PARIS TREAT Dec. 20:
Millefeuille from Jacques Genin
I've tried throughout this advent calendar to avoid repeating a single address. That's kept me from posting about the salted butter caramels at Patrick Roger, the fig tart at Pain de Sucre and the bananutella waffle at L'Avant Comptoir. I'm making an exception to return to Jacques Genin and gush about his marvelous millefeuille. This "thousand layers" dessert is often a too-sweet soggy mess. Chez Genin, the millefeuille is assembled at the moment of your order. The buttery layers stay crisp and have just enough salt to counter the pure vanilla cream. It's a revelation for €5.40 ($7.75).
La Chocolaterie Jacques Genin, 133 rue de Turenne, 3rd arrondissement, +011-33/1-45-77-29-01.
PARIS TREAT Dec. 19:
A sultry éclair from Fauchon
This iconic luxury food emporium on the Place Madeleine dates all the way back to 1886. Many of its products are priced out of reach, but this little lady (in pastry form) is well within your grasp. As I reported back in November, the sultry image of Brigitte Bardot is now appearing on Fauchon's rose and almond éclair. She'll melt slowly in your mouth for €6 ($9).
Fauchon, 24-26 place de la Madeleine, 8th arrondissement, +011-33/1-70-39-38-00.
PARIS TREAT Dec. 18:
Macarons from Ladurée
The French macaron (way different from that American coconut confection, the macaroon) inspires delight and serious debate. True fans of the delicate cookie never tire of arguing about the best source, and Ladurée is always among the contenders. This venerable house has been producing pastry since 1862 and makes macarons that are more traditional than their main rival Pierre Hermé. They're beautiful to behold... so much so that film director Sofia Coppola used the pastel colors as the basis for costumes in Marie Antoinette. Macaron flavors change according to season, but some of my favorites include cassis-violette (black current and violet), bitter chocolate, salted butter caramel, and rose petal. A selection of four mini macarons (like those shown here) is €7.10 ($10.20).
Ladurée, 21 rue Bonaparte, 6th arrondissement, +011-33/1-44-07-64-87.
PARIS TREAT Dec. 17:
Ispahan from Pierre Hermé
Pierre Hermé, the city's most esteemed pastry maker, will be remembered for at least two things: his superb and often stupefying macarons (with surprising notes of white truffle, balsamic vinegar or candied kumquat), and the invention of the Ispahan flavor profile. This combination of rose, raspberry and litchi is used in a range of different sweets and pastries. My favorite is this signature dessert, which sandwiches rose petal cream with fresh litchis and whole raspberries between two rose-flavored macaron cookies (€6.60 ($9.48)). Ask for two spoons and take your dessert to share in the pretty place Saint-Sulpice.
Pierre Hermé, 72 rue Bonaparte, 6th arrondissement, +011-33/1-43-54-47-77.
PARIS TREAT Dec. 16:
Chestnuts roasting in an open market
When Jack Frost is nipping, as he often does in December, it's nice to have your hands wrapped around something warm. These roasted chestnuts make a cozy companion while browsing the open-air Christmas markets of Paris. A small cone for €3 ($4.37) should be more than enough, unless you want a few extra to warm the inside of your mittens (large cone for €5 ($7.29)). These particular châtaignes grillées come from the market at Saint-Sulpice, where you'll also find vin chaud (hot spiced wine) and other cold weather Christmas treats.
Marché de Noël, place Saint-Sulpice, 6th arrondissement.
PARIS TREAT Dec. 15:
Golden threads from the saffron king
When you're shelling out for the world's most expensive spice, it helps to have a trustworthy advisor on the other side of the register. Jean-Marie Thiercellin is a sixth-generation spice merchant whose family has been trading in saffron for hundreds of years. His shop in the upper Marais sells the stuff in every conceivable form: threads and powders, mustards and oils, and even saffron ice cream. A sachet of saffron powder is €5.50 ($8), and you can also pick up an award-winning book on the history and uses of the spice. Don't leave without stopping by "le Sniff Bar"—his selection of spices in smellable cannisters that are sure to make you swoon.
Goumanyat & Son Royaume, 3 rue Charles-Francois Dupuis, 3rd arrondissement, +011-33/1-44-78-96-74.
PARIS TREAT Dec. 14:
A buttery brioche
When Philippe Conticini recently opened his Pâtisserie des Rêves, people were lining up on the rue du Bac for the chance to sample the "pastry of dreams." One of his most eye-catching treats is this brioche, composed of fine flaky layers that melt like butter in the mouth. This particular brioche is built for a giant, but he sells one for mortals for only a few euros. Another treat that shouldn't be missed is the Paris-Brest. Named for the famous bike race, this is a wheel of choux pastry stuffed with smooth hazelnut cream. Absolutely delicious for only €4.80 ($7).
La Pâtisserie des Rêves, 3 rue du Bac, 7th arrondissement, +011-33/1-42-84-00-82.