Posts

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

 

Macarons at the Club House with Speciality Teas

It has been over three years since I hit a golf ball. Blame it on back problems but now I’ve no excuse. As a Scot it should be in my blood but truth be told, I couldn’t even remember how to hold a club! So, this month I went looking for Eric, my patient golf teacher extraordinaire at the Ile Fleury Club. It’s a wonderfully friendly place that boasts a 9-hole course with the prettiest views on the Ile des Impressionists in Chatou, west of Paris, on the River Seine.

I must have driven Eric insane; ‘in-Seine’, more like. As the course is on an island, I’ve whacked so many balls in the River Seine that I’m sure its level rises when I’m around. Dangerous practise, indeed.

Indeed Mr. Bond. Pierce Brosnan was here recently filming his upcoming romantic movie, Love is All You Need. My good friend, Emmanuelle, confirmed what a gentleman he is – even if he did refuse to drink her coke. My friends at the club also had their photo taken with him.  I’m trying not to sound jealous but humph! ‘Pierce is all I need’ to discuss golf tactics, movies and macarons, peut-être.

Mamma Mia! Golf is starting to play in my mind. Are the colour of these lemon meringue macarons from the book fluorescent enough? My golf balls need to be bright in Autumn since I can never find them hidden under the leaves!

Why do my pink golf balls hide in the rough?

What about hitting goûter time or Quatre Heures at the 10th hole club house with some macarons? Ideally with speciality ‘tees’; of course.

macarons and different tees

And if you haven’t got the macaron book yet (update: there’s a new one, Teatime in Paris, with a chapter on macarons and the rest around easy patisserie recipes plus a walk around Paris thrown in!), you’ll be glad to know that speciality teas are suggested with each macaron flavour. Oo-long shot for a 7 iron! Get it?

Macarons and tea, Meester Bond?

Come back to the golf course, Pierce. You forgot your macarons at the club house! And there’s no need to do the course on macarons – it’s all mentioned clearly in the book.

Are you ready to hit goûter time with tea and macarons?

French Mushroom Truffle Macarons

There has been a definite change in the air over the past 10 days around Paris.  The first sign of autumnal golden leaves are appearing. Slowly but surely.

first sign of Autumn trees

The sun has been shining but jings, the wind has had more of a mistral effect from the French South than anything else. When that strikes, a 20°C sunny day can feel like you’re in the north of Scotland. And I know what that feels like.

Mornings are becoming chilly; it’s time to put on that coat and admire the colourful scarves making their first fashionable autumnal appearances on the sidewalk. I’m not so sure it’s that fashionable: they’re covering up the first signs of a sore throat. The French always wear scarves to accompany throat infections. It’s vraiment cute.

wild mushrooms in the garden - not for eating

first mushroom in the garden – but not for eating!

When Jamie and Deeba posted the MacTweets Mac Attack #23 Challenge for September, it was something that brought back the warm to the cockles.  After 4 months of summer dilly-dallying, it was high time I joined in some seasonal fun.  The challenge was to celebrate the change of seasons through our passion de macarons.

giant tiramisu macarons with marsala figs

 

This past couple of weeks, we’ve been enjoying the brief period of French figs with a quick and easy fig tart (this recipe is now in my 2nd book, Teatime in Paris!) and roasted marsala figs with giant coffee macarons and tiramisu cream.

Equinox last week seemed to have an affect on my baking habits this time, however…

… Which axis were my macarons headed for MacTweets?

French mushroom truffle macarons

French Mushroom Truffle Macarons

Pumpkins are gradually appearing but they are not quite there yet.  Right now the French markets are proudly displaying mountains of marvellous mushrooms in all shapes and sizes, to herald the start of Autumn.  Cèpes, trompettes, pieds de mouton, girolles, champignons de Paris and chestnut mushrooms are displayed in all their glory.

We even discovered more (this time edible) mushrooms dans le jardin.

French Mushroom Truffle Macarons

French Mushroom Truffle Macarons

 

Let’s take that one again…

from another angle…

French Mushroom Truffle Macarons

A macaron mushroom!

You guessed right.  Well, I am officially Mad about Macarons, n’est-ce pas?  You are looking at cepes, chestnut mushroom and truffle macarons, inspired by the earth and its axis at this time of year en France.

I followed the same principle as the other savoury mad macs in my Mad About Macarons book regarding ratio of liquid and cornflour in the filling. I fried some chestnut and cepes mushrooms until they sweated off all their liquid and infused them into the cream, finally blitzing the whole lot and adding a dash of good quality truffle oil.  The chocolate dusting on the shells is 100% Belgian chocolate without any sugar. Don’t forget to dust the shells after airing, just before they go in the oven.

French Mushroom Truffle Macarons

French Mushroom Truffle Macarons

Et voilà.  I also added just a touch of cayenne in there to give it a kick. We all love macarons with feet but why not give a bit of a kick to them, too? 😉

They are great on their own served as an apéritif with hazelnuts and with a chilled white wine from the Jura, for example.  I tried this – especially as it’s the Foire aux Vins just now so need to taste if wines are any good or not before buying more – and they got the thumbs up.

Alternatively, serve them along with this Cremini Mushroom Cappuccino Recipe? That certainly gets the conversation going at the dinner table.  In any case, you’ll find yourself on another axis when sharing this with friends.

mini mad mac mushroom

Life is too short to stuff a mushroom – make a mini mad mac

Thanks again to Jamie and Deeba of MacTweets for providing us macaronivores with yet another month of macaron inspiration!

Enjoy the new season!