Recently in Candy and Sweets category

Taza Chocolate

tazahotchocolate2

I’ve been a little lax in my duties around here reporting on chocolate. In my defense, I’ve been sidetracked by bacon, seaweed, and kimchi. But man cannot live by chocolate alone.

Even in Paris.

Speaking of chocolate, when I was doing research for my chocolate book, it was challenging to find people to talk about what they do. I met with one representative from a big chocolate company who said he would only talk to me, and let me visit, if I only wrote about their company in the book. (Uh…sure!)

When I was writing my ice cream book, I called a gelato chain here in Paris, asking if I could come in and see how they make their ice cream to include them in the book. After much hemming and hawing, I never heard back.

It’s always after the book comes out, you become a popular fellow. I seem to be always behind the curve on these things.

Continue Reading Taza Chocolate…

Chocolate-Covered Caramelized Matzoh Crunch

blogcaramelmatzohcrunchchoc

Seriously my friends, is there anything better than chocolate and toffee together?

Especially when the toffee has a brown sugar-flavored buttery snap and luscious chocolate is smeared over the top so it hardens and melds with the crackly caramelized matzoh underneath. When a marriage is this good, a picture can only do partial justice to the love that exists between the happy couple.

Continue Reading Chocolate-Covered Caramelized Matzoh Crunch…

REGIS Chocolatier

Living in a foreign country, as an outsider, you tend to notice lots of contradictions. If you try to learn the native language, like I am, you’ll notice there’s all sorts of curiosities specifically designed to trip your up. When people ask me what I do all day, they don’t realize that just to do something as basic as write a check, I often have to pull out the dictionary. (Although I’ve seen French people consult theirs almost as frequently.)

But English ain’t no walk in le parc either…we’ve got where, we’re, wear, ware…that all sound exactly the same but mean pretty different things.

carameling-nuts.jpg
Caramelizing Nuts for Praline at REGIS

One of the things you learn when speaking a new language is that there are lots of rules…and seemingly just as many exceptions. Sometimes they’re things not taught in classes but you just need to learn by osmosis.

For example, Paris is generally pronounced Par-EE, without saying the final ‘S‘.

But if you say the name Régis, you say Rey-GeeSS you certainly do pronounce the final ‘S’.

Similarly, if you mention the 16th arrondissement, most Parisians who don’t live there (or is that ‘their‘?) will sneer and say, “Oh, they are all snobs over there” or “I don’t like those people there, they’re not very nice.”

So imagine me being pleasantly surprised when I went to visit REGIS chocolatier in the heart of enemy territory.

Continue Reading REGIS Chocolatier…

Paris Chocolatier: Le Furet Tanrade

chocolates1.jpg

One of my favorite things to do in Paris is just wander around, often in neighborhoods that aren’t really known for anything special. There’s always something interesting to find; shops specializing in vintage hairbrushes and combs, or locksmiths for doors installed only during the reign of Napoléan III.

And of course, I’m usually on the lookout for food, and am especially keen when I come across a shop specializing in candymaking or chocolate. If I get lucky, I discover some little treasure, often in the most unlikeliest of places.

Le Furet Tanrade was opened in 1728, and it’s still one of the sweetest little chocolate shops I’ve found in Paris. Sure, their chocolates aren’t nearly as sleek or refined as their Left Bank counterparts, but I appreciated their handmade charm all the same. Especially the petits dark squares filled with a crisp morsel of mint fondant cloaked in brusque, dark chocolate. And the chocolates filled with caramel and feuilleté were certainly as delicious as those found in swankier boutiques.

One chocolate that piqued my curiosity was flavored with chanvre, a word I wasn’t familiar with. Although I’ve been previously familiar with the green leaf embedded atop the chocolate in my younger days, she offered a sample since she was having difficulty explaining exactly what was inside.

But then, in that little shop, I learned my Word-For-The-Day: the ganache was infused with hemp. So should you find yourself near the Gare du Nord or Gare d’Est, and need to pass a bit of time (or want try to get a bit of a buzz)…or if you just want to take a journey to a less-visited quartier of Paris, Le Furet Tanrade certainly makes a tasty stopping point.

Le Furet Tanrade
1, rue des Méssageries (10th)
Tél: 06 99 41 61 31
Métro: Poissonière


UPDATE: Le Furet Tanrade recently moved to a smaller location, on the rue des Méssageries. So some of the chocolate and items mentioned here may not be available while they are in the process of adapting to the new address.

For the latest on Le Furet Tanrade, and other pastry shops of Paris, check out my Paris Pastry Guide app, which is updated frequently and lists over 300 of the best Paris pastry and chocolate shops. The guide is also available for Kindle and as an e-book, compatible with Android and other devices at the Paris-Pastry website.

