Thursday, January 27, 2011

Chocolat and Other Sweets

Welcome to Fabulous French Fridays. When you think of Chocolat what comes to mind?

Of course Johnny Depp and Juliette Binoche in the movie of the same name. But what about true chocolat? What country comes to mind? Switzerland? Belgium? It is interesting that both of these countries are next door neighbors to France. Even France’s neighbor across the channel, England, has France to thank for its first chocolate. The London chocolate store, the Coffee Mill and Tobacco Roll, was established by a Frenchman in 1657. The chocolate sold there was so expensive only the wealthy could afford it.


France has a long history with chocolate. Indeed some of the finest treats such as chocolate mousse, the chocolate éclair and chocolate truffles were all made popular by the French. The 1615 wedding of Louis XIII to Anne of Austria (the daughter of Phillip II of Spain) was where the French court discovered the strange brew known for its revitalizing and aphrodisiacal properties.
The first "Chocolatier du Roi" (Chocolatier to the King) was a Parisian tradesman by the name of David Chaillou. In 1659, King Louis XIV bestowed on Chaillou the title of "Chocolatier du Roi" for 29 years, granting him the exclusive privilege to make and sell chocolate in France. Chaillou opened a shop on Rue de l'arbre sec, not far from the Louvre, where he was the first to serve hot chocolate in a Paris chocolate house. In 1780 that royal appointment of chocolates was revived when Chaillou's great-great-grandson Sulpice Debauve became the official chocolate-maker of Queen Marie-Antoinette. Sulpice Debauve, established a chocolate shop in Paris. His chocolate was so revered that he was able to open additional shops and had established 60 shops just four year later. His nephew, Antoine Gallais, began partnering with him in 1823. The name of the shops were changed to Debauve and Gaillais. Louis XVIII, Charles X and Louis Philippe all appointed Debauve and Gaillais  as the Official Chocolatiers of the French Court.

French chocolate must be made with at least 43% cocoa liquor. No animal or vegetable fat is allowed. Many French chocolate makers use up to 80% cocoa liquor as the higher the percentage, the richer the final product will be. This standard creates a chocolate without rival.
Another famous chocolate and pastry boutique in France is La Maison du Chocolat. Robert Linxe was born in Basque country and completed an apprenticeship in Bayonne. From there he completed his studies in Switzerland and returned to France and opened a shop in Paris in 1955 called Marquis de Presles. It was sold in 1977 to Gaston Lenotre. I would like to imagine that the lemon tart featured below is being reserved for “Laura”.

In 1945, Maurice Bernachon opened the Bernachon Chocolate Factory in Lyons, France at the age of 26. He was trained in the art of chocolate making by his parents. Sixty years later the Bernachon factory is still famous for its delicious chocolate.

Richart Chocolate began in 1925 on the Croix Rousse hill in Lyons France where Joseph Richart, created and maintained his laboratory. The company is still family owned by the children and grandchildren of Monsieur Richart.

Saving my personal favorite for last is Ladurée. This famed French institution came onto the radar of many American’s after their luscious treats were showcased in Sofia Coppola’s film “Marie Antoinette”.

Louis-Ernest Ladurée began his career as a miller (one who operates a flour mill). He began his bakery in 1862. After it burnt down in 1871 it was rebuilt on the same location, 16 rue Royale, in Paris. Jules Chéret, a master of Belle Époque poster art, was responsible for the famed interiors. The ceilings feature cherubs dressed as pastry cooks which went on to become the companies emblem. Ladurée’s true rise to fame was in 1930 when Ladurée’s grandson, Pierre Desfontaines, created a double decker macaron with a creamy ganache filling. Desfontaines also opened a “salon de thé” (tearoom). The pastry and tea shop was a great success with the ladies as they were not admitted to the French cafés at the time.

In 1993 the company was sold to the Holder Group which has expanded the number of tearooms to now include locations on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées in Paris, London, Monaco, and Italy among others.

I have long coveted their wedding cake couple available only to those who order their cake from the esteemed bakery.

I am also eager to sample their famous macarons during my trip this spring as it would seem I am once again being beckoned by an “L'”.
Who else would like a bite?

