Milk Chocolate Dome by Gilles Marchal

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It is true that in the realm of pâtisserie fine, chefs tend to privilege dark chocolate, considered to have more interesting gustative qualities. But let us not forget that milk chocolate also has its ardent followers, and many are those who have been swooned by its deliciously regressive character. It is given the place of honor in the Milk Chocolate Dome, which we recently took in for questioning at Gilles Marchal’s brand new pastry shop on the heights of Montmartre. Even with milk chocolate, let us apply our usual finicky rigor, and see how this dessert defends itself.

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The dessert is composed of a dacquoise (an almond or hazelnut-studded meringue) on which lies a layer of soft caramel, topped with a dome of milk chocolate mousse. The dome is covered in caramel, ringed by crunchy cocoa crumble morsels, and decorated with a milk chocolate triangle and a whole hazelnut.

The Milk Chocolate Dome by Gilles Marchal has a base diameter of 72 mm and a height of 45 mm, excluding the hazelnut and chocolate triangle. The specimen we purchased weights 85 grams and costs 6.2 euros.

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The dessert releases a discrete smell of chocolate and caramel. Its coating is shiny, very smooth, and almost completely free of dents and air bubbles. Upon slicing it, we further discover that this caramel glaze is laid remarkably thin – a rare enough occurrence in store-bought pastries to be highlighted and appreciated. The coating has a gentle caramel taste, with no trace of bitterness. Underneath it, we discover a delightfully light and fresh chocolate mousse. Again, we find a pleasant mellowness in the milk chocolate, whose flavor nevertheless expresses itself with a finesse allowed by the mousse’s lack of sweetness. Beneath the mousse, the soft caramel is neatly arranged in an immaculate spiral. We consider this detail – which cannot be seen from the outside – to be additional evidence of this pastry’s meticulous execution.   The caramel’s consistency tends to be slightly doughy, gradually melting in one’s mouth. Like its brother coating the mousse dome, this caramel remains very pleasant, with no bitterness whatsoever. As for the daquoise, it seems to be hazelnut flavored – or at least to contain hazelnut pieces. This would be in harmony with the dessert’s decoration and pair perfectly with the milk chocolate. It is light in sugar and melts in one’s mouth. The bottom is covered in a very thin dark chocolate layer, which imparts it with the discreet crunchiness needed – only just perceptible, but essential. Finally, the pieces of crumble dotted around the base of the dome are very brittle, rich in cocoa and butter. They add a skillfully thought-out texture to each bite.

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VERDICT

While the milk chocolate, caramel and hazelnut pairing remains a classic pastry-making combination, we are pleasantly surprised by the Milk Chocolate Dome created by Gilles Marchal. The transitions between textures are perfect, the mousse melting delightfully into the soft caramel, before blending with the moist daquoise in a perfect harmony of flavors. The crumble morsels displayed on the outside complete this harmony by bringing crunchiness and the depth of cocoa aroma. The flavors hit the right note, the level of sweetness is moderate and well thought-through, and the dessert as a whole is executed with an admirable subtlety and precision. This pastry attests to a savoir-faire and a love of high quality craftsmanship, and will undoubtedly fulfill all milk chocolate lovers!

Score: 4.2/5 Excellent

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