Happily waiting outdoors for longer than I would, those Parisians, babies in tow, would crowd into the space for the privilege of eating mango granola, savory pancakes, madeleines, or a sweet chocolate mousse.
See and be seen
I found out when I started going there regularly in September. One of Castel’s outposts is just around the corner from my children’s preschool, so for snack time, we pick up some tasty coquillages, or seashells, which are nothing more nor less than tiny madeleines, and we enjoy them in the local park, the Square des Saint Simoniens.
But we also see the after-school crowds of second- or third-generation Western and Northern Africans. The kids fill the basketball court/soccer field, and then there are also some rougher, older kids who speed through the park on their electric trottinettes, or scooters.
I always find it hard to know where me and my family fit in: we are bourgeois bohemians, I guess, but I’m also an immigrant!
Simply Natural Pastry
The higher prices belie Castel’s humble Breton origins: his grandparents were paysans (farmers) who made butter from their own cows. The cookbook I bought recently from one of his shops is called Pâtisserie Simplement Naturelle, or Simply Natural Pastry. And Castel definitely cultivates what he calls a “sincerité toute enfantine” or a child-like sincerity and simplicity.
One of each, please
The first time I stopped in at one of Castel’s bakeries was about a year ago: his newest shop in the rue Sorbier beckoned me in with its gorgeous old-fashioned tiles, and the desserts and sandwiches in the window looked so good I wanted to order one of each.
Grandma’s Chocolate Mousse
This recipe is definitely “regressive” so if you’re serving kids at the table, they’ll love this! Even my adult friends, who claim to only love dark chocolate mousse, ended up licking the inside of the ramekin. It really did take them back in time to their childhood sweet mousse-eating days.
Note: This recipe uses raw eggs, so please make sure to buy the freshest eggs available to you.
- ½ cup (120 g) heavy cream
- 6 ounces (170 g) good-quality chocolate, 64% cocoa content, chopped
- 4 very fresh large eggs, separated
- 2½ tablespoons (30 g) sugar
how to make it:
- Bring the heavy cream to the boil in a medium saucepan. Off the heat, add the chocolate pieces and stir with a wooden spoon or spatula, working from the middle and stirring in the same direction. Gradually incorporate the chocolate on the edges, and keep stirring until all the chocolate is melted.
- In a stand mixer, or using a hand mixer, whip the egg whites, while gradually incorporating the sugar, to medium peaks (not too stiff: when you bring the whip up from the whites, you should have a bec d’oiseau or “bird’s beak”).
- Add the egg yolks to the cream-chocolate mix and stir well. Transfer this mixture to a large bowl, then delicately and gently fold in the egg whites just until the whites have disappeared.
- Turn the mixture into a large serving bowl, or into 6-8 individual ramekins, and refrigerate for at least two hours.
serves 6 to 8