Chocolate Tasting With Jacques Genin

jacques piping choux

I began our week-long Paris Chocolate Exploration tour here in Paris this week, starting with a private tasting with famed chocolatier Jacques Genin, the elusive chocolatier who works out of his very small laboratoire hidden away in the 15th arrondisement. Ten of us, including Mort Rosenblum, crammed into his tiny workshop while he explained how he began his career, the methods he uses to fabricate and enrobe his chocolates, and divluged some of the secrets (I said some…) of his exceptional chocolates.

For well over an hour, we tasted everything from ganache-filled chocolates infused with exotic tonka beans, lively peppermint leaves, and fragrant (and expensive) Bulgarian rose oil. There were soft pâte de fruit made with elusive Charontais melon, fresh black currants, and fruity raspberry. All the while his staff worked around us, packing boxes of chocolates destined for the finest hotels and restaurants in Paris, including the George V and Le Comptoir. Some were destined for Chez David as well.

The best, unquestionably, were his caramels. No pun intended, but I really have a soft spot for caramel. Caramel is a combination of cooked sugar, usually with butter or cream added. But much skill is needed to get it just-so. The sugar needs to be cooked to the exact temperature. Enough so it’s got a bit of a burnt ‘edge’ to offset the sweetness, and to give it a texture so it retains its shape with remaining toothsome but not tar-like and gummy. Jacques caramels were truly brilliant.
Each nugget was the perfect combination of sticky-soft and intensely flavored.

The first one we tasted was a bright-yellow caramel sharpened with tangy mango puree. We followed that with dark bitter chocolate caramels, oozing with the taste of beurre fermier, aka French farmhouse butter. When I’d reached my limit, which is admittedly high, Jacques stuffed my pockets with salted-butter caramels, which I ate this morning just after breakfast.

Is that wrong?

jacques genin chocolates

Jacques Genin
18 rue St-Charles
Tel: 01 45 77 29 01
This is his workshop and not open to the public.

Update: Jacques Genin has finally opened his shop in Paris, in the Marais. it’s open to the public and has a tea salon, where you can sample his treats, as well as a full-scale boutique.

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21 comments

  • Alisa
    May 9, 2006 3:43am

    So, Chez David is a new hotel or restaurant? ! :)

  • May 9, 2006 4:19am

    I don’t think anything wrong with eating chocolate after breakfast, I eat them for breakfast :) Tried pain de sucre but didn’t get those, what a shame…

  • Sezz
    May 9, 2006 4:23am

    Doesn’t everyone eat chocolate for breakfast? The chocolates look devine and I’m just wondering whether the chap in the photo is smuggling a few chocs into his pocket?

  • May 9, 2006 9:39am

    seems like an instructive visit at a first class artisan.
    thanks.

  • May 9, 2006 11:26am

    Before breakfast is OK too..These are little works of art. I love the sculptured effect on those Cardamom Chocolates.Unique.

  • May 9, 2006 11:37am

    I guess I can’t call myself a true chocoholic until I’ve done this tour, eh?

    I suppose I could combine this with a quick trip to Belgium to enjoy a waffle w/ chocolate poured on top.

    Ahh… memories!

  • May 9, 2006 12:32pm

    Oh I am beyond jealous!!! Looks fantastic!

    ~Dianka
    http://na-zdravi.blogspot.com/

  • May 9, 2006 2:32pm

    I really like Mort Rosemblum’s book! Am very jealous that you got to visit his laboratoire and stuff your face with chocolates!

  • Justin
    May 9, 2006 3:30pm

    Is there anyway we could get these chocolates in the states? I would love to get them for one of my friends who loves chocolate

  • Justin
    May 9, 2006 3:33pm

    Is there anyway we could get these chocolates in the states or anything like them?

  • May 9, 2006 5:55pm

    Do you have the best life EVER? Do you?!

    Yes, yes you do. Oh, if only someone would stuff me to my limit with dark chocolate and salted caramels! But I shall live vicariously through you. Eat away.

  • May 9, 2006 8:29pm

    chocolates after breakfast are NEVER wrong. chocolates FOR breakfast are never wrong either. :)

  • Jeff
    May 9, 2006 8:46pm

    What I would give for a salted caramel made with French butter! The postal system stinks in France, so I couldn’t get some nice chef who lives and blogs there to send me some and airfare is too expensive.

    Once you’ve had sea salt caramels, you’re spoiled for plain old Brach’s that’s been sitting in that supermarket bin for who knows how long.

  • Jeff
    May 9, 2006 8:52pm

    Uh, yeah, one more thing. Pain de Sucre wouldn’t happen to have a website, would it? French is not my thing and the only “Pain de Sucre” I could find features two very scantily-clad women on the homepage. http://www.paindesucre.com/

    Perhaps, in France, bikinis and choclates go together?

  • katie
    May 10, 2006 12:42am

    I can’t believe how gorgeous those all are! And, am I insane or are those leopard spots on the chocolates above the peppermint ones?

  • May 10, 2006 6:25am

    Chocolate at breakfast wrong? You had it for medicinal reasons, right?

    Even the BMJ is saying dark chocolate (100gm a day?) is GOOD for your health. Of course they are only copying the old guys, who knew that.

    I thought you might like some historic justification, so here is a medicinal chocolate remedy from 1672 (when chocolate was a drink, not a solid confection). It is from:

    The American physitian, or, A treatise of the roots, plants, trees, shrubs, fruit, herbs, &c. growing in the English plantations in America describing the place, time, names, kindes, temperature, vertues and uses of them, either for diet, physick, &c. : whereunto is added a discourse of the cacao-nut-tree and the use of its fruit, with all the ways of making of chocolate … (1672) by W. Hughes.

    After describing how to prepare the “Cacaos”, he tells how the Spanish Physitians” adapt the powder to treat a range of different conditions.

    “To strengthen the Stomack much debilitated, there is put in Achitote, or rather Saffron; in Fluxes, Cinamon, Nutmegs, or a little Steel-powder: for Coughs, Almonds, and the Oyl of Almonds, Sugar, or Sugar candide: for a Phlegmatic Stomack, they put in Pepper, Cloves, &c. And thus the Spanish Physitians especially endeavour to make a Composition, or alter their Chocolate according to evey distemper, making it both the Physick and Vehicle for all sorts which ought rather but to be used as Aliment.”

    So – was your excuse a Stomach that needed strengthening, or a Phlegmatic stomach?

  • May 10, 2006 9:46am

    Thanks for recommending Mort Rosenblum’s book–I’m in the middle of reading it. Wonderful writing, and extremely informative and drool-worthy (as was your post).

  • May 11, 2006 7:46pm

    There is NEVER a wrong time to eat caramels or chocolate.

    I too am jealous beyond belief at the generosity of your chocolate friends. I adore the leopard chocolates (even without ever having tasted them)!

  • May 15, 2006 3:32pm

    what a perfect match for your shirt.

  • Grace
    January 25, 2009 4:43pm

    Having just experienced the incredible chocolate super heroism of Jacques at his atelier I have one word- GO…it was the most sensational chocolate I have ever had

  • Pascale
    July 5, 2010 4:53pm

    Surely one of the best in Paris, and someone from the “Vosges” like me!
    Pascale Parisvf