Nights spent in the countryside have a distinctive flavor. We sometimes wake up in the dead of the night, and tiptoe through the slumbering house to the kitchen. Behind the kitchen windows, we discover a pitch black night, as opaque as Chinese ink, vast and cold, an unfathomable abyss which both frightens and beckons us. We are in the witching hour, when villains and demons come out. Thankfully, Cake Justice is awake and alert. The court passes judgment even at the most ungodly hour. And it’s time for this Nuits Saint-Georges, found at the pastry shop Hugo & Victor, to reveal its truth to us.
This dessert is composed of a layer of almond and blackcurrant sponge cake, topped with chestnut puree in which are embedded a few chunks of candied chestnuts, and a light blackcurrant cream. All of this is set under a dome of chestnut mousse, itself covered with a jellied blackcurrant coating. It is decorated with a blackcurrant berry, a morsel of candied chestnut, and the pastry shop’s logo made of white chocolate. We notice that the recipe does not appear to contain wine, despite the reference to the eponymous wine in the cake’s name. The box provided to carry the dessert is not sufficiently high, and the top of the cake therefore finds itself repeatedly squashed lightly against the lid.
Nuits Saint-Georges by Hugo & Victor has a diameter of 65 mm and a height of 35 mm. The specimen we purchased weights 88 grams and costs 6.20€.
A discrete perfume of blackcurrant emanates from the dessert. The blackcurrant coating covering the whole cake is desirably thin, but seems excessively jellified, and has a rather rugged surface, damaged by several air bubbles. A knife is needed to cut it, as we are unable to break it using our fork alone, and it forms a chewy body which can distinctively be felt in the mouth. Beneath this coating, the chestnut mousse is quite firm – too much so in fact – but tastes recognizably of chestnut.
The blackcurrant cream in the middle is light and nicely textured, with a distinctive, acidic flavor. It balances out the mildness of chestnuts, thus invigorating the whole dessert. As for the chestnut puree, it is smooth and supple, and only lightly sweet. It is present in generous quantity. The chestnut chunks found inside the puree fall apart a bit too easily on the tongue, and their texture goes unnoticed. Finally, the blackcurrant pieces embedded in the almond cake are an ingenious addition, as they nicely reinforce the fruit’s presence in the dessert. The cake is moist and evenly cooked throughout.
This Nuits Saint-Georges by Hugo & Victor manages to strike a nice balance between the flavors of chestnut and blackcurrant, with the former lasting longer on the palate than the latter. Yet when it comes to textures, the jellied coating and the mousse seem to lack suppleness, while the bits of candied chestnut embedded in the mousse are too discreet. Overall, the dessert comes off as too rigid. A better progression of textures, along with a smooth coating free of imperfections, would give this dessert the discreet refinement which we find is lacking.
40 boulevard Raspail, 75007 Paris
Open from Sunday to Friday from 10 am to 7 pm and on Saturday from 9 am to 8 pm.
Tel: +33 1 44 39 97 73