Chocolate and Chestnut Pudding for the Holiday Season

You can tell that chocolate has been quite prominent in our diets these last couple of weeks.  How could I talk about the 20th Salon du Chocolat in Paris without having some kind of a chocolate treat for you?  I also need to write up about the Paris Gourmet Chocolate Museum from the mid-term school holidays but right now, work on the new book is hotting up and I need to focus.  I’m off to pick up, Eleanor, the Editor at the airport and we have a busy few days ahead of us…

best quick holiday chocolate desserts presented with macarons

Blustery showers, soggy leaves and chilly fingers calls for warming chocolate, doesn’t it?  Let’s face it, dark chocolate is good for you, a mood enhancer and cooked together with egg yolks filled with iron, we need a good dose to stay healthy during the winter months.

And, with the simplest presentation in little cups, it’s the easiest of desserts to whip up at the last minute for the holiday season with friends and family.  It’s also perfect served with macarons.  Either made earlier and still in the fridge or from your freezer bank!

chocolate pudding egg yolk recipe with festive macarons

Chocolate and Chestnut Pudding

Recipe of Budino di Cioccolato adapted from Nigella Express Cookbook by Nigella Lawson.

350ml full-fat milk
50g caster sugar
1 tbsp cornflour/cornstarch
35g cocoa powder
2 tbsps boiling water
2 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g candied chestnut purée (Clément Faugier)
60g dark chocolate (min 70% cocoa solids), finely chopped

1. Put the kettle on, and warm the milk/cream together in a saucepan or in a bowl in the microwave.

2. Put the sugar and cornflour into another saucepan and sieve in the cocoa powder.  Add the 2 tbsps of boiling water and whisk to a paste.

3. Whisk in the egg yolks, one at a time, followed by the warmed milk and cream, then the vanilla extract.

4. Scrape down the sides of the pan and put it on lowish heat, cooking and whisking for about 3-4 minutes until the mixture thickens to a mayonnaise-like consistency.

5. Take off the heat and whisk in the finely chopped chocolate and candied chestnut purée, before pouring into 4 small cups or glasses, each with a capacity of about 150ml.

6. Cover the tops of the cups or glasses with cling film, letting the cling-film rest on the chocolate surface, to stop a skin forming, and refrigerate once they are cooler.

Serve at room temperature, adding a blob of cream or top.  I topped it with a marron glacé, a sprinkling of freshly grated nutmeg and cinnamon and served with chocolate macarons.

easy chocolate pudding dessert recipe for the holiday season with macarons

Don’t forget there are many more egg yolk recipes on le blog for all you macaron-making lovers.

Store your egg whites in a jam jar with a closed lid and keep in the fridge for 4-5 days – then you’re ready to make Parisian macarons!

Black Forest Cakes in Germany and a No Bake Chocolate Cherry Dessert

Do you really think a sweet tooth determines our family holiday destinations? Well, perhaps it does. It has been 30 years since I last visited Germany and the same, ridiculous amount of time since I practised my rusty high school German. Mein Deutsch ist nicht gut!  It was high time to visit.

We headed to the medieval town of Staufen, south of the Black Forest, a jewel nestled in between lush mountaineous forests, vines, cafés and bakeries.

What amazed us most about the region, is how clean and tidy the towns are. Everything is immaculate, even down to the neat stacks of wood piled outside geranium window-boxed freshly painted houses. It’s also the first time I’ve seen kids paddling about in the gutters! (Well, one of them was mine – was ist das?) The Germans seem particularly eco-friendly: bikes are the norm, an impressive amount of houses have flashy solar panels and their signposting is nothing short of perfection.

We stayed at the Gasthaus Krone (meaning ‘crown’), which is an excellent address in Staufen – including their Michelin ‘Bib Gourmand’ restaurant. Luckily the friendly owner spoke some French, since my painful phrases embarrassingly resembled a mix of German vocabulary, French grammar and stuttering English fillers-in. I am determined to return after doing some homework next time, but at least communication through food is easier!

Meandering down the main cobbled street, serenaded by a solo oboist trying to compete with the local brass quintet oompa-ing around the fountain, the castle ruins and vineyards majestically tower over the local wineries. The city crest is a shield with 3 wine glasses so when in Staufen, it would be rude not to taste; their welcoming barrels proudly strut their tasting offerings.

