Add: 206, K11 Shopping Mall, 300 Middle Huaihai Road / 淮海中路300号K11购物艺术中心206
Tel: 6333 7318
Price: [chocolate] 20-22 RMB/ea [macaron] 250 RMB/ea (pre-packaged boxes available)
Visited: Jun 2016
I passed by a Pierre Marcolini boutique five years ago in Brussels by chance, and, without knowing anything about this brand, bought two boxes of chocolates just because the shop was pretty. Some post hoc research told me that Pierre Marcolini won the title of World Champion of Pastry in 1995, and has shops not only in Brussels, but also in Paris, London, Tokyo, Monaco, Luxembourg etc. In fact, he is kind of a big deal.
But it wasn’t until moving to Paris that I got to know a bit more about this chocolatier, mostly through a French TV show I used to follow called “Qui Sera Le Prochain Grand Pâtissier” (Who Will be the Next Big Pastry Chef”), in which Pierre Marcolini was one of the four judges.
And just last week, his boutique opened in Shanghai. So far it’s a temporary pop-up on the second floor of K11 shopping mall, though a tea salon is scheduled open in October – something to look forward to. On an unrelated note, even the doorknobs are in the shape of Marcolini’s signature chocolate squares…how cute!
Et voilà voilà, les chocolats.
Marcolini’s 2015 Easter Doll design, the dots were apparently inspired by Yayoi Kusama.
They do macarons, too.
Pierre Marcolini himself was in Shanghai for the boutique opening, and I had the opportunity to chat with him for a bit during a press dinner as well as a magazine interview. Needless to say I was a little starstruck to meet him in person, and hopefully acted relatively normal…
In the gift bags we received, there were all these pretty things.
First there’s a box of 14 chocolate bonbons (288 RMB). The most attention-grabbing one was the Coeur Framboise (meaning “raspberry heart”), which consists of raspberry dark chocolate ganache with a hint of lemon, covered in white chocolate. The two other hearts are salted caramel and lime, all very pretty, but truth be told the hearts are too sweet for me. My personal favorites were probably the Earl Grey tea chocolate and the two dark chocolates, as well as Le Câlin (meaning “hug”) on the bottom left, which consists of almond praliné, dentelle de Quimper, and caramel with Tahitian vanilla.
What makes Marcolini chocolates special is the fact that he insists on doing the entire bean-to-bar process himself, meaning sourcing and roasting the cacao beans, milling them, kneading the resulting mixture and then heating and cooling the chocolate. This differentiates him from others who use couverture chocolate, which is chocolate that has already been processed by large-scale manufacturers. As Marcolini himself says, the bean-to-bar process is really what gives soul to his chocolates.
Packaging is also done meticulously. Inside the box there are a layer of dipping paper, a layer of oil paper, and a layer of thick buffer board that’s got a curved-in corner for easy removal. Details details details.
Truffes Champagne (318 RMB) are milk chocolate ganache flavored with Jean Pierre Lalouelle champagne, covered in a hard chocolate shell. This type of truffle is Belgian style, whereas the French do it simply by rolling ganache in cocoa powder, which I personally prefer for the all-soft texture.
Marcolini also has several varieties of chocolate squares (98 RMB), and the one given to us was sugar-free milk chocolate. Instead of sugar, it uses Maltitol, which apparently is very similar to sugar in terms of flavor, but has only half the calories and has less effects on blood sugar level.
There’s also a box of macarons (7 for 198 RMB), the flavors were pistachio, hazelnut, cinnamon, black currant, coffee, Chuao (chocolate), and Pierre Marcolini (chocolate), though when I visited the boutique myself, I realized that flavors available for sale in Shanghai are actually the following five: passion fruit, vanilla, rose, lemon tea (mmm this one sounds delicious), and raspberry (25 RMB/each).
I certainly didn’t feel like I had enough after finishing all of the above, so I went back to the boutique to pick up a few things. Being a huge fan of praliné, I picked a box filled with only that (8 for 168 RMB), and amongst pralinés of hazelnut, almond, pistachio, cashew nuts, coffee, cinnamon etc., my favorites were probably hazelnut and cashew nuts, though the coffee one was excellent as well.
And just to tell you a little bit about how praliné is made…first we roast the nuts (typically almonds and hazelnuts), cook them in a pot with sugar until caramelized, pour on to baking sheet to let cool, and churn with food processor to make a paste. I used to do this quite often in pastry kitchens, and though it’s a long and tedious (not to mention super hot) process, the gloriously nutty aroma and crunchy texture make it all worthwhile.
I also took home a box of Croustillant Fondant (178 RMB), which is crunchy almond nougatine wrapped in a house-blend of dark chocolate from Ecuador and Ghana, with a hint of salt. Note that they use Marcona almonds from Spain, which is sweeter and more intense in flavor than the typical almond variety.
The chocolates can be purchased by the piece as well, prices are 20-22 RMB.
Lastly, I tried a box of Palets Fins (16 pieces for 288 RMB), which are only 4mm thick but still enough to envelope fillings like caramel, orange blossom, and mango. At the moment of taking this photo I had already eaten one piece, hence the red heart…(which is not from the box, just FYI).
Chocoholics, you know what to do :)