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lesley’s pastry guide

assiette du patisserie

In a world where the two worst things you can be are fat and poor, nothing could be more useful than a guide to French pastry.    It’ll save you the trouble of shelling out for pastry that will only disappoint you and only get the ones that’ll be worth the expense and calories invested.  In an act of altruism, I’ve made it my goal to research pastry and educate potential consumers so they don’t make the same mistakes I have.

Basic terms

Viennoisserie is what they call light flaky layers of buttery pastry. Rumor has it, the Croissant (your prime example of Viennoisserie) was actually invented in Vienna in the 1600s–thus, the word Viennoiserie. Another interesting tidbit: The reason for the croissant’s crescent shape is because it was first invented to celebrate victory over some Islamic horde or another. So everytime I have a croissant, I feel I’m doing my bit for the war on terror.

Choux crust is like an éclair shell. It’s similar in texture to a popover and it’s hollow inside is often filled with delicious creams and custards.

And now, on to the pastries:

Mille feuille (thousand layers)/aka Napoleon

mille feuille

I didn’t expect to like this one, which may be why it’s such a pleasant surprise. A layer of light flakey, pastry, a layer of creamy vanlla custard, another layer of flaky pastry, and another layer of the vanilla custard…and so on. This one almost makes my eyes roll back in my head its so good (which doesn’t happen often for a non-chocolate item.) The pastry is so incredibly light yets still manages to remain crispy with all the custard. Just a perfect combination of textures and tastes. I finished one up and despite the fact I was stuffed, I was already planning my next mille feuille.

Chouquettes

chouquettes

These are my newest obsession. I suppose they’re the French equivalent of Krispy Kreme, but much lighter, not as sickeningly sweet and taste as though they’re made from real foodlike ingredients. They’re kind of like donut holes, except they’re made of choux pastry and the inside is hollow. They’re sprinkled with large grains of sugar. You buy them by the dozen (I think it was a dozen, I started eating them before I started counting). I have just finished eating a dozen, and the feeling I had when I realized they were gone was a sort of emptiness I usually associate with the shocking conclusion of “the bachelor”. And unlike watching the bachelor, eating choquettes doesn’t cause permanent brain damage. To me, chouquettes are more than a pastry, they’re a delicious snack that one should have around the house at all times. In addition to the real pastry, of course.  My addiction led me to learn how to make them.   Amazingly easy for something so delicious.

Religiouese

religiouese

Odd name for a pastry, but quite fitting. Round choux shell filled with creamy dark chocolate custard and chocolate and chantilly topping. Substantial, chocolatey, creamy, rich, yet light. This may surpass the chocolate macaroon as far as endorphin rushes. This is what I expected the Absinthe to feel like. Oh God, these are good!

Mousse fraise with mixed berries

berry mousse

I figure even if I don’t like the strawberry mousse underneath the berries, I’ll like the berries. Turns out, the mousse isn’t bad. I’d still prefer strawberry ice cream though. And truth be told, why waste the calories if the berries are the best part? Berries and chouquettes would have made me happier. Denzel on the other hand seems very happy when I catch him wolfing down the mousse when he thinks I’m not looking. Desdemona prefers Viennoisserie.

Foret Noirforet noire

This one looked a lot better than it actually turned out to be. Layers of chocolate cake, chocolate chantilly, chocolate frosting and intermittent cherries. Too light. Not chocolately enough. Not substantial in depth of flavor or texture. This might as well be some kid’s birthday cake. Very disappointing.

Chocolate macaron

dalloyau macaroon

It’s like the world’s biggest truffle, with a slightly crispy coating that crackles like a thin layer of ice and melts into the ganache. How could heroin possibly be more addictive than this? There’s that pure chocolate endorphin rush, but there’s also the taste…no, not just taste, it’s bigger than taste, it’s a feeling. It almost engulfs the brain. I’m in Paris and I’m eating the most chocolately delicious thing in the world and I’m soooooooooooo happy!

Figue

figue

I saw this at the bakery over a month ago and have been kicking myself because I didn’t get it then, because I never saw it again until today. I find it both beautiful and repellant. I wouldn’t mind having it on my coffee table, but I’m not sure I want to eat it. But I buy it anyways. The texture is like cookie dough and it’s filled with some sort of grainy, chocolate/fig ganache. One bite is all I can handle. My advice to anyone presented with this pastry is to shellac it and use it as a paper weight.

