European Chocolate–Vive la Différence!
WHAT IT IS
We know there’s a difference between European chocolate and a bag of Halloween candy—but what is it? Basically, it has to do with the quality of ingredients. Cheap chocolate will use cheap ingredients, such as oils and vegetable fat instead of cocoa butter, and that leaves a different “feel” in the mouth.
Fine European chocolate is created from fine ingredients, such as Swiss dairy and Ivory Coast cocoa. It will leave out soy lecithin emulsifiers and corn starch, letting the cocoa, cocoa butter, sugar, and milk do the talking. What will they say? “We are delicious! We are quality!”
BRING IT HOME
You lucky Atlantans—you have the best of France at your doorstep. Neatly tucked into the corner of an office park across from the Chamblee MARTA station (on yet another Peachtree Road), is Maison Robert. This charming establishment is named for Robert Reeb, who is a third generation pâtissier-confiseur-glacier from Metz, France, and it is choc-full of chocolates and other delights. (I left with a box of chocolates and a bag of croissants!)
The confections are exquisite. They are hand-made on the premises, using imported European chocolate and European recipes (Robert studied his craft in Switzerland for ten years). The chocolate creations include truffles of Grand Marnier, cognac, and rum-raisin; Kirsch fondant; hazelnut bûchette; and vanilla marzipan.
These candies are gift-wrapped in a variety of ways. Robert’s wife, Patricia, has an eye for specialty items and has created lovely packaging for Valentine’s Day. There are small and large baking dishes, ramequins, tea pots, woven ceramic bowls, ornately cut soapstone dishes, beautiful boxes, and paper-mache hearts, all filled with Maison Robert’s sublime chocolates.
Best of all are the chocolate heart boxes.
Made entirely of dark or milk chocolate in a basket weave or marbled pattern and topped with marzipan roses, they are too pretty to eat–but too delicious not to!
Robert and daughter Katia (a fourth generation pâtissier-confiseur) offer classes in the making of chocolates and pastries. Their classes begin after Easter, when the high chocolate seasons have ended, and are limited to six students each. They teach students how to make ganache and temper chocolate; they also offer classes in the making of some of their novelty chocolates, such as their popular chocolate bird houses. Check out their website, at www.maisonrobertchocolates.com for a look at these items and for their schedule.
Maison Robert does ship their boxed chocolates (chocolate hearts are too fragile) and will take orders for Valentine’s Day shipments until Friday, February 10th. So place your orders now!
Take it from me, a chocolate snob. Ça c’est bon!