thoughts on food, culture, and community

Archive for the tag “bakery”

Jean-Marc Chatellier’s French Bakery, Millvale, reinspires

Jean-Marc Chatellier’s French bakery in Millvale, PA, is just a stone’s throw across the river from Pittsburgh’s other well-known French boulengeries: La Gourmandine in Lawrenceville, Gaby et Jules in Squirrel Hill.

However, in contrast to La Gourmandine’s rustic coziness and Gaby et Jules’ glittering elegance, Jean-Marc Chatellier’s bakery better gives the impression of being a small-town cake shop of 20 years ago: a turquoise-colored awning, neon OPEN sign, florescent indoor lighting. There’s no “bonjour” when you enter; there are no frilled aprons or chef’s hats; there are just pastries — and good ones at that.

Paris-Brest, Jean-Marc

Paris-Brest, Jean-Marc Chatellier’s French Bakery

My purchase of the Paris-Brest — made of hazelnut or praline cream between two rings of choux pastry — was supposed to be the last time I was going to try this traditional pastry (which was inspired by a bicycle race between the cities of Paris and Brest in 1891). All too often, I’ve been let down, finding the choux pastry unable to live up to the flavor of the filling, due to the pastry having been too old or too refrigerated for too long.

Jean-Marc’s Paris-Brest proved me absolutely wrong. The light, firm pastry was the vehicle for the rich, powdered-sugar-dusted cream. Too big for my hands, I ate my Paris-Brest with a spoon. It was like eating a cloud occasionally studded with toasted almonds.

This pastry was not just good enough to revive my hope in pastries in general, but also to reignite my belief in humanity. Who would have guessed that such a jewel of a pastry could sit in the case next to humble American favorites like key lime pie, and be served so cheerfully in the corner of this town?

Did I really not realize that French pastries can sell not just because they are French — but because they are good?

I will be back to Jean-Marc Chatellier’s — and be back and be back.

Jean-Marc Chatellier’s French Bakery
213 North Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA
(412) 821-8533

Cupcakes fit for spring, Dozen Bake Shop, Lawrenceville, Pittsburgh


Vanilla cupcake with passionfruit and coconut, Dozen Bake Shop, April 2013

I have a weakness for good cupcakes, especially those, like this one from Dozen Bake Shop, that taste like springtime and are made from scratch daily.

This moist vanilla cupcake with deliciously thick passionfruit icing was crowned with coconut for a not-to-sweet but altogether beautiful crunch.

Be sure to call ahead for the day’s flavors and read up on their “best bakery” praise in Pittsburgh City Paper, Pittsburgh Magazine, Forbes, and

Dozen Bake Shop
3511 Butler Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15201
(412) 683-2327

Friday Photo: Chocolate Peanut Butter Bar Debuts in France

Lycee Gustave Eiffel, 2008

Lycée Gustave Eiffel, 2008

It was the spring of 2008, and the Lycée Gustave Eiffel was holding an open house—or, literally from the French (“journée des portes ouvertes”), an open-doors day.  It was a day for prospective students to come visit the facility’s boarding-school type facility, and I was asked to make American cookies for the English department’s subtle, yet enthusiastic, display table of Twinning’s tea, lemon curd, and apple tarts.  Due to France’s lack of familiarity with peanut butter as well as soft chocolate chip cookies, I chose one of my favorite recipes from childhood that merges both: chocolate peanut buddy bars.  For my birthday in October, my mom had sent me a package that contained vanilla, semisweet chocolate, and a tiny jar of peanut butter, as well as the original blue-edged, flour-stained recipe that we had gotten from a Nestle package when I was in elementary school.  I love these bars because they are more moist than a traditional peanut butter cookie and are particularly gooey when eaten warm.


¾ stick butter, softened
1 cup peanut butter
3 eggs
1 ¼ cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup flour
¼ tsp. salt
2 cups semisweet chocolate morsels

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Beat together the butter and peanut butter until smooth.
2. Next mix in eggs, sugar, and vanilla.
3. Blend in flour and salt.
4. Stir in semisweet chocolate morsels by hand.  Pour into a 8×11 baking dish; bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.

Friday Photo: The Cookie that Made Me Proud to Be American

Sinful Sweets

Peanut Butter Cup Cookie

This cookie is truly worthy of a Friday photo because I only purchase it at the end of a week.  Made at Sinful Sweets, Broad Street Market, the peanut butter cup in the center is this cookie’s highlight — salty, chocolately, and moist.  I’ve been addicted to these cookies ever since moving to Harrisburg, claiming (when I first purchased one), “I think I was meant to come home from France just to eat this.”

In France, the sweet-and-salty combinations that so dominate American food (think chocolate-covered pretzels or caramel popcorn) aren’t so prominent; neither is, as a matter of fact, peanut butter.  In Talange, for example, peanut butter was available but in small 8 oz. jars for around $7, and only a small handful of my colleagues had ever tried Reese’s peanut butter cups.  (An adjective assignment I used for my seventh grade students was to write to my French friend in Paris who had spent a year teaching and eating Reese’s at Susquehanna University; my students and I sent her letters describing the cup’s taste, flavor, and texture and included a handful to satiate her craving.) When I was home for Christmas from teaching in France in 2007, my parents gave me a bag of Reese’s minis to use in the classroom, but when I returned to France, I stashed the bag in my apartment for weeks, feeding them only to myself.

Because of this, if there’s one thing that I love about being in the States, it’s peanut butter cups — and cookies like these.  If a cookie this simple can be worth a continent, it’s definitely worth your time.

Sinful Sweets
Broad Street Market, Brick Market Building
1233 North Third Street
Harrisburg, PA 17102
(717) 232-0440

Thursday-Friday: 7am-5pm
Saturday: 7am-4pm

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