A revisited creamy rice pudding recipe – with a seasonal touch of fragrant orange blossom and crunchy arils or pomegranate seeds for an easy yet deliciously healthy Valentine’s dessert. Pop over for the printable recipe on the website.
“Come on, as soon as we get home we’ll have oranges by the fire”. It was Mum’s way of encouraging us up that hill walking back from school on a wild and wet Scottish evening. With la Chandeleur and Mardi Gras approaching and another excuse to enjoy French crêpes, try this deliciously creamy orange curd recipe as a perfect topping for your pancakes this February …
Apparently 9 November is International Tea Day. When I saw this over the weekend on Instagram, excitement set in as it was the perfect excuse to put the kettle on and infuse some tea into more teatime treats. I don’t normally keep up with national or international food days but Tea Day made me think about how tea and teatime have been top for Mad About Macarons this year. And to celebrate, let’s enjoy one of the recipes from Teatime in Paris!
Adding tea to baking and cooking is such an easy touch to make certain simple recipes sophisticated. As ever, Paris has been my inspiration, as many fancy pâtisseries and tearooms offer tea-infused pastries for that extra chic Parisian teatime.
Some tea-infused recipes on le blog have not been confined to teatime. One of my favourite main dishes is this easy yet elegant fish recipe with a beurre blanc sauce infused with Lapsang Souchong smoked tea. Try it and you’ll see how it takes a simple John Dory fish dish to another level. I love the crispy topping but the sauce is the always the winner of compliments at dinner parties – so thank you Chef Vincent David for this one!
I was in shock yesterday when I remembered these One Night in Paris-Bangkok (Mariages Frères) tea-infused chocolate macarons and partying with a wig. Moving on to more recent comfort food was this rice pudding recipe infused with Theodor’s latest aromatic green tea called Little Bear, with notes of ginger and mandarine. I see the Insolent Parisian has yet another delicious tea-infused vanilla cream recipe.
Tea-infused recipes are also included in my new book, Teatime in Paris, such as these Honey, Rose and Green Tea Madeleines from the first chapter – and ending with the final Tea Party recipes, made to mix-and-match, including this Chocolate-Earl Grey Tart with Cointreau Crumble Puffs.
Now, thanks to Waverley Books, I can share the recipe for the salted caramel cream filling from the new book – although instead I infused jasmine tea into the cream and omitted the salt to let the tea shine through.
CARAMEL AND JASMINE MACARON FILLING RECIPE
Recipe adapted from Teatime in Paris - the salt has been omitted and the cream is slightly increased to allow for the infusion with the Jasmine tea. First, follow the basic macaron recipe (pages 146-150 in Teatime in Paris – or from Mad About Macarons) and add caramel colouring.
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Resting time: 20+30 minutes
Cooking time: 12 minutes
Caramel & Jasmine filling:
110g cream, warmed
12g jasmine tea
1 x 2g sheet gelatine
Heat the cream in a small saucepan and add the jasmine tea. As soon as the cream boils, take off the heat, put a lid on and leave to infuse for 20 minutes. Filter out the tea, pushing as much of the cream out of the tea as possible using a wooden spoon. Set aside.
Soak the gelatine in cold water for 10 minutes and reheat the cream.
Heat the sugar with a tablespoon of water over medium heat in a small saucepan until a golden, syrupy caramel forms. Stir only when it starts to change colour and watch that it doesn’t colour too much (i.e. it can burn quickly – and there’s nothing worse than bitter burnt caramel, so keep you’re eye on it!). This should take no more than 10 minutes in total. Turn down the heat and add the warmed cream gradually (ensure it’s warm, otherwise you’ll have the boiling caramel spitting at you!)
Take off the heat and melt in the butter, stirring the tea-infused caramel with a wooden spoon.
Add the gelatine (squeezed of excess water) and stir. Leave to cool on the counter for 15 minutes.
Whisk in the mascarpone vigorously (or use an electric whisk) until you have a smooth texture.
Chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Transfer the caramel cream to a piping bag, pipe on the filling to each macaron couple, topping off with the other macaron shell to assemble.
I’ll leave you with this Caramel, Walnut and Maple tart, another of the recipes from Teatime in Paris I made this weekend to accompany the macarons (I did say I was looking for excuses to bake!). Here I also infused Jasmine tea into the cream before pouring into the caramel. I also infused the tea into the melted butter for these almond tuiles, another of the recipes. It’s easy to adapt so many varieties of your best recipes to celebrate your favourite teas.
All that’s missing is a cup of tea and some company. So, what’s your favourite tea and do you bake or cook with it? Please feel free to share a tea recipe with us in the comments and I’ll add it to this post.
Happy Tea Celebration Day!
The first Autumn chill hit the Paris air last week. Suddenly the kitchen now feels a cosy haven again for the family to wander in and see what’s cooking as they gravitate towards the warming oven or stove, happy to see their favourite comfort food recipes return.
Curling up on the sofa this weekend with a special pot of fragranced green tea, my mind drifted to one of our most comforting classics: warm rice pudding. Normally, I either make my rice pudding using egg yolks for a rich treat or simply bake it as my Mum and Granny did – but I discovered this simple yet intriguing twist on the traditional recipe from Theodor Paris.
