Who would have thought that the good old Apple Crumble would be so popular in Paris these days? And trust the French to make it sound so romantic as “crrum-belle”!
This Scottish whisky liqueur, honey and herb ice cream will liven up any dinner party when it’s served with dessert! Strictly for adults only…
Where has this week gone? All those plans of making a fabulous romantic dessert for you have fallen through as life has gotten in the way with Mum duties et al. I’ll still make that dessert that’s playing around in my dreams – even if will be late – but in the meantime, this round-up of my Top Ten Valentine Dessert recipes will hopefully inspire you with last-minute ideas for your night in.
All of them are easy, light, and perfect if you don’t have a big budget to go splashing out on some of the more sophisticated expensive pastries that are flashing behind pâtisserie windows. They’re all in season, making them cheaper too, with that extra wow factor if you serve them with your own homemade macarons from my books.
I thought poaching pears was difficult and fussy when I first came to Paris, but this Poached Coffee with Vanilla Pears dessert (gluten-free) couldn’t be easier. Have you tried coffee and pears together? They make a great couple. Serve in large bowls to catch the lovely poaching juice and have fun decorating the sides with a large paintbrush. Serve with mocha, coffee or vanilla macarons.
This Red Fruit Bavarois recipe is made easier using frozen berries. Another gluten-free dessert, it’s easy to dress it up with whipped cream in a piping bag using a starred-tip. Top with edible flowers, such as winter pansies or violas, and if you have some rose macarons, it’s a speed-dating trick that works.
My latest dessert last week, Rice Pudding with Orange Blossom and Pomegranate is given a make-over served slightly warm in tall glasses. It makes a surprising change to my French hubby’s favourite classic with its subtle floral hint and if you prefer it with a pink look, stir in the pomegranate’s deep red juice.
For those of us who love our pink and roses at Valentines, then this Rose and White Panna Cotta with a Cherry and Cardamom Coulis makes a change to the classic raspberry pairing we see so often in Paris. Here, of course, I cheated with frozen dark cherries as they’re not in season but the partnership is wonderful. A heart-shaped macaron or two will just add the perfect finale to this gluten-free dessert. Here’s a quick tutorial how to pipe out macaron hearts – details also in “Teatime in Paris“.
Don’t churn down the idea of ice cream in February! (Pun groan…)
Perhaps you need to cool down your Valentine a bit with this zingingly creamy Lemon Ice Cream.
No macarons to serve with the lemon ice cream? Then make a batch of these Honey and Lemon Sablés or cookies, cutting them into heart shapes before baking.
I’m not a white chocolate fan – but when I experimented with this billowy, fluffy dessert you’ll discover that this white chocolate, rose and orange blossom mousse makes a deliciously light and refreshing dessert. There’s not too much and just enough white chocolate to make it sweet without adding any sugar.
Many Parisian chocolate shops this Valentine’s have that frisson feeling theme of falling in love with the acidity of fruits combined with chocolate. Crack your other half with my frisson chocolate fruity acidity dessert version in this chocolate and passion fruit crème brûlée.
And if you prefer a melting heart of chocolate, make these easy Runny Chocolate Hearts, made in just under 30 minutes. Add a warming glow of ground or candied ginger to it …
If you’ve lost that loving feeling; Woah-woh-oh.
If, like us, you’re entertaining this weekend or celebrating together “en famille”, then this orange and cinnamon cheesecake can also be dressed up for Valentine’s Day with seasonal fruits, edible flowers and macarons.
Tea for two? Have you tried this very special Parisian macaron tea, with pistachio, chocolate and peony rose notes evoking the macaron? It’s called “Je t’aime” by Theodor. I see they have special limited edition Valentine’s packaging too. I love it!
There’s nothing more romantic by saying it with homemade macarons. And there’s no need to tell you that there are plenty recipes in Mad About Macarons and now there are 11 more in the macaron chapter in Teatime in Paris. No fancy boxes? This is simply a re-cycled Christmas card box!
I’ve given you the recipes above from le blog – but don’t forget that the real bulk of my recipes are in my new cookbook, Teatime in Paris! And at the bargain price of the book, you can bring Parisian pastries to your own kitchen with a tour of the patisseries thrown in… Let me tempt you with just a few treats.
Wishing you a very Happy Valentine’s weekend from Paris.
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Preparing a taster of Valentine chocolates in Paris has not been the easiest task – craving aside as I’ve been drooling in the windows – since most chocolate shops only set up their windows about a week in advance for Valentine’s weekend. Not all chocolatiers are necessarily attracted to a Valentine theme, so I’ll concentrate on them later as they gear up instead for Easter chocolates.
As you can imagine, we’re spoiled for choice in Paris, so I can’t possibly mention them all, but I’m sure you’ll find something here that tickles your fancy from 14 of the best Parisian chocolate boutiques.
