Sadaharu Aoki :: Chocolat Pralin
There are an unreal number of chocolate pastries in Paris. Some are phenomenal, like Hugo & Victor’s Hugo Chocolat or La Pâtisserie des Rêves’ Grand Cru, while others will make you wince in disgust – e.g., Carton’s Opéra. And truth be told, I’m not actually a huge chocolate pastry fan; given a few other options, I almost never go for chocolate. Why? I prefer my cacao in bar form. That said, the fact that a few chocolate pieces made it to my Top 17 should tell you either how objective I was willing to be in my rankings or how insanely good they were.
So every time I’d saunter into one of my favorite shops and see a new chocolate pastry not-yet-reviewed or realize I’d eaten everything but the chocolate pastry/pastries from a given shop, I’d pout and go, “If I must!” They all taste very similar to me, because too many patisseries use the same few brands of chocolate everyone else does. So I’d just sit there, chew and be like, “Tastes like . . . chocolate.” A visit to Hévin was always refreshing because the man overthinks his beans in the best way possible, making his chocolate rarely taste like just chocolate. And others would be clever enough in matching the chocolate with another flavor that the chocolate didn’t have to do all the heavy lifting by itself. The aforementioned Hugo Chocolat probably didn’t even need the stellar Domori Tanzanian chocolate it contained, given the lime and tonka also employed. The same can be said for Sadaharu Aoki’s Chocolat Pralin.
Those of you who’ve followed the blog know I think praliné feuilleté/ine is disgusting in most pastries. But that’s not because I don’t like hazelnut. Au contraire. My issue is always that is blows other flavors away. It’s not subtle. But in this case, the pastry’s chocolate is meant to share the limelight with the hazelnuts. The piece is composed of hazelnut dacquoise, praline feuilletine, praline cream, milk chocolate mousse, and chocolate biscuit. My notes on it start with, “Phenomenal!” I could just leave it at that, but I won’t. The hazelnut is prominent, yet not overpowering. The chocolate and its chocolaty 😉 tones are on equal footing with it. The textures were all blissfully smooth or biscuitly tender. And the crowning touch? The chocolate hazelnut macaron atop it all. It was the first thing I took a bite of from the pastry. In the moments as I brought it from the mousse to my mouth, I was thinking, “I hope this doesn’t suck.” As I chewed, not only did I realize it was far from sucky, it was splendid. It took me a little more than a minute to down the rest of the pastry (at 9am even) and realize it was no ordinary chocolate pastry. I dare say it’s among the best chocolate pastries in Paris.
Come to think of it, when I get back to Paris in April, I think I might just start work on a Top Chocolate Pastries in Paris list. God knows the Top 17 of all pastries was a crowd-pleaser; I can only imagine what chocolate addicts would do with one devoted purely to them.
I’m also hoping I can do a little in-kitchen session with Sadaharu Aoki himself. Considering he’s one of the 4 pastry gods of Paris, it could be a challenge. My chances were significantly buoyed, I think, when none other than Monsieur Aoki himself asked me last week to be his Facebook friend. What?! I was pretty psyched to see that friend request come through. So, if you’re reading this, Monsieur Aoki, I’m a little embarrassed, but I should also point out the very obvious . . . your work is incredible, and you have more amazing pastries than any other patissier. I’m not just saying that. It’s actually true.
He probably just stumbled across the blog and wanted to passively keep up on it, purely for academic purposes. A less professional and seasoned chef, of the Kanye West inclination, might have instead gone, “Dude, my pastries are so ******* awesome! I’m going to add this **** to my friend list merely so that I may bask in the greatness of my own incomparable talent. I am a golden god!” But, again, I really don’t imagine that he said this.
So, yes, please do purchase a Chocolat Pralin. Beautiful, delicious, and complete with a bonus macaron . . . what’s not to love? I also hear that Monsieur Aoki has redone his Rue de Vaugirard shop, so there’s probably yet another treat literally in-store for you when you visit.
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