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Top Pick Of The Week

May 9, 2006

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Jasmine Chocolate
You could almost eat this life-size Green Jasmine chocolate from the page. Each beautifully-crafted piece of chocolate from Jin Patisserie demands that you contemplate it before, during, and after it’s in your mouth.
WHAT IT IS: Exquisite little chocolates filled with (mostly) Asian-inspired ganaches.
WHY IT’S DIFFERENT: Made by a pastry chef, the ganache is extra-creamy and light; yet the infused flavors are assertive and commanding. The perfect yin and yang.
WHY WE LOVE IT: We enjoyed the same serenity eating our box of chocolate that people achieve dining at Jin Patisserie. Everything is so lovely, you just don’t want it to end.
PURCHASE AT: JinPatisserie.com.


Premium Jin: Jin Patisserie Chocolates

 

CAPSULE REPORT: With Mother’s Day upon us, chocolates from Jin Patisserie, delicate works of art, are perfect for moms and others who just want a little taste of perfection. In Jin’s case, that taste will knock their socks off.

Made by an award-winning pastry chef who owns a Zen-like tea garden, pastry and chocolate shop in Venice, California, Jin’s chocolates are distinctly different. Owner Kristy Choo’s ethereally light yet extra-creamy ganaches, with heady infusions of flavors (most from the Pacific Rim), make the taster take notice. Usually, small bites of chocolate leave us wanting more. These petite delicacies are so very satisfying, they can teach Zen through chocolate. Read the full review below.

Pastry-Lover’s Reading List
(A book selection inspired by Jin’s pastries, which you can see on the company’s website)

The Secrets of Baking Sweet Seasons A Modernist View
The Secrets of Baking: Simple Techniques for Sophisticated Desserts, by Sherry Yard. Yard, pastry chef at Spago Beverly Hills, has written a great book for the amateur baker. You’ll master Ganache, Caramel, Curd, Vanilla Sauce, Pâte à Choux, Pound Cake, Genoise, Financier, Cookies, Pie and Tart Dough, Brioche, Laminated Dough and Fruit. Click here for more information. Sweet Seasons: Fabulous Restaurant Desserts Made Simple, by Richard Leach, executive pastry chef of the Park Avenue Café and a James Beard Foundation Pastry Chef. Four hundred of Leach’s building-block recipes can be combined to create 100 of his original desserts, which are organized by the seasons to take advantage of the freshest ingredients. Click here for more information. A Modernist View of Plated Desserts, by Tish Boyle and Timothy Moriarty. Fifty awesome desserts with recipes from 25 of America’s most accomplished pastry chefs. Each is accompanied by a full-page, full-color photograph of the finished dessert. While it examines the creative process in developing desserts, the photos make this an “art book” for dessert-lovers. Click here for more information.

Premium Jin: Delicate Chocolates For Demanding Palates

INDEX

 

 

Jin means “gold” in Mandarin Chinese. Everything about Jin Patisserie is gold-standard: the afternoon tea, the catering, the pastries, the chocolates. Unless you can stop by, it’s tough to sample the first three—Jin Patisserie is in Venice, California, due west of L.A., a stone’s throw north of Marina Del Rey.

But anyone can have a box of beautiful chocolates from Jin Patisserie. Because many of us have not yet sent Mother’s Day gifts—and because any mother would appreciate these lovely chocolates—we are getting this NIBBLE out early, just to maximize shopping time.

Kristy Choo, the owner of Jin, is a native of Singapore. Her first career was as a flight attendant; her travels enabled her to explore the world, experience local cuisines and develop a passion for food. Enrolling at the California Culinary Academy, she discovered an affinity for pastry and chocolate, and honed her skills back in Singapore in the pastry department of the famous Raffles Hotel. She once again traveled the world, this time competing as a member of the Singaporean national pastry team. Her work received awards at the Food & Hotel Arts Asia competition and the Culinary World Cup. Her husband’s relocation to Venice for business was a lucky day for L.A. sweets-lovers (and thanks to online ordering, for the rest of us as well).

Varieties

Choo melds the most sophisticated Western chocolatier skills with flavor accents from her native Asia to create little works of art that people on both sides of the International Date Line will flip for. The third thing you’ll notice, after the surface artistry and the taste, is the texture of the ganache.*

*Ganache is a velvety blend of chocolate and cream, often with butter added, that is used to fill chocolates, to fill and frost pastries, and to make truffles. Ganache can be made from dark, milk or white chocolate and can be plain or flavored. Using more chocolate than cream yields a firmer ganache; more cream than chocolate yields a softer ganache.

Choo’s chocolates are filled with the creamiest ganache imaginable. It’s pastry-quality ganache—ethereal and dainty rather than the thick ganache one finds in many chocolates. It’s a distinct point-of-view, and we can’t attribute it to Choo’s dual job as a pastry chef. Other pastry chefs make chocolate, like Brussels’ Pierre Marcolini, San Francisco’s Michael Recchiuti and New York’s Jacques Torres. Nor is it a woman thing: other women make firm ganaches. But, we say, vive la différence!

This is no fragile filling: balancing yin and yang, it packs as much a flavor punch as any, while exercising great finesse.  One of the pleasures of eating these chocolates is the feel of the feathery ganache against the tongue, bursting into assertive tastes.

