A Dose of Good Chocolate – A Taste of France

We’ve started eating our chocolates early this year for Easter.  I mean, we have NO patience.  Who am I kidding?  Stop.  What’s with the Royal “We”?  OK, it’s me.

I’m a squirrel with little stocks of good quality chocolate, hiding conveniently well behind the tea tin until reached upon for a quick, quiet, knee quivering nibble.  After all, it’s good for you and full of magnesium, right? I’m a firm believer that your body tells you when it needs something.  Right now I’m feeling tired and run down with a flickering eye.  When the chemist explained my eye was reacting to a lack of magnesium I took the box of supplements but deep down I was thinking, “I just need more chocolate!”

Anyone for a milk chocolate poussin?

Walking past our local Chocolateries, seeing their beautiful windows decorated for Easter, I have been stocking up on my private “little” stocks.

A hen or the traditional French Easter bells?

In the UK children hunt for Easter Eggs which have been left by the Easter Bunny.  In France, it’s the bells chimes that have come from the Vatican in Rome so that’s why you also see chocolate bells on display here, too.  My children somehow manage to get the bells, the bunnies, the eggs, the hens and the chocolate fish.  And that’s when they’re in France.  This week we’re in Scotland visiting family and I know that when we come back our suitcases will be laden with British chocolate.  I’m not complaining BUT…

A frozen chocolate cream egg from Picard

Since coming to France, my tastes have changed.  Chocolate is definitely one of them.  The chocolate I grew up with in Scotland is just not the same any more.  Last year I bought myself a Cadbury’s Creme Egg for old times’ sake.  Jings.  I bit into it and my teeth hurt.  It was far too sweet!  The quantity of cacao in the Easter eggs is just so little that there’s more sugar in them than anything else.  My children still love them but it’s not until you have some chocolate from the likes of Pascal le Gac that you realise the difference.

Break open the shell and you get a chocolate praline egg

For a start, their chocolate egg is a real egg shell filled with the most intense dark praline chocolate…

Pascal le Gac Chocolatier

Pascal le Gac is reputed to be one of the 9 best chocolateries in France.  When I popped in to his chocolate shop in St Germain-en-Laye the other day to get a few bags of friture (the sea-shell/ fish chocolate shapes) and mini Easter eggs (and a few of their exquisite macarons too, just for more “research” ;-)), the chocolate aromas wafting out of the bag into the car were just incroyable.

Licking the chocolate shop windows

You just don’t get that with a giant mass-market commercial Chocolate Easter Egg, n’est-ce pas?  Call me a chocolate snob but it’s true.  Did you know that to go window shopping in France is called “Lécher les vitrines“?  It’s so poetically put and realistic in this case!  Lécher is the verb to lick…

So, when you’re making your chocolate macarons, my friends, please ensure that you use good quality cooking/pâtisserie chocolate.  At least 64% cocoa solids does the trick.  You’ll really taste the difference and even the chocolate. 😉

Dark chocolate macaron anyone?

Hm.  Did I mention Royal earlier? Don’t forget that if you are making special themed macarons for the Royal Wedding on 29 April, then please send me your photos to jill(at)madaboutmacarons(dot)com.  I’ll be showcasing your macarons to share our decoration ideas (could be colour themed) and flavour ideas (could be a typical British flavour).  Come on, get creative, folks!  Let’s have some fun…

Wishing you all a very Happy Easter, full of wonderfully intense, knee-quivering chocolate!

