Weekend Eats: Aux Merveilleux, La Pâtisserie des Rêves Take 3
Tuesday, November 8, 2011

This past weekend, I was transported back to North America via a visit to Les Quatre Temps (Metro:  La Défense), a shopping mall in the financial district of Paris. Unlike most metropolitan cities, the financial district is located in the suburbs, West of Paris. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a conglomeration of high-rises and a mass population in suits.

A view of La Grande Arche de la Défense in the daytime. It's the central building of the business district in Paris, which also happens to be the largest in Europe.

Another view of the business district, La Défense, taken from the top level of the shopping mall, Les Quatre Temps.

While my friends and I walked inside Les Quatre Temps, we almost forgot we were in Paris. It’s a 3-level mall with ample square footage, the usual international brands, and clean washrooms. However, we ended up spending most of our time in Auchan, the Walmart equivalent in France. Most of us have been deprived of low prices.

At Auchan, I was ecstatic when I found crunchy speculoos spread. Most stores only carry the smooth-type, except at Bon Marché where it’s over-priced. For those unfamiliar with speculoos, it’s a crunchy, caramel-y, gingerbread cookie. The spread tastes exactly the same in flavour, but with the texture of peanut butter. Now, I can make anything taste like Christmas.

My precious jar of crunchy speculoos spread.

The next day, we continued with our pastry research at Aux Merveilleux. This is the simplest pastry shop I’ve visited in Paris, in terms of selection. The only make meringues, a crunchy sweet cookie made from just egg-whites and sugar. Who would’ve thought that a store making just meringues would have a line-up around the corner daily.

Outside of Aux Merveilleux in the 16th, just one of 8 stores in France.

While waiting in line, you get to watch their bakers pipe disks of meringue and assemble meringue cakes.

Here's their selection of pastries. You can get small or large meringue cakes (made with just meringue, buttercream, and chocolate shavings). They sell a handful of viennoiseries, but that's it!

Here's what the 5 of us shared. We got mini chocolate, speculoos, and coffee meringue cakes. My favourite, of course, was the speculoos meringue. They bake their meringue disks so that it's crispy on the outside and a little sticky/ chewy on the inside. When you eat it within the cake, it's quite a nice textural combination in your mouth. You have the crunchy and chewy from the meringue, and the cool and creamy from the buttercream.

And finally, we visited La Pâtisserie des Rêves. Some friends wanted to try it for the first time, but some of us who already did wanted to tag along too.

Le tarte tatin, my favourite pastry of this visit. It's a mille-feuille (puff pastry) base with paper-thin sheets of cooked apples, and crumble on the sides. This would be my version of a perfect apple pie. The cooked apple slices were juicy and refreshing, capturing the crispness of fresh apple juice. They also had a subtle bite to them, placing the texture just shy of too soft.

Here's my pistachio financier that I've been meaning to try on my last 2 visits, when they were sold out. It's a dense pound cake thats studded with coarsely ground pistachios. Very fresh, makes for a good tea companion.

My praliné hot chocolate. Dark, creamy, rich, and velvety. The taste of praliné is rather subtle though. I would order this again, but I should warn you that it is very filling.

Tiramisu. Nothing beats a traditional home-made Tiramisu in my opinion. Mascarpone cheese is expensive and I find shops tend to use more eggs and/or cream in replace of the proper amount of mascarpone, or else they use thin layers of it. This Tiramisu was good but not your traditional one. It had a more intense coffee flavour and there was a thin layer of chocolate crunchy bits.

La Lemonta. This is actually very similar in composition to the meringue cakes we bought from Aux Merveilleux, but, a more delicate version.

In the centre of the lemonta is a lemon compote and buttercream sandwiched between 2 meringue cookies, all wrapped inside a vanilla and lemon buttercream.

Le Saint-Honoré. It's a base of mille-feuille, 2 small eclairs filled with praliné cream, 3 mini pâte à choux filled with more praliné cream and a thick swirl of Chantilly cream. I personally didn't like this very much even though each component was constructed very well. My main complaint is the pastry cream inside the choux which I felt was a bit too dry. Since the choux (cream puff shells) are rather dry on it's own, I would enjoy it more with a filling that was more creamy and light.

 

Well? Let me know what you think. Write me a comment below!