All photos courtesy of Choux Bakery
Cupcakes, move over! The Parisian creampuff making a name as the new “it” dessert of San Francisco, and Choux Bakery owner Laura Athuil is leading the way. Her charming gem in the heart of the Lower Haight district brings a bite-sized piece of Paris to San Francisco.
“I bake to make people happy,” Athuil enthuses. Choux (pronounced “shoe”), which debuted in August 2014, was a dream turned into a reality for the Nice, France native who spent much time as a child in her parents’ kitchen. Although she obtained a degree in Architecture and Design from Ecole Camondo, her sweet tooth took the lead when she decided to attend Parisian cooking schools. Fueled by her passion for the le choux à la crème (the French cream puff), she eventually made her way to San Francisco and Choux was born.
Step foot into Choux and it’s totally clear that Athuil’s sweet personality is baked into every little piece of the business, from the custom pink and chocolate-colored boxes to the pretty little creampuffs themselves. “I love when people come in and they can really see that everything has been perfectly designed, and they can see that I’m really French. I want people to feel warm, happy and to have stars in their eyes,” she continues.
The bakery may be tiny but beware that big flavors are in store. They include rum custard, pistachio, hazelnut, salted caramel, lemon, and more. Currently, the seasonal flavors are Pumpkin Chai, Caramel Apple, and Peanut Butter Banana. Our favorite was Pistashio – but trust us, they’re all heavenly and light.
But creampuffs are not just about the pretty particulars; structure is also very important. Athuil explains, “I see creampuffs as architecture. There are rules: creampuffs should have filling, icing and a little cute decoration. If you look at all my creampuffs, they all follow that rule. I love that they all have a specific style.”
With names like Perry and Rachel, each creampuff is likened to a character with its own delectable taste and individuality. “I try to name each one after the person that fits with the creampuff. I’ve name them after people who have supported me in one way or another to create this project; so, it can be my parents (my father is the coffee creampuff), it can be my best friend from high school or it can be the person who I met once when I came to San Francisco who told me, ‘if you like making cream puffs, then just do it!’ I like to give back what they gave to me, says Athuil.
You can purchase unique boxed collections of six, twelve, or twenty-four French cream puffs and may even customize the topping and decoration. Did we also mention that they make hot chocolate too? Ahhh, heaven in the Haight awaits.