- February 7, 2018
- September 13, 2017
Gâté Comme Des Filles
Q&A: Joanne Chang of Flour
Q&A: Josh Danoff of Union Square Donuts
Once upon a time, a young stagiaire apprenticed at the famed Parisian confection shop Ladurée. After carefully crafting croissants day in and day out, she discovered that it was possible to transfer to the chocolaterie program—and pleaded with her chef for a switch. And so Alexandra Whisnant fell in love with chocolate.
A year later, after moving to Berkeley, California, Whisnant began making her own chocolates to sell for Valentine’s Day—even though she was due to start a gig at Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse restaurant. “They actually let me delay the start of my internship because I wanted to make them so badly,” she explains. Following her dream, in 2012 the young chocolate lover launched Gâté Comme Des Filles (French for “spoiled like girls”), a chocolatier that specializes in small-batch ganaches and pralines.
After a year spent swept up in a whirlwind of Parisian pop-ups, Whisnant moved to San Francisco and began selling her confections to shops in the Bay Area. Eventually, she made her way back to her hometown of Boston, and found a home for Gâté Comme Des Filles inside Somerville’s Aeronaut Brewing Co in 2015. Every week, the brewery’s back room gets filled with wafting scents as she and her team whip up hundreds of chocolates.
The chocolates famously feature two traditional French bonbon centers: creamy ganache, which is made by emulsifying chocolate with a liquid, and praline, a paste that fuses dark caramel and roasted nuts. Changing weekly flavors highlight seasonal ingredients—such as mulberry, fig, and sour cherry—or support local purveyors like George Howell coffee and Eva’s Garden herbs. For the “accidentally vegan” Meyer lemon chocolates, Whisnant uses fruit from her sister’s Bay Area backyard. Look out for varieties with honey and organic walnut, Costa Rica vanilla bean, and Wigle whiskey truffles. (“I feel like we can’t make those fast enough,” Whisnant says.)
Freshness differentiates Gâté Comme Des Filles from other chocolates. Since they’re made without preservatives, it’s recommended that you eat them within a few days—hardly a challenge. The confections also stand out for how stunning they look, with decorative toppings like coriander seeds, gold leaf, and tiny geometric chocolate pieces rolled in matcha tea. Whisnant admits that the team ends up rejecting up to 10 percent of chocolates that don’t make the cut due to bubbles or other technical flaws that come across visually.
“I do, however, love asymmetry and uniqueness on the chocolates,” she says. “We like it when you can see the process, but we try to be masters of the process.”