Fouquet

I’m not sure if there’s a French term that’s the equivalent of “phone tag.” I’m pretty sure there isn’t one for “internet tag”, but I can say with relative certainty that there isn’t one in English. At least I think there isn’t.

I’d met Frédéric Chambeau’s father about five years ago and he graciously invited me to visit their laboratoire in Paris, but hadn’t heard back after our last bout of telephone messages. Then I got an e-mail from Frédéric, who’d taken over Fouquet, and after a few months of back-and forth messages, we finally kicked it into gear and made a date.

I don’t think there’s a comparable expression for “kick into gear”, but it wouldn’t be the first time I got something wrong in French. Or in English, if you want to get picky about it.

pâtes de fruits

Fouquet is one of the oldest confectioners in Paris, and one of the last remaining who makes their candies and chocolates in their own shop, which is tucked away on a sidestreet near Drouot, the main auction house of Paris. Speaking of terms, when I asked him what “fouquet” meant, he told me it’s an old French term for squirrels, but didn’t know how the business took the name. (There’s a fancy-schmancy restaurant on the Champs-Elysées with the same name, but there’s no connection to them.)

fouquet orangettes

When I visited Fouquet, it was just before the Christmas crush and the staff was in full swing, wrapping boxes of all sorts of treats, including colorful pâtes de fruits, orangettes (candied orange strips dipped in dark chocolate), and hand-wrapped squares of buttery salted caramel.

salt caramels

For the hard-core caramel-lover, which would be me, there’s unusual caramel-dipped caramels; soft, buttery caramel dipped in molted sugar, creating a crackly coating. They’re reminiscent of the double caramels of Au Negus, which must be consumed shortly after they’re opened. Otherwise they attract humidity like there’s no tomorrow and are best eaten right away.

Hello?
Not a problem.

caramels

After marveling at all the treats in Fouquet, a shop which looks probably the same as it did decades ago (ie: absolutely charming), we headed to the back to watch the confectioners at work.

Years ago I attended pastry school at the Ecole Lenôtre, and my very favorite class was the one called The Old-Fashioned Candies of France. We spent our days twirling out licorice whips, twisting molten sugar into colorful lollypops, and poured slabs of chewy nougat, studded with Sicilian pistachios, aromatic from a soupçon of orange-flower water. After that, I no longer fear meeting my maker, as I already had a glance at heaven.

chocolate belt

Of course, featuring a full line of handcrafted chocolates as well, there were chocolates coming off the line, having gone under a thin waterfall of dark and milk chocolate. Each praline center was hand placed on the belt before going through the tunnel, emerging from the other side, glossy and slick, ready to be boxed and rushed to the shop next door the moment the chocolate was set.

(btw: Fouquet is one of the few chocolate shops in Paris that freely hands out samples. When I told him that was unusual, Monsieur Fouquet remarked, quizzically, “C’est normal…non?”)

cook

What intrigued me most were watching the confectioners at work. I love candymaking and have a lot of respect for these folks who are keeping alive an art that’s not widely-practiced anymore. I mean, there’s not many people making hand-crafted candy anymore. It’s hard work, exacting, and the slightest change in weather or humidity can ruin hours of demanding work.

pouring sugar sugar funnel

As I watched them melt sugar, watching and checking carefully until it reached just the right degree of doneness, I noticed boxes of sugar cubes, like the kind you plunk in your coffee, and asked what they did with them. (Surely they don’t drink that much coffee.) M. Chambeau explained that regular granulated sugar has a yellowish tinge to it when melted, so they melted down those morceaux de sucre when they want finished candies to be pure-white.

pouring sugar

One of the things I learned in confectionery school was how to many gumdrops and sugar pastilles, like the ones here. To get the shape, trays are packed with cornstarch then a wooden tool with knobs on it is pressed into the cornstarch, creating rows and rows of indentations.

piping sugar

Afterward, liquid sugar, or whatever you’d like to shape, is piped into the indentations and left to harden. Then the lozenges are tipped out, the starch is brushed away, and there you have your dome-shaped candies.

