A "chou à la crème", known sometimes in English as a "cream puff" or "profiterole", is a choux pastry ball filled with whipped cream, pastry cream, or ice cream (particularly in the US). The puffs may be decorated, left plain or garnished with chocolate sauce, caramel, or a dusting of powdered sugar. The term profiterole refers to choux filled with whipped cream and covered with a chocolate sauce.
Right now in Paris, choux are very à la mode. Not only are they cute looking, but they are soft and delicious and are the right size for an afternoon treat with a spot of tea. These little pastries, which are filled with creamy goodness, are often topped with icing of every pastel colour you can imagine. The key to the chou’s success lies in its simplicity. Flavours range from the classics such as lemon, caramel, praline and chocolate, to combinations such as cherry and pistachio, vanilla and strawberry. Depending on where you go there may be a ‘choux du jour’, which changes every day.
The chou has pride of place in French culinary history, being one of the oldest French treats — its origins date back to the sixteenth century. For a long time, choux were served at weddings or as communion treats. But today this classic has evolved. Maybe this is radical to say, but it would appear that the choux à la crème are taking the important place of the sacred macaron. In recent months, many shops specializing in these pastries have been opening one by one around Paris and the travel guide has gone hunting for the best on offer.
Odette: Located across the river from Notre-Dame, on the Left Bank (5th Arrondissement), Odette’s vintage interior harks back to an imagined Paris of the 1920s. From the black and white tiled floor, antique silver trays and cake stands, to the perfect puffs of cream housed in glass domes, to the lush upstairs salon where one might pass the afternoon reading Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway or F.Scott Fitzgerald − you will fall in love with Odette’s charm. And then you will bite into a pastry, and go to heaven.
77 rue Galande, Paris
Popelini: Popelini, tucked away along a quiet road in the 3rd arrondissement, is a showcase for one of French pâtisserie’s staples – choux pastry. After all, French pâtisserie just wouldn’t be the same without éclairs, réligieuses, choux and saint-honorés, now would it? Popelini has made choux pastry its speciality by selling a range of different flavoured choux buns.
29 rue Delleyme, Paris
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