The ‘sweet food’ wave is the latest fashionable trend to sweep over Paris. These days, desserts have become real luxuries and some patisseries could almost be mistaken for high-end jewellers. There is such a buzz that all of Paris’s foodies rush to be the first to discover new patisserie creations. From macaroons to eclairs and profiteroles, let’s take a look at some of the French capital’s cult desserts!
The macaroon: the favourite one
The uncontested star of ‘sweet food’ is the macaroon. Round, delicious, beautiful and so glamorous, this little cake, crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, is a dream for dessert lovers. It is so popular that there is even a ‘Jour du macaron’ (Macaroon Day) on 20 March.
If you love macaroons, don’t miss a visit to Pierre Hermé, macaroon-maker par excellence. A veritable alchemist of flavours, this avant-garde patissier continues to push the boundaries of flavour to create more and more inventive recipes. His star product: the Ispahan rose-flavoured macaroon.
Another mecca for these little cakes is Ladurée, whose macaroons were popularized by Sofia Coppola’s film Marie-Antoinette. Don’t miss the chocolate and salted caramel flavours. Ladurée also offers two new collections each year. At Acide Macaron, they believe that small is beautiful with mini sour tasting versions in unusual flavours: the Renata with green tea and jasmine, or the Guillaume, a subtle combination of poppy liqueur and coconut milk … and lots more flavours!
Choux pastry in all its forms
If you like choux pastry, you’re in the right place, as it comes in a million and one different ways: eclairs, Paris-Brest, profiteroles … You won’t know which choux to choose!
At L’Atelier de l’éclair, there is nothing but eclairs. But don’t be fooled – there’s no monotony here. There is any type of eclair you could think of: classic, cocktail, giant, sweet and even savoury, like the club ham and cheese eclair. L’Eclair de génie is a concept store also entirely dedicated to this French speciality. Of all the bestsellers, the most irresistible has to be the salted caramel eclair.
Have you heard of the Chou-chou? It’s a bit of an oddity in the world of patisserie – a choux with a mini-choux inside. To try this delicious culinary creation, look no further than Gâteaux Thoumieux, Michelin-starred chef Jean-Francois Piège’s patisserie. And that’s not all, the head pastry chef Ludovic Chaussard offers many different cakes and pastries, each one more tempting than the last: Grand Cru chocolate éclair, Breton lemon shortbread biscuit, and their signature cake the Saint-Dominique, a sort of sugared bread … Hard to resist!
People come from around the world to the legendary tea room Angelina to taste the iconic Mont-Blanc: it has been famous for its mountain of chestnut cream with a meringue centre topped with homemade whipped cream since 1903!
Sweet flavour from faraway places
If you want to taste something new, Paris is the ideal place to sample flavours from faraway places. All aboard for a world tour of sweet specialities. First stop: the USA. The essential American dessert is the cheesecake, a famous cake from New York made of cream cheese and crumbled biscuits. She’s Cake has made it their speciality and offers numerous flavours, from classic to more exotic varieties like wasabi cheesecake with the Japanese mustard, white chocolate ganache, fresh raspberries and lime zest. For a change, you can even try a savoury version: with goat’s cheese, salmon or camembert … Change of culinary scene guaranteed! The cookie, from Boston, is the USA’s star biscuit. Crispy and crunchy, it has it all! At Scoop Me a Cookie, you can choose from among twenty or so different varieties, from a mini version for a small bite to eat, to XXL format, ideal for when you’re really hungry!
On the other side of the globe, Japan also boasts plenty of delicious treats …
Finally, to end our flavour world tour, there are Café Pouchkine’s irresistible Slavic specialities. Don’t miss the bestselling Medovick, a typical Russian dessert made up of a honey-flavoured buckwheat biscuit topped with layers of Russian dulce de leche and thick crème fraiche.
With shops selling only eclairs, macaroons or angel cakes, desserts are no exception to the single product trend and more and more patisseries are specializing in a single product. There is also the famous tarte tropézienne, based in Saint-Germain-des-Près. This regional speciality from the French Riviera is made of a soft brioche filled with two velvety creams and sprinkled with sugar. Often copied but never equalled! To taste the original version, head to the patisserie Tarte Tropézienne which offers several different types: filled with raspberries or strawberries, millefeuille or Saint-Honoré style. The Baby Trop’, a mini tarte tropézienne the size of a little macaroon, is a firm favourite. As for Mesdemoiselles Madeleines, they have bought this little shell-shaped cake from Lorraine up to date. It is part of French literary heritage thanks to Marcel Proust and his famous madeleine.
At Hugo & Victor, home to a myriad of different flavours, all the classics of traditional French patisserie are reinvented: millefeuilles, saint-honorés, religieuses … La Pâtisserie des rêves also revisits old classics like lemon tarts and eclairs, and each cake is displayed in a big glass dome. The cake not to miss: the Saint-Honoré created by Phillippe Conticini.
Celebrity chef Cyril Lignac has opened his own cake shop: La Pâtisserie Cyril Lignac. And what’s twice as good is that there are two shops in Paris. They have everything: classics, revisited classics and new creations. Highlights are the excellent rum baba with vanilla cream and the delicious Paris-Brest. Or for something a bit different, there is a dessert creation like no other: the Équinoxe, made with a light vanilla bourbon cream, salted caramel and crunchy speculoos praline, is eye-catching and aesthetically unique. Or why not drop into the Cake Shop at the Mandarin Oriental hotel and sample gastronomic cakes created by Pierre Mathieu in a charming setting. Not to be missed: the signature cake, the Mandarin.
Finally, if you want a completely different gastronomic experience, look no further than Dessance, the first dessert restaurant by Philippe Baranes. The chef Christophe Boucher (formerly of Ledoyen and Grand Véfour) creates real culinary gems, with unusual flavours and textures which combine to make a truly delicious treat. Don’t miss their signature dessert: the Norwegian omelette, pure indulgence made of meringue, salted caramel and crunchy cocoa.