A New Paris Patisserie: Hugo & Victor
And here’s the concept: The shop will always have a selection of sweets showcasing the three classic flavors: vanilla, chocolate and caramel. (I love that caramel’s made it to The Big Three.) And then there will be five seasonal ingredients. Each of these eight flavors will be turned into three different creations, perhaps a tart, a cake and a dessert, and each will be paired with a wine. And then there are the chocolates, which are packaged in boxes that look like Moleskin notebooks — the boxes were my favorite things in the shop. (When you go to their site, scroll down and click on the Carte des Creations to see their line-up — the pictures are fabulous.)
When I was there, the five seasonal ingredients were hazelnut/praline, lychee, blood orange, combava (kaffir lime) and pineapple. Since I adore lychee — it’s all the rage in Paris and not found so often in The States — the tart in the top picture was an easy choice for me. From the top down you’ve got: little silver sugar dots that aren’t as dangerously hard as they look; a marbled white chocolate disc that cracks with a satisfying snap; a cream, it’s what’s peeking out the sides, that was sadly over-worked and didn’t really seem to belong to the rest of the tartlet; a lychee gelee that I would have loved to have been able to have every day for the rest of my life; and a buttery, beautifully made crust. All in all, an almost-success that I would have gladly given a second try if I’d had the chance.
Now here’s the surprise: the plain-Jane sweets that were just laid out on a table in a completely unfussy way were terrific! Perfect, really. The chocolate financier was made in an elegant rectangular mold with a slim indentation, which H&V filled with bittersweet ganache. And the visitandine, a white, tight-crumbed, springy cake related to the financier, was glorious in its simplicity and so good filled with jam. As startling as everything in the shop looked, these are the sweets I’d go back for again and again.
If you’re tempted by the financiers, but can’t get to Hugo & Victor, here’s a recipe.