Beaucoup Bakery – 12 Days of Christmas (Holiday Treats, Pastries & Desserts)

Restaurant: Beaucoup Bakery & Cafe
Cuisine: Bakery/Desserts/Pastries
Last visited: December 2, 2013
Location: Vancouver, BC (Fairview)
Address: 2150 Fir Street
Transit: WB w Cloverleaf FS Granville St
Phone: (778) 689-4221
Price Range: $10 or less, $10-20

1Poor 2OK 3Good 4Very good 5Excellent 6FMF Must Try!

Food: 4
Service: n/a
Ambiance: 3.5
Value: 3
Overall: 4
Additional comments:

  • Owner/Home baker Jackie Kai-Ellis
  • Pastries/desserts
  • Made from scratch
  • High quality ingredients
  • Parisian baked goods
  • American baked goods
  • Limited premade savoury sandwiches
  • Local favourite
  • Popular items sell out
  • Casual/chic
  • Coffee/tea
  • Limited seating
  • Gifts to go
  • Eat in/Take out
  • Monday – Friday 7am-6pm
  • Saturday & Sunday 8am-6pm
  • Beaucoup Bakery – Visit 1
  • Beaucoup Bakery – Visit 2

**Recommendations: Peanut Butter Sandwich CookieMarcona Almond Bar, Cheese Scone, Pain Au Chocolate, Pine Nut Croissant, Salted Caramel Eclair

Beaucoup Bakery Christmas 201312I can’t believe it’s been less than a year since Beaucoup Bakery opened.

Owner and friend Jackie Kai-Ellis has already experienced more accolades, media attention and exposure, and community love than most restaurateurs experience in a lifetime. She started on a strong foot and had a loyal following before even opening shop. It’s not all marketing though, she makes some of Vancouver’s favourite pastries, croissants, and is loved for her welcoming personality.

It still surprises many that she’s not a professionally trained pastry chef. She enrolled in some classes while eating her way through Paris, but she is just naturally talented in baking. She also has great tastes and is committed to high quality ingredients.

Her cozy, quaint and chic bakery is constantly busy and if you want some of the favourites, you have to arrive early and cross your fingers they haven’t sold out.

I was invited to “12 Days of Christmas at Beaucoup” which features 12 seasonal items for holiday entertaining and/or gift giving. About half the items were perishable and the rest were meant for gifts, so do not expect 12 new desserts, pastries and baked goods to try.

While I enjoyed the holiday collection, I wouldn’t say they were items exclusive to the season. Some items were more festive than others, but overall I found them appropriate year round. She went all out with her spring/summer collection of desserts so I was expecting the same thing, but it was more casual and basic than she usually showcases.

I don’t mind expected items, but Jackie has a special talent to make one of “the best” versions of something you’ve had a million times before, and I felt differentely this time. I have tried probably 70% of her menu so if I compare the holiday collection to everything else she has done, then it wasn’t the most exciting although still good.

Beaucoup Bakery & Cafe (4)I think she set the bar so high last year with her incredible Holiday Gift Box (pictured above) which I found excellent. Last year’s Holiday Gift Box wasn’t even specific to the holidays either. She was only just opening the store so she included five favourites which are now available year round. Comparatively, those items I found stronger than this years, although there was also the excitement of her being the hot new bakery soon to open shop. Context always comes into play.

This year she is featuring another “Local Favourites” Sampler Gift Box featuring small bottles & jars of Noble maple syrup, Cocolico caramel sauce, Vista D’oro jam and Melifera Bees honey; along with tins of Jacobsen Sea Salt and Beaucoup’s own candied marcona almonds ($50).

While it’s fantastic to see her supporting talented local artisans, I preferred her holiday baked goods box from last year. That was all her, and when I come to Beaucoup I love experiencing the wonderfulness of Beaucoup. I love Beaucoup as a bakery more so than as a specialty market, so I still recommend last year’s box as a gift for this year. It just felt more special, passionate and personal.

