French Made Baking: Hot Chocolate Festival with Rich, Buttery Treats
81 Kingsway, Vancouver
French Made Baking has been around for a little while tucked away in that little bend in the road just before Kingsway melds into Main. Design Girl and I decided to check it out. Just in time for the Hot Chocolate Festival!
As soon as we went in, I was immediately taken by the quaint, charming interior design. The little cozy shop with its white pillars, arched doorways and marble tables and counter tops reminded me so much of Paris, for a second, I almost felt like I was back there, ordering pastries and soaking in the rich, buttery aromas of baking croissants and baguettes. Admittedly, the two customers seated by the window conversing entirely in French also added to the authenticity of this little shop.
This was my first time checking out the Hot Chocolate Festival and a menu board at French Made Baking listed the different gourmet hot chocolate drinks offered on each day. The festival does not have a physical venue, but instead, a selection of the city’s cafes and restaurants participate in the festival by featuring a special flavour of hot chocolate each day. We were at French Made Baking on Jan. 14 and to my delight the flavour was Praline Milk Chocolate, two of my favourite sweets!
The two desserts I chose to go with my hot chocolate were a canele and my other favourite French dessert: creme brulee.
The thing that I love most about caneles are their soft, moist but fluffy insides. Tasting like custard with a similar texture to that of a French cruller, I can eat a million of these things. Not to mention they’re gorgeous to look at, the brilliant yellow center against a deep, brown caramelized outer shell.
I haven’t had enough caneles to have a proper frame of reference but I can vouch for the ones at French Made Baking. I love the crusty exterior and sweet custard center. It was the perfect pastry to pair with the delicious hot chocolate.
My hot chocolate was rich! I wasn’t expecting it to be so thick, it was almost like the drinking chocolate that I had at the Palace of Versailles last year. The nutty praline flavours gave the drink a wonderful dimension and the sweet milk chocolate really hit the spot on a freezing cold day.
My favourite part about a creme brulee is that moment when I get to knock my teaspoon through the brittle top to dive into the rich, thick custard underneath. I was pleased to see the perfectly torched layer of caramelized sugar on French Made Baking’s creme brulee. So the only thing left to do was smash it with my spoon. Unfortunately, to my dismay, the trademark first ‘crack’ didn’t happen. There were two reasons for this. I was using a plastic spoon. And the creme brulee at French Made Bakery are pre-torched. Each little custard cup sits ready-made and on display behind the counter. The sugar top was more chewy than it was brittle and crispy. It was still tasty though! And I could see the specks of real vanilla bean distributed throughout the custard.
The actual texture of the custard was incredible, thick, rich and sweet. Just the way I like it. Now if only the top was crispy, this creme brulee would have been perfect.
I enjoyed myself at French Made Baking. One of the best parts was that we scored the seats facing into the open kitchen where we got to watch the bakers fill macarons and mix croissant batter. They even offer macaron baking classes here! I think I might sign up!
My only complaints have nothing to do with the food but a little bit more to do with presentation and branding. I have to confess that I’ve never really liked the cartoon happy face and rounded sans serif font used on the shop’s signage. It makes the place look amateur even though the interior design of French Made Baking is elegant and sophisticated. I am also not a fan of the paper plates and plastic utensils but that’s an easy fix. Other than that, I’d gladly return to French Made Baking for treats, drinks and maybe even baking classes!