Jacques Genin :: Éclair au Chocolat

Jacques Genin :: Éclair au Chocolat

After a couple years of writing the blog here, there’s something that always strikes me as a little bizarre. People can get really angry and defensive about my and others’ criticism of an individual pastry or a particular pastry shop. Whether they’re upset because their favorite piece is being criticized or because they work at the shop in question, the mention of sloppy compositions, bad textures, and the like can really get under their skin. I always laugh a little because, good or bad, criticism is just one person’s opinion. So I, personally, don’t get as bothered when people disagree with me. Even if you said you hate everything a shop like Hugo & Victor has ever done, I’d probably shrug and suggest a few pieces you might like from other pâtisseries. Cause, really, is there any pastry whose excellence cannot be questioned? Well, ok, yes. There is one – Jacques Genin’s Éclair au Chocolat.

I’m not saying I would punch someone for questioning the absolute magnificence of Monsieur Genin’s chocolate éclair, but I would definitely say, “What the **** are you talking about?” Because it’s not as if this is just an incredibly delicious pastry; it’s literally orders of magnitude more sublime than any other “chocolate éclair” I’ve ever experienced. Why did I just use quotes in referring to others’ work? Because they’re so far off the mark from what Monsieur Genin produces that it’s basically insulting to class them in the same league. Historians may say that Antonin Carême first created the éclair in the early 19th century. They lie. There’s one chocolate éclair; Jacques Genin invented it.

Jacques Genin :: Éclair au Chocolat

Before you even take a bite, just admire the texture, hue and scent of the pâte à chou. Let your fingers and lips trace its length – that golden skin. So tender. So perfect. Minus the chocolate, it alone could still rank as one of the finest pastries in Paris. But as your teeth cleave through it all, and the sweet stick of the caramelized chocolate glaçage instantly blows your mind, your soul is elevated to untellable spiritual heights by the cool gush of chocolate crème pâtissière that erupts from within. You’re forced to pause, speechless, not understanding what’s inescapably a taste of Divine perfection. In fact, it’s so ineffable an experience that there truly is no word that can adequately do it justice, so we will leave a blank space here, to honor the éclair au chocolat with the adjective we can only hope to one day find: ____________.

Every part of the éclair is simply magic – at least an 11 on the 0-10 scale of excellence. But the chocolate crème pâtissière probably ranks as at least a 14 on that same scale. The full body of the Valrhona couverture Mosieur Genin employs is ratcheted up a few notches by the addition of a choice cacao powder, brilliant blending technique and extremely restrained addition of sugar. The resultant flavor is a resplendent delight, and the texture is nothing short of legendary.

Jacques Genin :: Éclair au Chocolat

Aesthetically, it’s a humble piece. The smudged glaçage is the trace of the chef’s finger that wiped away the excess, after dipping. And, in the shot below, you can see the crème poking out from a small double hole in the skin. It’s a perfect imperfection.

Jacques Genin :: Éclair au Chocolat

Can’t you just taste it?…

Jacques Genin :: Éclair au Chocolat

Deliciousness…

Jacques Genin :: Éclair au Chocolat

As I said, the only word for it is ____________…

Jacques Genin :: Éclair au Chocolat

So, yes, you’d be insane not to get Monsieur Genin’s éclair au chocolat. Since he invented the chocolate éclair, you literally haven’t ever had one until you’ve had his. There is none but the above. Make sure to also grab one of his lemon tartes and pretty much one of everything else in the shop – from pastries to chocolates, pâtes de fruits and caramels. Then bask in their splendor – these creations of the greastest classic pastry chef in Paris.

SUPER EXTREMELY SPECIAL: Monday is the first of a three part series on Monsieur Genin’s shop; parts two and three follow on Wednesday and Friday. It’s going to be nothing but Jacques Genin here for the next week, as we pay homage to His Magnificence. Get ready to indulge me in my obsession with the genius of his work.

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23 thoughts on “Jacques Genin :: Éclair au Chocolat”

  1. Perfect! You could not have written a better piece on describing this master's work. I laughed at your phrasing & groaned in desire-wretching anguish, as I read. I have had the awesome pleasure of experiencing (not just eating, but it is a true EXPERIENCE) the chocolate eclair. Unbelievable. I can still taste it in my memory & nothing in the US or Paris (for me) has ever compared to Monsieur Genin's work. I work in the pastry industry and this man/pastry god, has changed the way I approach pastry. I can't wait for next week! Thanks Adam.

  2. Can't wait for next week, I admire Mr Genin's work.
    This eclair is so extraordinary !
    Like you, I wrote an article on my blog about Jacques Génin and his pastries but I personally didn't know how to describe perfectly this marvelous experience whereas you have found the perfect words. Congratulations ! Reading you, and seeing your beautiful pictures, the first thing I want to do is jump in the first train to Paris and have as many chocolate eclairs I can take !

  3. great !
    next week will be exciting one. Mr Genin eclair are really an experience. You can't beat his patye à choux and delight creams. thanx Adam for sharing all this with us :)

  4. I'll be there in April, and I thought a few visits to JG would do it.for the hot chocolate, his wonderful caramels, choux, etc. …i can now see i need to schedule several more visits while I am there. Thanks for the great post Adam.

  5. Adam, thank you for doing this. I have been following this site for some time now and it has really helped me rediscover my passion for all things pastry. Unfortunately, I am going to miss 2/3 the Jaqcues Genin update! The Horror! Wednesday I will be on a plane, and Friday I will be at 133 Rue de Turenne eating myself sick. Oh well I guess its a pretty good trade off.

  6. Great photos and descriptions. I will be in Paris for almost 3 weeks beginning April 9th and after reading this, I will absolutely be trying one of these eclairs! I can't wait. Now, to decide how to try all of the other delicious pastries you show.

  7. Super, Adam, perfect timing! :) I will be in Paris in two weeks to celebrate my 30th birthday and my birthday breakfast will be at Genin's on 13th of March :) It'll be chocolat chaud accompanied by this described masterpiece followed by vanilla millefeuille followed by tarte au chocolat and side of éclair au caramel and I'll leave with pockets full of caramels :)

  8. Hi Mr.Adam (I apologize if I'm a bit rude here for call by your first name, I dunno your last name :D). After reading this, I suddenly realize my holy mission to share this article >:D. I've experience it as well (many time) and I still haven't found out the suitable word to express the greatness of Monsieur Genin's eclair :)

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