While on our long weekend in Las Vegas, my husband and I were determined to stop in at the Payard Patisserie inside Caesar's Palace. Last year, we went there for the first time after reading Cybele's enticing review on her Candy Blog. This year, I was definitely looking forward to visiting Payard again.
The gigantic clock in the picture above spits out a chocolate sample every 15 minutes - my husband snagged one last year, but we were not so lucky this time. Still, I was there for the pastries rather than the chocolate.
This photo is from last year, by the way.
The dessert case is a wonderful collection of delightfully decorated miniature cakes, tarts, and pies, costing around $7 each. They definitely fall into the almost-too-pretty-to-eat category, and although they are a bit pricey, it's Las Vegas. At least when you spend that $7 on a cake, you've got a guaranteed win.
I selected the gorgeous Manjari Berry Tart (shown below) because it was such a glossy, sexy red, and it reminded me of topsy-turvy designer cakes. The edible gold leaf topping didn't hurt, either. The cashier served it up on a plastic dish for me and my husband, and we sat at a table just outside the boutique, overlooking the slot machines. One of my favorite touches at Payard is that the plastic cutlery looks like silverware. It's very cute.
"Chocolate Almond Sponge layered with Berry Curd and
Manjari Chocolate Mousse topped with an Almond Macaron"
The gold leaf was a gorgeous, luxurious touch, and the French macaron was a fun, crispy topping. Apparently, Payard serves gorgeous full size macarons, but I guess I've been so distracted by the dessert case that I've missed them both times. Anyhow, the mousse and sponge were delightfully bitter, providing a rich contrast to the tartness of the berry curd.
The texture play inside the tart was quite fun, with sponge cake, mousse, gel, and a cookie-like bottom. Keeping the chocolate in the airier components of the cake gave it a delicate feel, and the intense berry curd flavor was just right. In short, the Manjari Berry Tart was decadent without being heavy, and the contrasting flavors were interesting and delicious.
Finally, this is the lovely Chestnut Tart I sampled last fall. Underneath the glossy orange coating, the texture of the filling was meaty and tender like a chestnut, but the flavor was more like pumpkin (which must have been intentional, since the description mentioned pumpkin). Still, it was quite tasty and again, not heavy.
To sum it up, these small luxuries are certainly worth it. If you happen to be on the Las Vegas strip, Payard is definitely worth a visit. They also have a beautiful sorbet and gelato display and a chocolate shop. Everything looks delicious, but I've really only tried the pastries.