This is what holidays are made of: sitting back, people-watching, contemplating family postcards, nibbling on a salted bretzel and sipping at the local traditional grape varieties – including the oldest, Gutedel. Personally, I preferred the dry Muscat for white wines but their red wines shone high above the rest with some stunning Pinot Noirs, bursting with jam-like cherry fruits.

Staufen Castle, although now a ruin (built in 850), can be visited to admire the breathtaking vista of the Black Forest and Rhine Valley. Looking out the arched window, we’re reminded by such an enormous tree that we’re in black cherry country.

After such a climb during the heatwave, it was time to follow the tempting signs dotted around the town to the nearest cake shop. It didn’t take us long to discover the Café Decker, undoubtedly the best cake shop and tea salon in Staufen. It was so decadently, deliciously decked in cakes that we admittedly returned three times.

Black Forest Cakes, küchen, more chocolate cakes, redcurrant meringue pies and macarons were just some of the treats that would make anyone go off their sweet trolley. I think I put on three kilos during the week!  So, switching to ice cream seemed a lighter idea: wouah! Teasingly steeped in Kirsch liqueur, it made an ideal excuse for an afternoon nap by the snoring river.

Back home, the Black Forest provided inspiration for a gluten free dessert back home: ideal for using up egg yolks and for serving with your chocolate macarons.  What’s more, it’s holiday style: quick, easy, tasty and no bake!

Black Forest Chocolate Cherry Cream Desserts

Serves 8 (mini pots) or 4 (in wine glasses)

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
Chilling Time: 2 hours

1 gelatine sheet (@2 g)
200ml whole milk
300ml single cream
3 egg yolks
50g sugar
150g dark cooking chocolate, broken into small chunks
1 tbsp Kirsch liqueur (optional)
16 fresh cherries (or Griottine cherries, soaked in Kirsch)

1. Soak the gelatine in cold water. Meanwhile break up the chocolate into pieces in a large bowl. In a saucepan, boil the milk and cream.

2. In another bowl, whisk together the yolks and sugar until light and creamy. Pour over the hot milky cream, mix and transfer back to the saucepan.

3. Whisk vigorously over a medium heat until the cream thickens. Take off the heat then pour over half of this hot cream on to the chocolate. Stir until the chocolate melts, add Kirsch (if using), the gelatine (squeezed of any excess water) and then whisk in the rest of the hot cream.

4. Transfer to 8 mini serving dishes (or 4 if you’re greedy like us), cool and chill for at least an hour. Decorate with fresh dark cherries and/or Griottine cherries soaked in Kirsch and a scoosh of Chantilly cream*. (Or why not roast cherries with a splash of Kirsch as Jamie Schler does at Life’s a Feast?)

If you have a siphon, fill it up half way with chilled cream (no less than 30% fat) and splash in a couple of tablespoons of Kirsch or cherry syrup, fit with the gas canister, shake and chill for a few minutes. Instant, homemade lighter-than-light cream!

Guten Appetit!

 

Chocolate Cream Desserts for Macaron (Yolk) Lovers

Poor blog. I’ve neglected it and so my apologies. Chest infection dragging on, living in the dark, the pouring rain. Not a great couple of weeks, although I do have a much more fun excuse – all shall be revealed in the next post.

In the meantime, I’ve still had some sweet dreams, mainly consisting of desserts. Ideally they’re not too sweet, they’re packed with flavour and they’re quick and easy to make. If they use up egg yolks, that’s an extra bonus for macaron lovers. These chocolate cream puddings can not only be whipped up in 20 minutes but they’re so versatile and perfect for re-cyling those hoarded yoghurt pots.

Here I’ve added zingy orange zest and a sneaky soupçon of Cointreau to them but adapt them to your own tastes. For spicy romantic lovers, replace with cardamom and ginger. Lucie adored the addition of 100g candied chestnut cream (she’s mad about chestnuts) but why not add a touch of Chambord and serve with raspberries?  You get the picture. Top with physalis (why does that always sound like a disease?) or, to add that je ne sais quoi, a mendiant topped with dried fruits and nuts.

