Dominique Ansel's post-Cronut era has been characterized by a number of ingenious, made-to-order desserts, such as the Magic Soufflé and the Fro-smo. That spirit of creativity continues with the Gingerbread Pinecone ($6.25), one of seven new pastries that were introduced over the last week.
In the Gingerbread Pinecone, Ansel has married two flavors—ginger and nutmeg—that are inexorably associated with the holidays. Couple these flavors with a thick, dark chocolate shell of Valrhona 66% Jivara and you have have a pastry that appeals to both chocolate lovers and people looking for a festive, seasonal treat. A decorative array of chocolate petals adds a touch of whimsy—now one of Ansel's trademarks.
Underneath the shell, there are three different components, but they aren't laid out in perfect little layers. Instead, the base of crunchy hazelnut feuilletine and second layer of soft nutmeg cake are surrounded by speculoos-flavored mousse (in my opinion, the most flavorful and delicious component). Finally, at the top of the pastry, you'll find a light and fluffy cap of ginger-flavored pastry cream.
The way the dark chocolate cracks and gives way to the cream and cake layers reminds me of a super-gourmet version of the Chocodile from my youth (Ansel will probably curse me in French for that reference!).
Those labor-intensive and carefully laid out chocolate petals make sure that the Gingerbread Pinecone is as fun to eat as it is delicious. I suspect, if this pastry becomes popular, there will be many discussions surrounding exactly when one should eat the petals. Should you pluck them off one by one before cutting into the pastry (she loves me, she loves me not...)? Or should you simply eat them as you work your way through the pastry? Let us know in the comments.