with the family.

Go for the marron-cassis (chestnut-blackcurrant), raspberry, passion-tarragon, cheesecake, chocolate-banana, coffee and caramel-ginger. OMG – the Cheesecake!!

Christophe Roussel macarons Montmartre Paris

As Christophe was adding a chocolate-raspberry creation to his pastry line-up, I had my eye on his Religieuse. I love how he does a retake on the normal classic of 2 choux buns: he adds a third and I’ve often seen his wacky versions including a macaron shell with a gigantic raspberry on top, presenting a magnificent mitre look.

best pastries in Montmartre Paris Christophe Roussel

I take my hat off to the salted caramel Religieuse, with the bottom sablé pastry hiding its gem of ginger. This crafty combination also works well in his caramel macaron just like it, using salt from the Guérande (also another boutique there.) Incidentally, they don’t give fancy titles to their pastries: just helpful descriptions.

No wonder they chose the mango dome with passion and citronella for their wedding: that did it for me since the flavours were sublime but the whole experience was so light. Then there’s the Mango compôte with caramel cream, ginger jelly and Indian vanilla. My only complaint? I needed just one spoon so that nobody else could get at it.

Update: The boutique now only sells macarons and chocolates.  Chef Christophe concentrates his pastries in the main boutique in La Baule, but pastries can be ordered online and picked up at the shop.

chocolate bars by Christophe Roussel Montmartre Paris

Now this is what I call class: choose from the gourmet chocolate bars – an ‘Electro’Choc’ – have it packaged individually, and indulge at the top of the Montmartre steps. Sounds a good program? That Tiramisu one is a great pick-me-up, and orange-speculoos (cinnamon.)

best chocolates at Montmartre Paris Christophe Roussel

On the right are one of his Buttes de Montmartre (Montmartre mounds). Coated ivory chocolates with a oh-so-fruity peach jelly inside. He also has one that fizzes in the mouth using sucre pétillant.

For the romantics, you must try his kisses – they’re nothing like the Hershey ones. These are flamboyant lips!  Creation obviously reigns in the family, as Julie’s brother fashioned this chocolate bar, housing different varieties of tablets.

So before you race up these steps up to Sacré-Coeur, take a breather of chocolate and macarons then head up that hill. Allez! Just ensure you stock up with plenty of delicious chocolate first!

 

Christophe Roussel – Duo Creatif Avec Julie
5 rue Tardieu
75018 PARIS

Closed Wednesdays

Paris Pâtisseries and Perfect Macarons

I think I upset some friends on Facebook.  I “rubbed it in”, as it were.  Well, yes I did and I’m sorry.  Sorry because now I’m going to talk about it yet again: eating pastries in Paris.

These last few days I’ve taken a break from baking.  The weather has been surprisingly summery after such a LONG winter that for once, it seemed wrong to stay in the kitchen.  So there was nothing else for it but to take the short ride into Paris for a taste of some pastries and macarons. Would I do it on my own?  Of course not.  The pastry binge was with one of the most serious pastry tasters I know.  Here he is in action:

Adam from ParisPâtisseries.com

My gourmet friend, Adam Wayda, has finally arrived from the US to spend the next few months in Paris, tasting his way around the best pâtisseries in the City of Light. You probably already know him from ParisPatisseries.com fame.  Tasting pastries with the reviewer himself was seriously fun.  I mean, this was my breakfast and lunch: for Adam, he had already a head start beforehand! How does he do it? Fat pants, he says.

Genin’s luxury boutique is more like a chocolate museum

This was my first time at Jacques Genin’s chocolaterie in rue de Turenne and I was so glad that Adam had suggested it.  The luxury chocolate boutique is full of the most incredible sculptures that are showcased like museum pieces.  Time for a seat and a taste of Monsieur Genin’s Ephemère: a mix of chocolate mousse and passionfruit on a charlotte base, while Adam attacked a caramel éclair. Would he stick it under his nose like a moustache first? Just take a look at that hot chocolate. It’s not for the faint hearted.

What did Adam think of the caramel éclair?

We couldn’t leave without getting a few of Mr Genin’s legendary caramels.  Adam persuaded me (it didn’t take much convincing) to try the mango/passion fruit caramels and the caramels au gingembre.  True, at 110€ a kilo, one or two is fine.  But you know me, that’s inspiration enough to make some at home à la Jilly.  In the meantime,  why not add some ground ginger and finely chopped glacé ginger to a crème au beurre salé?