41 replies
  1. Liz
    Liz says:

    LOL, too funny that I’m up to 89 chocolate recipes! I got great news yesterday. I won your cookbook in a blog contest! I will be making macarons very soon…probably filled with (what else?) chocolate ganache 🙂 I am SO thrilled! xo

    • Jill
      Jill says:

      Liz, you’re impressive on your choc recipes. A pure chocoholic! Won the cookbook? Well that is just great. Too funny! Right – over to you on the chocolate macarons 🙂

  2. Jean
    Jean says:

    What a chocolate feast for the eyes this post is! One of these days, I’ll have a macaron story to tell–maybe I’ll muster enough courage to actually try them. In the meantime, I can’t wait to see the pictures of themed macarons your readers share with you. 🙂

  3. Biren @ Roti n Rice
    Biren @ Roti n Rice says:

    LOL! Your first paragraph was too funny! What is life without some chocolates but I do agree that many out there are way too sweet. How do the French women stay so trim when they have such fantastic sweets and treats? I will have to go on a crash diet before I visit so that I can try all those goodies you can sharing here. 🙂

  4. Pudding Pie Lane
    Pudding Pie Lane says:

    I agree – lots of commercially produced chocolates are way too sweet now, and it’s important to use proper dark chocolate in recipes 🙂 Thanks for the photos, these look amazing… I’m building up my ‘private stock’ too! :p

  5. Lisa McDonnell
    Lisa McDonnell says:

    I want to literally “lécher” these beautiful “vitrines.” Thanks for showing us what we are missing here over this Easter holiday. I’ve had a twitching eye before…. alas more chocolate!

  6. Judy
    Judy says:

    All this chocolate is making my mouth water. I just can’t eat cheap domestic chocolate any more. Even some of the imported versions are different from what you get when you’re in Europe. I try to hold out for the good stuff!

  7. Catherine
    Catherine says:

    Oh Jill… what a spectacular display of chocolatey brilliance! So much love and effort gone into these creations, as opposed to your “3 for £5” deals down at the supermarket. I’ll feel very hard done by the next time I eat a cadbury’s product haha.

    P.S – I’ve already consumed 2 easter eggs, the shame!

  8. Joshua Alan - "Just Eat!"
    Joshua Alan - "Just Eat!" says:

    Magnesium? I like this excuse!

    I’ll have you know that all this taste of chocolate made me rip a piece from my once-1-kilo bar of 64% Valrhona Dark Chocolate. I couldn’t resist. I will be anxiously awaiting the Royal Wedding entry, even it is as a homeless person on the streets of Paris! Haha!

    Hope you are having a great time in Scotland!

  9. Amy
    Amy says:

    I agree that the chocolate in most commercial easter candy is far too sweet! Your macaroons sound amazing, especially with the good quality dark chocolate. Happy Easter :)!

  10. Claudia
    Claudia says:

    Cadbury fine and dandy (too sweet for me also) but nothing will compare to a chocolatier – and you can bet I was wide-eyed during this post. Now, I willl concede the Easter Bunny may seem a wee bit odd for some folks, bu really – I don’t get the bells. They fly from Rome delivering Easter treats????

  11. thoma
    thoma says:

    haha the royal we?? yes yes ;P

    Grazie for the memorable chocolate ride…i can only say it’s made me big time J of you…remember me when you devour those british choc for an over dose of magnesium..don be surprised if you blink too much 😛

    and praline chocolate…wow…am i missing something?

    i promise to chk out manu’s post.

  12. The Chocolate Priestess
    The Chocolate Priestess says:

    Those are beautiful chocolate candies for Easter. But magnesium as a reason to eat chocolate is a new one to me. I go for the buzz and with darker chocolate the lack of harm to my body and arguable benefits as well.

  13. Kristen
    Kristen says:

    As you probably well know, there is just not anything in the US that compares to European chocolate (some may disagree, but it’s my firm opinion). I am so jealous of the gorgeous treats you have available…but my waistline is grateful to live on this side of the ocean!

  14. Hester Casey - Alchemy
    Hester Casey - Alchemy says:

    Window licking? heh heh – what a great expression. And boy did you choose some fantastic windows to show your readers!

    I’m with you on creme eggs – too sweet. I’m also with you on chocolate as medicinal/mood-enhancing. A little exquisite chocolate goes a long way towards making the world seem a better place.

