Friday, June 21, 2013

Valerie Confections: Petits Fours

"Alright, so I'm going to be in the L.A. area. Type that into Google. Hmm. That chocolate shop doesn't look very good; that one just looks like a lot of hype. That one looks okay, but their website doesn't excite me. What's this? Valerie Confections? What? Rose Petal Petits Fours? I must have those."
Their original boutique is in Silverlake, not too far from downtown L.A. It's a small shop, with a glass case of petits fours next to a shelf of preserves, which are in turn across from shelves of boxed chocolates. When we stepped in, the shopkeeper offered us freshly made Smoke & Spice Truffles. These happened to be some of the ones I singled out online; I was thrilled. The cocoa powder makes them look like they would be soft ganaches, but there is still an outer layer of chocolate. They aren't nearly as spicy as many spiced chocolates these days, of which I was glad. The flavor is used within the chocolate rather than thrown in as a novelty. 
 We picked out a box of Mint Mendiants for a gift, which have already received positive commendations. They come topped with a candied mint leaf.
The six chocolates we picked out (two each) we didn't get in a gift box; perhaps we imagined we would eat them more quickly. But being that these are petits fours rather than little truffles, they tend toward slower eating. My in-the-car pictures hardly do them justice, but they're visually gorgeous. The chocolate is smooth, and the garnishes have all the more impact because the look is kept simple. Lemon, Mint, Orange, one I'm not sure of, and my own two: Rose Petal and Champagne. 
The Rose Petal Petit Four brings me to a Victorian tea house, with flowers and fine dishes and ladies wearing feathered hats and lace gloves. The candied rose petal is delicate and the white chocolate base substantial. It felt so strange to be so drawn to a white chocolate, but from the first picture I saw of this chocolate (or should I say dessert?), I was in love. And then I bit in and felt all the ingredients coming together, the softness and the lightness, the crispness and the sweetness, and I fell more in love. The composition is four layers of vanilla bean cake, with rose petal ganache in between. A box of these would be a better gift from a gentleman to a lady than any bouquet of roses. 
The little Champagne Petit Four got left behind and carried around all the way home. Not the best conditions for it, yet it managed to arrive looking decent. It begged me for a photoshoot of its own. A gold flake glints on the top. 
This one uses butter cake with the champagne ganache, making it look more like a mini cake than the Rose Petal one did. Maybe it was because this one wasn't new by the time I had it, but I prefer the Rose Petal; it had a more complex and crafted flavor. This isn't, of course, to say that the Champagne wasn't well made. I sliced it into triangles as if it were a cake and it disappeared in errant thoughts of richness. 
I didn't go for the chocolates or for the straight out desserts at Valerie Confections, but through the petits fours I discovered how complex and gourmet a "confection" can in fact be. It needn't be trite or childish or nostalgic; it needn't neglect quality ingredients or precision. Would I go back to Valerie Confections? Instantly. Instantly. 

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