The star ingredient of Christmas 2018, blue vanilla gives its unique profile to Yann Couvreur's signature bûches de Noël. This precious spice is from the Indian Ocean island of Réunion, where it is grown in very small quanities. Blue vanilla (la vanille bleue in French) is a guarded secret of the island, so named because the green vanilla pods are blanched before they're dried—the result is a vanilla prized for its aromatic properties. "This very rare vanilla has a thin coating that can be eaten," explains the chef. "To make this cake, we grate, infuse, and recover the skin of the husk and cut it. This is what gives it its power." The bûche is a rare gastronomic experience well worth the effort!
Airy meringue with a center of salted hazelnut praline and chocolate icing, the Merveille (Marvel) is the signature recipe for the chef. The cake is also available in bûche version for the December holidays, with its crispy meringue, hazelnut core, and light-as-air chocolate mousse for a festive treat.
Foxes are Yann Couvreur's symbol, and they can be found throughout his creations. For instance, the bûche Lové-Coco is composed of five foxes huddled around themselves. Under the fine chocolate shell lies a surprise layer of frothy mousse, sweet coconut praline cookies, crispy toasted coconut, and finally, the best for last: a heart of milk chocolate.
What would Christmas be without chestnuts? It's a seasonal product that Yann Couvreur pairs with vanilla in all its forms, from mousse elevated with a touch of whisky to a creamy core with an intense flavor. A chef's surpise, a meringue center brings a vintage touch to this classic that is anything but boring!
Since last spring, Yann Couvreur set up his café in the lobby of the Galeries Lafayette Gourmet—it's a spot where visitors can oogle the creations of the chef from morning until night, with a stunning view of the Opéra Garnier. Every year since he first set up shop here, the chef has created a bûche inspired by Beaux-arts touches. Called "35 Haussmann," the confection mixes white chocolate and almonds in a joyful mélange of flavors. It's the perfect treat for a truly Parisian Christmas.
Where can you try Yann Couvreur's creations?
The pastry chef has two boutiques in Paris, on the avenue Parmentier in the 10th arrondissement and on the rue des Rosiers in the Marais district. Conceived to mimic the atmosphere of a coffee-shop, the two addresses are instantly recognizable from their wooden exteriors. Visitors love to stop by to sample Kouign Amann (a Breton specialty that's a cross between a breakfast viennoiserie and pastries), tonka bean éclairs or the Merveille praline. For a little snack between shops, his café at the Galeries Lafayette Gourmet is the place to satisfy a sweet craving or sip a hot drink.
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