The choux à la crème (cream puffs) regain an artisanal and traditional feel at la Maison du Chou, chef Manuel Martinez’s pastry shop. Showcasing the chou in a limited number of flavors, this pastry shop follows the worn-out trend of offering a single product, as well as the more recent trend of presenting sober products in their raw state. We selected three classic flavors, which we submitted them to close examination.
These choux are all composed of a chou dough topped with a thin layer of craquelin (a crunchy, sugary coating), and filled with plain, praline, or chocolate cream.
The average chou has a diameter of 52 mm and a height of 30 mm. Amongst the specimens we purchased, the avergage weight is 26 grams. A box of 6 pieces costs 10 euros.
The first aroma wafting from the box is that of butter, followed by the more discrete smell of praline cream. The butter flavor can distinctively be tasted in the dough. The latter is freshly baked, glazed with a thin layer of sweet craquelin, and filled to order in the shop. This prevents it from going soggy. We taste the fillings in the order recommended to us in the shop: plain cream, followed by praline cream, and finally chocolate cream. The three flavors are made with the same plain cream base, and are only lightly sweet.
The plain cream has the most pronounced taste of freshness. Very low in sugar, with a milky and faintly tart flavor, it reminds us of the cream found in Benoit Castel’s excellent cream tart. Its airy texture enhances nicely the lightness of its aroma.
The taste of the plain cream nevertheless remains discrete in the praline chou, in which the texture of ground nuts can distinctively be felt. While the taste of praline is perfectly recognizable, it is not very pronounced.
As for the chocolate cream, it has the slightly acidic tinge found in the plain cream, possibly magnified here by the chocolate. The chocolate is nicely present without being as strong as dark chocolate; indeed, the fact that it is blended with the cream makes it more akin to milk chocolate. Its rich flavor lingers pleasantly on the palate.
All of the choux we tasted were endowed with a similar freshness and well-mastered quantity of sugar. The creams are light and airy, with easily recognizable flavors which nevertheless remain discrete enough not to completely eclipse the delicious, buttery, perfectly baked chou dough. We find this to be an excellent product, simple but well executed, characterized by a true elegance and a masterful balancing of flavors.
Score : 4.1/5 Excellent
7 Rue de Furstenberg, 75006 Paris, France