They remind me of La Laitière cream pots we can buy in the supermarket but they’re much better and so quick to make – it’s worth the effort. They’re not like a mousse and they’re not like heavy creams, either. Do you remember the Aero bars we used to devour as kids? What was the best part for you? The bubbles?

The best part are the chocolate bubbles…

Chocolate Orange Cream Desserts

Serves 6 (small pots)

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
Chilling Time: 2 hours

200ml whole milk
300ml single cream
3 egg yolks
50g sugar
150g dark cooking chocolate, broken into small chunks
zest of an orange (untreated)
1 tbsp Cointreau
(optional)
1 gelatine sheet (@2 g)

1. Soak the gelatine in cold water. Meanwhile break up the chocolate into pieces in a large bowl. In a saucepan, boil the milk and cream.

2. In another bowl, whisk together the yolks and sugar until light and creamy. Pour over the hot milky cream, mix and transfer back to the saucepan.

3. Whisk vigorously over a medium heat until the cream thickens. Take off the heat then pour over half of this hot cream on to the chocolate. Stir until the chocolate melts, add the grated zest, Cointreau (if using), the gelatine (squeezed of any excess water) and then whisk in the rest of the hot cream.

4. Transfer to 6 serving dishes (or 4 if you’re greedy like us). Leave to cool and chill for an hour.

Serve with sablé bretons or, dare I say, some macarons?

This recipe is added to the egg yolk recipe collection. There’s plenty more so you’ve no excuse – get these egg whites put aside! By making this recipe, you’ll have enough for 100g whites, which will make about 30 macarons.

Stay tuned for the fun surprise. If you haven’t yet subscribed to le blog, then don’t forget to sign up. Toodeloo, bonne semaine, I’m off to London so it’s time to get back into action!

Passionfruit Milk Chocolate Crème Brûlée: Walking on Mars?

Have you ever imagined what it could be like to walk on Mars? That’s what I found myself thinking as I cracked into this Passionfruit milk chocolate crème brulée. It’s incredible to think that one of the latest finds on the planet is a type of soil that’s used on Earth to grow asparagus. I wonder if I could bring some accompanying hollandaise sauce on an eventual space shuttle birthday adventure?

Could this be like walking on Mars, the red planet?

When I discovered that my astrology planet Mars – named after the Roman God of War – had something to do with a fiery temper and passionate, impulsive behaviour, what could I say? It’s not me, darlings; it’s that red planet again.

One fiery implosion was in my brazen-but-bashful teens, about to burst out of my 80s flying suit like David Banner, via the Incredible Sulk – playing Mars as bass flute in The Planets by Holst with the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland. It was a low moment. I’d finally been selected First Flute (note: the older I get, the better I was) which meant playing the orchestral flute solos in concerts abroad, on BBC radio… Listen to the opening Mars theme while reading this for ambience. Why was I at the bloomin’ bottom of the flute section, trying to prop up this beast that sounded like the last of the bath water draining? Because I simply had the longest, spindly, sprawling hands to get my fingers over the damn keys! Why couldn’t I be short? Mars was playing outside but it was also calling me from within but I played on. After all, music be the food of love (dixit Shakespeare.)

passionfruit milk chocolate crème brûlée recipe

Moods can quickly change, however, when confronted with a dessert – a milk chocolatey dessert, with explosive fruit to kindle the passion in you, and topped with a crackling, caramel crust that can turn your earth upside down. How can you be mad with rage? Hm. There’s that mad word again. I wonder why the publisher chose that?

Crème Brûlée is one of my favourite recipes to use up egg yolks. (You need the whites to make macarons, in case this is your first time popping in.) Like Amélie Poulain, cracking through the carmelised sugar is one of life’s incredible thrills. Living dangerously, eh? As one of my favourite macarons is chocolate and exotic fruits (see page 89 of the book), I’ve been dying to try the sensation in a crème brûlée.

