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Food and Drink

Bay Area Pastry Chef Brings Flavors Of East Asia To Classic French Madeleines

By Jamie Ferrell

Bay Area Pastry Chef Brings Flavors Of East Asia To Classic French Madeleines

Enjoy French pastry with flavors like black sesame, white peach, jasmine, and matcha.

The pandemic found a lot of us getting creative in the kitchen, with everything from homemade sourdough to Dalgona coffee. But Cynthia Leung of C.ie.L Patisserie is on another level.

Leung studied French pastry in Paris and worked at 3 star Michelin restaurant Guy Savoy and Pâtisserie Carl Marletti. In the Bay Area, she worked with Alexander’s Pâtisserie and Mademoiselle Colette. But it wasn’t until the pandemic hit that Leung started taking advantage of the extra hours at home to produce and sell her own delicious, delicate creations. She makes unique flavor combinations with ingredients mainly from China and Japan, while sourcing as many other elements as possible from local farmers’ markets and grocers. And she does it all while working a corporate job five days a week.

Tea Madeleine Collection, including early gray madeleines with raspberry confit, jasmine madeleines with peach confit, genmaicha madeleines with genmaicha ganache, and black sesame madeleines with black sesame praliné. [Image: C.ie.L patisserie website]

“I wanted to bring some of my flavors that I grew up with,”  Leung told us. “We use beans in desserts all the time so that’s something that I’m thinking of. And I drink tea all the time so I was like, it’d be cool if I threw some tea flavor into say, a madeleine.” 

Genmaicha madeleine filled with genmaicha ganache made with Valrhona ivoire chocolate.

Leung’s madeleines are just as creative as promised, with flavors like black sesame, jasmine with white peach confit, chestnut, earl gray with raspberry confit, almond apple, and genmaicha, hojicha and matcha teas.

Financiers and madeleines in a variety of flavors including coconut raspberry, matcha dark chocolate, chestnut, almond apple, and more.

When asked what inspired her to pursue pastry making, Leung said, “I guess it really was born out of a necessity – I grew up a little bit in Asia, in Hong Kong. It’s pretty easy, just like in France, to go out and buy really good pastry. And then I moved to the Bay Area and it was hard, and I always want to eat something that’s yummy and easily accessible… so I just started making it myself when I was younger.”

Madeleines and sablé cookies, including almond chocolate floretines, rose & cornflower romias, matcha sablés, hojicha diamants, and dried fig and cherry sablés.

Leung creates a variety of other French pastries including financiers, sablés, floretines, and diamants. More familiar creations include tarts, cakes, and chocolate chunk cookies.

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However, Leung doesn’t want to limit herself. “I don’t want to be known as only doing Asian flavors,” she said. “I just want to create interesting combinations with flavors that maybe I haven’t seen used already in France.”

Pastry box with sena, red heart, black sesame choux, citrus tart and Dulcey berry cake.

Leung delivers when it comes to quality, even with something as simple as a chocolate chunk cookie. She creates these with Valrhona malty milk chocolate and single origin dark chocolate (fleur de sel optional).

Chocolate chunk cookies

“I strongly believe in [sustainability] and that the best ingredients and the best tasting product comes with fruits and vegetables grown with care and animals treated with care,” said Leung.

Although many of her favorite Asian ingredients are imported to the Bay Area, she compensates as much as she can by frequenting farmers’ markets, buying local, and getting creative with items that are seasonally available.

Citrus tart 

Leung delivers her creations around the Bay Area, offering pastry variety boxes and much more. Visit the C.ie.L Patisserie website, Instagram and Facebook to learn more and order her incredible pastries.

[All images: Instagram / @c_ie_l_patisserie]