Pâte à choux, the wonderful pastry at the base of éclairs and cream puffs, is très tendance (all the rage) in Paris. Several bakeries proclaim their pâte à choux the best, and at least three shops specializing in eclairs have sprung up (with lots of press hype.)
I set out to sample pastries at two popular Paris bakeries in the Marais.
My first stop, in the Haut Marais, was at Popelini, where they make only cream puffs: beautifully round, golden colored spheres filled with flavored cream and topped with flat discs (which reminded me of tiny berets) in corresponding flavors.
Coffee, chocolate, Madagascar vanilla, lemon, caramel beurre salé, pistachio — as the saleswoman handed me my bag of 6 assorted cream puffs, she told me to refrigerate them within two hours, and eat them within 24. Which I gladly did.
My dinner companion and I were thrilled: the light, crisp puffs of pastry, filled with extravagantly flavored creams (the velvety pistachio and dark chocolate our favorites) were luscious, satisfying, in every way a treat.
We declared each one a unified piece of pastry art, distinctive from the next, and a pleasure from start to finish. Worth every bit of the hype.