yellow sugar shoe

There are other molds, too. Like this fabulous shoe! But I couldn’t see putting it in my mouth—it was too beautiful. And as much as I love my Dentist McDreamy, I’m happy to see him only twice a year. (At least in his office, that is.) So we snacked on these lovely little triangles of sugar, which reminded me of when I was young and my parents would take me to the South Seas, a Polynesian restaurant in Connecticut that had a big waterfall, frightening, lei-wielding hosts that could pass for sumo wrestlers, and flaming pupu platters, which my made my sister and I giggle—for obvious reasons.
And no, not because they were flaming.

sugar triangles

For some reason, I loved sucking on the sugar cubes, which I’m sure paid for the college education of at least one of my dentist’s kids way back when.

box of chocolates

Nowadays I stick to chocolate, since the last time someone offered me a sugar cube, which was in college, I saw some very, very interesting colors and swirly, mind-blowing textures. And it’s not an experience I’m anxious to repeat.

candied chestnuts caramels

Speaking of mind-blowing, there was just too much to see and explore at Fouquet and if you’re in the neighborhood, it’s definitely worth the trip to stop by this old-fashioned confiserie. For those of you in New York, they do a special shipment to Bergdorf-Goodman each Christmas, and the tree-shaped boxes tied with big red satin bows, which were being wrapped when I was at Fouquet (behind the saleswoman) were nothing short of magnificent.

salesclerk

One of the problems facing a lot of the businesses in Paris is how to maintain their connection with the glorious past, while thriving in a modern, globalized world. One has to be careful to respect tradition and not just do something contemporary, just for the sake of being au courant. Hence the proliferation of powdered spices rimming plates and weird updates of classics one comes across. (No, I’d don’t want lemon-kiwi-star anise yogurt—thanks.) And they’re working on crossing the bridge into the current epoch.

Monsieur Chambeau told me that they’re working on updating their line at Fouquet, and I’m anxious to see what direction they decide to go next. As you can see, they’ve laid a wonderful foundation.

chocolates sugar+funnel

Personally, thought, I wouldn’t change all that much. I’d miss those glistening pâtes de fruits, the shiny squares of chocolate-enrobed praline, or the jewel-like candied fruits packed with pride in Fouquets traditional, no-nonsense jars. But that’s just me.

Fouquet
36, rue Laffitte (9th)
Tél: 01 47 70 85 00

Another Fouquet boutique is at: 22, rue François 1er (8th)

Related Links

My Paris Pastry App and Guide

Papabubble (New York City)

La Maison du Chocolat (Paris)

Le Furet Tanrade (Paris)

Régis Chocolatier (Paris)

Jacques Genin Chocolates (Paris)

The Pâtisseries of Paris

A Visit to Bernachon Chocolate (Lyon)

Eye Candy from Jean-Charles Rouchoux (Paris)

Salted Butter Caramels from Henri Le Roux (Brittany)

65 comments

  • Oh my goodness, caramel covered caramels? I have never tried them, but I think it would be worth the flight to Paris just for one taste!
    The pates de fruits look amazing too!
    Thanks for this post David, it’s momentarily lifted me out of this -30 January day!

  • Oh my god. Heaven. Great photos too. Except that everybody working there seems to be a child. Never mind, got to keep them off the streets somehow.
    I have a wonderful French book on confectionary called ‘Gourmandises de France au gout d’enfance’. (Ed: Ouest-France) which I bought in a petrol station in France.
    I love the packaging as well as the taste.
    My adoration of sweets has cost me a fortune in dentistry. Alas.

  • Gorgeous! And those caramels?!?! Good lord–need to put those on the old “Bucket List.” I wonder if, in the beginning, Fouquet did lots of nut candies and boxed them up–hence, the squirrel reference? Just a thought…

  • What a fabulous post. Aside from the obvious tantalizing photos of many of my “sogni d’oro”, ie chocolate, caramel and fruit pates…I love learning about places that still do things in a traditional way. What a treat and may this tradition never die out! Grazie

  • My goodness, it’s been 23 years since I was in Paris and I suddenly feel the urge to go back. Thank you for opening up my mind to the possibilities of life outside my small town. :-)

  • kick into gear => passer la seconde .
    But I do not know at all what “a phone tag” means, even in english :)

    I won’t talk about all those delicacies on the pictures. I simply wont. I hate you.

    oh, and i’ve tried some sheep yoghurt,and this is – Oh my god – unbelivable. It wasn’t the same brand (mine were biovillage, I think), but for sure in the next weeks i’ll sacrifice myself to test ANY brand that come to my hand.

