As much as I appreciate the pastry world re-embracing homebaked goods and elevating the cupcake to some sort of golden pedestal, some days I crave an expertly crafted pastry created by the hands of a master french pastry chef. No, seriously. Neither Jared nor I have a sweet tooth, but I do have a soft spot in my heart for a delicate mousse. Last weekend, we checked out the new Chicago French Market for the first time. (More on that later). Tucked into a side entrance of the market was a Vanille Patisserie counter. The pastries were so gorgeous we couldn't help but to stop and stare. We picked up some croissants and the following vanilla entremet. The croissants were buttery and chewy. Jared likes to judge all pastry chefs based on their croissants and so far, this one passed the test with flying colors! And though this vanilla entremet was not as photogenic (I kept calling it a visual biscuits and gravy), it was so light and full of vanilla and white chocolate goodness all on a crumbly crust.
We loved the last entremet so much that we kept thinking about the smooth whipped vanilla cream. We checked out their website and found that it was run by the husband and wife team of Dimitri + Keli Fayard, both with a long list of accolades to their names. They opened shop in 2003- sometimes I wonder how places like these have escaped me for so long! It only means that we must have so many more places yet to try.
This past weekend, we decided to visit the main pastry shop located in Lincoln Park. We picked up a few more entremets and took them home with us to sample. And we figured that while we had them, why not put them through a photoshoot to practice a new lighting technique. And ladies and gentlemen, these babies were ridiculously photogenic.
The first one we tried was what we described as a sophisticated and refined version of a Reese's peanut butter cup. Digging into the soft chocolate shell, we found a layer of whipped cream, a peanut butter caramel, and a Reeses peanut butter-like crust with peanuts.
Then I saw this in the window and also had to have it! The mango shell enveloped a passion fruit mousse. It reminded me of an extremely light cheesecake. You can tell this entremet not only looks good, but the ripe scent of mangoes filled the air as we opened our box and put a smile to our face. Too good for words.
And finally I saw this one and my eyes suddenly became way bigger than my stomach. It was a coconut entremet, with a coconut mousse that was so incredibly light and airy topped with an amazing passion fruit coulis. Inside the mousse was also a passion fruit creme with pineapple chunks spread over a shredded coconut base. And when all of it is eaten together, it was the perfect combination of sweetness.
We've only tasted these entremets, but Vanille Patisserie also offers cakes, petit fours and macarons, as well as custom designed wedding cakes. The economy may be down right now, but this is where I'll be getting my pick-me-ups! I've already added this to my personal "must-see" food list for people visiting Chicago.
Dimitri + Keli Fayard
2229 N. Clybourn Ave
Chicago, IL 60614