I'm back! I had a whirlwind of a week, visiting France and England last week. I had the opportunity to visit Paris, Montpellier and Aigues-Mortes (at the southern coast of France), London, and Leicestershire (north of London). If you're here to read about the Devil's Food White-Out Cake, just scroll down a bit. If you're curious to hear more about my trip first, then read on...
It was freezing there - quite literally! Here were are, all bundled up in the 32°F weather. (At least the skies are clear here - it was pouring rain the following day.)
Look at these spectacular views we captured from the top of the Eiffel Tower! (I'm proud to say we climbed 600+ steps to get to the second platform of the tower before taking the lift to the top!)
Of course my favorite part of the trip was Paris and all the good eats there. Eating fresh baked bread, hot out of the oven... brie... mmmm... I could spend forever just eating in Paris! Unfortunately, we only had two very short days to spend there... but trust me, I spent a good deal of it seeking out some really good eats and sweet treats!
With such a short period of time in Paris, I knew I had to prioritize. Who better than Dorie to point me in the right direction, then?! Armed with a detailed list of some of Dorie's favorite places, I hit the ground running when we arrived there. I really wish that we had had more time in Paris to visit more of the places on Dorie's list, but since we didn't, I focused most of my attention on the sweet treats.
The first place we went to was Dalloyau. I actually stumbled upon this shop and was pleasantly surprised to find it as we were walking towards the Champs-Élysées. I instantly recognized the name from Dorie's list.
We got two different tarts here - a pear tart and an apricot tart. My husband had the apricot tart so I can't say much about it, but the pear tart was definitely scrumptious. The tart crust was just the perfect combination of buttery and flaky; the pears had a really nice, fresh flavor. While it was delicious, I'd have to say that I like Dorie's French Pear Tart slightly more. The almond filling in Dorie's tart was very memorable and sets it apart from other traditional fruit tarts.
Of course I also had to try some macarons there. Did you know that they make about 55 tons of macarons per year there?! That's a lot of egg whites!! They had a nice selection there; my favorite flavors were Cognac/champagne and mandarin orange. These macarons were good, but there wasn't quite enough filling in them for my taste.
Our next stop was Patrick Roger's Boutique. Dorie says that he's one of the finest chocolatiers in Paris. Here, we sampled chocolate that was bursting with flavor - I had a piece that was lemongrass with basil. I would have never thought that adding herbs to chocolate would be good, but I loved it. While we were there, I was able to pick up a nice assortment of chocolates for my mom for her birthday.
Our next destination was just a few minutes' walk away. Of course we could not leave Paris without visiting the boutique of Dorie's dear friend Pierre Hermé. After making and tasting the Most Extraordinary Lemon Cream Tart (a recipe Dorie got from Pierre), I was beside myself to visit his boutique. Oh the choices! I really wish we could have afforded to try more things there, but alas - my husband would have killed me ;)
I got the most darling little orange cheesecake tart that tasted every bit as good as it looked.
My husband went with a simple slice of cheesecake topped with some sort of orange or citrusy top layer. I didn't get to sample it, but my husband wasn't a big fan of it. I'm pretty sure it was fabulous, and like to think that his palate just isn't sophisticated enough to enjoy the creations of an icon such as Pierre Hermé ;)
Of course I could not leave there without getting an assortment of macarons as well. I tried the Chocolate & Caramel, Coffee, Passion Fruit and Milk Chocolate, Fleur de Sel Caramel, Chocolate, Rose, and Chestnut & Matcha Green Tea. I've seen other flavors mentioned, but did not find them while I was there. The Chestnut & Matcha Green Tea macaron was extremel soft and delicate, but one of my favorite flavors. The Passion Fruit and Milk Chocolate macaron was my second favorite.
The macarons at Pierre Hermé were noticeably larger than the ones I had from Dalloyau, though it doesn't really matter because you are charged by weight. Pierre's macarons were slightly better - I definitely noticed that there was a considerably larger amount of filling in them than the ones from from Dalloyau (at least three times more). Personally, I would have preferred something in between - with a moderate amount of filling but not quite so much. If you really like your macarons with lots of filling, then you'll want to get them from Pierre. If you prefer to savor the flavor and texture of the crisp outer shells, then you might be better off getting them from Dalloyau. (In case you're wondering - because I was curious about this too - but macarons will keep in the refrigerator for about 4 days.)
We visited a few other small pastry shops, but that more or less sums up the highlights from our trip to Paris in a nutshell! I have to say that I would not have even know what many of the sweets in these shops were, had it not been for my participation in the food blogging community. While I was there, I saw opéra cakes, kugelhopf, financiers, brioche, etc. If you had asked me what those all were before I started this blog, I wouldn't have had a clue. It's amazing how much I have learned...
So anyway, we'll now return to our regularly scheduled Tuesdays with Dorie post!
This week's Tuesdays with Dorie (TWD) recipe was chosen by Stephanie of Confessions of a City Eater: Devil's Food White-Out Cake. This cake is on the cover of the book, and I think pretty much of all us wanted to make this cake as soon as we saw it.
It's a moist, chocolate cake studded with chocolate chunks, cushioned between fluffy marshmallow frosting. What's not to love? :)
I used two 9-inch round cake pans, and had some slight doming on each cake. So once I leveled off each cake, I didn't think they were thick enough to slice each layer horizontally in half. Instead, I created a two-layer cake and used the cake I sliced off each dome for the crumbles.
The frosting is different from any other I've made before. You basically whip some egg whites up and then slowly pour in boiling sugar syrup until you end up with a beautiful, white fluff. By itself (if you're the type of person inclined to dip your finger into the frosting after it's made), the frosting actually has an odd taste to it. Slightly sour with a weird after taste to it. In combination with the cake, however, you no longer taste it.
This is a great cake for chocolate lovers. If you serve it chilled, the cake is very dense and almost fudgey, like a brownie. I brought it to work and it was very well received. I'm not much of a cake decorator, so I enjoyed the fact that this cake doesn't have to look perfect :)
Thanks Stephanie, for choosing this scrumptious recipe. It's a wonderful chocolate cake and it is definitely something that I will make again. If you would like the recipe, you can find it here. Make sure you visit the TWD Blog Roll to see how everyone else enjoyed this chocolately treat.
And before ending this post, I'd like to send a huge thank you to Dorie for sharing some of her favorites places in Paris with us.
* Recipes notes:
- I used two 9-inch round cake pans and created a 2-layer instead of 3-layer cake. Consider doubling the frosting recipe if you go the 3-layer route.
- The cake alone can be frozen for up to 2 months, but once it is frosted, it can be stored in the refrigerator for only 2 days.
- For more tips, click here.