As many of you saw on the Paris Patisseries Facebook Page yesterday, the Censier here is one that Carl Marletti himself crafted for us in his kitchen. He was actually the first great Parisian pastry chef that I ever approached to do a special photo shoot. We’d loosely coordinated the whole thing by email, while I was vacationing in Rome. As soon as I got back to Paris, I headed down to his shop not knowing exactly what would unfold once we got going. Now, my command of French is great for getting along well in day-to-day Parisian life, but explaining and then directing an hour-long shoot entirely en français meant I needed to play at another level. Imagine how nervous I was . . . in awe of his pastry majesty and knowing there would just be some things I couldn’t articulate. Thanks to Monsieur Marletti being extremely cool and me surprising myself a little with sentences I didn’t know I could put together, it all worked out very well. I captured him creating his amazing Marie Antoinette, which I’ll debut the full in-kitchen shoot of this winter, and of course the Censier…
Before Monsieur Marletti got going on our little treat here, he paused and, all in French, started to detail what’s in it and the steps he’d be taking in its preparation. I was listening intently, still a bit nervous to be there alone with the master, when he suddenly says [transposed into English with a thick accent, cause it’s 10x as hilarious that way], “En zeee bayz eez mayd uv zee Ruhyz Kreezpeez meex’d weez dee pawpeeeng cun’deees.” I basically laughed in his face. Did he seriously just tell me this thing was made of Rice Krispies and Pop Rocks?! So I said to him, “Do you literally mean Rice Krispies?” to which he flatly replied, “Yes . . . en zee pawpeeeng cun’deeez.” And that was that. Snap, Crackle and Pop were apparently living large here in Paris with Pop Rocks. I’d love to see Kellogg’s put the recipe for this one on a side of their cereal boxes!
You’re probably wondering how it tasted. Well . . . pretty awesome. There is a caveat though. The Censier in the photos here was snagged a few weeks after our in-kitchen shoot; the original little guy got gluttonously devoured. It’s the one shown here that I have some reservations about, as the chocolate was just not handled properly – likely by one of his sous-chefs ******* up the batch; the effect was a chocolatey, though very grainy disappointment. But any other time I’d had the Censier, the quenelle of Tainori chocolate was exceptionally smooth. The praline garnish was crunchy, nutty and sugary-sweet. The base, too, was texturally excellent, crisp, not too sugary and perfectly balanced in volume with the chocolate. I mean . . . perfectly. It would have been easy to under or overdo it, but Monsieur Marletti hit the nail on the head. And the best part is that the fat in the chocolate seems to coat many of the individual Pop Rocks momentarily . . . just long enough for you to chew and swallow before experiencing the onslaught of pops.
It’s that time-delay that I love. The only other piece I’ve enjoyed it with is Hugo & Victor’s Hugo Chocolat, which has a kick of lime that goes off like a time bomb. I refer to these pieces as “4-dimensional”, because there truly is that temporal element to the experience. It’s more than just a delicious range of flavors and pleasing textures, it’s a piece of culinary artwork that unfolds and develops even after the last bite. Work like this plays no small part in my belief that Carl Marletti and Hugues Pouget are the greats. (But, believe me, Philippe Conticini, Angelo Musa, and Sadaharu Aoki are very much pastry royalty, too.)
I only wish more Parisian patissiers were so creative. Sassy designs and wacky flavor combinations can certainly grab attention, but a piece that’s truly inventive stays glued in your memory . . .
So, yes, definitely check out the Censier. It’s actually named after the street on which Monsieur Marletti’s patisserie sits: Rue Censier, which rests right at the end of the famous Rue Mouffetard. And, of course, while you’re there, make sure to pick up a few other treats from his shop. It’s almost impossible to grab something you won’t love.