François Pralus is a French chocolatier whose company manufactures and sells nearly 100 tons of chocolate annually. In 2007, the only place I could find any of this chocolate was Mon Aimee Chocolat, a retailer in Pittsburgh’s Strip District that began stocking his colorfully wrapped pyramids of single-origin bars. I stared wistfully at the packaging for months, until they started selling a miniature version. At 1/10th the size of the original, it was a treat that fit within my limited student grocery budget.
The second time I encountered Pralus chocolates was a year later when I visited Paris for, among other things, the Salon du Chocolat. There, Pralus had transformed their small booth into a functioning bakery, cranking out loaves upon loaves of Praluline, a brioche studded with pink pralined almonds.
Now, Pralus products are much more easily obtained. There’s even a Trader Joe’s copycat. Here in Ann Arbor, Zingerman’s Next Door has a great selection, and they’ll let you try anything before you buy, which may or may not be a good thing- a free sample convinced me to buy the Barre Infernale Lait, a hefty brick of hazelnut cream enrobed in their exceptional 45% milk chocolate (here’s a nice review from Chocablog). At around $20, it is the single most expensive confection i’ve ever purchased.
The latest treat i’ve sampled is the above-pictured Boite de Mexicaines, which I received for Valentines Day. It’s an elegant box of roasted Valencia almonds coated in 75% chocolate and dusted with cocoa (there’s also a milk chocolate-hazelnut variety). If you enjoy chocolate coated nuts, they are a luxury that will outshine any waxy, lecithin-laced versions you’ve had in the past.