The classic recipe is on page 124 of the book but I’ve adapted it here to cope with the passionfruit juice and chocolate, cutting back on cream. I strained the seeds from the passionfruits but there’s no need if you prefer the extra crunch. Adding milk chocolate did not make it pretty for the photos, but this is from another planet. The red planet. Grrrrr.

passionfruit milk chocolate creme brûlée dessert recipe

Passionfruit Milk Chocolate Crème Brûlée

Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hour
Chilling Time: 2 hours

8 egg yolks
80g caster sugar
4 passionfruits
400ml (13.5 US fl oz) cream
120g milk chocolate
4 tbsps brown sugar for caramelising

  1. Preheat oven to 110°C.
  2. Remove the pulp from the passionfruits and using the back of big spoon, press the pulp through a sieve to remove the seeds.
  3. Mix yolks and sugar until creamy, then whisk in the passionfruit pulp. Gently heat the cream and milk chocolate in a pan until warm and the chocolate has melted (don’t boil.) Pour over the egg mixture and mix thoroughly.
  4. Pour into individual ramekins and place in a bain-marie (a roasting tray filled halfway up with water will suffice) in the oven for about one hour.  Leave them to cool, then chill for 2 hours in the fridge.
  5. Before serving, dust with the brown sugar then caramelise them quickly with a blowtorch or under a hot grill.

Floating upside down on Mars and attacking the Black Hole

To finish off, I tried another version by omitting the milk chocolate in the passionfruit cream.  Instead, plop in a lump of dark chocolate just before putting each ramekin in the oven. The result? A surprising, oozing, chocolatey black hole for your guests to float into the Milky Way.

Let’s take that one again but back down to Earth’s angle. Who also loves cracking the caramel with the spoon?

It’s Mardi from Eat. Live. Travel. Write and a Raspberry Curd Recipe

Surprise! It’s mardi. It’s Tuesday. It’s Mardi Gras, and I’m so pleased to welcome Mardi Michels. You know: The Mardi from Eat.Live.Travel.Write. I’m sure you know how famous she is in the blogosphere as well as her macaron talents from Toronto’s foodie world, making her way to Paris this summer to share in more sweet treats. No more introductions needed. Take it away, Mardi…

I am thrilled to be posting over here at Mad about Macarons, especially on this, my “fête” 😉 Well, I mean, EVERY Tuesday is my “fête” but today is extra special. So I thought I would whip up a little something to celebrate. Something that, you know, uses up the many many egg yolks that making macarons tends to leave me with. I mean, there’s only so much custard and ice cream you can make, right?

I recently made Meyer lemon macarons filled with a blackberry jam and Meyer lemon curd which, in itself, is a great way to use up the yolks – fill the macs with them! But as I was making that lemon curd, I wondered how well another type of curd would do. Like, raspberry curd. We have a lot of raspberries in our freezer that I froze in the summer begging to be used so I figured I would give it a shot. Once I had the curd figured out, I needed a vessel for it – and not macarons! Not everyone is as “Mad about Macarons” as Jill and I! For me, raspberry is a match made in heaven for dark chocolate so I came up with the idea of a chocolate tart shell filled with raspberry curd and topped with fresh raspberries and a drizzle of melted dark chocolate. I can’t totally take all the credit for this idea – we used to have a bakery called “The Queen of Tarts” at the end of our street (dangerous!) which sold the dearest little individual-sized tarts and they used to feature all manner of fillings. I was a huge fan of their chocolate tart shells so was pleased to figure out one that closely resembled the ones which sadly only exist in my memory now….

The chocolate tart dough is taken from Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table (pp 500-501). As I am cooking and baking my way through this book, I knew it would be a sure bet. If you don’t own this book (why not?) it’s a basic sweet tart dough recipe where you substitute half the powdered sugar for cocoa powder. Her recipe makes one large 9″ tart shell, I halved the recipe to make four individual 4″ tarts.

The curd was a little bit of experimentation but I like the way this one came out in the end.

Raspberry Curd

(enough for four 4″ individual tarts) inspired by the McCormick Meyer lemon curd that I used in my macarons

Ingredients
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup raspberry purée *
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, very cold

Method

  1. Mix egg yolks, sugar and raspberry purée in heavy saucepan with a wire whisk until well blended and smooth.
  2. Continue to whisk as you cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until the curd is thick and will coat the back of a wooden spoon.
  3. Remove saucepan from the heat and whisk the butter in, one piece at a time. Once all the butter is combined in the curd, transfer the mixture to another bowl.
  4. Cover the mix with plastic wrap, making sure the wrap touches the surface of the curd and cool to room temperature.