For a start it uses a lot more milk than I would normally use and the process is simply stirring it now and again over a warm stove. The magic ingredient, however, is the finest quality fragranced tea. As the rice gradually thickens and the milk reduces, the tea’s scent beautifully permeates the pudding with all its delicate flavours shining through.
The tea I used is called PETITE OURSE, or Little Bear, a special edition recently released by Theodor and created by its talented founder, Guillaume Leleu (aka The Insolent Parisian), for the annual Paris Revelations Fair. It’s a Chinese green tea very delicately perfumed with notes of mandarin, a subtle warm hint of ginger and finished off with mallow flowers and both sunflower and safflower petals.
Petite Ourse is one of three new special edition blends beautifully named “Some amongst us are contemplating the stars”. As I discovered in this previous macaron tea tasting, I can’t believe how tea like this can evoke so many smiles through a few sips. It moves away from the ordinary, our normal tea comfort zone.
Just tasting the other two teas tickles the palate with their surprising finishes: PERSEUS black tea has notes of comforting bergamot, yuzu and plum plus tickles us further with bits of orange and carrot (yes, carrot!); but just tasting the complex but brilliant PHŒNIX, with its exotic blend of Brazilian maté, chocolate, marzipan, liquorice root and pink peppercorns has you head for the stars with its final delicate kick of chilli – I bet that would make an adventurous rice pudding!
But it wasn’t just the three new teas as stars of the show; two designers hailing from the Camondo School were inspired to design this “Totem” structure for Guillaume Leleu, representing the artistic element of tea for the Revelations Fair.
Inspired by witnessing the creative behind-the-scenes artistic precision at Theodor’s laboratory on the Seine, both Nicolas Jandrot and Florence Tajan (also pictured above) used 3 materials – wood, metal and glass – to create a metaphor for the successive states of the finest tea, from tree to teacup.
The Totem structure will be taking off around the world to be shown in destinations such as Mexico, Japan and Korea – all where Theodor are represented. With its three antennae looking to the north, I have this fascination for “Petite Ourse”, or Ursa minor, whose brightest star stamps the North Pole and whose cove points the way to the light.
Petite Ourse is an occasion to dive in to the delicacies of a green tea perfumed with major notes of mandarine and ginger, whose North Star points the way to the light. A blend that immerses us back into childhood and our dear Teddy Bears, so reassuring and protective, to whom we dearly hold on for comfort.
Slowly stirring the senses as the delicate mandarin rice pudding thickened on the stove, I realised I had come out of some kind of childhood comfort zone just by trying something a bit more adventurous yet still enveloped in a comforting world with the most fragrant rice pudding I’ve known.
Rice Pudding Recipe Infused with Tea
Recipe courtesy of Theodor Paris. While they use their Rooibos tea from the “Weeds” collection named “Une autre idée?“, I replaced the tea with 18g Petite Ourse, a Chinese green tea predominately fragranced with mandarine and ginger. I find the amount of stirring is needed more at the beginning but as the rice starts to thicken towards the end and the milk gradually evaporates with a more concentrated tea flavour, less is needed so you can go about making the rest of dinner!
Makes 4 little bear bowls of rice pudding
Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Resting Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
1 Litre of milk
100 grams of round grain rice
72 grams of powdered sugar
15 to 20 grams of (Theodor’s recipe uses rooïbos)
1. Pour the litre of milk in a saucepan. Add the 72 grams of powdered sugar and bring the whole to a boil. Remove from the heat and brew the tea (Petite Ourse) for 10 minutes in the sweet milk. Once the brewing time is up, it will be time to filter your milk. The nice smell of the brew will already be perfuming your kitchen.
2. Put the milk to a boil a second time, then lower the heat to a minimum and rain in the 100 grams of round grain rice. Let the whole cook for 55 minutes at a very low heat, stirring occasionally to prevent the formation of a too thick film on the surface. If a film forms itself anyhow, do not worry, a good stirring may very well make it disappear. You can also remove it directly off of the saucepan. With a little more patience, let the rice cool down in order to dispatch it in your cups.
You can place your rice pudding in the refrigerator for a minimum of 2 hours…but we prefer to taste it just finished, accompanied with an aromatic and elegant chai based on an Indian black tea called ” Travel to india ” or what about a tea that reminds us of mulled wine and spices with Theodor’s “OH-LA-LA!”.
So let me introduce you to Little Bear’s warm rice pudding, a real tea-infused treat that will simply have you heading for the stars. If you follow the GPS, it should be 90°N/10°S.
You’ll be bowled over!
How many chocolate storefronts do you know resemble dark chocolate? Every time I walk past the Chapon boutique in Paris’s growing sweet-lined rue du Bac, I could almost lick off the writing imagining it’s made of cocoa butter and gold leaf.
You may remember my visit to the first ever Bac Sucré Event in June this year, where I already wrote a bit about Chocolaterie Chapon. During the event, my daughter Lucie and I signed up for a short talk by Patrice Chapon, explaining how he has been making his chocolate since 1985 from “bean-to-bar” from his workshop in Chelles (a suburb 20km north-east of Paris).
