French Pastry Pop-up – Feb. 20

This week’s pop-up was led by a student whose Asian background really showed through in the unique flavours of the pastries (lychee, mango, oolong, milk tea, etc).

Choux trio, peach tiramisu, chausson aux pommes, milk tea croissant, mushroom jalousie, egg white truffle sandwich, lemon madelaines

Thursdays really are my favourite day because before my working day has even begun I get to have a sneak peak at the pastries of the Advanced French Patisserie students for their weekly pop-up. It’s hard to believe but the execution of the items (which were already good at the start of the semester) keep getting better and better each week.

Soon I won’t have much feedback to give besides “It all tasted great”. The items I tried this week were very good and I have prepared some comments on each of the items.

Choux trio: I love the fact that they changed this item last minute to be a choux trio of three different flavours instead of one larger choux. I actually prefer the smaller size – it was the perfect little bite. The choux itself is one of the best I have had as it had a soft, dry, crispy (not doughy or soggy) but delicate texture and the fillings were piped very cleanly (I couldn’t see the hole where they inserted the filling). The flavours were well thought out as they didn’t clash within the trio. The mango flavoured one was my favourite – I could taste the mango flavour and it had a freshness to it. My second favourite was chocolate (I think it was chocolate but am not sure as the flavour was not very strong) and then salted caramel. I found the caramel to have a bit of a strong flavour – not burnt but definitely caramelized (pardon the pun). If these mini choux pastries were offered again, I would definitely buy them.

Peach tiramisu: This item looked very feminine and pretty. I liked the pink polka dot detail on the sheets of white chocolate that lined the sides. However, I couldn’t really taste the peach or oolong flavours. I also found that the sweetness of the white chocolate overpowered the other components of the dessert which were lighter and not as sweet (sponge cake, cream and fruit layer – which is how alot of Chinese cakes are constructed and they generally aren’t as sweet as European desserts). I think I would have preferred it if it didn’t have the white chocolate and was just simply masked it with the cream. That way the sweetness wouldn’t distract from the more subtle flavours (and it would also be easier to eat).

Chausson aux pommes: The layers of the puff pastry on this were huge! This is still one of my favourite desserts from the pop ups. You can’t go wrong with the classic flavours of apple pie but the students do such a remarkable job with the puff pastry on them. The layers are distinct, delicate and super flaky. If anything, I would say that the pastry on this item this week might have been a little too flaky (is that even possible?) as it made it hard to get to the apple filling. Maybe slightly more apple compote filling would have been nice to balance out the loftiness of the pastry layers but I’m really splitting hairs. I honestly really don’t think this items needs any improvement.

Hard at work tasting pastries

Milk tea croissant: This was one of my favourite items (which was recommended to me). I love the playful presentation with the straw and mini flower made with icing. Very nice touch and an homage to milk tea the drink (commonly used in bubble tea). When I sipped on the straw I could immediately taste the milk tea flavoured pastry cream. The flavour was spot on! I also think the thickness of the pastry cream was the perfect texture for this application. The croissant was flaky and light and there was an adequate amount of milk tea flavoured pastry cream inside (which provided a different flavour and texture without making the croissant soggy). That along with the perfect placement of the straw and the playful presentation makes this one of the best croissants I have ever had (and I have eaten ALOT Of croissants). It is definitely the most original croissant I have had. Bravo on the idea and execution of this item!

Mushroom jalousie: I liked the description of the flavours for this item but when I bit into it I couldn’t really taste the mushroom or cheese. The pastry was tender and flaky but it needed more filling to balance it out. Perhaps using goat cheese instead of cream cheese and adding truffle oil would make it more flavourful. Mind you, I had this item after eating the egg white truffle sandwich and the truffle flavour of this item was just amazing. It would have been nice to have had that level of truffle/mushroom flavour in the jalousie. Overall, I feel like it needed more filling and/or more flavour (but my taste buds might have been spoiled from having the truffle sandwich).

Egg white truffle sandwich: To be honest, if Chef hadn’t recommend this item to me I probably wouldn’t have chosen it. However, I have never been into egg salad sandwiches which is what I assume this sandwich was modelled after. It didn’t look that appealing to me from the appearance but the flavour of this sandwich was amazing! I could taste the mushroom/truffle flavour (loved it!) and the egg whites gave it a nice, light texture. I also liked the detail of lining the bread with baby spinach – this was not only a good idea in terms of presentation but also helped absorb some of the moisture. I feel like maybe more spinach could have been used or mixed into the mixture to help bind some of the water as quite a bit of liquid seeped out which was made it a little soggy. It was also a little messy to eat, as the egg whites would fall all over the place when I took at bite. I liked the various components – the bread, the filling, the textures and flavours but feel like it could use some tweaking in terms of the appearance and excess moisture. But it was delicious. I would still choose to buy it again despite the messiness.

Lemon madelaines: Nothing bad to say about these. Nicely browned, great lemon flavour throughout without being overpowering. Soft, even texture. Perfect with a cup of tea. However, I haven’t eaten as many madelaines as I have croissants so it’s hard for me to judge or notice the nuances.

My favourite items this week: Milk tea croissant, chausson aux pommes, choux trio and egg white truffle sandwich (not shown – because I already ate it)

I feel so lucky to get to be able to try all these amazing items each week. These students are doing great work. I can’t wait to see what they come up with in the remaining weeks.