It is often when least expected that some of the encounters which turn one’s existence upside down occur. How mysterious it is to feel oneself inextricably subjugated by an unknown person, catching sight of her amongst the crowd, eyeing her slowly up and down, observing her moves, gazing boldly at her hands, her clothes, her neck, her lips… Until the moment – simultaneously feared and eagerly awaited – when our eyes meet each other and lock gaze, setting fire to the blood in our veins. We are rarely foolish enough to pass up the opportunity of a new encounter, in whatever shape or form. Particularly when it comes to a face to face meeting with a new pastry, a curious Chocolate Cake which caught our attention in the pastry shop Muscade, nested in the arcades of the Palais Royal in Paris.
This cake is composed of a crumbly cocoa shortcrust base, topped with what appears to be a chocolate lava cake batter. In the center hides what was described in the shop as praline cream, but which – as we’ll soon discover – is something else entirely. All of this is covered in dark chocolate and dusted with a touch of pink shimmer. The pastry shop recommends gently reheating the cake in the microwave before eating it – we suggest 10 seconds at 750 Watts.
The Chocolate Cake by Muscade has a length of 90 mm, a width of 65 mm at its midpoint, and a height of 34 mm. The specimen we purchased weights 80 grams and costs 5.00€.
Once the cake has been gently warmed, its surface takes on a pretty shininess. We start by tasting the chocolate icing, which has soften almost to the point of becoming liquid. It is thinly layered, rather sweet, and its flavor – while sufficiently rich – is not particularly intense.
Beneath the icing, we discover a surprising mousse of sorts with a distinctive – almost gooey – texture, which reminds us of uncooked chocolate cake batter. It has an intense flavor, likely amplified by the cake’s warmness, and spreads pleasantly on the palate.
But it is inside this mousse that hides the real surprise: the advertised praline center is missing! In its stead, we discover an element which stumps us at first; something whose flavor is all too familiar yet which we are unable to pinpoint… The aha! moment comes a few seconds later: it’s a Kinder candy! Bewildered, we search the cake again to make sure we’re not dreaming. Did we look properly, did we taste well, did we feel accurately – can this really be true? But there’s no escaping the truth, all the clues agree, it really is a Kinder. And while we are somewhat amused by this stunt, we also can’t help but feel that it does not do justice to the artisanal charm and the conceptual effort otherwise present into this dessert. Why not simply create the home-made version of this candy? Such an experiment would, to our eyes, have been of far greater interest.
We nevertheless go through with the tasting, finishing with the cocoa shortcrust base, whose rather soft and crumbly texture fails to bring what could have been a welcome addition of crunchiness. It has a pleasant taste of butter and cocoa.
It is perhaps in its cocoa pod shape that this dessert’s first originality lies. While this shape is not rare amongst chocolate makers, it is less commonly found in pastry shops. The dessert – and the mousse in particular – has a powerful chocolate flavor which will satisfy chocolate-lovers. We are, however, disappointed by the presence of a kinder egg, as it robs the dessert of some of its artisanal charm. The contrast between the exterior – which almost seems to have been hand-molded – and the interior, hailing straight from the processing plant, undermines the dessert’s overall coherence. This is a shame, as the concept in itself is quite good, and we would have loved to see an artisanal rendering of a kinder. Nevertheless, the Chocolate Cake by Muscade constitutes an oddity on the pastry scene which will doubtless find its set of followers!
36 rue de Montpensier, 75001 Paris
Pastry shop adjacent to the Tea Room, open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10.30 am to 8.30 pm.
Tel: +33 1 42 97 49 59