On Saturday evening, I had one of the best desserts I've had in a long, long time. It came from Bouchon Bakery, a place I've been to a number of times for various reasons. But this time, it was their take-out window that suckered me. Don't get me wrong-- I'd been by that particular enclave of temptation many times before, but I'd always balked at the prices. Nearly $8 for a take-out pastry? I'll pass. Or, I should say, I passed, until I didn't.
It was the toffee tart that did it. Attractive peaks of whipped cream with just a few crumbles of toffee hiding the wonders below... Yes, it was $7.25 pre-tax, but I'd just returned from a traumatic hair cutting experience and needed something to calm my nerves. And toffee would do it.
After dinner, I dug in. A cross-section revealed the particular genius of this tart: a flaky, crumbly pastry crust cradling a layer of sticky sweet toffee (with chunks of toffee candy mixed in for texture), all topped with a thin layer of pastry cream and then the aforementioned tufts of vanilla-bean flecked whipped cream. Sigh. Readers, it was so, SO good. Each element complemented the others; the toffee was very sweet, but since the layer was thin, it didn't overwhelm. The abundant whipped cream provided a cooling dairy foil for the sticky goo. Even the pastry crust was fantastic. And turns out that the tart was pretty large-- it could easily have been shared by two people (did I eat it all myself anyway? Yes. Or, well, almost... except for two last bites I couldn't manage). So I guess that makes the aggressive price tag a bit harder to swallow. Kind of?
Bouchon, you had me at hello. Why must your food be so darn delicious? And so darn expensive? It's a paradox of the ages. Or, I guess, just a reason to save up for my next visit.
10 Columbus Circle