* for the raspberry purée, I blend fresh or defrosted frozen raspberries with an immersion (stick) blender then pass the mix through a metal sieve to remove the seeds.

Once the curd is at room temperature, you’ll fill the tart shells and place them in the fridge, covering them loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerating overnight. The following day, you can decorate the tarts with fresh raspberries and drizzles of melted dark chocolate.

The result? A dessert that’s not too sweet which means you can drizzle as much chocolate on top of the tarts as you like. The curd is a different flavour from jam – more tart, less sweet which works in a rich dessert like this! I love that not only the filling but also the tart shell used up my always-lurking-in-my-fridge-yolks – it’s a macaron maker’s dream dessert!

Mardi is a full-time French teacher at the elementary-school level in Toronto. She blogs at eat. live. travel. write. where she documents her culinary adventures (more than macarons, though sometimes you wouldn’t know it) near and far. She’s a serious Francophile who spends as much time in Paris as she can. This summer, she’ll be there again, organising a foodie trip in partnership with Le Dolci Studio (Toronto) – where she teaches macaron classes – and La Cuisine Paris. Check out all the delicious details here.

Thank you so much, Mardi, for guest posting today and for sharing your yolky raspberry curd with us. These chocolatey tarts look absolutely delicious. Good luck with your foodie trip to Paris this summer – it’s a great way for anyone to learn more about the City of Light and its sweet life. It will be a huge success! Don’t forget to check out many more recipes like this on Mardi’s blog and follow her at Eat.Live.Travel.Write.

Guest Recipe: White Chocolate and Raspberry Paris-Brest

Today is an extra special Guest Post. My lovely Irish guest, Hester Casey, is not only sharing a cracker of an egg yolk recipe with us, but it’s also the first anniversary of her blog, Alchemy in the Kitchen.  Congratulations on your first blogversary, Hester!

When Hester revealed she was making Paris-Brest, I immediately took a trip down memory lane with my girls this week to Maisons-Laffitte.  We lived there for 5 years just around the corner from THE Pâtisserie that created the Paris-Brest back in 1910.


This happy Monsieur, Louis Durand, was obviously over the moon!  What a clever idea, creating a pastry in the shape of a wheel especially for the famous bicycle race.

The girl serving in the shop saw us taking pictures outside. When I explained that I could mention it on le Blog and link up to them, she stared at me blankly with,”Oh, I don’t know if you can do that”. Well, voilà: check out the official Paris-Brest website at www.paris-brest.fr.

We bought a few mini Paris-Brests but would you believe, none of the minis were in the shape of a bicycle wheel!  They were more like a shell.  I’ll post the pic up on Facebook, if you’re interested.

These people need to market themselves, for goodness sake. Even the pastry box uses an email address rather than the website address.

They NEED YOU, Hester! Here she is now to show us her white chocolate and raspberry Paris-Brest.

Hester, Alchemy in the Kitchen

I’m Hester of Alchemy in the Kitchen. I’m one of seven siblings, and postcard Irish with auburn hair and a sprinkling of freckles. My home is Wicklow, “the garden of Ireland”, with my husband Chris, chief taster-in-residence.

Growing up in a large family meant our house was like a restaurant, with starter, soup, main and dessert each evening.  It was noisy, with everyone conducting at least three conversations simultaneously. Even though it was crowded, room could always be found for whoever happened along at mealtimes. How could I help but love food and the conviviality it brings!  To this day, I find it hard to prepare meals for fewer than 10 people.

When Jill invited me to guest post on Le Blog, I was thrilled. I’m a huge fan of Mad About Macarons and it is a real honour and pleasure to accept her invitation. Jill conveys her passion for great food and for Paris in equal measure, with a large helping of humour. I know when I read each of her posts they will have me drooling, or laughing,  or both – that gets messy. 🙂

White Chocolate and Raspberry Paris-Brest

The egg yolk challenge is a great idea because who hasn’t – at some stage – got a bowl of forlorn egg yolks sitting in the fridge. Having been parted from their whites – who have gone on to star as Magnificent Macarons, Marvellous Meringues, or Superb Soufflés – the poor old egg yolk tends to be forgotten.