Caramel Clove
Caramel Clove

The collection focuses on fruit-, spice/herb- and tea-infused ganaches. Except for the handful of Western flavors, it has an Asian cast; and quite a few flavors will sound unfamiliar or at least exotic to many people. But they are as perfect companions to chocolate as cherry, praline and mint.

The 20-piece box includes one each of Black Roasted Sesame, Café Rhum, Caramel Clove, Chrysanthemum, Cinnamon, Earl Grey Feuilletine, Ginger, Green Jasmine, Grand Marnier Truffle, Lavender, Lemongrass, Lychee, Mango Basil, Mango Kalamansi, Osmanthus Tangerine, Pandan, Passionfruit, Sea Salt Caramel, Thé des Concubines and Thé du Hammam.† It is a celebration of those you already know and those you are overjoyed to meet. There’s no guessing required: the box comes with a flavor map; although some still need a bit more explanation.

†Flavors may vary

Assorted Chocolates
Clockwise from left: Roasted Black Sesame, Lemongrass, Ginger. The chocolates are made with couverture from Chocolat Weiss, a French producer, and Felchlin a Swiss company. These two venerable firms have traditionally made products only for the professional market but now have lines of chocolate for the consumer that have recently begun to be sold in the U.S.

  • Kalamansi is a sour lime from Southeast Asia.
  • Osmanthus blossoms, which come from a Chinese evergreen, are used to flavor tea.
  • Pandan is an herb popular in Thai cuisine, reminiscent of vanilla with a touch of pine nut.
  • Thé des Concubines and Thé du Hammam, like Chrysanthemum and Earl Grey, are teas served at Jin Patisserie.
  • Thé des Concubines, a rare tea, is a blend of green and black Chinese teas with rose petals and pieces of fruit, yielding rich notes of cherry, papaya and vanilla.
  • A hammam is a Turkish bath house; along with a mosque it is an essential part of an Islamic city. Inspired by a traditional Turkish recipe, Chinese green tea is flavored with rose petals, orange flower water, green date pulp and red fruits.

Jin chocolates are a delightful way to get to know these flavors, and they will become dear friends. In our tasting, we cut each one-inch square of chocolate in half so as not to over-indulge. We were glad that we did because each was so wonderful, we had another morsel to enjoy later.

Jin chocolates are handmade daily from natural ingredients—no extracts, no preservatives. They are packaged in lovely silk boxes from Choo’s native Singapore (there are paper and wood boxes too). There’s a small round box with four pieces that makes a generous party favor.

LouvreIf you’re in the greater Los Angeles area, plan a visit to Jin Patisserie. You can sit in the garden, have a light lunch or afternoon tea, and enjoy Kristy’s wonderful pastries and tea menu (Jin offers 25 rare, organic teas from the French concern, Le Palais Des Thés). The staff will recommend which tea pairs best with the dessert you choose. The patisserie is open Tuesday through Sunday, 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. It is located in an arty enclave at 1202 Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice. To tide you over until then, at the left is a piece of pastry, the “Louvre,” filled with ginger custard and candied ginger, topped with spun sugar and gold leaf.

—Karen Hochman

FORWARD THIS NIBBLE to anyone who loves fine chocolates, has a great palate, or needs to send someone a beautiful gift (we can’t think of a nicer way to thank a hostess).

JIN PATISSERIE

Assorted Chocolates

  • Chocolate Assortments
    Boxes From 4 to 32 Pieces
    $10.00 To $60.50
  • Gift “Hatboxes”
    Assortments of Chocolates & Cookies
    $50.00 to $100.00

Purchase online at JinPatisserie.com

Or telephone 1.310.399.8801,
fax 1.310.399.8802,
Tuesday through Sunday
from 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Pacific Time

E-mail Info@JinPatisserie.com

Prices are verified at publication but are subject to change. Shipping is additional.

Box of Chocolates
Twenty pieces in a violet and gold silk box like the one above are $55.00. The 15-piece box, shown above, is not currently available; but 14 pieces in a pale green silk box lined in grey are $41.00.


Read about some of our other
favorites in these sections of
THE NIBBLE online magazine:



Our Favorite Teas

We can’t live without the IngenuiTea Cup-Top Brewer from Adagio (click here to read our review). In fact, we own three! You can use them to brew loose tea or bagged tea. With samplers of four different loose teas, they’re one of our favorite gifts.

Green Teas Herbal Teas Jasmine Tea
IngenuiTea Cup-Top Brewer & 4 Green Teas. Get to know four gourmet green teas: Citron Green, Green Pekoe, Hojicha and White Monkey. Click here for more information. IngenuiTea Cup-Top Brewer & 4 Herbal Teas. This set has four caffeine-free, gourmet herbal teas: Chamomile, Fruit Medley, Organic rooibos and Peppermint. Click here for more information. Jasmine “Display Tea.” This fragrant green tea from the Fujian region of China is a MUST for anyone who likes tea. Add hot water and the cluster of hand-tied tea leaves magically unfolds into this beautiful flower—a visual delight in the middle of delicious, healthy green tea. Click here for more information.

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ABOUT THE NIBBLE. THE NIBBLE, Great Food Finds, is an online magazine plus newsletters about specialty foods and the gourmet life. It is the only consumer publication and website that focuses on reviewing the best specialty foods and beverages, in every category. The magazine also covers tabletop items, gourmet housewares, and other areas of interest to people who love fine food.

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