    Twice :)

  • Wow, great post and beautiful photos. Everything looks gorgeous, I’m going to have to make my way there sometime. I think I’ll wait a bit though; just last Friday I bought biscuits at Galéries Lafayette and then I went to Pierre Hermé for rum marrons glacés and lemon macarons!

  • OMG – Those candies all look sensational. We simply don’t have anywhere like that near me. We do have a good chocolatier in Toronto called Soma but they don’t have the breadth of offering this place has.

  • Wow, all these candies look amazing! Thanks for sharing the story…really interesting to hear how they use sugar cubes!

  • David, this is just one of the best posts yet. I really feel like I’m there. I live in Illinois and when the governor is taken away in a straightjacket I want to celebrate with a nice little box of chocolates. What do you suggest for a lovely small selection I could order in the US?

  • I used to live in Paris in the early 1970s and, although I never went into Fouquet’s (couldn’t afford it!), I used to drool outside it’s windows often enough. Especially at Easter, when they have glorious plain chocolate rabbits and other figures….. (wipes drool off of keyboard)!

  • Great photos and post David, I live about a 30 seconds walk from A La Mere de Famille and a 3 minute walk from Fouqet’s so it’s always difficult to go straight to the metro when I leave my apartment! I’ve always considered Fouquet’s a bit of a secret address since it is not on a major shopping street and that their staff is so good about samples and discussions on what exactly you’re looking for. I’ve transported many a box of their caramels to the US and UK in the past and will be going to stock up next week before a trip to NYC (that is if I’m not compelled to stop by before then). From experience, I know I have to pack these goodies in my suitcase, there is no way I can take them as carry-on luggage and still have a gift for friends when I arrive stateside!
    Thanks again for spotlighting one of the best chocolate/candy shops I know!
    Josie

  • Martha: While some French chocolatiers ship to the US, in general, with shipping charges, you’re going to spend a lot just getting them to you.

    Some places you might want to check out in the states:

    Michael Recchiuti

    La Maison du Chocolat

    Charles Chocolates

    Vosges Chocolates (who are near you, in Chicago)

    There’s a lot of others that have sprung up in recent years, too many to add! La Maison du Chocolat is one of the few French chocolate makers that ships their chocolate from France to their shops in the US, so the shipping isn’t prohibitive.

  • David,
    My niece leaves this week for six months of study in Angers. I’ll have to add this charming shop to her list of “must-tries” that I’ve picked up from your blog. Keep those suggestions coming. Cate will love them! Martha in KS

  • This is a beautiful post…and such a nice way to pay homage to the alchemy that is candymaking. One of my favorites so far.

    And the photos are GORGEOUS!

    Now to get back to work to make more money to go to Paris…

  • For a few minutes there, I thought I had been transported to Paris. (: I love reading your blog and admiring the wonderful pictures. And now I must forage my house for some delicious chocolate or caramels!

  • Wow, David, you’ve outdone ourself with this one. I would be hard pressed to pick a favorite from among those candies. It’s just so darned tough in Paris to resist these things. I allow myself roughly 5 new sugary treats each trip. It’s not nearly enough. No wonder they call it window licking over there.

  • Only one word can describe this…

    “mmm….mah…mmmmmmmah…mmmmm”

  • I love this feature, David. I love the woman in the front counter area of the shop with the penciled on eyebrows. She looks like a subject on a Toulouse-Lautrec painting. I adore her! The shop is a perfect backdrop for her! Oh, and the candy looks great too! I hope they do develop some new candies that will become signiture pieces to withstand the test of time as the others have done. Tastes are so whimsical it’s hard to keep only the traditional and stay competitive, I’m sure. I just hope they don’t place ‘bank’ on some thai basil infused nougat with flax seed and pomelo rind bathed in cumin scented dark chocolate.. Gah!

