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My favourite places: pâtisseries, boulangeries, chocolatiers and food shops around Paris

Okay, I know I live in France – and am French (see, this is how I answer two questions in une pierre deux coups) – but come on guys, France is not Paris.

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There are other cities. And I was even gifted with the right to live in some of them. Ask me about Antibes, Cannes, Nice or Monaco; even Toulouse.

But Paris? I go there a couple of times a year, generally for no more than a few days spent doing the compulsory shopping, dining out and partying, with very little time left for pâtisserie-scouting. What about the time when I actually lived in Paris for ten whole weeks. Now you bring this, I must say, that back then, I was in a pâtisserie, not visiting pâtisseries, and that well, thank you for reminding me I didn’t have enough time to complete the pastry-tasting I had initially planned.

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But because I love you and will do anything to make you happy, I’m going to share with you a few of my favourite places around Paris. Since I proclaim any good pâtisserie or food store a favourite; the list could probably narrow down to two or three hundreds spots; but here, I’ll make sure to keep it brief and delicious, and will only feature the places I find myself visiting on a regular basis.

If you’re looking for a absolute guide to Paris pâtisseries, I suggest you get yourself a copy of The pâtisseries of Paris – Jamie Cahill’s latest book, so beautiful you could read it anytime of the year, but which could become quite handy if you’re planning to visit Paris.

Before I tell you more about my hand-picked list, I’ll clarify a few points on books.

I buy most – let’s be honest, eighty nine percent (yes, I did compute) – of my books; but will never decline publishers’ offer to send me a copy of their latest release.

I mean. Books. And me. We have that extraordinary symbiotic type of relationships. We can’t live without one another. Only great books, that is. Given that I no longer buy books on a craze, but really look over new and old titles before hitting amazon; all the books I’ve bought clearly are excellent. Whether it is the foolproof recipe on page 622 (the more pages, the more to read!), or the use of that beautiful typeface, or even the great photography. Each and every of the books I own have that special something, which makes me love them.

However, when I receive books from publishing houses, I will only share with you those I refer to as terrific, those I would pay for. Failing that, you won’t hear about them, or at least not through foodbeam.

Please welcome warmly my eight favourite places around Paris. As you’ll notice most of them are in the first, second and sixth arrondissements. No wonder here. When I’m in Paris, I live right in the heart of the first arrondissement so, ahem, I tend to have a routine which consists in walking or velib’ing from my flat to the sixth – almost always through the pont neuf – for a latte or citron pressé at Café Flore; then cross the Seine again, landing at the Louvre carousel and later on, in the second arrondissement.

However, since I used to work in the fifteenth, I have my favourites over there as well, which include – as you might have guessed – Pierre Hermé.

Angelina
226 rue de Rivoli – first arrondissement

Okay, so this might not be a surprise, but Angelina is my favourite place for cold afternoons, when all I crave is good winter food; during those days, only a hot chocolat africain and a mont blanc will do.
They’re out of this world. Really.
I usually spend a good couple of hours there, sipping through the incredibly thick hot chocolate and reading the latest issue of Thuries magazine.

Pierre Hermé (closed on Mondays)
85 rue de Vaugirard – fifteenth arrondissement

Most of you know how fond I am of Pierre’s pastries. I do have favourites though. The collections I love the most are Mosaic – pistachio and cherry, and Infiniment Vanille – Mexican, Tahitian and Madagascar vanillas. Please make yourself happy and have a millefeuilles Mosaic or a tarte Infiniment Vanille or both.
Amongst the macarons, I must admit I’m partial to Mogador, Mosaic (again) and balsamic vinegar.
I do also advise you taste the cannelés and croissants – the best around town.

Des gâteaux et du pain
63 boulevard Pasteur – fifteenth arrondissement

This is where we – the pâtissiers at Pierre Hermé’s – used to get baguettes for our breakfast break. And trust me, good levain baguette it was. The crust is crisp and golden, while the crumb is uneven – with large air pocket – and slightly chewy.
Most definitely the best baguette I have ever had. The pastries are also fantastic looking and equally good.

G. Detou (closed on Sundays)
58 rue Tiquetonne – second arrondissement

This is where I go when I need hard-to-find ingredients. Liquid glucose, cocoa butter, pistachio paste… just to name a few.
I also recommend the cheap yet great vanilla beans, which are sold by fifty.
The staff is cheery and helpful, so do not hesitate to ask for help.

