Bergamot, coriander, rosemary, grapefruit, tonka bean, ginger, vanilla, Sichuan pepper, chestnut honey… The flavours that chocolatierJacques Genin uses in his confections sound as if they are straight from a perfumer’s palette. Genin, who opened his first Parisian chocolaterie in 2008, is known for his daring combinations of flavours and his impeccable craftsmanship. His caramels are legendary. His millefeuille is a towering delight of vanilla cream and fragile layers of puff pastry. His pâtes de fruits look like jewels. Genin pairs chocolate with spices, roots and herbs, and the result is always a surprise. Even an ingredient as ubiquitous as cinnamon becomes an exotic note in his hands as it reveals its floral and woody nuances. Not for nothing – the epithets used to describe Genin include “wizard”, “madman” and “genius”.
Genin’s most recent collaboration is with perfumer Calice Becker and By Kilian, the fragrance house led by founder and creative director, Kilian Hennessy. The trio make an inspired team. Hennessy’s family has been creating prized cognacs since the 18th century, and his perfume collection is grand cru material. Becker is the author of fragrances such as Christian Dior’s J’Adore, Hilfiger’s Tommy Girl and other compositions memorable for their luminosity and depth. Becker is a respected perfumer and her interests cover a broad field, from Russian history to Renaissance art and, of course, gastronomy. For an artist, such curiosity is rewarding as it provides a rich source of inspiration. Noir Aphrodisiaque (£250 for 50ml EDP), created by Becker together with Hennessy and Genin, is a case in point.
Becker looked to the chocolatier’s favourite ingredients such as Ceylon cinnamon and Calabrian bergamot to craft this scent. Just as Genin blends chocolates with different provenance to build up depth and complexity, Becker uses similar layering techniques to give her chocolate accord an indulgent gourmand feel. One of the key players in Noir Aphrodisiaque is patchouli, a leaf from an Indonesian plant that smells woody, dark and spicy. Becker gilds it with cinnamon and amber, toning down the patchouli’s earthy bite and highlighting its sweetness.
To frame the chocolate, Becker wraps it in a layer of jasmine. While the choice might seem unexpected given how rich the two notes can be, in Noir Aphrodisiaque jasmine feels airy, reflecting the green and apricot nuances. The bergamot lifts the top notes of the composition, making it effervescent and champagne-like, while the drydown has a sumptuous warmth. The sandalwood imparts a creamy, velvety effect, and the toasted almond accents recall Genin’s tonka bean ganaches. The result is mouthwatering and, as the name promises, seductive.
Victoria Frolova has been writing her perfume blog https://boisdejasmin.com/ since 2005. Her explorations of fragrance touch upon all elements that make this subject rich and complex: science, art, literature, history and culture. Frolova is a recipient of three prestigious Fragrance Foundation FiFi Awards for Editorial Excellence and, since receiving her professional perfumery training, has also been working as a fragrance consultant and researcher.