  • I love the shot of the candy maker with sugar on her face. Nothing could be more perfect.

  • uhmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

    a pity that my computer can not give me the smell of this place

    A McDreamy as a dentist and I’d be eating all the caramel I’d get ;-)

  • When I was a child I regularly pulled down my mom’s dessert cookbook and would “read” to myself and just drool at all the beautiful photos. Your’s are better. Those pâtes de fruits have me drooling onto my keyboard.

  • That candy look too good to eat (not that I wouldn’t). But, it’s just so gorgeous. My favorite have to be the box of chocolates.

  • We’ll be visiting Paris in April and I can’t wait, the caramels look divine!

  • I need to go to Paris! These confections are amazing.

    I live in Chicago not too far from one of the Vosges locations and will have to check it out.

  • That’s funny, the technique to make the candy mold “tool trays are packed with cornstarch then a wooden tool with knobs on it is pressed into the cornstarch, creating rows and rows of indentations.” is something similar to what some gardeners who starts their seeds do: except instead of cornstarch they use soil… very low tech in both cases.

    Thanks for the mouth-watering and educational post

    Sylvie
    http://www.LaughingDuckGardens.com/ldblog.php/

  • I still love sugar cubes, although now my palate is much more refined as I prefer brown sugar.

  • Dear David…you have indeed glimpsed heaven!! I am transported just looking at this post and envy you your visit there. I just bought a book called “Sugar Plums and Sherbet”-The Prehistory of Sweets which delves into the amazing world of pre-second WW confectionery, it is a fascinating subject. How lucky you are that you got to immerse yourself in such a divine day….can’t believe you didn’t pull a Lucy and start cramming the sweets into your mouth and clothing, I know I would have done. Many thanks for this excellent and inspiring post, Patricia

  • David,

    Was the South Seas in Connecticut once called the Hu-Ki-Lau? I remember a tacky place in Rocky Hill off of I-91 that had pupu platters and a show with dinner.

  • Lovely. Thank you.

  • What a complete swoon! I think you’ve done a wonderful job of addressing (and paying tribute to) the great glamour of older Parisian businesses, but given us such a lovely (and still romantic, from the other side of the Atlantic!!) modern view of the day-to-day activities.

  • Excellent, excellent, excellent!!! You have captured the spirit of the art, and you’ve done it so beautifully. These folks will be proud of your efforts. And me? I too, am thankful. :) This was a joy to read, even if it caused me to ruin my keyboard…drip, drip, drip. DROOL!

  • Oh….
    then we can just order or go to Bergdorf Goodman then. Thanks for the info.
    Cheers,
    Elra

  • David,

    I’ve been meaning to comment on your beautiful blog for such a long time. The superb photos, the catchy commentary and all the clever angles; you do a great job!

    I love reading about, and seeing, the details of my favorite city. I cringe daily when your email appears in my inbox, because I know that I will have to take a few moments, click, read and experience a slight tinge of depression because you’re experiencing Paris in a way that I’m presently not!

    Though I don’t want to behave like a stalker (hey, I live in Portland, OR, so don’t worry!) I’m going to begin a plot to become your best friend. Any ideas on how best to achieve this? ;)

    Please, keep up the quality work.

    Tim

  • I can just agree with my fellow commentators, this was one very good aticle. What a lovely shop, absolutely to die for!

  • Those gold wrap things wouldn’t be glaced macarons would they? Now that I’m transplanted to London you’ve given me another excuse to jump on the Eurostar. There are some cities I can safely say I’ve seen all the best it has to offer pastry-wise. With Paris that will clearly never be the case. Thanks for the wonderful post. The salted caramels do for me what your sugar cube did for you – but its totally legal!

  • It’s art.

    They look like jewels….and taste like heaven!

  • Wow! those are some good looking candies… I like all the pictures, too. They’re so professionally taken… haha. I would never be able to do those pictures. duuudee.

