It’s amusing, and often surprising, to see the associations we create: the mysteries of the game of seduction often escape us. What brings us apart, and what draws us together? The answer is less obvious than may seem, but it often rests in a couple’s creative potential. Together, the two are worth more than the sums of their parts, creating an alchemy and an equilibrium which are so strong that one no longer sees the pairing’s strangeness. Let us demonstrate this most rigorously by taking the example of the apple-lemon coupling: common flavors which, when artistically paired in the right quantities, pander delightfully to our sweet cravings. The Manza dessert offered by Demoncy-Vergne adopts these two flavors, but will it attain the harmony we crave? We’re about to find out.
This dessert is composed of a crunchy speculoos cookie base, on which sits a moist apple cake. This is topped with cubes of half-cooked apple set in a green-apple jelly, encased in a lemon cream. The latter is iced with a pastel green glazing, and a sugar-frosted rosemary sprig brings a final decorative touch.
Manza by Demoncy-Vergne has a dimeter of 75 mm and a height of 37 mm, excluding the rosemary. The specimen we purchased weights 99 grams and costs 5.45€.
A subtle aroma of apple and lemon reaches us when we smell the surface of the cake. As we dig in, the first thing we discover is a relatively sweet, firm jelly icing, with a tart lemon flavor. It is thinly and evenly applied, with a thickness not exceeding 1 mm, and presents a smooth, shiny surface free of air bubbles or handling scars.
The underlying lemon cream is in fact more akin to a rigid mousse than a cream. It has a pleasant acidic flavor, and we appreciate the fact that it is present in reasonable quantity –thus preventing the dessert from simply being a dense mousse-filled dome. The cream brings a particular flavor and structure to the dessert, it binds the various components together while still leaving room for each of these to express itself.
Below the mousse, we discover a green apple jelly whose slightly grainy texture reminds us of applesauce. It is moderately sweet and faithful to the original fruit flavor. The underlying cubes of half-cooked apple seem to have been poached with spices (probably cinnamon), which was a wise decision. However, although they do bring a welcome added texture, the fruits lack crispness and have lost some of their tartness.
As for the layer of apple cake, it crumbles easily despite being moist, and would have benefited from being a bit chewier. The flavor of butter comes out pleasantly, while the taste of apple remains rather timid – which however does not bother us, given the fruit is handsomely showcased in the rest of the dessert. The speculoos cookie base, slightly sticky to the touch, makes a dull crunch sound in one’s mouth, and is dominated by butter and cinnamon flavors.
As announced in Spanish by its name, Manza by Demoncy-Vergne unabashedly makes apple the star of the show, incorporating the fruit under three different textures and forms. While the pairing of lemon with green apple is often a wise choice, we feel that in this case the citrus slightly overshadows the apple flavor, rather than merely serving to bring that touch of needed additional tartness. The culprit may be the slightly too acidic mousse, which could instead have served to moderate the ardors of the lemon icing? As for cinnamon, another of the flavors present here known for working well with apple, it is at first discreet on the palate, before making a lasting comeback, like a heartwarming after taste. Even though we believe that, overall, the balance between apple and lemon could be adjusted slightly in favor of apple, the fact remains that this dessert is interesting and assembled with care. The rosemary sprig is visually highly pleasing, yet does not seem to echo any of the dessert’s component. We are therefore not convinced by the appropriateness of its use.
Score: 3.9/5 Very good
10 rue du Jourdain, 75020 Paris
Open from Monday to Friday from 9 am to 2 pm and from 3 pm to 7.45 pm, and on Sunday from 9 am to 1.45 pm.
Tel : 01 46 36 66 08