If you’re into hearts, then you won’t be disappointed: the majority of chocolates are either heart-shaped or come in red-ribbon heart-shaped boxes. Some of the luxury chocolate boutiques have more emphasis on their windows, others on particularly beautiful packaging – while others are perhaps not quite as wow-factor on the presentation side, but their chocolates are definitely worth falling head over heels. Speaking of heels, Jean-Paul Hévin or Georges Larnicol will have you swooning over their chocolate stilettos, Eiffel Towers, mopeds or even pianos filled with macarons. There’s something for every budget – from the cutest of mini boxes to more decadent assorted arrangements to say I love you.
Pierre Marcolini – the double chocolatier who makes his own chocolate from cacao bean to bar – centres around his red heart raspberry chocolates available year-round but it’s all in the packaging, ranging from a mini duo box for under 5 euros to a giant cone for 99 euros. Other hearts have been designed to join in with names to create the mood: Seduction (raspberry pulp), Passion (milk chocolate-passion fruit), Frisson (white chocolate-lime), Tendresse (Montélimar nougat praline), Plaisir (Iranian pistachio praline), and Douceur (salted butter caramel).
Patrice Chapon is another chocolate maker who creates his tablets and stunning chocolates from bean to bar. His window in rue du Bac shows off his famous Smileys along with Valentine pink hearts and rather catchy-kissy red lips. Chocolate-moulded hearts and lips are also featured at Dalloyau, but admittedly my heart is beating to unlock their duo of pastries for two. Also well known for his chocolate kisses, Christophe Roussel continues his seductive selection of kisses and sweet hearts in Montmartre.
Foucher, also in rue du Bac, has been there since the shop opened in 1819. Their heart-shaped milk and dark praline-filled chocolates are perhaps for those with a sweeter tooth. Red fruit calissons (sweet marzipan confections from Aix-en-Provence) add a different red touch.
La Maison du Chocolat is celebrating Valentines not just with heart-shaped boxes but the emotion of love’s infatuation with that frisson feeling or quivering. Nicolas Cloiseau explores this through his chocolates and has created a “Pop” gift box containing four themed chocolates, each provoking a slight shudder with the play of chocolate and fruity acidity or salty surprise.
There are two milk ganaches: Yellow Fusion (praline, caramel and nuts with a hint of lemongrass and lemon notes), Orange Passion (passion fruit with lime, mango and vanilla); and two dark ganaches: Striking Red (acidulous punch of redcurrant, strawberry and raspberry), Dashing Blue (Persian blue salt with praline and blue poppy seeds). The red fruits are indeed particularly striking, with the clever shuddering effect taking hold – I’m in love!
Patrick Roger, Meilleur Ouvrier de France (or MOF, the highest accolade given to French craftsmen in their field) is known best as the chocolate sculptor who thinks outside the box. You’ll find his latest masterpiece, Rodin’s “The Thinker”, sculpted in chocolate in all of his nine Paris boutiques – you can still see his work in the entrance of the newly renovated Rodin Museum in Paris until 21 February. While his love hearts are filled with an assortment of chocolates, I can’t help falling for his bright-eyed marzipan hearts.
Have that fluttery feeling of butterflies in the stomach? Then head to Hugo & Victor with their heart and butterfly theme – and there’s no need to “book” your valentine chocolates here!
I adore their presentation this year with the cutest little dusky pink box holding four dark chocolates: a delicate jasmine tea ganache and deep love-hearts containing runny cranberry caramel. If you’re frustrated at stopping there, the sophisticated book presentation encloses more dark and milk jasmine tea ganache chocolates, along with crispy milk chocolate pralines.
Another Meilleur Ouvrier de France, Pascal Caffet is King of pralines, using hazelnuts from Piemonte. But first I was introduced to Adam, a dark 70% Venezuelan chocolate with a heart of salted caramel ganache, and Eve, a subtle cherry blossom ganache dressed in white chocolate. On the other hand, Romeo, an Ivorian 40% milk chocolate with his crispy praline heart doesn’t yet have a Juliette – so I’ll just take at least a couple of Romeos, please. I’m hoping that next year Juliette turns up as a dark praline seducer like her other half but in the meantime, I found another “Dark Favourite” of 70% dark chocolate topped with a heart, containing a praline mix of Valencian almonds and Piemonte hazelnuts.
I know. This was meant to be just about chocolates but I couldn’t resist the look of Pascal Caffet’s frozen Valentine’s dessert for two, the Cocooning: 70% dark Venezuelan chocolate mousse and biscuit, red fruits and Bourbon vanilla crème brûlée. See? Don’t get me started but I’m swooning at the patisseries again. Philippe Conticini says “Say it with a Cake” and entices us into the Pâtisserie des Rêves with his glistening red Pommes d’Amour.