  • I think I got cavities over those candies. I’m not a big sugar fan, but those are utterly amazing. We have a local confectioner here in the Boston area, you also might remember from years back that also had a store in West Hartford center ( like the South Seas restaurant as well) called Hilliards that has some interesting creations. I remember going in there as a child and buying small amounts of fresh candy. There is just nothing like that experience. Now I’m older and much pickier. But Hilliards still has 3 locations here in the Boston area and we go in there on occasion– and one had had an ice cream part as well, which seems to not be there in the winter and I hope comes back in the summer ( of course it’s too damn cold and snow bound here to want to think about eating ice cream here!!).

  • Your posts are so very tasty David and the photos are delicious !. But of course , C’EST NORMAL ! ( please, please, drop the “E” …)
    Simona

  • are they hiring? willing to take on an apprentice who can’t speak french? where do i sign up?

    we have a severe lack (meaning, nil as far as i know) of confectioner’s here in manila. sure, a few handmade chocolate shops are popping up… but no candy makers. and it’s something that i’ve always wanted to do since watching charlie and the chocolate factory when i was in grade school!

  • Hi David,

    I loved the way you describe the art of French candies, so beautiful and funny at the same time (we should see a pic of your dreamy doc..). It make us realize there ‘s still good artisans who cares to preserve la confiserie, and people like you who cares enough about them, to share it with the world. Bravo

    A true most stop on my future travel to Paris (not on schedule yet,but who knows??)

  • yours was one of the first blogs i stumbled upon, and have not stopped reading since. you have a way with words, recipes and of course photography. this latest post is a prime example of what i aspire for my new food blog to be like some day. just began writing earlier this week… daunting, addicting… what’s not to love?! if you may notice a familiarity with the name of my blog, you are not mistaken! that bread is an inspiration! would love for you to drop over to my blog some time…

    cheers,

    *heather*
    http://squirrelbread.wordpress.com

  • Oh GOD I wish I was in Paris right now. My mom and sister were dragged to the “fancy schmancy” Fouquet by a misdirected friend the last time they were in your fine city. They are both very upset (understandably) that they didn’t make it to the real Fouquet. I am waiting not so patiently for Christmas, when I can take home an order from Bergdorf’s. In the meantime, I will be dreaming of salty caramels… you don’t know of a good source for them in New York by any chance, do you?

    The Little Flower Candy Company in LA has awfully wonderful caramels, and they do ship! Their website seems to be down, but I’d give them a call. -dl

  • In a world where everything is so disposable, out with the old, in with the new, we need a place like Fouquet!

    I have been working a list of culinary resolutions for a yummier 09. One of them being to treat myself to a cooking classes or two. Any recommendations for short patisserie/confectionary courses in Paris? I’ve been inspired!

    Bonne Année, looking forward to hearing more culinary adventures in 09.

    Emily

    Hi Emily: Check out my post Cooking Classes in Paris. Probably L’Atelier des Chefs may be what you’re looking for. -dl
    http://www.dernieremiette.com

  • Goodness gracious!!! How the heck did I not know about Fouquet before???

    Caramel dipped caramels…? Stop the press!!!
    And, those pates de fruits look heavenly.

    I have a preference – ney, a fetish – for orange gelee slices. Always have. But, those deep wine and berry colored pates de fruits look absolutely exquisite. Cassis…? Berries…?
    Whatever they are, they look like they are worth every cavity they may cause.

    Stunning photography, as always, David!

    I love the bit about the PuPu Platter!!! That brought back great memories of me and my brother, and our flaming pu pu experiences from days gone by. Good times!

    Oh David, thank you!!! You set the gold standard, baby. You really do!!

    Cheers,

    ~ Paula
    XOXOXOX

  • I’ve been trying to persuade my partner to visit Paris this year and he has, so far, been quite reticent. Am going to be unashamedly manipulative and show him this post. He has the sweetest of sweet teeth and just know this will make him cave!

  • David, do you have the “Candy” book from the old Time/Life Good Cook series? I just got mine down off the shelf after reading this beautiful post.

