At the Thoumieux pastry shop, we of course find the Choux Choux, the shop’s signature dessert, but we also find an abundant and varied offering of pastries designed by the chefs Jean-François Piège and Ludovic Chaussard. Amongst all these sweet temptations, it is the Isabella which we took in for close examination. Let us see if its round, plump shapes indeed translate into an irresistible voluptuousness.
This dessert is composed of a base of almond and hazelnut dacquoise (a nut-encrusted meringue), a Piémont hazelnut cream, a sheet of Valhrona milk chocolate, and a mousseline coffee cream. The surface is encircled with streusel nuggets, and decorated with a few fragments of roasted and caramelized hazelnuts.
Isabella by Gâteaux Thoumieux has a diameter of 67 mm and a height of 34 mm. The specimen purchased weights 78 grams and costs 5.50 euros.
The streusel topping is sweet and crunchy, displayed in smooth-surfaced morcels, which give the impression of having been a bit too carefully shaped between one’s fingertips. This contrasts with the usual ruggedness of streusel nuggets, and the crunchiness of their texture in a way contradicts the smoothness and roundness of their shape. The streusel encircles a coffee mousseline cream neatly arranged in a spiral on top of the cake. It is moderately sweet and somewhat rich, and the coffee comes out gently in it. Underneath this cream, the sheet of milk chocolate which serves as the base for the streusel turns out to be pleasantly thin and melts immediately in the mouth. This well-chosen chocolate reveals pronounced caramel notes.
As for the Piémont hazelnut cream arranged in generous scoops, we find its texture to be very close to that of a hazelnut spread. It is highly unctuous and slightly sticky on the tongue – its taste emphasizes the sweetness of hazelnuts rather than their smokiness. On the other hand, beneath the cream hides a very thin, granular layer of praline, which brings out the flavor of roasted hazelnuts. The last layer is an almond and hazelnut dacquoise which serves as the base for the whole dessert. Pleasantly crumbly, rather dry and crispy and not at all soggy, it tastes strongly of both types of nuts.
The dessert Isabella par Gâteaux Thoumieux is a true treat for the palate. It offers a rich and varied range of textures, which combine and complete each other well. The amount of sugar is well mastered and the chocolate is used elegantly, blending harmoniously into the dessert. The flavors of coffee, caramel, chocolate, roasted hazelnut and praline each play their role in this musical score, without any one of them coming off as being a superfluous note – an obvious risk in desserts with a wide variety of components. Textures go from crunchy to crumbly, from granular to crisp, from creamy to unctuous. The dessert was assembled with care, and attention was given to its symmetry – which is broken only by the eye pleasing decoration on the surface. Overall, Isabella comes off as the fruit of a true reflection and meticulous realization.
Score : 4.2/5 Excellent
58 Rue Saint-Dominique, 75007 Paris, France