Thank you for joining us on French Fridays.
Bon Appetite!
Andrea and Laura


Rachel Noelle said...

such a wonderful post~You have so much knowledge about all things French and beautiful!I love it~Hugs,Rachel

French Farmhouse 425

Anonymous said...

Wow, I did not know about French Fridays but I will definitely join you next week. You know when I think of Chocolat, yes, I think of the movie but more specifically of the cup of hot chocolate Vien makes the grandma (I forgot her name). And Laduree...who cannot love that place. It brings back great memories of my trips to Paris.

Linen + Verbena

Mom in High Heels said...

Oh, Laduree! Comment je vous adore! I love French chocolate. The darker the better. I did not know the history of it though. Thanks for the info.
And Chocolat is my favorite Johnny Depp movie ever! EVER. Johnny Depp + chocolate = pure fantasy come true.

jeanette from everton terrace said...

Yum, double drool yum. I am a bit forlorn as I don't recall eating chocolate on my only trip to Paris. Just that fact is quite bizarre because I do love it so. I did however visit Laduree and enjoyed the macarons. I bought several boxes to bring home as gifts and I'm ashamed to say I ate them all before I got home! My friend loves a fruit tea they have.

Anonymous said...

I think I just gained 10 pounds reading this post! So tempting...
What beautiful chocolate shops.
I am just catching up with all the posts I missed on this lovely blog and then I will hop over to your online shop. I wish I were able to visit your displays in person. Laura, you look so pretty in pink!

Your Friend,

Craftymoose Crafts said...

I think I put 10 lbs on just looking at this delicious post!

Miss Sandy said...

What adorable goodness over at Decor to Adore and sweet French treats here today! Please don't stone me...but...I don't like chocolate although I did adore the movie Chocolat so does that count as kind of liking chocolate? Have a sweet weekend!

French said...

I'm feeling rather ready for some tea and chocolat right about now....

Jillian said...

Wow! Fantastic. Loved the photos and all of the info. I also loved Laura's chocolate bar makeovers on her other blog, Decore to Adore.


Bella Rosa Antiques

Karena said...

I love chocolate; it is one of my weaknesses. What a wonderful array you have shown us Laura and the history is so interesting!

Art by Karena

The Boston Lady said...

C'est bon! If I'm remembering my French Canadian correctly. I think I gained a few pounds just looking at that deliciousness! Ann

Purple Haze said...

...can almost taste the chocolate in my mouth!! Interesting post.!

TRay said...

We need a Laduree outpost in the USA. I think they NEED to open one in NYC. NEED TO DO IT.

A delicious post! My favorite scene in "Chocolat?" When the guy wakes up in the shop window, covered in the chocolat he has so protested, yet ultimately could not resist!!

Sweets to the sweet!


Mona Thompson Providence Ltd. said...

I'm sipping wine right now, one of those chocolates would be delightful. Have a great weekend. Mona

Antica Treasures by Claudia Twardus said...

Thank you very much for visiting my blog the other day! ; )

I love love love...what am I saying j'adore CHOCOLAT!

Thank you for this yummy posting~

Verbena Custom Blends said...

Wonderful Post! Love Chocolate and will be following you every friday, i just discovered your blog :) c'est si bon!

Kelly_Deal said...

Hi Laura! Thanks for coming over to my blog and saying hi! What a beautiful post and beautiful blog! I love all things French!

Loretta Fontaine (APPLESandRUBIES) said...

Laura- What sweet adorable little bars you wrapped on your Decor To Adore blog, and this history of french chocolate was lovely. Amazingly, it did not make me hungry at all, as I just baked and ate dark chocolate brownies, so I'll pass on the macarons tonight!


Sarah said...

Oh, some of my favorite spots in Paris! ;-)

eowiin said...

even me , who is in France ( but far from Paris ) , you make me dream ! I am crazy of macarons and chocolates . Thank you. Bise. eowiin

Kristy and Adam said...

Gorgeous post thank you! We are new to your blog - stumbled across it researching Paris! We head there this September = )

Best wishes,