Dessert pilgrimage.

Posted on October 14, 2011

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For sweet lovers alike, Le Petite Gateau is a Melbourne dessert pilgrimage. Renowned for their famous brownie and chocolate passion-fruit gateau, it is a place to sit back and enjoy minimalist French desserts with a twist. Coffee lovers beware, they have yet to master this trade, choose from their range of iced granitas to balance the sugar overload.

On the top end of Little Collins Street, the cake shop is attached to the RACV members club behind. This place is tiny, and often packed to the brim with business types sipping lattes. Inside and out it is full of Parisian flare. Cut out windows showcase display cakes and chocolates, yellow and gold colouring awakens a tight space. The kitchen is on display to sit front row and watch where the magic takes place. If your lucky, you may see the man himself, Pierrick Boyer. Boyer’s passion for sweets stems back to his childhood, where he lived next door to a French patisserie. The smells, sights and excitement of the kitchen are what attracted him to the trade.

They have a small selection of savoury food on the menu, which I can’t personally vouch for, a range of excellent macarons, coffee and sweet drinks. I am here for the cakes, I have been here far to many times to register, so it is fun to take someone who is experienced with chocolate and desserts to explain exactly what I am enjoying.

Miss N and I decide on four cakes to share and coffee, Cosmopolitan, Black Beauty, hazelnut Millefeuille, the brownie with passionfruit and chocolate gateau. The latte and long-black are disappointing, the milk was frothy and watered down, the long black tasted like instant coffee. Quite a shame considering the level of skill that goes into creating the desserts.

First up was the Black Beauty: an almond sponge and chocolate mousse filled with a black-current cream and vanilla custard, covered in a rich chocolate glaze and topped with chestnut mousse. An incredibly aerated texture, the mousse had a great depth of chocolate without overpowering the chestnut flavour. The hidden surprise of flavour inside excited my palette. Such a great combination of acidity and sugar, I find that fruit and chocolate usually compete against one-another, but here it was the perfect tango.

The cosmopolitan helped break through the richness of the last cake, but failed to meet our expectations. The cosmopolitan has a lightly spiced carrot cake base, a white chocolate cheesecake and a raspberry jam. The cheesecake was not “cheesy” enough. Cheesecake just so happens to be my favourite dessert for one reason: I love sweetened cream cheese. I struggled to taste the cream cheese in this dessert. However, the carrot cake was perfectly flavoured, with cinnamon and spice that I could have very happily eaten on its own.

The hazelnut Millefeuille apparently is the chefs favourite cake according to the cheerful assistant. A Millefeuille is a French cake, layered with puff pastry and pastry cream. This cake had a sponge base, a crunchy layer of wafer and praline, chocolate and orange ganache and a hazelnut Chantilly cream. I usually shy away from cakes where hazelnut is dominant, but this was fantastic, the crunchy wafers gave texture to a rich dessert.

Once the sugar started to take effect, we saved the best for last, and tried the glorious brownie, passion-fruit and chocolate gateau. The last time I tried this dessert it was a steaming hot Melbourne day, stupidly I bought two pieces to take-away, half-way home the cake started to collapse in the heat, I persevered. Two metres from my front door, I tripped over the pavement, leaving the cake smeared all over the front door. This time I have learned from my mistake. The richness of chocolate ganache is cut by the beautiful passion-fruit custard. What I adore about this cake, is the crunchy wafer pieces and praline which pair perfectly with the rich mousse.

With plenty of new patisseries popping up around Melbourne, Le Petite Gateau has maintained their standard of quality and their minimalist approach to creation, delicious desserts which can rival any trendy cake shops. Pierrick Boyer understands flavour combinations and strays from making unusual or trendy desserts, just for creation sake. He understands the history of French patisserie and brings this knowledge into the contemporary. Le Petite Gateau should be the final stop of any well-rounded Melbourne food pilgrimage.

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