I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I rarely go over to the Saint Germain des Près area much. I know, it’s a popular destination for many, but if I head over there, it’s usually for one thing, and one thing only: Chocolate.
Most of the chocolatiers are clustered over there because, well, if you can afford to live over there, that’s where most of the folks are who buy boxes of chocolate. Well, except me. So I make the trek over there to get my licks in, and say hi to the folks who haven’t seen me in a while.
One such person is Jean-Charles Rochoux, whose chocolates are at the top of my list in Paris. He has just one shop, not an enterprise, and is one of the few people who makes his chocolates in Paris; real estate prices make it hard for people to set up candymaking operations. So every day, Monsieur Rochoux gets started in his basement workshop, and every few months, I go over there and see what’s new.
I’m a big fan of his dark chocolate bars, with are loaded with buttery, caramelized hazelnuts and almonds, as well as his liqueur-filled chocolates (especially the one with Chartruese), which you have to eat in one, gorgeous bite. Because if you try to split it, all the liqueur will dribble down your shirt – which is a good excuse for not sharing.
But all the screen-lickers and droolers out there might want to get out your anti-bacterial monitor wipes – (and if you’re an adult, and you’re drooling, you might want to see a doctor about that – unless you’re dribbling Chartreuse, then I understand) and wipe down those screens with because I picked up a jar of his fabulous Hazelnut Praline spread, which is one of the best things you’re ever going to taste in your life. Well, if you come to Paris, that is.
I also tasted an amazing spread make from dark chocolate and fraises des bois, those enchanting tiny wild strawberries that explode with flavor. As someone who isn’t usually enchanted by berries combined with chocolate, I almost gnawed down the tiny plastic spoon M. Rochoux gave me to taste it with, just so I was sure to get every. single. perfect. eensy. little. amazing. drop.
Although I’ll confess that I’ve always liked the hazelnut praline spooned right from the jar, I decided to spread a little of my precious paste on warm toast, and almost immediately, the thick paste turned glossy and soft. Adjectives don’t really suffice to describe how it tastes, so I’ll leave it your imagination. The only thing I will say is that once you open that jar, it’s pretty hard to put the lid back on, which I know from (repeated) experience.
In addition to the droolers and lickers, there isn’t a recipe, please, for this out there because, well, you can’t make it at home unless you have an exceptionally strong nut-paste grinder – a home blender or food processor ain’t gonna do it. Plus Monsieur Rochoux isn’t quite ready to part with his secrets. And if I knew how to make this, do you think I would be sitting here writing about it—instead of making it myself?
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