John-Charles Rochoux, Parisian Chocolatier

One of the hardest things about writing about food is coming up with that killer opening sentence. It should start with something that grabs your attention right away, tickles your curiosity, then encourages the reader (which would be you) to follow the writer (which, or course, would be me) deeper into the story. Thankfully when writing about chocolate, I can include pictures to help me get going, so most of the work is already done.

chocolatebunny.jpg

A Handcarved Rabbit Made of Pure White chocolate.

The other difficult thing when writing about chocolate is that there’s only so many superlatives you can use to describe it, and words like: dark, unctuous, bittersweet, delicious, seductive, etc…don’t really seem to pinpoint that feeling that you get when you walk into a pristine chocolate shop and are completely overwhelmed by the heady experience, inhaling that sweet, unmistakable scent of chocolate that permeates the air and overtakes you. There’s that quiet moment, when you step into a special place full of chocolate, where you briefly forget all that’s going on outside.

orangettes.jpg

Slender Orangettes; strips of candied orange peel flecked with crunchy nougat, dipped in dark chocolate.

I’m fortunate to live a city where there’s an unusually large amount of very good chocolate shops, and all-too-often one needs a refuge from the fast-pace of the streets and sprawling avenues. Here in Paris, I have my favorites, and one of them is John-Charles Rochoux. His petit shop is located just off the bustling rue de Rennes. It’s not just a refuge from one of Paris’ busy boulevards, but a step back to another era. In his shop, chocolate is both an edible obsession and an object of sculptural craftsmanship, and you’ll find many intricate, precious little chocolate sculptures, as well as a rather serious selection of bonbons from one of Paris’ top chocolatiers.

mrochouxalligator.jpg

Paris Chocolatier Jean-Charles Rochoux

Although there’s several chocolate shops across the city that are terrific, at Jean-Charles Rochoux you’ll find lots of little wonders here to keep you enchanted, including the amazing chocolate sculptures that M. Rochoux creates in his small, pristine workshop just beneath the tidy boutique. This kind of craftsmanship is rarely found anymore, even in a chocolate-obsessed city like Paris.

I was fortunate enough to take some time from my busy schedule to pose for Monsieur Rochoux, so he could create one of the most iconic pieces in the shop: Le torse.

Continue Reading John-Charles Rochoux, Parisian Chocolatier…

A Date For International Understanding

Although most of the comments and messages I get are friendly and kind, a few do slip through that are less-than-complimentary. A majority of them illuminate the errors of my ways by pointing out the faults in my cross-cultural observations. So I was delighted when I found Socio-Site Scan v1.01, some brand-new software which allows me to simply input all my blog entries, and tells me what percentage of my posts are which are complimentary to one culture, and what percentage isn’t.

So what did I find?

Roughly 67.8% are complimentary to the French, while only 65.3% of what I write was pro-American.
But a whopping 47% were anti-French, followed closely by 45.2% of swipes at my compatriots in the states.

dates.jpg

Since this is the beginning of the holiday season, one full of global good cheer (real or imagined), I decided that since our politicians have been messing it up a bit too long, at least 6 years too long (oops…gonna have to give the site a second run-through), I decided that today I’m calling a holiday truce.

Since there’s no time like the present, I’m happy to start right now promoting international understanding by sharing these divinely delicious dates from Iran, which are perhaps the best dates I’ve ever had. (Insert your own joke here.) They certainly rival the Medjool dates from California, which are excellent as well, although they’re far pricier. Hmm, perhaps I might suggest America trade dates for oil? It certainly would be a tasty trade-off that might make everyone a little less combative.

Continue Reading A Date For International Understanding…

Pierre Marcolini’s Chocolate-Covered Marshmallows

The hardest of all foods to photograph, I’ve learned, are chocolate-covered marshmallows.

marshmallowsmarcolini.jpg

The bright, fluffy, vanilla-flecked cubes of sweet, airy marshmallow in contrast to the thin, intensely-flavored coating of bittersweet chocolate certainly presents a challenge.

I futzed around a bit, trying to figure out how to show the lofty-white cubes in juxtaposition to the coating of pure, dark chocolate. They’re such diverse colors and textures that I tried several variations and lighting situations, until I decided that they’d looked best with a piece broked off.

So I took a bite out of one.

Then I took another bite.

And then, I stopped shooting…

…and ate the whole pack.

Sorry.

Pierre Marcolini
89 Rue de Seine
Paris
Tél: 01 44 07 39 07


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