Genin’s boutique was wonderful but he didn’t have any macarons.  So Adam suggested a wee stroll up to rue Rambuteau to drop in for some macarons at Pain de Sucre.

macarons from Pain de Sucre patisserie Paris

macarons from Pain de Sucre, Paris

This is what was left from my doggy bag: chocolate mint, caramel au beurre salé, morello cherry-pistachio and chocolate-passionfruit.  My first taste was his Fleurs de Sureau (Elderflower) macarons.  Absolutely delicious.  Cassis/Blackcurrant was excellent, too.  The chocolate mint was just so refreshing with a dark chocolate button in the middle.  Although it was hard and I had to take it out and eat it at the end, it was full of flavour. In fact, all of Monsieur Mathray’s macarons are just bursting with flavour at Pain de Sucre.

That’s what I adore in a macaron. But as you can see, the shells are not quite perfect.  Some were coarse, some had cracks and some not perfectly round.  But does that REALLY matter? Even Monsieur Mathray isn’t worried about absolute perfection.  Some of his macarons may have a slightly bumpy shell (or “homestyle charm” as Adam calls it) but the taste is just fantastic.

Pain de Sucre’s refreshing chocolate-mint macaron

On the other hand, there are also many famous Parisian macarons that LOOK absolutely perfect but if you were given a blind tasting (i.e. not influenced by its colour or fancy name associated with it), it’s often difficult to tell the exact flavour you’re eating.

Beautiful macarons…

Many readers are excited when they get their macarons perfect first time.  That’s brilliant! Even my Dad made fabulous macarons recently for the first time ever and he doesn’t even BAKE for goodness sake!  But I’ve been amazed at some readers who make macarons for the very first time and are expecting complete and utter perfection.  They worry when they have a slight crack or feet that are not big enough.  Please, don’t be so hard on yourself! It will come …

Giant macarons in a luxury pastry shop

There are macarons – expensive macarons –  in many great pastry shops in and around Paris that have been making them for years and they’re sometimes not quite “perfect”: not the perfect looking shell or perhaps a perfect shell but not enough flavour.  They are made by professionals with the right equipment with fancy ovens.  Professionals have access to liquid egg whites in cartons that do act differently.  Many use macaron-making machines.  We’re making them at home in our own kitchens, often with ovens that are so-so.

There’s no end of macaron flavours

Just remind yourself of this and have confidence that the next time you’ll get it right, once you’ve ensured you’ve done everything in the recipe and followed the tips in the book.  Have you checked the oven’s exact temperature with an oven thermometer?  Did you whisk your egg whites enough to stiff but still glossy peaks? Feet not good enough?  Then leave your macarons out to dry a bit longer before baking them.  Some people say they don’t need aged whites or they don’t need to dry out their macarons.  Great.  But again, we’re baking them in our own home kitchen and not as a professional baker. We can get perfect macaron results each time but if you have the odd crack now and again, don’t worry. It could also just be your egg whites – are they organic? These are best. If you’re going to the trouble of making macarons, don’t skimp on so-so ingredients.

Making macarons is not a competition: it’s about having fun, being creative and above all, enjoying them! There’s nothing quite like getting that rush of excitement when the feet form in the oven and you can think up your own flavours, bringing out the artist in you.  To be able to say “I did that”.  I mean, have you done the macaron dance out of sheer excitement with these things? The proof in the pudding, though, is the taste.

OK “I did that” and admit I did the macaron dance…

Talking of being creative…. for all macaronivores who are fans of the forthcoming Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate, I’m looking to showcase YOUR inspired macaron creations for a Special Royal Macaron Procession on Le Blog on 29 April.  It’s not a competition.  Just a fun post to share our macaron ideas; it could be a typically British inspired flavour or on a decorative flag theme of red, white and blue.  Please send me your photos to jill(at)madaboutmacarons(dot)com and I’ll add them to LeBlog.  Have fun!  But wait…

pineapple curd egg yolk recipe

1st guest post and new series for egg yolk recipes with pineapple curd

Before you go, just a word for anyone who missed our first Blog Post from Erin, author of BigFatBaker.com.  She is kicking off a brand new series of egg yolk recipes on the site with her organic pineapple curd.  Just perfect for all those egg yolks left for making macarons!