From haute patisseries that elevate cakes to an art form to local boulangeries that serve a satisfying eclair, Paris is a goldmine for dessert gluttons. For each pastry shop you visit, gems sitting behind the glass case beckon you to bring them home, so it’s hard to leave with just one thing. Heeding their call, I left with seven from Des Gâteaux et du Pain, my number one pastry shop in the city. While not as elaborately enrobed as some other pastries like those from Cafe Pouchkine, Claire Damon’s creations are most delicately crafted and true to the original taste of the ingredients.
Winter means chestnut, and I’ve found that many Mt Blanc’s in Paris are often crafted with a tart layer outside of just chestnut and cream. Des Gâteaux et du Pain’s version is made with pâte sablée, a thin layer of blackcurrant compote, lighter than air meringue, chestnut paste, and chantilly cream. The buttery chestnut vermicelli was balanced superbly for sweetness, and I feel like I’m tasting nature with every forkful.
I also ordered the pomme tatin au sirop d’erable, or apple maple syrup tart. Their apple tart is the first one I’ve tasted where I realized that an apple tart can also taste refreshing. No cinnamon, no spices. It’s built with pâte sucrée, maple syrup cream, toasted pecans with fleur de sel, and a disc of caramelized apple compote that’s as light as an apple jelly. If there’s only one apple dessert I can have, Claire Damon’s version is it.
As a trial (and because I can’t resist seasonal special edition Christmas items), I also ordered COP 21, a cake composed of chocolate mousse, vanilla cream, and chocolate biscuit. Personally I don’t like to order cakes that are chocolate based because I find them too rich and heavy. The chocolate mousse here has the texture of air, but the depth of dark chocolate in taste. The vanilla cream insert was silky smooth and reminds of Pierre Herme’s infiniment vanille, where you have vanilla seeds with every bite. The textures were superb, but I guess even my favorite pastry chef can’t convince me to like chocolate.
I’ll cover the rest of her pastries in a second post!