Salted Butter Caramels from Henri Le Roux

le roux caramels

I’d like to introduce you to Henri Le Roux. And if you don’t know who Henri Le Roux is, it’s time that you did.

cbstartiner.jpg

Le Caramelier; Salted-Butter Caramel Spread

There’s a lot of very talented chocolatiers and pastry chefs in France. Some are quite famous, and some just go to work everyday and do their jobs well. A few have rather large egos, others are more humble, preferring the lights of the kitchen to the ones in the television studio. (I was at a recent event with another food blogger who correctly noted that all the famous chefs mostly talk about is one thing: Themselves!) But if you mention the name ‘Henri Le Roux’ to any chocolatier or confiseur in France, they stand silent for a moment. Then nod agreeably. He is perhaps the most respected and admired pastry chef and candy maker I know.

cbscaramels.jpg

The famous C.B.S. caramels in assorted flavors, including lime, black tea, orange-ginger and, of course, chocolate

I first met Monsieur Le Roux when I went to the Salon du Chocolat in Paris with my Thierry Lallet, who has an excellent (and highly-recommended) chocolate shop in Bordeaux, Saunion, one of the best in France.

cutcaramels1.jpg

Freshly-made C.B.S. caramels studded with hazelnuts, almonds, and walnuts

Before that day, I thought that caramels were caramels, and until that point, I’d tasted so many things in my life that there was little left that would deeply impress me. M. Le Roux is a very kind man, who basically changed the way pastry chefs, glaciers, and bakers everywhere think about caramel: he created caramel-buerre-salé (caramel-salt-butter), which he simply calls C.B.S.
And they are truly divine.

caramelmachine.jpg

The 55-year old candywrapping machine barely keeps up with the demand for M. Le Roux’s caramels

Henri Le Roux, whose Breton father was a pastry chef (and lived in New York for 5 years, cooking at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel) started making caramels in the seaside town of Quiberon in 1976, located at the tip of a dramatic peninsula in the south of Brittany, where the best butter in the world is found (the first chapter in his book, is called “Le Rideau de Beurre”, or “The Curtain of Butter”. He decided to open there, selling cakes, candies, and ice creams. But like warm, buttery caramel, word of his candies spread and he stopped making cakes and tartes to concentrate all his energy on candymaking. Just 3 years later, in 1908, M. Le Roux won the award for the best candy in France, Le Meilleur Bonbon de France at the Salon International de la Confiserie in Paris.

florentines.jpg

Salted-Caramel Buckwheat Florentines just-slathered in bittersweet chocolate

M. Le Roux was kind enough to let me explore his workshop with him when I paid a visit during my August vacation in Brittany. As he raced from room to room, he flipped open bins of almonds from Provence or hazelnuts from Turkey to give me a sample, later showing me how he grinds his own fresh nut pastes in his broyeuse with massive granite rollers which keep cool, while metal rollers would heat the nuts too much, losing some of the flavor. And a rarity in the pastry field nowadays, M. Le Roux uses true bitter almonds in his almond paste, which he sources from the Mediterranean. Almond extract is made from bitter almonds, even in America, but they’re hardly used anymore since they’re difficult to find (and those pesky toxicity issues.) But in the land sans lawsuits, M. Le Roux makes that effort and blends a few into his freshly-pressed almond paste which tastes like none other I’ve tasted in France.

boxoflerouxchocolate.jpg

Exceptional chocolates from Henri Le Roux, which were too good not to eat right away

I like to ask chocolatiers which chocolate they use.
Most are secretive, but M. Le Roux led me into a cool room packed floor to ceiling with boxes of various chocolates he gets from all over France and Belgium. He tore into them, breaking off chunks for me to taste and explaining how he uses some of each, blending them as he wishes to get the desired tastes he’s after. Valrhona and Barry-Callebaut are used, but he also sources chocolate from François Pralus, an artisan chocolate-maker located in Roanne, just outside of Lyon, who specializes in single-origin chocolates, as well.

mrandmrsleroux.jpg

Henri and Lorraine Le Roux in their boutique, in Quiberon

I wanted to describe each and every chocolate in the box, but decided that that would constitute cruel and unusual punishment. (Actually, I ate them all and didn’t feel like writing down what tasted as I was eating as I went. As mentioned, I’m a lousy blogger.) But I remember Harem, a filling of green tea and fresh mint, Sarrasine, infused with blé noir (buckwheat), and Yannick, blended dark cane sugar, salted butter and ground crêpes dentelle, hyper-thin, crackly lace cookies ground to a crunchy paste.

