Tuesday, December 22, 2009

December Tour: Chocolate, more chocolate and even more chocolate—say Hallelujah!

’Tis the season for offering great, big, decadent boxes of chocolate. And one little stretch on Faubourg Saint-Honoré in the eighth arrondisement serves up a gorgeous selection of the best bonbons.

Starting with Neuhaus (189 Faubourg Saint-Honoré). For over 150 years, this Belgian chocolatier has been peddling its pralines, and they happen to be some of my favorite treats in the world. So rich and creamy, so nutty and thick, each one is a magnificent dessert. If only I could stop at one…

It’s not much easier to resist the temptations at Patrick Roger’s fourth boutique in the city (199 Faubourg Saint-Honoré). House specialties include chocolate-covered caramelized almonds, cubes of rich praline nougatine, and pristine bonbons made with cheeky ingredients like basil, oatmeal, tonka bean and Creole rum.

Keep going up the street to the granddaddy of Parisian chocolate shops, La Maison du Chocolat (225 Faubourg Saint-Honoré). While you could sink your teeth into a sumptuous chocolate éclair, chocolate tart, or chocolate macaron, hop in line and order up a customized box of ganaches and pralines. And don’t miss the plain truffles.

After all that exertion, reward yourself with a lovely dessert across the street at Mariage Frères (260 Faubourg Saint-Honoré,). The Happy Day cheesecake is made with their classic Wedding Imperial tea and caramelized apples. The Russian Kiss is panna cotta with Russian Kiss tea, dark chocolate mousse and a gelée d’orange. But, given the season, I’d go with the Hallelujah!, a dark chocolate fondant cake infused with their special Christmas teas.