It’s difficult to find a decent bakery within a fifteen mile radius of where I live, so discovering a pâtisserie is like stumbling upon the Holy Grail. While the label of pâtisserie in California can probably be held by bakeries that don’t employ a certified master pastry chef, it still holds promises of masterly executed edible works of art.
To be honest, I wasn’t looking for Tout Pâtisserie. After spending hours of standing and meticulously combing the sales racks of Macy’s from floor one to floor four, I simply wanted a place to sit. The modern clean cut store with its splashes of pinks, purples, and oranges called out to me like a little kid demanding attention. My heart raced with exhilaration, my pupils dilated, and I found myself automatically inching towards the shiny white counter. Dessert addicts always give in to temptations.
Pastries and verrines with fanciful names like Petit 5th Element, Tesla Tartlet, and Florence Verrine sat behind the venerable glass case, but it was not an eye-feast of popping raspberry reds, shiny chocolate mirrors, and fastidiously layered entremets in different gradients that comprise the standard fare of pâtisseries in Japan (and dare I say France judging from Adam Weyda’s photos). Nevertheless, descriptive placards boasting oolong tea infused white chocolate mousse had my mouth watering, and I ordered the Petit 5th Element, Lucy (ginger macaron), MeMe (pistachio macaron), and Sherry (raspberry macaron).
I had never seen macaron shells studded with anything, much less sesame and poppy seeds, so these were the first ones I devour. The shell was denser than I expected, but I puffed a sigh of relief to discover that there were no big bad hollows hiding inside. The buttercream was very light and airy, and a subtle ginger perfume laced itself around my taste buds before evaporating, leaving me to chase behind that elusive fragrance with successively more bites. I found the tiny sesame seeds scraping across my tongue to be a novel experience, and I crunched them delightfully between my molars. What’s more was that these macarons were not too sweet, something I’ve never encountered in all my macaron purchases in America (I think Japan has them pat down, but I’ll never know until I visit the shops in Paris.) I only lamented that the buttercream layer was too thin.
The raspberry macaron was puffier in texture and a thin layer of raspberry jam resting in between the buttercream packed in a tart punch. I wished I had bought a second one after stuffing it down. The pistachio one was a bit of a disappointment; I was unable to pinpoint the flavor upon the first bite, only that it was sweet, green, and a little minty. Only upon revisiting the counter was I able to confirm that it was pistachio and not mint. The buttercream layer was still as thin as ever, and I quickly finished it so I could move on to the cake.
The singular raspberry resting on the cake’s indentation outside was sweet and cool. Underneath the velvety dome lay dense white chocolate mousse perfumed with the woodsy aroma of oolong tea. The flavors were so strong and delightful, I felt like I was eating a solid form of tea. Rich and crumbly genoise speckled with vanilla bean seeds supported the entire structure. Just the base itself would have sufficed with a cup of steaming Ceylon tea.
Like the macaron, a thin layer of sour gelee accompanied the raspberry cream in the center to balance the sweetness of the chocolate mousse. However, I had to dig in very far to reach that component and the white chocolate bits inside, which was a disappointment. The layers were not perfectly symmetrical for a pastry chef’s workmanship, and I found myself wondering what type of clumsy assistant assembled the cake. Other than the strange texture of rubbery chocolate bits inside the cake, the flavors were impeccable.
I’ve already marked down the Tesla Tartlet (with lemon-yuzu curd and passion fruit-vanilla curd) and Maui Verrine (lemon-ginger scented coconut panna cotta) for my next trip. While Tout Pâtisserie may not be perfect, a hungry girl needs to take what she can get, right?
170 O’Farrell St
San Francisco, CA 94102