Paris Patisserie

Paris Brest

Legend has it that this pastry was made in honor of a 1200 kilometer bike race that occurs in France every 4 years. The bike race starts in Paris, goes to Brest, and the back to Paris.  The first race was in 1891, and that year, a pastry chef made a celebration cake, which he named the "Paris Brest," in the shape of a bicycle wheel.

This pastry consists of a large ring of choux pastry that is cut in half, and filled with a whipped hazelnut cream.  It is topped with toasted almonds and powdered sugar.  If you like Nutella.. you'll love the Paris Brest.

Chocolate and Macarons

I recently went to the famous Patissier/Chocolatier Pierre Herme.  He has several boutiques in Paris, and I visited the one just steps from the Louvre, on a street right off of Rue de Rivoli.

I wanted to try his macarons since many regard him as the best.  What sets his macarons apart are the inventive flavor combinations, and the divine cream fillings.  His macarons are "double-stuffed."  I was expecting a lot, and after one bite of a macaron, I almost fell on the floor because it was the most divine thing I have ever tasted.  There's only one word I can think of to describe the macaron: melty. The delicate meringue cookie and the thick cream melted together, creating an inexplicable swirl of different textures and flavors.  The first macaron I tried, the "metisse," gets a 10!

But, you'll find more than just melty macarons, you will also find inventive chocolate.  Pierre Herme truly takes the art of pastry and chocolate to the next level.  Inspired by African masks, Pierre Herme has re-created numerous artifacts--in pure chocolate.

After trying the "mixed" macaron, I was afraid that none other would come close--and I had 6 to try!  The second that I tried was "Huile d'olive a la Mandarine" (olive oil and mandarin).  I am realizing more and more that I am not a fan of savory pastry.  The macaron itself was beautiful--the green tinted meringue cookie and mandarin meringue cookie sandwiching a translucent olive green was an artistic triumph in itself.

However, the olive oil flavored cream tasted a little too much like olive oil for me!  This one gets a 7.

Next, I tried the "truffe blanche et noisettes" (white truffle and hazlenut).  The "white truffle" was not referring to chocolate, but truffle mushrooms. I truly found this macaron AWFUL.  I can't even think about how bad it was--it makes me shudder.  The taste of the truffles was incredibly strong. This one gets a 2 for taste, and a 10 on presentation (it was very beautiful...)

I had my roommates try it, and they liked it.  To each his own!

Next, I tried Rose.  I'm really not into eating flowers, but I have this friend that is obsessed with rose flavored foods.  So, I tried this one for Zoe. And I'm sooooo glad I did. This macaron was truly inspiring.  Though the meringue cookies were pink, they were not rose-flavored. Only the cream was rose-flavored, and it was perfect.  The almond-based meringue cookies paired perfectly with the creamy rose filling. I almost couldn't stop eating it to take a picture of the inside..  Rose gets a 10!

The last two I had were creme brulee, and "Mogador."  The Mogador is the most beloved of all of Pierre Herme's macrons.  The passion fruit meringue cookies sandwich a thick, rich chocolate cream.  I give the creme brulee a 10, and the Mogador an 8.
Mogador: passion fruit and chocolate

Ladurée Macarons

Yes, another post about macarons! These macarons are from Laduree.  Laduree truly has it all--quality, aesthetics, and presentation.  From the chic luxury of their tea salons, to the regal packaging of their "to-go" boxes, Laduree does macarons like no other.

And it isn't all show--they taste amazing!  The perfect blend of a crunchy outer shell, with a creamy filling.  You will savor each bite with a feeling that you are enjoying one of those rare feats of the universe--where beauty meets art meets pastry.

(Flavors from left to right: fleur d'oranger, praline de noisettes, citron, chocolat, pistache, caramel)

Fleur d'oranger is becoming a favorite of mine.  This flavor is found in extract form, and is often used to flavor baked goods (kind of how we use vanilla extract).  Here, vanilla extract is rare, but it is common to find sugar that is flavored with vanilla.

The citron (lemon) was an expert blend of sweet and tangy.  All macarons are made from ground up almonds, and the almond flavor complimented the lemon quite nicely. The cream filling was a tad sour, so the rest of the cookie balanced the acidity in the lemony filling.

Laduree macarons are a tad pricey, but worth every cent.  INDULGE!