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Zamalek, Cairo, Egypt.
Soufflé: Zamalek Sweet Spot
A good neighbour is always available to lend you a cup of sugar. On the island of Zamalek, sweet shop Soufflé knows what being a good neighbour is all about.
While some sweet shops specialise in oriental treats, ice cream or chocolate cake; Soufflé has it all. The large shop is packed with several coolers, a central counter and shelf-lined walls all loaded with sugary delights.
One section of baskets is brimming with bite-sized goodies of both the oriental and western persuasion. Tiny, crunchy tartlets filled with cashews, little chocolate-covered sandwich cookies and petite shortbreads with gooey apricot centres are just a few of the mini-treats in this section. Sold by weight, you can mix a bunch of your favourites for a tasty and colourful cookie platter at 70LE per kilo. For bite-sized savoury snacks, take a peek behind the gateau counter, where a slew of breadsticks and crackers in varying shapes with seeded toppings go for 26LE to 30LE per kilo.
The centre of the shop is devoted to a high counter, where traditional oriental sweets are on display. Soufflé’s selection includes traditional basbousa for 30LE per kilo– expect to pay more for the crunchy nut toppings– and konafa stuffed with pistachio for 140LE.
A refrigerated display of Soufflé’s cakes and tarts showcases the shop’s gourmet side. A number of beautifully designed cakes are available, including one covered with glistening peaches (120LE). Even better is the counter just next to this cooler, where chic single servings of a variety of cakes and tarts are sold.
One in particular features a double layered crunchy crust beneath a decadently rich layer of thick chocolate mousse which is topped with a combed design of dark and milk chocolate sauce. Another delightful option had a spongy white cake base topped with mounds of pastry cream and finished with pineapple, peach and kiwi. The sweetest part about these desserts is the price. At 9LE per piece, these gourmet treats are as nice on your wallet as they are on your tongue.Soufflé delivers to the Zamalek, Mohandiseen and Dokki neighbourhoods, and although they don’t cater; they do have a nice selection of dyed, fruit-shaped marzipan and lots of chocolates and candies in elegant wrappers that would make excellent favours for a party or a wedding.
And while there isn’t a single soufflé to be found in the store, their selection is so sweet that we barely notice the misdirection.
Cupcakes took Cairo by storm almost five years ago, but with dozens of cupcake specialists and pastry shops trying to bleed everything they can out of the simple baked good – think konafa cupcakes, et al – it’s about time for Cairo to latch into a new dessert. Having recently opened in Downtown Katameya Mall in New Cairo, we headed over to L’Éclair Paris, fully open to the possibility of becoming addicts infamous Parisian delicacies.
Browsing through the display, of the outdoor-located shop, we were mesmerised by the diversity of flavours ranging, from fruity ones including blueberry, mango, passion fruit and apple crumble, to the more dense chocolate and cream flavours, including Nutella, Kitkat, white chocolate and caramel, vanilla, red velvet and mocha.
L’éclair Paris also offers savoury fillings including turkey and cheese, smoked salmon, mixed Cheese, and roast beef and cheese; perfect for breakfast or brunch and they are also available in miniature bites.
After initially having a hard time settling on which éclairs to try, we opted for a mishmash of different flavours; a marshmallow vanilla éclair, white chocolate and caramel, mocha, crispy Oreo and chocolate-strawberry (22 LE each).
From the savoury choices, we ordered the smoked salmon éclair (35LE) stuffed with Philadelphia cream cheese, fresh smoked salmon and capers. Despite being sceptical at first about the savoury éclairs, we were quite surprised by how the ingredients were balanced with the flavour of the dough which was really light and tasty without being too sweet.
Generously stuffed with cream flavours, our sweet éclairs were all made of perfectly light, authentic choux dough and tasted absolutely delicious. The marshmallow vanilla one was topped with mini marshmallows and was stuffed with vanilla cream, though one of the highlights was the white chocolate éclair, thanks to its delicious white chocolate croquant pieces, caramel drizzle on top and cream caramel filling.
The mocha éclair, was, on the other hand, every coffee-lover’s dream come true; it’s infused with coffee cream with a tiny coffee cup made of chocolate on top, while the crispy Oreo was somewhat heavy, being stuffed with Oreo cream and crushed Oreos, with the dough discernibly crunchier than all the others. Perhaps the chocolate strawberry éclair was our favourite; strawberry cream filling and its heavenly chocolate coating – we needn’t say more.
Overall, we had very little to complain about with what L’Éclair had to offer and we left with light surprisingly tummies, thanks to its incredibly light and well-made choux dough. L’Éclair’s location can be easily missed by man - it's essentially a large stall - but it’s worth seeking out.