I would love to say that I have tasted every kugelhopf in Colmar, and thus can assure you of where you’ll find the very best. But I’ve still got my work cut out for me. There’s an awful lot of kugelhopf around, in just about every pastry shop window in town!
In Colmar’s historical center, while you stroll up and down the winding cobblestone streets, admiring the architecture of the old wooden houses and their colorful facades, you can also pop into any number of shops to pick up some kitschy Alsatian souvenirs, as well as earthenware molds in assorted shapes, sizes and colors. You’ll pass boulangeries and patisseries with bretzels hanging on wooden sticks on the counter, linzer tartes, aniseed cookies… and oh those kugelhopf.
With impeccable rows of kugelhopf, mini kugelhopf (above), langhopf and other assorted goodies in the window, it’s no wonder there are always people ogling in front of Patisserie Gilg. I recommend actually going in to get a closer look, for a taste or two, and especially for a lively discussion with the friendly people behind the counter. The day I was there, it was Nicolas and Karine, always smiling and ready to share information about the history behind the Gilg family (3rd generation now), each and every gorgeous pastry and individual chocolate, or the difference between the Alsatian specialities, kugelhopf and langhopf. Here’s your answer: the langhopf, while made of the same yeast dough as the kugelhopf and baked in an earthenware mould, only elongated, also has hazelnuts, walnuts, cinnamon and is covered in cinnamon sugar.
It all started in 1936, when Paul Gilg took over his siblings’ pastry shop in the Alsatian town of Munster. His grandson Thierry now carries on the tradition, with a second address in Colmar, maintaining the high standards of quality set forth by his grandfather. The Colmar shop is bright and modern inside, and recipes follow a mix of tradition and innovation. The Cube is one of Paul Gilg’s creations, and still a popular item, made with milk chocolate, chocolate cream and hazelnuts. Thierry Gilg became a member of Relais Desserts International with his own creation, Jade: milk chocolate mousse infused with Matcha tea and a soft almond biscuit.
And then there are the chocolates: ganaches, pralines and caramels – each an excellent play on flavor and texture. I asked Nicolas to tell me about the chocolates, thinking I would get a few to try. But with all of his irresistible descriptions, I ended up with almost every one, including Le Petit Munster. No, it’s not a chocolate with cheese in it, but it still has a strong flavor. It’s made with Marc de Gewurztraminer, the Alsatian Eaux-de-vie that some compare to an Italian grappa.
I love that you can buy a box of these Petit Munster chocolates in a classic round, wooden cheese box. I think I might have to go to the Munster shop for a box – a perfect gift item with a bit of fun to it. I can already see my French mother-in-law thrilled at the idea of cheese brought back from Alsace – only for her face to light up when she sees chocolates inside! Oh, and while I’m there, I suppose I can pick up another kugelhopf or two… for me.
60 Grand Rue
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