French Pastry Pop-up – March 12

This week’s French pastry pop up was led by Gabrielle who combined her Brazilian background with a “tropical” theme to showcase the various Latin American influences in her items (e.g. coconut, banana, pineapple, passion fruit, dulce de leche, cinnamon, corn cookies, empanadas and brigadeiros).

She also took the extra step with branding as she made professional decorative stickers to go with her “Tropical” theme which had her Instagram handle – @gabifnsc. Some items also had colourful decorative elements (cookies packaged in colourful cloth bags and and banana cake wrapped in banana leaves.)

Now onto the items that I tried.

Pistachio eclair, pina colada tart, brigadeiros, meringue and cheese gougeres (gluten free)

First off, I should mention that there are couple items that were not part of original order. Gabrielle explained to me that someone had taken my passion fruit mille feuille and sold it to a another customer by accident. She graciously substituted a meringue instead (which is great customer service). However, when I opened the box I noticed that there was another mistake – I was given a pistachio eclair instead of the brioche! This was a little disappointing as I was really looking forward to trying the brioche with flavours of dulce de leche and cinnamon. The eclair was still very tasty, however, I was a little sad that my order was not as I had ordered it.

Pistachio eclair: Even though this isn’t an item that I ordered it was really tasty. The choux pastry was light and soft and the outside was firm and crispy. The filling was smooth with the right level of sweetness with candied pistachios and coconut which provided an interesting flavour. I have to be honest in that I couldn’t really taste the pistachio flavour that much. I could definitely taste the coconut. I am also not sure if the candied pistachios were supposed to be crunchy and offer a varying texture because when I ate it they had already been softened by the pastry cream. It could be that I just waited too long to eat it. Perhaps having the candied pistachios on the outside would be a more effective way of incorporating them as this would prevent them from softening up in the pastry cream as provide some visual interest.

Pina colada tart: This was my favourite out of all the items I tried. It really tasted like a pina colada! The pineapple filing had good texture and flavour. It was soft but still had texture from the fibres in the pineapple making it interesting but still soft enough so as not to compete with the smoothness of the coconut mousse layer. It was garnished with a thin slice of dried pineapple as an homage to the Brazilian carnival festival which has samba dancers with their amazing costumes and feathered head dresses. I feel like there could have been another decorative element in addition to the dried pineapple to elevate it a bit more and add a little bit more polish. But overall, I really enjoyed this item.

Brigadeiros: I love the way that these were presented! They looked like little flowers in their colourful, ruffled liners. These are a classic Brazilian sweet – similar to a truffle but made with condensed milk which I could definitely taste. They had a soft and smooth texture and were perfectly rolled in an even coat of dark chocolate sprinkles. These are the most professional looking brigadeiros I have ever had. Very tasty too!

Meringue: I really liked the way this was done. The presentation with the shaved almonds on top and the thin chocolate base was a great modern variation on this item. The meringue was crunchy on the outside yet still had a bit of chewiness in the centre which I loved! It was a little difficult to cut through however as the base of the meringue was quite hard. I would suggest baking it a little less to see if it would result in more chewiness in the centre and make the base less hard. But overall, this was nicely done.

Cheese gougeres (gluten free): I was super excited to try these. They are made with tapioca flour which is gluten free and I was happy to see this included on the menu. It’s always nice to incorporate one modified item in order to really stretch and grow as well as be progressive/forward thinking. I have had really good gluten free choux pastry in the past (so good that it was hard to tell that it was gluten free) so I was hoping these would also be a good example. Unfortunately, these gougeres fell a bit short. They were tough and heavy instead of being light and airy. Also some were hollow while others were quite dense. I think this item has tons of potential and can be a great product but the method needs to be reworked a bit. The cheesy flavour was good however.

Busy tasting pastries

I give this pop up top marks for branding. The extra step to bring everything together around a central theme with decorative elements as well as personal branding was well executed. I could see alot of creativity in terms of the Latin American flavours as well as pushing the boundaries with some of the items deviating from classic French pastries (brigadeiros, empanadas and corn cookies for example).

Some of the items could use a bit more refinement and tweaking to improve them. I feel like the Latin American flavours were incorporated well but some of the items could be elevated a bit more in terms of their presentation.