Oh yes, there’s C.B.S. too, nutty salted-butter caramel enrobed in dark chocolate as well, which was my favorite.

cbsbook.jpg

Le Roux
18, rue de Pont Maria
56170 Quiberon, France

and

1, rue de Bourbon le Château (6th)
Paris

(Will ship internationally.)

Henri Le Roux’s caramels and chocolates are also available in Paris at:

A l’Etoile d’Or
30, rue Fontaine
Tél: 01 48 74 59 55
M: Blanche

Le Roux Chocolate bars

Related Links and Recipes

Henri Le Roux in Paris

Salted Butter Caramels

Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream

Vietnamese Caramelized Pork Ribs

A l’Etoile d’Or

10 Insanely Delicious Things You Shouldn’t Miss in Paris

Jacques Genin

Jean-Charles Rochoux

Patrick Roger

Paris Favorites

How to Make the Perfect Caramel



33 comments

  • your blog always makes me salivate. I’m hoping to go to Paris next year, to finally taste things for myself. Is M. Le Roux’s book a cookbook?

  • Hi David,

    Thank you for your wonderful blog and excellent cookbooks (2 of which I now own). You make me want, more than ever to live in France – in part so that I can taste wares such as those of M. LeRoux.

    P.S. – You may not know that you posted twice. Or that 3 years after 1976 surely can’t be 1908 :)

  • soo: The book has a few recipes from other chefs, but is mostly the fabulous history of M. Le Roux, along with historical anecdotes about the region, and his rise to success.

    Freda: Computer sometimes do funny things…like post twice! I guess my Mac liked the caramels so much it couldn’t help repeating itself.

  • David, you’re killing me. It’s 8:20 am here and those florentines look sooo very good. The photos are wonderful; you have mastered the new camera.
    xxxJanet

  • Lovely treats it seems! When is the next Salon du chocolat? Soon, non?

  • Normally I laugh when reading your blog, but today I sulked… Gosh even my eyes are starting to water from looking at all those caramel…

  • Normally I laugh when reading your blog, but today I sulked… Gosh even my eyes are starting to water from looking at all those caramel…

  • Now I wish I was going to France instead of Italy. Then again, Italy has canolis.

  • FYI David–

    Your friends at Dagoba list your book on their site and have not spelled your name correctly.

  • BTW – Now that the post “Post” window contains advertisements, the width of the window is too narrow.

  • oh my god, david! are you trying to kill me? you MUST send me a jar of this salted butter caramel spread immediately!

  • Salted butter caramel spread? Holy moly, you just slayed me. I had no idea such a thing existed. Me wants it! Hello my precious….

  • david.

    sometimes you are just so evil!

    ;-)

  • Willa Frank has you summed up well and truly! Until I started reading your blog I was a happy man content to while away my life in my island fastness with a simple diet. And you have to wreck all that with photographs of florentines and chocolates….and worse – descriptions of how they taste. I am now an irritable and discontented man. I cannot import with facility these things you and you alone have made me crave. I am suffering – you are a tormentor but I cannot stop reading your blog and gazing at the photos. I think I have become an obsessive; I may have to leave my island and come to live in France and follow you about out of a sense not only of serendipity but one of necessity – for good things to eat and it’s all your fault!

  • this is sooooooo unkind and wonderful at the same time, thank you.

  • I’m sorry to be rude, but I must insist that you send me 5 of whatever is in every one of those pictures immediately. Thank you.
    (Oh, I must go to Paris soon. Armed with your list of places I will return 20 pounds heavier and with extra luggage filled with happiness.)

  • The brand of couveture can make or break truffles for me. If chocolatiers use Callebaut, I’m usually not interested because I think its too mild. With the exception of Valrhona (sorry, I know you don’t like them), my favorite chocolate makers don’t produce enough for grand truffle making. That’s why I’m really picky about my truffles.

