We were saddened when we heard that Payard, famed pastry Chef Francois Payard's French pastry restaurant, had closed down. We loved everything there - from his flaky croissants to his decadent Buche de Noel. So when we heard that he was back in NYC with a few new endeavors, we were overjoyed.
So far, Chef Payard's creations are being served at Francois Chocolate Bar within a jewelry store and at gourmet store Butterfield Market.
We checked out Butterfield Market and found a few prepared gift boxes of Payard chocolates and macarons. There was a window display case of pastries and cakes which looked good; however, it was not obvious how one could buy them.
We inquired and found out we had to ask the employee who was off to the side taking catering orders. Customers were also looking to try the Payard hot chocolate which was advertised; however, the machine was not working. Since this partnership just started, we hope that the logistics will soon work out.
After walking through beautiful displays of sparkling jewelry, we took the elevator (the most luxurious elevator we've ever ridden with fabric walls, vanity table, and very flattering mirrors) up to the 4th floor, and walked into a chocolate wonderland.
Look at all of these sweet treats! It's a pretty good day when the most difficult decision we'd have to make is figuring out which one(s) to try out! We each ended up getting a different hot chocolate with our desserts.
One of our friends got the White Chocolate with Red berries and Hibiscus flowers ($5.50): It was the lightest and prettiest of the three hot chocolates and very fragrant. It tasted like a berry smoothie or raspberry yogurt.
Our other friend ordered the Milk Hot Chocolate with Nutella syrup ($5.50): If you're a fan of Nutella, the hazelnut spread, you would love this drink. It tasted the same and its texture was only slight thinner than the thick spread.Dark Hot Chocolate with Raspberry and Orange Blossom ($5.50): Thinking that this drink would have brightness from the citrus and raspberry, we ordered this dark chocolate drink. Unfortunately, we did not taste any of those flavors. What we did have was a sweet, thick, hot chocolate that seem more milk than dark. It was good, but we were hoping for something different, with perhaps layers of different flavors.
Of the 4 verrine choices, we chose the Verrine du Japonais while our friend chose the Verrine Tout Chocolat ($7 on the sit-down menu though the display sign said $6.50)
The Verrine du Japonais ($7) had layers of hazelnut dacquoise (a light, spongy cake made of hazelnut and almond meringue with whipped or buttercream) , milk chocolate mousse, milk chocolate chantilly, dark chocolate glaze, and (our favorite part) yuzu citrus cremeaux.
The yuzu (a Japanese fruit similar in taste to the lemon) provided the bright and fresh taste we hoped to find in our hot chocolate. It helped to balance the sweet chocolate layers. We loved this dessert because it was light, airy, and a wonderful mix of nutty, sweet, and citrusy flavors.
The Verrine Tout Chocolat ($7) was what its name implied: chocolate on top of chocolate! It had dark chocolate sabayon (an egg-based cream), dark chocolate leaves with fleur de sel, chocolate macaron, chocolate mousse, caramel chips with a mini chocolate macaron on top!
This was also light in texture due to the mousse and sabayon with a nice crunch from the macaron and dark chocolate leaves.
Our other friend ordered the Louvre pastry ($6.50) which had rich layers of chocolate and hazelnut mousse, hazelnut dacquoise, and hazelnut wafer covered in dark chocolate. The dark chocolate coating was actually thicker and richer than expected - it definitely made each bite a little heavier since the layers of mousse, dcaquoise, and wafers were light.
Francois Chocolate Bar is located in the Mauboussin at 714 Madison Ave (btwn E 63rd and E 64th Sts.) in NYC.
Butterfield Market is located at 1114 Lexington Ave (btwn E 77th and E 78th Sts.) in NYC.
Payard's chocolates, cakes, and pastries can also be ordered online. We're looking forward to when Payard starts accepting orders for Buche de Noel again come the first week of December!