On the table:

Beaucoup Bakery Christmas 201313Herbed Brioche Wreath – 3/6 (Good)

  • $5
  • This was a savoury baked good, and although it was called a “wreath” it would be appropriate to serve all year.
  • I think it would have been nice studded with fresh cranberries to complete that festive look.
  • It was intended to be served before holiday dinners or with cheese and it was an upgrade from a boring bun or plain roll.
  • It was big enough for two people, so it’s meant to be shared.
  • I prefer airy light, fluffy and intensely buttery rich soft brioche, but this was a bit heavier and perhaps a bit over baked.
  • I like stretchy brioche rather than brioche with a tight crumb. This was more yeasty and stretchy which I liked.
  • The centre was fluffy and light, but the exterior and rim was a bit hard and dry.
  • It wasn’t until an inch into the bun before I got the moist fluffy soft part.
  • I loved the crispy salty gruyere crust on top with freshly cracked black pepper, and I could have used more gruyere.
  • I could taste flavours of rosemary, oregano, and thyme and it had good flavour.
  • My favourite plain brioche so far is from Belle’s on Thirty Two, although Romer’s Burger Bar has a pretty good one too.
  • I love the buttery flavour here, but I just wished it was lighter and more moist.
  • It didn’t have that special Beaucoup charm that would set it apart from other herb and cheese brioche loaves, but it was still good.

Beaucoup Bakery Christmas 201314Chestnut Financiers 3/6 (Good)

  • $2 each or $6 for a bag of 3
  • It’s a very simple dessert to make and good for tea time.
  • Financiers are commonly served as petit fours in Vancouver, but in France they are enjoyed as a dessert on their own.
  • They are little French sponge cakes made from ground almonds, browned butter, and egg whites.
  • They are very delicate, noticeably moist and a bit chewy.
  • They were about 4 X 1.5 inches which is standard, but unusual to see so large in Vancouver.
  • Traditionally in France, the rectangular shape was supposed to represent gold bars.
  • Bankers used to fancy them because the baker working around the banking district would make them.
  • They were well made financiers, but for being chestnut financiers I was hoping for more chestnut.
  • Bits of candied chestnuts from France were scattered throughout, and it was also soaked in house made chestnut honey and Madagascar vanilla bean syrup.
  • I found the flavour of the chestnut masked by the sweetness of everything else.
  • The honey and vanilla bean syrup were both already sweet and I could taste the intensity and floral notes of those ingredients over the chestnut.
  • I could also taste the caramelization and nutty notes of the browned butter which is key to a good financier.
  • It wasn’t tooth achingly sweet, but I needed to eat them with tea to cut the sweetness.
  • I actually used some of the cheesecake (below) as a spread on the financier which was enjoyable.

Beaucoup Bakery Christmas 201315Spiced Pear Cheesecake  4/6 (Very good)

  • $4.50 for an individual size
  • I think she introduced a version of this last year during the holidays and I’m pretty sure I tried it. Last year was dome shaped (?).
  • The centre was thick pear puree filling, but I wish there was more because I couldn’t get any pear flavour until I hit the dead centre or got some from the top.
  • I couldn’t taste many spices except for maybe a bit of cinnamon and clove (?).
  • The crust is going to be a sable breton (buttery French shortbread cookie) crust instead of tart dough, which I tried, so the new crust will be even better.
  • The cheesecake was a lighter style cheesecake rather than a heavy and dense New York style cheesecake.
  • I prefer lighter versions so I really enjoyed this and it was my favourite from this year’s holiday collection.
  • It was still cheesy in flavour and not light like a masacarpone in a tiramisu or anything,
  • The baked cheesecake part was rich (not heavy), creamy and smooth with lots of vanilla bean and a nice tartness.
  • I couldn’t taste much pear so I just wanted either a pear gelée layer between the crust and cake or more pear filling.
  • A chestnut filling would be nice too and the fall flavours of chestnut and pear are a great combination.
  • It was a very good cheesecake, but I felt it was short a component or flavour.
  • I also used the cheesecake layer as a spread on the herbed brioche and financiers and it worked for both.

Beaucoup Bakery Christmas 201301Gingerbread Cake with Red Fruits Jelly 3/6 (Good)

  • $5.50 for an individual size
  • This was the most festive dessert and it really was a holiday special.
  • She made an Alsace inspired Gingerbread cake dessert by pairing it with strawberry gelée instead of richer, creamy American custards and creams.
  • Strawberries and raspberries are not seasonal, but in this case it was the style of cake.
  • The gingerbread cake was moist, spongey, a bit chewy, and mildly spiced with ground ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves etc.
  • The strawberry gelée was underneath, but it felt separate from the cake and the cake was slipping away from it at times.
  • The gelée was spiced with cinnamon and warm spices and it reminded me of mulled wine. That would be a nice gelee layer too.
  • It was topped with a pumpkin seed crumble which was a bit salty and that was my favourite part.
  • I just wanted a bowl of crumble, milk, and a spoon. I could eat it alone.
  • For the petite size of the cake the crumble should have been smaller though.
  • The way it was served, it was tempting to pluck the crumble and eat it first.
  • There was also nothing “gluing “the crumble and raspberry in place so it felt separate from the cake again.
  • I think it would have worked better as a plated dessert and the components didn’t come together as well as I had hoped. Flavour-wise was fine.
  • It was tricky to eat since all the components were more or less separate, but I liked the consideration for texture and it was something different.
  • This would actually be good served with foie.