  • must book flights to paris for salon du chocolat then!!

  • Katz and Barbie2b: So far, I haven’t figured out what to do with the spread, except stick my finger in and lick it off! There was one with chocolate as well, which I (foolishly) didn’t get. But I did get two jars…except they’re only good until the end of the month. I’d better start cracking (so they don’t end up like my fruitcakes.)

    Kevin: I did save the empty box, and looked at it lovingly for a few days before sadly tossing it out. And Lil, will brave the Salon and make a beeline for M. Le Roux and replenish my stash.

  • David, Now you tell me! I just got back from Paris last night, having faithfully trekked to Jean-Charles Rochoux (where, incidentally, the gentleman at the counter’s face lit up when I mentioned you!). Also, many, many thanks for your recommendation of the Richard Lenoir market–just about the perfect way to spend a Sunday! I’d have happily added A l’Etoile d’Or at some point, but at least was able to procure some breton caramel sauce at R. Lenoir.
    Incidentally, (no idea where to post this for maximum relevance!) I had a great dinner in the Marais at Les Chineurs (rue de Bretagne)–three lovely young men started the resto in February, and are full every night. They bring around an antique tureen filled with house-made truffles to close the meal. I wonder if you’ve tried it? Well worth a visit–they have a good website, too.

  • oh dear god, it comes in chocolate too????

  • This is one of the best and most tortuous posts you have written in a while. Oh for the love of chocolate and caramel and salt!

  • Thank you so much for introducing me (and others) to such a passionate man who cares for the fine art of hand crafting sweets. I appreciate him for his intense desire to create such beautiful and tasteful treats and I appreciate you for telling his story.

  • okay you may think this odd but here goes….was talking to a lovely southern woman the other evening then later that night read your post and it came to me …….you must make some wonderful biscuits split them open while hot and add the Le Caramelier……with some lovely soft butter ,sit down on the floor, windows open, and enjoy the moment. Trust me simple pleasures are worth having.
    Please let me know if you try.

  • Don’t forget the caramel buerre sale ice cream at Berthillon! Simply divine.

  • Hi Tanya: I have to say, as much as I love the ice cream at Berthillon, I don’t like their salted butter caramel all that much. It tastes odd to me, but I do love…and I mean love…their regular caramel ice cream.

    And their chocolate ice cream. And the coconut ice cream. And their armagnac…and…..

  • Fabulous post – thanks! I fell in love with the fleur de sel caramels from Woodhouse Chocolates in Napa, THEN I tasted Fran’s from Seattle. Even better. Now I look forward to tasting M. Le Roux’s!
    I did buy some fleur de sel caramel sauce at the Bastille Market in Paris last year … awesomely good. In fact, I poured some over panforte ice cream made from a recipe in “The Perfect Scoop!”
    Cheers, Colleen

  • Me again. :) I remembered it wasn’t the panforte I poured the caramel sauce over, it was your fantastic cinnamon ice cream. MMMMMM

  • YUM! so jealous …. I need to get over there in 2009!

  • I trekked through Montmartre with the plan to save a trip to A L’Étoile D’Or for last, so I could stock up on my caramels and bonbons before hopping the métro back home… when I finally arrived at the storefront, I nearly melted into a sea of tears when I saw the sign on the door that Mme Acabo is gone for les vacances “biens mérités.”

    David, HOW could I obtain some of that salted caramel spread, and when!? In the meantime, I’ll experiment with making some at home, although I know full well that no amount of perfecting my technique will match the original…

  • Aaah, salted butter caramel. Mmmmmmm.

    Last winter, Starbucks sold three varieties of gourmet hot chocolate, one of which was Salted Butter Caramel. The chocolate had a hint of caramel syrup, then whipped cream, then caramel drizzled on top with a few grains of salt for good measure. It was pure, decadent heaven. They didn’t bring it back this winter and it is sorely missed. Thanks for the culinary memory recall.

  • Amazing…I WANT A RECIPE! P.S. Finally got my long awaited copy of The Perfect Scoop! LOVE your work David!