Paris Pastry Crawl 2013: Chocolate Mousse: Chapon

24 04 2013

rows of boxes

I knew I couldn’t do chocolate mousse month without a visit to Patrice Chapon‘s shop on the rue du Bac, because the single-origin mousse bar is pretty much the best thing to happen to chocolate mousse since, well, ever.

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Paris Pastry Crawl 2013: Chocolate Mousse Omnibus

9 04 2013

Perhaps I was a touch ambitious with my plans for the Paris Pastry Crawl. Eating all that pastry is not for the faint of heart, nor is it for people who are used to working in kitchens but now find themselves leading a much more sedentary lifestyle, nor is it for people who are trying to write their own baking books and therefore need to be baking and recipe testing (read: eating) at home, nor is it for anyone who can’t afford to replace her entire wardrobe with bigger clothes. Which is not to say I’m quitting.  But I think the monthly format might be a bit too much, despite my slowly increasing jogging and yoga habits.

I had wanted to talk about chocolate mousse for February, because of Valentine’s Day, but I think I was a little pastried out, and then that holiday came and went, and a few others, and here I am, two months later, finally ready to write about this incredibly versatile dessert.

You see, chocolate mousse is rarely seen as a stand-alone dessert in Parisian pastry shops. (It’s a different story in restaurants.) But it plays an important role in many of the elaborate tarts and cakes for which French pâtisseries are known. The one where I used to work, for example, had at least five different chocolate mousse recipes – not counting the milk and white variations – all with specific destinies as parts of various entremets. But we’ll talk about recipes another day. Today we’re playing catch up with the handful of chocolate mousse-based treats I’ve eaten over the last few months.

swoops of mousse

I wasn’t too impressed with Laurent Duchêne’s éclairs, but this chocolate-caramel tart went some way towards redeeming his work. The artful swoop of mild, smooth milk chocolate mousse concealed a filling of gooey caramel, cooked nice and dark, just like I like it. The crust was firm and crisp, but didn’t bring much chocolate flavor to the party. At 4.50, it’s one of the more expensive pastries in Duchêne’s shop, but still very reasonably priced.

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23 04 2008

…And, we’re back!

The Stohrer Storefront

Stohrer is the oldest continually operating pastry shop in Paris.  It was started by Nicolas Stohrer, a Polish pastry chef who came to France with Marie Leszczynska (don’t ask me how to pronounce that), the daughter of King Stanislas of Poland, when she married King Louis XV of France in 1725.  In 1730, Stohrer opened up his own shop in the very location where it stands today.  He is credited with inventing the Rum Baba.

Window display at Stohrer

One look at the magnificent croquembouche in the window tells you that this is still a pastry shop fit for a king.  It has been under the leadership of François Duthu and Pierre Liénard since 1986, and they are clearly upholding the standard set by the shop’s founder.

Stohrer case - left

Stohrer case - right

Just look at all that beautiful pastry!  In addition, behind me there was an array of savory dishes: pâté en croûte, salads, quiches, and so on.  It was hard enough to choose, so I focused on the sweet side of the shop to help narrow my options.  I decided on a chocolate éclair, chocolate mousse cup, and an orange tart.  When I got up to the register to pay, I noticed a freezer case full of house-made ice cream, but resisted the temptation this time.  (It helped that I had forgotten my shopping bag that day and my hands were getting full.)  I managed to get it all home and even wait until after dinner to taste…

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Arnaud Larher – Maître Pâtissier Chocolatier

7 03 2008

Embroiled as I am in international bank intrigue (it’s not nearly as exciting as it sounds), attempts at American-style baking, and household chores, I’m going to keep this short and sweet, and let the pictures do most of the talking.  (A picture is worth a thousand words, is it not?)

On my aforementioned pâtisserie-scouting mission, I was checking out Arnaud Lahrer’s shop.  I was thwarted last week when I tried to go, as the shop was closed for the week.  This time, however, it was open, complete with the requisite Japanese tourists.  When you walk in, there is a display of the quality ingredients he uses, including Valrhona chocolate, whole cacao beans, hazelnuts, and so on.  The pastries in Lahrer’s case are absolutely beautiful.  Behold:

Arnaud Lahrer’s Case

I like how he has eschewed the common problem of glazing the éclairs by simply topping his with elegant strips of chocolate.

Larher’s Entremets

I love the squiggle of tempered chocolate on that cake in the back.

I resisted the temptation of the house-made glaces, and chose two individual desserts.  The Toulouse-Lautrec,

Le Toulouse-Lautrec

a soft chocolate cake topped with chocolate crème brûlée, surrounded by chocolate mousse, and glazed in more chocolate.  (It looks like Brillance Noire, but tastes more like actual chocolate.)  This was pure chocolate goodness.  The cake was dense and fudgy, almost like a brownie.  The crème brûlée center was creamy and rich, and the chocolate mousse was a near-perfect consistency. 

And the Chambord.

Le Chambord

I have no idea why it’s called that, as there wasn’t a hint of raspberry in the dessert.  Instead, it was a tasty pear-and-caramel dessert.  The bottom was a crispy, crumbly almond cookie.  It was topped with a mild bavarian into which roasted pears were nestled.  Next came a layer of génoise cake and then caramel mousse.  The top was glazed with a shimmery gold gelatin.  The contrasts in texture in this dessert were well done, and enhanced an otherwise sub-expectation level of flavor complexity.

I’m going to have to go back for some of that ice cream when the weather gets warmer.

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