Sweet in Paris is guilty. Gently guilty. In life even more than in food, sweet is about discretely collapsing. Breaking the balance of life towards easy satisfaction. Nothing glorious. Some would say pleasure is a glorious thing. Not Parisians.
Sugar carries all the afflictions of decadence. It is coating and fattening, sensual and tempting, enjoyable and slippery. Sweet in Paris should therefore be consumed in great moderation. Just enough for the threatening shadow of decadence not to ruin the tender moment of sweet collapse.
In that unspoken tugging between good and bad, the Parisian found an ally in le caramel au beurre salé. Le caramel au beurre salé is as sweet as it gets. Devilishly so. But it’s ok. Because in all that sweetness and perversion comes a salvatory adjective, a redempting flavour: le salé. Taunting and irreverent. Obedient and rebellious. Le salé makes caramel acceptable for the Parisian. It makes indulging almost enjoyable. Salt is one powerful little thing.
Le caramel au beurre salé was once a bretonne oddity. The uncanny account for the local tradition of salting butter. But its enchanting taste and redempting qualities made it popular beyond its bigounden nest. Over the past few years, le caramel au beurre salé has become Parisians’ battle flag in their inner battle against guilty feelings. Le caramel au beurre salé is now to be found virtually in anything sweet: la glace, les macarons, les bonbons… But the Parisian’s favorite expression of it is le bonbon. Le tiny bonbon. Circumscribed indulgences are small apotheoses to the Parisian. This bonbon is an expert stroke. Expert strokes is something most Parisians end up counting exclusively on their pâtissier for.
When a Parisian reads “Caramel au beurre salé” on a dessert menu, he usually bursts with an irrepressible “Oh, caramel au beurre salé…’”. At this point, the odds for the Parisian to give in reach a peak. Salt miraculously washed sugar away, brushed off decadence. The Parisian is freed.
Useful tip: When it comes to Caramel au Beurre Salé, Henri Le Roux is the man.
Sound like a Parisian: “C’ était servi avec une boule de caramel au beurre salé… hyper bon! J’adore le caramel au beurre salé”