Pierre Couderc’s pâtisserie is just down the street from our apartment. In passing, I have admired the delectable window displays and read glowing reviews in local guides. It was time to give this place a try.
I walked in and asked the woman behind the counter if I could take some photographs. She called into the back of the shop for Monsieur Couderc himself, who came out front smiling. I told him his pastries were beautiful and asked if he minded if I took some pictures. He, of course, agreed, and even offered to pull some pieces out of the case. (Flattery will get you everywhere.) After getting the photo I wanted, I bought an orange tart and a “Guanaja.” The saleswoman explained that Guanaja was a chocolate with 70% cacao, which I already knew, but it’s always a good sign when the customer service are well-informed and take pride in the products they are selling. She wrapped up my purchases and I was out the door, ready to dig into the sweet treats.
(And speaking of digging, how cool is this box?)
Arriving home, I opened the box to get a closer look.
You can see why I chose the Tarte Orange – it has a bruléed top! The combination of orange and caramel is one of my favorites, so I had to give this one a whirl. As for the Guanaja, well, there are surprisingly few patisseries in town that actually boast which chocolates they are using. The fact that Couderc uses Valrhona chocolate tells me he cares about what he’s doing a little more than the average pâtissier.
But how did they taste? Let’s start with the Tarte Orange. The tart shell was a little thick in the corners, but nice and crisp with a buttery shortbread flavor. The brulée had clearly been sitting for a while, but still managed to retain a bit of its crunch. And the filling was a luscious, creamy orange custard. It was a bit on the sweet side, but had good fresh orange flavor. Half the tart (I saved the other half for Nick) was just about right, portion-wise. On the other hand, I could easily have gulped down the whole Guanaja dome. The chocolate fans on either side had neither the waxy texture nor the chemical flavor of cheap decorating chocolate. I think it was actual Guanaja chocolate! The dessert itself comprised a smooth chocolate mousse with a nugget of devil’s food cake in the center, sitting atop a light chocolate genoise, all of it glazed in ganache. This is a dessert designed to show off a quality chocolate and as such, it is a success. From the intensity of the dark chocolate ganache to the deceptive lightness of the mousse to the textural contrast of the cake, it all says one thing: chocolate.