After falling for Boulangerie Julien’s Tarte Abricots Pistache, I headed back the next day to see what other goodies they had in store for me. My plan for the walk home was to hit up La Bonbonnière de Buci, fabled for a few treats of its own. Sadly, La Bonbonnière had either closed or was undergoing renovations. The only indication I had that it ever existed was an outline of faded paint faintly spelling out its name above the door. Discouraged, but armed with an iPhone full of pâtisserie addresses, I quickly found my way over to Carton. Quite the hot-spot in the neighborhood, as I’ve since seen lines out the door, I had high hopes for what I’d discover. Among the pieces I ultimately walked away with was this Tarte Pommes et Amandes . . .
Now, I generally prefer ornate or highly original compositions for my pastry; visual appeal is a crucial element. Although, I also love the more humble works when it’s clear their simplicity was intentional and not for lack of effort. This tarte falls firmly into the former category; it’s like a piece of neo-minimalist art. The flake of the crust underlying the apples is gorgeous. The layers, bends and folds of the apples are marvelous. The contrast of browned apple edges with the snowy whiteness of the powdered sugar is a thing of beauty. Plus, it’s edible.
The apples were so nice and thinly sliced and with just the right amount of sweetness. The almond crème beneath was also very enjoyable and had that same delicately balanced sweetness. And the pastry base was truly . . . overcooked. I wish I had taken a photo of it. Although not fully burnt, one half was clearly far overdone, while the other had only gone a bit too long in the oven. What a tragedy when it was otherwise so well made. But even without having spent too much time baking, it tasted of raw flour. Having that on top of the bitter charred flavor was like adding insult to injury.
Judging by my other Carton experiences, this might well be more the norm than the exception. Perhaps if I ask some of the folks in those snaking lines, then I can find a diamond or two in the rough. Half exquisite, yet half horrendous, this was definitely not one.
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