Stohrer
51 rue Montorgueil – second arrondissement

Being a one-minute-walk away from my flat, you’re likely to find me shopping at Stohrer – one of the oldest patisseries in Paris – on Sunday mornings.
Although all the pastries look refreshingly old-fashionned, I always end up buying a puit d’amour: a crisp puff pastry shell encloses a fragrant vanilla crème topped with a brittle caramel.

Sadaharu Aoki
35 rue Vaugirard – sixth arrondissement

Being the matcha green tea lover I am, I can’t help but drop by Sada’s pâtisserie, where I will only take two millefeuilles. One for instant gratification. One I’ll save for later – probably breakfast.

La grande épicerie (closed on Sundays)
38 rue de Sèvre – seventh arrondissement

My friends always tease me because I go grocery shopping at la Grande Epicerie which they see as one of the most expensive supermarkets around. Although, this statement is somewhat close to reality, I prefer to disagree claiming that Monoprix is much more expensive (ahem, right).
Don’t discuss, go there, buy Jean-Yves Bordier butter and spread it thickly onto a slice of baguette.

Patrick Roger (closed on Sundays and Mondays)
108 boulevard St Germain – sixth arrondissement

Call me superficial, but I could go to Patrick’s chocolaterie just for the perfect bondi-blue boxes. Quite evidently I have other reasons; like: chocolates.
Awarded Meilleur Ouvrier de France, Patrick creates simple yet delicious chocolats. I am known to always purchase the almonds, dipped in caramel and covered with a thin layer of dark chocolate. The oat ganache chocolate also holds a special place in my heart and I hope it will in yours too.

Now I’m curious… What are your favourites?

We represent the lollipop guild – Vanilla cheesecake lollipops

… and in the name of the lollipop guild, we welcome you to munchkinland daringbakersland.

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It’s not a secret to anyone. I could kill for cheesecake. Great cheesecake, that is.
Quite evidently, I was thrilled when I found out about this month’s daring bakers challenge. Cheesecake. Lollipops.

Those are basically two of my favourite things ever. Combined. I mean, the branding for my name even features lollipops.
My warmest thanks go to Deborah and Elle for this great pick.

The experiment:
– a creamy vanilla cheesecake
– dipped into tempered milk chocolate

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As with most cheesecake batter, you start by creaming the cream cheese along with the sugar and seeds from one vanilla pod. Then go in the eggs and here, a little flour and an extra egg yolk are added, which I guess helps the cake hold its shape when rolled into balls later on.

I baked the cake into a 18cm wide pyrex dish, and in a water-bath, at 150°C for a little less than 45 minutes. However, given I used a more-than-halved recipe, I suggest to adapt the baking time and temperature if making a full recipe.
The cheesecake should look slightly swollen and should feel firm but still somewhat wobbly in the centre. And the edges might have a light golden colour.

I allowed the cheesecake to cool at room temperature, before wrapping it tightly with cling film, and left it in the fridge overnight.

The next day, I delicately peeled off the thin ‘crust’ and scooped walnut-size balls, which I rolled using wet hands, then placed onto a baking sheet lined with cling film.
Since I don’t own a freezer, I just chilled the balls for a couple of hours before inserting lollipop sticks into the cold and firm cheesecake spheres.

I tempered some milk chocolate – if yours doesn’t feel thin enough, you can mix in a little cocoa butter. Then poured the tempered chocolate into a smallish container, got the pops out of the fridge and dipped them. Because the spheres were so cold, the chocolate tended to set quickly, so I had to work quickly so the sprinkles would stick to the chocolate coating.

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Soooo…
Those cheesecake lollipops were a hit. Even though I found the cheesecake part slightly too sweet, I have to say the texture was perfect and easy to handle. Firm yet creamy.
The vanilla seeds brought a lovely aroma, which combined with the egg and cream flavours certainly make you think about vanilla ice-cream.

They would make a great present. However, everyone seemed to be begging for more. I guess walnut-size is not enough; ice-cream-lollies-shaped cheesecake pops would definitely be more appropriate. They could then be called, vanilla ice-cream cheesecake lollipops. Yes, vanilla. Ice-cream. Cheesecake. Lollipops. Yum!