Egg yolks can achieve greatness too. After all, Botticelli painted The Birth of Venus using egg yolk-based paint. Botticelli provided a feast for the eyes – here is something you can get your teeth into.  Gateau Paris-Brest is a delectable choux pastry, named after the famous Paris – Brest bicycle race. The shape represents a wheel. Here it is in miniature, my Summery version with raspberries and white chocolate pastry cream.

L’inspiration…le vélo

White Chocolate and Raspberry Paris-Brest

For 10 – 12 gorgeous little pastries you will need…

Pastry Cream (crème pâtissière)

300mls fresh milk
50g caster sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
a pinch of salt
15g plain flour
15g cornflour
4 egg yolks
50g good quality white chocolate, chopped

  1. Heat the milk in a medium saucepan until simmering.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks together with the vanilla extract and sugar until thick and paler in colour. Add in the salt, plain flour and cornflour and whisk until incorporated.
  3. Slowly add the simmering milk to the egg yolk mixture, whisking all the time (never add cold eggs to hot liquid unless you want scrambled eggs). Mix well and return the liquid to the saucepan. Continue to whisk over a low heat until the liquid has become a thick custard. This will take about 3 or 4 minutes. Make sure not to boil the custard or it will become grainy and may scramble. The custard is thick enough when it coats the back of a wooden spoon and a finger pulled though this coating leaves a clean trail.
  4. Add in the white chocolate and stir until it has melted into the custard.
  5. Transfer to a bowl and cover with clingfilm, making sure the clingfilm makes contact with the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Chill until ready to use. This can be prepared ahead and will keep in the refrigerator for several days.

Egg yolks – with the right company – are capable of greatness too

Choux Pastries

150mls water
50g butter
70g strong white flour/plain flour
A pinch of fine salt
2 eggs beaten

25g flaked almonds
You will also need a punnet of fresh raspberries
Pre-heat the oven to 200°C (fan oven) at step 8
  1. Heat the water and butter together in a medium saucepan until the butter has melted and the liquid is simmering
  2. Carefully tip the flour and salt into the liquid in one go. Stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together in a soft ball of paste and no dry flour remains. Spread the ball of paste over the bottom of the saucepan and leave to cool to room temperature.
  3. When the paste has cooled, add in the beaten egg a little at a time, whisking well between additions. An electric whisk is best for this job. You want a smooth glossy soft paste that will hold its shape so check the mixture as you go along as you may not need to add all the egg.
  4. Transfer the mixture to a piping bag and pipe circles of the mixture (approximately 8cm/3 inches in diameter) onto a lightly buttered baking tray, leaving 5cm/2 inches between circles. Scatter the tops of the circles with almond flakes and transfer to the oven. Bake for approximately 15 minutes or until evenly golden brown. Remove from the oven and poke 2 horizontal slits in the side of each pastry to release some steam. Return to the oven for a further 2 minutes before removing to cool on a wire rack.
  5. Assemble the little pastries just before serving: slice them in half horizontally. Beat the cooled pastry cream until smooth. For a really decadent touch, I sometimes stir a tablespoon of mandarin brandy into the pastry cream at this stage. Pipe onto the lower half of the pastry wheel and add fresh raspberries. Replace the top and dust with icing sugar.

We taste wheel-y wheel-y delicious!

These little pastries are perfect accompaniment to a daydream where you might cycle from Paris to Brest, or perhaps paint a Renaissance masterpiece – using egg-yolk-based paint of course!

Don’t you just love it? They really look wheel-y, wheel-y light-as-a-feather gorgeous, Hester!  This “rounds” up this month’s guest posts just beautifully. Merci beaucoup!

Don’t forget to cycle over to Hester’s blog, Alchemy in the Kitchen.  She is certainly creating plenty magic: have you seen her latest simple ingredient tricks? She transformed a normal tzatziki into an apple and lime tzatziki with lamb kofte.  Would you believe she also coaxed some Bramley Apples to talk to some vanilla fudge and pastry? Agracadabra: it became a Walnut Fragipane Tart with Apple and Fudge! Enjoy her blog, and please say congratulations from me!  Happy Blogversary, Hester!