  • Oh, how I miss candy. Thank goodness I don’t live in Paris–I would be cheating with those lovely caramels too frequently!

  • Last night, I was thinking that I wanted to correspond with you about the caramel-caramels at Fouquet. And, now, here is your post! I made chocolate caramels with my daughter on Friday, on a whim, and they reminded me of the center of one of the 3 types that Fouquet carries (caramel, chocolate caramel and coffee caramel). My mother has been getting these caramels at Fouquet for as long as I can remember (that being, at least whenever a family member goes to Paris), and I have tried to recreate them only once. For my parents 50th anniversary, this June, my sister and I thought it might be fun to give these candies as a little favor (hopefully in a colorful tin, similar to those at Fouquet). It would be “un petit peu trop cher” to get them from Fouquet, so I thought I’d made a second attempt at recreating this wonderful confection (there used to be – in the 1980s, a little shop, across from Chez Allard, that carried Negus – much less expensively than Fouquet -but, alas, it no longer exists). Any advice on how to do the coating so that it doesn’t get too thick (which was my problem the last time)? I think the last time, I also cut the caramels to big, which made eating the candy a bit of a challenge! I’d love your thoughts on this.

  • Wonderful post.

    Working with sugar is an art and you have truly represented and honored their work.

    Now if I could only eat some of their work too!

  • Hi!! I saw you on Gourmet’s Diary Of A Foodie on PBS yesterday!! I don’t if it’s a new episode or a rerun, but just thought I’d mention it!

  • Great, great post. Loved being behind the scenes with you and seeing some of the candymaking. You’re right, it’s an art, and one that’s not practiced all that much nowadays. The only thing better than reading your post and seeing your great pictures would have been being there with you. Now wouldn’t that have been fun! xoDorie

  • Fascinating post! I loved it.

    By the way, if my memory serves correctly, was South Seas in Stamford?? Are we thinking of the same place – in a little strip mall on High Ridge Road? That would be too funny, I have not thought of that place in a hundred years.

  • Wish we had known about this place in December! All of those sweeties look darling.

  • I think I remember that Nicolas Fouquet (of Vaux-le-Vicomte) used the squirrel for his emblem..

  • I visited Vosges after your comment about them and they were great…I love their dark chocolate bars with chicory.

  • Hi David,
    I love the photo of the fruit gelées. Do you have a recipe to make them at home?
    I am trying to figure out whether to use gelatin or pectin?
    Do you have any thoughts? The JOY uses unflavoured gelatin. I adore the candy post, it is so inspiring. I want to play in the kitchen with sugar.

  • I love going to their boutique across from L’epicerie in the 6th…
    They have a tea salon and you can get hot chocolate and very nice macarons…
    Maybe they closed it?
    Those double caramels are TDF!!! Next time!

  • That photo of the caramel covered caramels just wouldn’t leave me alone, so I finally went to Fouquet’s last week and bought some. Divine… I have given my husband the bag AND the label on the bag to store away in his wallet, so if ever the desire to buy his darling wife strikes he knows where to go….
    Thanks for all the great writing, David.

  • I love chocolates and I’m craving now. The designs are unique and I don’t care if it’s a bit pricey ‘coz it shows on their product that they took time making it in perfection. It’s almost perfect but I still love Japanese with their product presentation.

  • Thank you all for your comments, it is very encouraging in these hard times !

    We are the 5th generation of the same family to run the company (created in 1852, under Napoleon III) and we put all our energy to keep on manufacturing the best possible sweets and chocolates.

    David, thank you again for your article, next time you come I will make a lemon-kiwi-star anise ganache … just for you.

    Frédéric Chambeau

  • David,
    would it be possible to send it by courier to the Philippines, my daughter lives in Paris and could do it for me. My question is: would the chocolates survive the trip? thank you

  • laura: It depends on the month, the shipping method, the season, and the weather.

  • David,

    Thanks for the wonderful article!
    Wish I have read this in my last Parisan trip.

    Frédéric,
    Keep up the labour of love! Wish you the best!
    Would love to be able to order and airflown your chocolates to Singapore!