  15. Anzelle
    Anzelle says:

    That frozen chocolate cream egg looks amazing! I’m so jealous, as I have the same problem as Parsley Sage. Hell, until about 2 years ago you’d have to go a long way to find something as simple as a vanilla pod! And don’t get me started on chocolate. Anything with a good cocoa content isn’t just expensive (which I’d be OK with), it’s downright unaffordable, so I guess there won’t be any chocolate macarons for me.

  16. The Harried Cook
    The Harried Cook says:

    I don’t feel like eating a truckload of chocolate right now. I hate chocolate. I don’t need chocolate!

    Sigh. It’s not working. MUST.HAVE.CHOCOLATE.NOW! Jill, your blog is SO bad for me! I love it 😀

    What a beautiful, beautiful spread of chocolate treats. And I am really looking forward to the royal wedding macarons!

  17. Brandie
    Brandie says:

    Oh Jill. Jill. Jill. Jill. Wow. Wow. Wow. You are leaving me a tad dumbstruck here.
    We (yes, the royal “We”) like it very much. Yes we do.
    My first real taste of French chocolate was in Lille. It was my first time in France. I had no idea when my friend took me into the nearest patisserie what I was about to experience. You are completely correct – it is just SO different. And amazing. And a true experience all by itself. I have to look hard to find that kind of chocolate here. I still remember the taste like it was yesterday though….
    Okay, I’m off to chocolate dreamland now…

  18. Alaska Food and Wine
    Alaska Food and Wine says:

    Thank you for a lovely article. I completely relate to your rationalization of nibbling chocolate for medicinal reasons – it’s the magnesium, after all – but don’t forget that dark chocolate has been shown to have protective effects on the heart.

    Enjoy all things in moderation!

  19. Manu
    Manu says:

    Oh Jill… I too am a bit of a chocolate snob… I grew up too close to Switzerland not to be one… 😉 The chocolate that you get here just isn’t the same… sigh. French chocolate is fantastic too, I would often spend Easter holidays around France, so I too had my share of chocolate fish, hens and bells!!! hehehe Have a great Easter and enjoy your stay in Scotland! A big hug!

  20. Liz
    Liz says:

    Oh, my…there are just no chocolates like that in Indiana! Thank goodness my children have low standards…they still crave marshmallow chicks and peeps..but I could go for that frozen chocolate egg cream….mmmmm. Happy Easter, Jill!

  21. Leslie
    Leslie says:

    It’s a good thing my kids can’t see this post! The Easter Bunny cannot bring anything remotely as delicious-looking here in Colorado.
    Good luck with the Macaron Contest, can’t wait to see the results!

  22. Choclette
    Choclette says:

    Oh, oh, you know how to make a lass crave chocolate – don’t those displays look just stunning. Wouldn’t you feel the teeniest weeniest bit bad though about breaking up such lovely creations? I was weaned of Cadbury’s years ago – too sweet, too little chocolate and too many other additives. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case when I lived in France as a student and couldn’t understand French chocolate at all – oh what ignorance.

  23. Nami @ Just One Cookbook
    Nami @ Just One Cookbook says:

    Hi Jill. I was just smiling from the beginning. I’m eating chocolate all year around and all day long, no I mean at least one or two or maybe three a day… I try to allow myself eating only good chocolate, so when I don’t find anything good, I’m not supposed to eat any. You make macarons (and often!) and of course you eat them. And you also eat chocolate… If I were you, I’m definitely in trouble with my weight. Your macarons are very dangerous if they are around me. Enjoyed reading your post as usual!

  24. Mary
    Mary says:

    My resolve has just crumbled. I had planned to have no chocolate for the holiday this year. Our little ones will not be visiting and there were to be no egg hunts. Now I’m craving a “bunny”. Your post was a delight. I hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday. Blessings…Mary

  25. Parsley Sage
    Parsley Sage says:

    This is just too much! We don’t even HAVE a chocolate shop in Cayman. Heck, we just got our first cupcake shop last month. I’m incredibly envious…

    Can’t wait to see all the Royal Wedding macarons!



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