Beaucoup Bakery Christmas 201302Beaucoup’s Holiday Shortbread3.5/6 (Good-Very good)

  • $2.50 each or $10 for a bag of 4
  • It’s really hard to stand out with a shortbread because there are so many versions and everyone almost already has their “go-to” favourite.
  • It’s a classic holiday cookie and Jackie made it a bit more special by giving it a candied walnut crumble.
  • I love texture and nuts, so I loved the addition, but I couldn’t tell it was a candied walnut crumble because the walnut flavour was lost.
  • It just tasted like a standard crumble with a variety of pastry crumb topping and nuts, so I wouldn’t mind bigger walnut pieces.
  • The crumble was a bit salty and the shortbread was intensely buttery so I liked the flavour.
  • There is nothing worse than a bland shortbread and Jackie doesn’t hold back on the butter .
  • It’s rich in flavour, compact, yet flaky and crisp in structure and texture.
  • It’s not a melt in your mouth shortbread, which I prefer, but it was good for a crunchy and crisp shortbread.
  • My favourite shortbread this season in Vancouver are the spiced shortbread from Bel Cafe.
  • I also really enjoy the Gorgonzola & Pistachio shortbread and savoury shortbreads from Coach House Shortbread Company in Toronto too.

Beaucoup Bakery Christmas 201316Candied Marcona Almonds – 3/6 (Good)

  • $7.50
  • Candied Marcona Almonds are another thing that is hard to impress with because it’s easily available to buy or even make.
  • You have to get the sugar hot enough or the almonds are going to be sticky and wet, but here they were candied properly.
  • They were coated with salted caramel and the candy coating was quite thick which also made them extra crunchy and sweeter.
  • I couldn’t taste the rosemary so I think it was just in the bag for aesthetics.
  • They are good served alongside cheeses, used as ice cream toppings, or as is.
  • I would rather indulge in her amazing Marcona Almond Bar which is covered with these nuts.
  • Apples and oranges, but the Marcona Almond Bar is unique to Beaucoup.

Beaucoup Bakery Christmas 201303Butter Tart – 4/6 (Very good)

  • $4.25
  • For a butter tart it is delicious and amazing, but there are other tarts/desserts I like more here. This is just personal tastes.
  • I could have used a crispier top layer and I love when the sugars and syrup come to the top and crystallize while being baked.
  • It was an ooey gooey moist maple flavoured sweet filling, but it did not ooze.
  • I liked how salty it was but it was a touch sweet for me, although a bit expected for a Butter Tart.
  • The filling was made with currants, maple syrup and coconut, but the coconut was almost undetectable.
  • I could see bits of it and feel its shredded texture, but I couldn’t taste coconut.
  • For me the best part was the almond pâte sablée crust which was crisp, thin, even and perfect.
  • The French style pie crust was super nutty, sweet, crunchy yet sandy in texture and I could eat it alone.
  • It was slightly small for the price, although enough because it’s decadent.
  • Personally I enjoy her lemon tart more, but it is apples and lemons.
  • The only “competing” Butter Tart in Vancouver I know of is at Tartine Bread & Pies (see their “World’s Best Butter Tart“), but that one is more American style.

Beaucoup Bakery Christmas 201306Le Bibi 3/6 (Good)

  • $4
  • This is not from the holiday menu, but something I wanted to try.
  • I saw “almond frangipane, raspberry and rose water” in the description and those flavours are right up my ally. Add pistachios and even better.
  • The crisp and chewy crust was caramelized almond pastry cream, so it was the same topping you would get on an almond croissant.
  • It would be great if it was also crusted with sliced almonds like the croissant too.

Beaucoup Bakery Christmas 201307

  • The pastry dough was her standard brioche, but the baking time was a bit off again and some of it was over baked and tough.
  • Underneath the top layer it was a bit wet and soggy and I think it was the frangipane, and perhaps it was supposed to cook longer.
  • The inside had two whole raspberries so I wouldn’t have minded 1 more.
  • Rose water can be too floral and perfume like and a little goes a long way, but here it needed a bit more because I couldn’t get the aroma or flavour.
  • It was good, but after the top part, the brioche fell a bit flat.

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