There are many more new stunning patisserie beauties arriving in the shops at the end of the week, just in time for your Valentine’s weekend. Pastry chefs are showing some tempting teasers of classic large macaron hearts filled with raspberries: Pierre Marcolini adds vanilla and yuzu, Angelina adds rose and redcurrants for a “Heart to Heart” and although Pierre Hermé couldn’t have a Valentine’s Day without his famous Ispahan macaron heart of rose, raspberry and litchi, his 2016 creation is a “Venus Heart” of quince, apple and rose. Dalloyau may still have a heart but also a second pastry for two shaped as a love padlock. The most incredible I’ve seen so far is the “Cache-Coeur” from Un Dimanche à Paris with a heart suggesting a rather heart-shaped bust below a plunging neckline. Oh-là-là!
In the meantime, for multi-taskers, celebrate the Chinese New Year and Saint Valentine’s together. The Pâtisserie des Rêves are saying it with fortune cookies containing love messages. And if you’re planning on Popping-the-Question, then even that hidden message can be easily organised too!
Happy Sweet Valentine’s Day from Paris! Go on – melt your other half…
This article is featured on the Bonjour Paris Publication.
Orange Blossom Pomegranate Rice Pudding with macarons from Teatime in Paris!
News is spreading in Paris this week of tomorrow’s release of Roschdy Zem’s new French film, “Chocolat”.
Thankfully the shiny billboard’s image of a clown dispels any confusion with the previous film about a woman and a daughter opening a chocolate shop in rural France. Instead, this film is based on the true-life story of Raphael Padilla, nicknamed “Chocolat”, a former Cuban-born slave who became the first black circus artist in France at the end of the 19th Century.
Most of the film’s story takes place at number 251, rue Saint Honoré – now the modern location of the Mandarin Oriental Paris. The hotel is proud of its prestigious historical past: previously a convent, a hippodrome, royal equestrian school then the Nouveau Cirque. The film centres round the renowned modern circus popular with the elite Parisians from 1886 during the Belle Epoque era.
On 20 January, a commemorative plaque was unveiled outside the hotel by the Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, and the “Chocolat” film crew. It reads:
“Here, at the Nouveau Cirque Raphael Padilla known as the “Chocolate Clown” (c. 1868-1917), born a slave in Cuba, and Georges Foottit (1864-1921) invented the clown comedy, associating the White Clown and Auguste”.
White Clown and Auguste; Foottit and Chocolat
It’s no surprise that the role of the more sophisticated, “sad” White Clown, George Foottit, is played by James Thierrée, a celebrated circus performer himself – and grandson of Charlie Chaplin. Known on film as a character clown, Chaplin wrote and directed the blockbuster silent film, The Circus (1928), considered one of his best comedies.
Omar Sy plays the role of Raphael Padilla. Padilla was sold into slavery at age 9, then escaped to Europe to be discovered by Foottit when he was 18. As the outrageous Auguste clown, Padilla was known as “Chocolat” on stage. It’s a term that made it into French slang, as the expression “Être chocolat” (to be chocolate), means to be ridiculed or abused.
Foottit repeated, “Monsieur Chocolat, I’m obliged to hit you”. After being regularly duped, Padilla announced to his captivated audience, “I’m Chocolate” – a formula that would lead to 15 years of phenomenal clowning comic success.
Candy Floss, Clown Bow Ties and Red Noses
To celebrate the historical duo and such a glorious history of the Mandarin Oriental’s location, Thierry Marx and pastry chef Pierre Mathieu have created an exceptional gourmet duo together with their afternoon tea in Paris – with a difference. Be prepared to tickle your taste-buds with the “Bento Circus” at the Camélia restaurant and Cake Shop.
Three mysteriously stacked dishes gradually unveil a clown-inspired feast of nine entertaining treats for the senses.
The three mini “starters” are perhaps savoury but with a Pomme d’Amour of fresh goats cheese rolled in piquillo pepper, sesame and parmesan, the first smiles are guaranteed.
An adult version of candy-floss has us deliciously tricked with hidden foie-gras, but for me the showstopper is the more serious mini tart of smoked duck, sweetcorn cream and caramelized popcorn.
The Auguste clown comes more into play with the next sweets on stage: a pistachio flowered hat, a crispy praline chocolate mousse with a lion ring – and a memorable coconut star crowning an exotic fruit tartlet that has me believe my feet have outgrown their shoes.
As our charming server poured more tea from an oversized pot, he seemed surprised how little milk was used for a cloud of milk (“une nuage de lait”). No clowning about: for just a drop of milk, next time I’ll remember clowns’ tears: “Une larme de lait.”
At this point, it’s hard to believe that the show still goes on. The finale demonstrates an inventive vanilla clown’s eye, an explosive lemon bow-tie and an oversized red nose, concealing blackcurrant-blackberry confit and a vanilla-rose mousse in white chocolate.
Service is faultless: attentive, friendly yet relaxing – all ingredients for the perfect teatime of stylishly clowning about in Paris!
In true French slang, let’s say we’re not chocolate: at 38 euros for such a prominent address, this celebratory Circus Teatime at the Camélia is great clowning value.
Tel: (+33) 01 70 98 78 88
This article is published over at BonjourParis.com
Disclaimer: I was invited as a guest to taste the Circus Teatime. I was not required to write a review. As always, all opinions are my own.