Vanilla cheesecake lollipops

makes 20 lollipops

450g cream cheese
160g sugar
seeds from 1 vanilla pod
12g flour
25g double cream
2 eggs
1 egg yolk

for the coating
200g milk chocolate, tempered

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pour 20 sucettes

450g fromage frais, type st moret ou philadelphia
160g sucre
graines de vanille, prélevée sur une gousse
12g farine
25g crème entière
2 oeufs
1 jaune d’oeuf

pour la couverture
200g chocolat au lait, tempéré

On happiness, CAP pâtissier and a tart – Tarte chocolat au lait et fruit de la passion, ananas rôti

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This past Monday. Yesterday, in fact. I made a choice. One of the most critical choices I’ve ever been confronted to. The kind of choices that leaves you in an uncanny state of uncertainty; but definitely one that makes you happy, one that you can’t help but think about – days and nights and every second in between -, one that comes with a CAP (Certificat d’Aptitude Professionelle) pâtissier, chocolatier et glacier.

Yes, my dearest friends, you read it well. From next September, I’ll officially start studying pâtisserie and might even pass the final exam (cross your fingers and you friends’ as well, for me).

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Little happy dance and song. Champagne, ahem, not quite yet. I need to find a place (either a pâtisserie or restaurant) to be an apprentie at. And trust me, this doesn’t seem to be easy a task.
Since I’m wanting to stay on the Côte, I’m scouting places like renowned hotels and restaurants, and great pâtisseries. So if you happen to know anyone around, let me know and I’ll make sure to send you a box of macarons!

And this is the appropriate moment to thank you who support me, give me fantastic-est advices and help me to find my way. You know who you are and I’m immensely grateful to count you as friends.

Bring. It. On.

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The tart. What can I say? An insanely delicious passion fruit ganache encased in a crisp pâte sucrée shell and topped with syrupy pineapple dices.

One of the best desserts I’ve ever made. The flavours interact. The textures oppose. My mouth loves it. Yours will too.

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Tarte chocolat au lait et fruit de la passion, ananas rôti
Inspired by Pierre Hermé.

A quick look at the long list of ingredients and steps might – but shouldn’t – lead you to think that this is a long and complicated recipe. It isn’t. Don’t get me wrong, it is quite time-consuming, but if you plan things well ahead, then all is a left is the final and rewarding assembly job.

This tart is inspired by Pierre Hermé’s collection Mogador. Inspired. I’m eternally grateful for his pâte sucrée and for the impossibly luscious roast pineapple – I could and do eat this with my fingers as soon as the syrup isn’t hot enough to burn me to the bone.
The ganache is slightly different. Pierre relies on passion fruit, while I use both passion fruit and cream. Better stability, no splitting. Pretty decent, really.

As you might notice from the picture, my ganache is on the soft side. I like it better that way since I love that melt in your mouth feeling.
It will, however, get firmer if you leave it in the fridge for too long.

Tarte chocolat au lait et fruit de la passion, ananas rôti

makes eight 8cm tarts

for the crust
8 baked-blind pâte sucrée tart shells

for the roast pineapple
125g caster sugar
one vanilla pod
220ml water
half a banana, mashed
one fat pineapple (approx. 1000g)

Put the sugar into a pan set over medium heat and make a dark amber-brown caramel.
Slice the vanilla pod in the length and dump into the caramel. Briefly mix and tip the water in. The caramel will seize, do not worry. Just keep heating and slowly bring to the boil. Off the heat, mix in the mashed banana and pour into a container. Keep covered, in the fridge, overnight.

Pre-heat the oven to 230°C. Using a sharp knife, peel, quarter in the length and core the pineapple. Place into a 20cm cake tin and cover with the syrup. Bake for an hour, turning and basting regularly with the syrup. Allow to cool at room temperature and keep covered in the fridge.

for the ganache
120g strained passion fruit pulp (from 10 passion fruits)
400g milk chocolate, melted
80g butter, at room temperature
300g double cream, at room temperature

Bring the passion fruit pulp to the boil and pour over the melted chocolate. When the mixture reaches 40°C, mix in the butter until smooth. It might separated, but will come back together as you add the cream.

la finition
Using a laddle – or even better, an entonnoir à piston [piston funnel] – divide the ganache (preferably at 35°C) between the tart shells. Allow to set in the fridge for a couple of hours and when ready to serve, top with diced roasted pineapple.

pour huit tartelettes de 8cm

pour les fonds de pâte sucrée
8 fonds de pâte sucrée cuits à blanc

pour l’ananas rôti
125g sucre blanc
une gousse de vanille
220ml eau
une demi banane, écrasée
un bel ananas (approx. 1000g)

Mettre le sucre dans une casserole placée sur feu moyen et laisser cuire jusqu’à obtention d’un caramel de couleur ambre.
Fendre la gousse de vanille en deux et la jeter dans le caramel. Mélanger rapidement puis ajouter l’eau en une fois. Le caramel va durcir. Simplement poursuivre la cuisson jusqu’à ébullition. Hors du feu, ajouter la banane écrasée et transférer le sirop vers un tuperware. Réfrigérer toute la nuit.

