Release Date: April 13,2017
April 13, 2017
Renaud Gonthier climbed a beanstalk and found the goose that lays golden eggs.
At least, that's what the pastry chef's customers might think. They've already asked him if the gold's real on his chocolate Easter eggs.
Only in their dreams.
"This is not real gold," Mr. Gonthier, 45, told the News-Press with a smile. "It's an illusion!"
The owner and CEO of Renaud's Patisserie & Bistro has used edible gold leaf in his pastries, but this time, all he needed was food coloring. Every year, he comes up with a unique chocolate Easter egg; he got inspiration for the golden eggs from "Jack and the Beanstalk."
They will be sold through Easter Sunday at Renaud's inside Gelson's on upper State Street. They're not available at the two other Renaud's locations in Santa Barbara. (The chef started Renaud's in 2008 and has additional locations in Long Beach and La Caéada-Flintridge. He plans to open his sixth location in mid-2018 in Carpinteria.)
Don't wait until the last minute to buy one. Mr. Gonthier, who lives in Santa Barbara, said last year's chocolate eggs, which were covered with hazelnut clusters, were sold out by the day before Easter.
The golden eggs are priced at $7.95 for small (4 inches high and 4.5 ounces), $11.95 for medium (5 inches high and 7.5 ounces), $19.95 for large (6 inches high and 10.5 ounces) and $34.95 for extra large (8 inches high and 25 ounces).
The News-Press watched Mr. Gonthier create the "gold" on a recent day.
In his small kitchen at Gelson's, he stirred a syrup made from gold liquid food coloring, Grand Marnier and cocoa butter together in a bowl. The result is the realistic gold mixture, which is applied with a food spray gun on dark and milk chocolate shells. (The alcohol evaporates.)
"It's just like you paint your car," the Saint-Bris-Le-Vineux, France, native, said in his distinct accent.
Mr. Gonthier, who completed his culinary and pastry studies in France, said he aimed for a realistic shade and picked a color called "vintage gold."
"It's very pure. The gold is not overly metallic," said Mr. Gonthier, who has appeared on Food Network programs.
"It's very natural. I think it magnifies the egg shape," he said, adding he's thrilled with the final product.
"To me, the egg is the true meaning of Easter," Mr. Gonthier said, noting it represents the resurrection of Christ. "It really symbolizes the holiday."
As Mr. Gonthier mixed the gold, his executive pastry chef, Julien Jeannot, placed eggs on nests made of puffed rice and covered with melted chocolate. The dark chocolate eggs sit on dark chocolate nests, and the milk chocolate eggs sit on milk chocolate nests. That's how Renaud's employees and customers tell them apart. The milk chocolate is 36 to 38 percent cocoa; the dark chocolate, 56 percent.
"It's like eating a really good chocolate bar," Mr. Gonthier said.
After his demonstration in the kitchen, Mr. Gonthier returned to the display of eggs near the Renaud's counter. He noted the centerpiece — a giant egg designed for advertising, not consumption — and the nest below it are made of chocolate. It'll be recycled for next year's display.
The eggs caught customer Ginny Folan's eye. She thought they'd look great for Easter on her dining room table.
She didn't know she could eat them.
"I thought they must be decorations!" said Mrs. Folan, a retired Dos Pueblos High School culinary teacher. "I have two boys who aren't here — one's in Napa and one's in North Carolina. I always make them an Easter basket and mail it to them. I might get one of these for each of them."
Mr. Gonthier said the eggs make a great gifts and are ideal for an Easter egg hunt. Children will be thrilled to find the hollow eggs have a tasty surprise inside. (The News-Press is sworn to secrecy.)
Mr. Gonthier said he gets ideas for his culinary creations when he's driving or bicycling.
"When I go to L.A., it's two hours, and I have nothing to do but drive and think. Right now, I'm thinking about what we're going to do next Easter."
Golden Easter eggs, made of milk and dark chocolate, are sold through Sunday or while supplies last at Renaud's Patisserie & Bistro (687-7565), inside Gelson's, 3305 State St. They're priced at $7.95 for small, $11.95 for medium, $19.95 for large and $34.95 for extra large.
For more information, go to www.renaudsbakery.com.