Millefeuille frais

straw mille feuille

It’s delicious, but not nirvana. The pastry isn’t quite as excellent as in the previous mille feuille, but the strawberries are sweet and juicy. The problem with most of the fruit based pastries I’ve had in the states is the fruit isn’t nearly as good as it is over here. No matter how much you cover it with creams and pastries, you can’t hide a mediocre strawberry.  But I digress.   Despite the deliciousness of the strawberry, I think I prefer my millefeuille straight up.

Divorce

divorce

It’s pronouced “divorce-ay”, I just don’t know how to do the accent symbol on the computer.   It’s huge and ugly (as divorce can often be).   It’s two large choux, stuck together.    It kind of looks like a big butt which should probably be considered a warning. One “cheek” is filled with dark chocolate custard and iced with chocolate, the other side is coffee. There’s a squiggle of vanilla cream separating the two and a candied violet to top it all off.  I especially like the chocolate side which is almost exactly like my Religiouse experience. The coffee side is okay, but I just don’t like coffee as much as chocolate and I’m stuffed. If I had a husband, he could have the coffee side and I wouldn’t feel so wasteful not finishing it. There you go…a pastry called divorce has just given me yet one more economic reason why I should get married. You’ve got to love a pastry that’s filled with rich creamy custard AND irony.

Paris-brest

paris brestA donut shaped choux sliced and filled with a thick prailine cream and sliced almonds on top. It’s fine, but I’m not a big fan of the noisette flavorings. I would like it better if it was a vanilla or chocolate crème. I will not be craving this one.

This is a work in progress.   more eating, describing and reviewing to come…stay tuned.

chocolate bomb

fraisetteXXapricot custardy thingchocolate patisserie

Caprice

Layers of chocolate cake, mousse, cake, mouse, cake, mousse. I think the bottom layer of cake may be soaked in something alcoholic. I didn’t hold out high hopes for this…I thought it would disappoint like the foret noire. The first bite wasn’t a disappointment at all. I think the bottom layer of cake may be soaked in something alcoholic which give it depth that was missing in the foret noire. And even though I’ve discovered that I’m not a big mousse fan, for some reason it’s working for me here. My ardor cools at about the third bite and I’m not sure if I can even finish it. The next thing I know, it’s gone. I’m still not convinced I ate the whole thing. But I do feel kind of bloated.

Tart Myrtille

Sure, it looks like a blueberry tart. And it wouldn’t exactly be trying anything new to have a blueberry tart. I admit it, a tart is the coward’s way out. But the last couple of pastries have been a little disappointing. And lets not forget blueberries are the healthiest fruit you can find, with tons of anti-oxidants. And besides all that, It’s called a tart myrtille. And I’ve never had tart myrtille before. The berries are perfectly ripe and sink into the creamy custard and explode with every bite. Another one of those perfect combinations of buttery crumbly crust, creamy custard and berry. And it’s so healthy!

Amandine (des cerise).

This is tasty. A crust of viennoisserie with an almond paste and cherries. But where’s the chantilly? The creamy custard? The chocolate cream? Maybe I’m spoiled but this seems more like a breakfast food. On the plus side, this is one pastry you can eat anywhere. No muss, no fuss. As a pastry, it’s mediocre. As a sort of French breakfast bar, it’s fabulous!

4 Responses

  1. Awesome blog!

    I thought about starting my own blog too but I’m just too lazy so, I guess Ill just have to keep checking yours out.
    LOL,

  2. Leslie,
    I’m your cousin Bob Dwight’s wife. Your Mom sent us your web site address. You are so clever – your words just pour out and I laugh and laugh. I especially enjoyed the 11/12 entry. Go B-cup woman. I haven’t gotten to the end of your blog so I don’t know how you started this adventure. Bob just talked to your mom this week – sending regrets for your dad’s birthday party. Hope we meet up someday. Rose Dwight

  3. […] lesley’s pastry guide […]

  4. That looks fantastic! I want few bites 😉

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