Le lendemain, préchauffer le four à 230°C.
En utilisant un couteau aiguisé, peler, couper en quatre et enlever le cœur de l’ananas. Le placer dans un plat à bords hauts de 20cm de diamètre et recouvrir avec le sirop préparé la veille.
Cuire au four pendant une heure, en le retournant et l’arrosant régulièrement.
Laisser revenir à température ambiante puis réfrigérer jusqu’à usage.

pour la ganache
120g pulpe de fruits de la passion passée au tamis (env. 10 fruits de la passion)
400g chocolat au lait, fondu
80g beurre doux, à temperature ambiante
300g crème entière, à temperature ambiante

Porter la pulpe de fruits de la passion à ébullition, puis verser sur le chocolat fondu en mélangeant. Quand la ganache atteint 40°C, incorporer le beurre avec une spatule de façon à obtenir une préparation homogène. La ganache peut se séparer, mais elle redeviendra homogène avec l’ajout final de crème.

la finition
En utilisant une louche – ou encore mieux, un entonnoir à piston – répartir la ganache (de préférence à 35°C) dans les fonds de tarte.
Mettre au frigidaire pendant 2 à trois heures; au moment de servir, décorer avec l’ananas préalablement coupé en dés.

A memoir of six eggs

This is the kind of tales that you never thought you’d hear. Six eggs, after backpacking all over the US, decided they would cross the Altantic ocean to visit France.
Epic. Was the journey.

They asked me to tell you guys – Jen (love you girl), Hélène and Hannah, Anita, Peabody, Ivonne, Lisa and Mary – that they arrived, safe and sound.

Here is their story.

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The ephemeral party – Gâteau fondant au chocolat

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Picture a chair. One covered with some kind of pushy-pink fabric. Well, now imagine yourself getting that exact chair for your birthday – or Christmas, I’m not picky. Thrilled, aren’t you?

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The state you would be in is probably as exciting as my current social life. You see, ever since I’ve moved to Revel for my stage de fin d’études, I didn’t really get the chance to connect, or even talk to people my age.
It certainly is a nice little town, with a pretty market and an ice-cold wind; but as the high-protein biscuit machine I turned into, I had little time to do other things than making biscuits, let alone party.

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But tonight, people; tonight I‘m invited to a birthday party. And before you start thinking I’m an unsocial geek – which trust me, I am not – you should try and understand. One month. Without. Partying.
Okay, now we’re on the same length, I can introduce you to the most decadent dessert ever. Cake that is.

Or baked chocolate mousse, as Claire Clark calls it. A rich chocolate mousse, baked until just cooked, chilled until hard then left at room temperature until soft.
This is the kind of desserts that tend to melt in your mouth living an ephemeral chocolate sensation.

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Gâteau fondant au chocolat
Adapted from Claire Clark’s Indulge.

This dead-easy cake tastes delicious and looks elegant. Perfect as a dinner party dessert, you can make it the day before and keep it in the fridge until four hours before you plan on starting your dinner.

Make sure the cake is very cold before trying to unmould it. But no need to panic, you’re your cake has rested long enough in the fridge and feels set, take your hairdryer out and gently heat the cake ring so the butter starts melting and you can easily release the cake from its tin.

I served mine with a dollop of tangy crème fraiche and it was a perfect match.

Gâteau fondant au chocolat

serves 6

150g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), finely chopped
100g butter, diced
1 egg
30g caster sugar

crème fraiche, to serve

Preheat the oven to 170°C. And place six 5cm-rings onto a baking sheet lined with foil.
Put the chocolate and butter into a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Leave to melt, stiring from time to time.
Whisk the egg and sugar until pale and thick, it should have increased in size.
Using a large metal spoon, gently fold the melted chocolate and butter into the whisked mixture, until just combined.
Divide between the prepared ring and bake for 8 minutes. The surface will be covered with tiny bubbles and the cake will still be very wobbly. Just take it out of the oven and allow to cool at room temperature. Then chill overnight, unmould and place each little cake onto a serving plate. Let these at room temperature for a couple of hours, until very soft but still holding their shapes. Serve with crème fraiche.