Originally a restaurant chef then pastry chef in Deauville, I love how Monsieur Chapon then popped over the Channel for a short stint as official ice-cream maker to the Royal Family at Buckingham Palace – how cool is it to have had the Queen Mother surprise you one day with rose petals from the royal gardens, asking you to make a sorbet with them? After inspiration from Harrod’s food hall, he realised his real vocation was back in France making chocolate and by 2005, he opened this second shop in Paris.
It takes 10 days to make the chocolate as we see it in the store. Even the cacao growers in the tropics (10° North or South of the Equator) are amazed at what final result can be achieved from these simple looking beans.
He procures the beans after they’ve been fermented and dried, then does the rest himself. He grills them – 20 kilos at a time – for about 30 minutes at 105°C until they start to smell and taste like chocolate, even if still bitter at this stage. After grinding to obtain cocoa nibs then 8 hours maturing, he adds sugar (and powdered milk for milk chocolate), he continues to grind then liquify the cacao by a method called conching. Any acids or bitterness disappear after at least 48 hours and as if by magic, the end result after tempering and mixing, we’re left to discover the end result.
Tasting our way through the characteristic tropical-patterned packaged chocolate bars, each variety has its own subtle but particular flavours: Cuba has notes of spice and exotic fruits, Lucie agreed that Ghana has banana notes, and Madagascar has real after-notes of red fruits.
With wide-eyed children looking on at the generous samples laid out in front of us, Chapon surprised them with his witty Willy Wonka remark in French, “With this ticket, adults have a tasting of a chocolate mousse cone; children have their tasting of salsify” (which is a popular root that’s served as vegetable here, especially I hear at the school canteen). Their confused expressions were quickly transformed as their eyes feasted on chocolate lollipops.
My eyes were for the salted praline Dômes au Sel, winners of the Mairie de Paris Chocolate Grand Prix in 2003.
True to the chocolate bars, the mousses were so dense in chocolate, yet light and airy. Chapon states that he uses about 20-30% less chocolate in his mousses due to the high cocoa content than more standard chocolate mousses that our grandmothers made.
As I left the boutique, realising again that I’d bought way too much chocolate (confessions of a chocoholic), I noticed that the recipe for the legendary chocolate mousse was printed on the brown paper bag.
With so many chocolate varieties to choose from, I thought I’d be adventurous and go for the 100% pure cacao Rio Caribe of Venezuela. On the tablet’s back label, it even specifies “100% minimum”, which would excite any cocoa connoisseur!
If I have to make one remark, the recipe’s chocolate quantity of 185g isn’t that ideal for us shoppers, since most of the tablets are 75g and so with two bars I was 35g short of pure Venezuela. As it’s 100%, also note that it’s drier than most classic mousses. The aftertaste is intense – a little goes a long way to appreciate the flavours. Just as in wine-tasting, I’d even go as far as to say that this chocolate mousse is earthy or as we say in wine terms, “sous bois” or undergrowth (for more on tasting, see my post about different notes on the nose). It was almost leafy or, dare I say, mossy. In French, moss is mousse – so I’ll leave you to groan at your own pun!
Chapon Chocolate Mousse Recipe
Patrice Chapon states the best chocolate to use for his mousse is either Equagha, équateur, Mexique or 100% Rio Caribe. His new tablet, Brésil, would also be good.
185g Pure Origin Chocolate Chapon (I used 100% Venezuela Rio Caribe)
100g semi-skimmed fresh milk
1 egg yolk
6 egg whites
37g cane sugar
1. Heat the milk until it boils. Grate the chocolate in a large bowl.
2. Pour the hot milk over the grated chocolate and stir gently until well mixed using a wooden spoon. Add the yolk and continue to stir until the mixture is brilliant.
3. In a separate bowl, whip up the egg whites using an electric whisk, adding half of the sugar at first and then at the end when they are whipped and fluffy (but not firm).
4. Gradually incorporate the egg whites, folding it in delicately until all mixed together and smooth.
5. Either keep it in the bowl or transfer to individual serving bowls (I would suggest little ones here, as this mousse is so intense!)
6. Refrigerate overnight (I suggest covering with cling film) and enjoy next day.
Serving suggestion: scoop the mousse …
or spoon into Almond Tuiles from my new book, Teatime in Paris!
If you’re in Paris, either drop in and taste the mousse for yourself at Chapon’s boutiques.
They will also be taking part again this year in the Salon du Chocolat, 28th October to 1st November, Porte de Versailles.
69, rue du Bac, 75007 Paris
Tel. 01-42 22 95 98
For more chocolate and pastry treats, join me and my friend, Ann Mah, for a tasting down rue du Bac in Paris.
Autumn may officially be upon us but I’m still hanging on by a corn thread to the last fruits and vegetables of the French summer. Somehow corn on the cob has been rare this year outside Paris and while I could find them prepackaged and wilting under cellophane in the supermarket, when I saw a pile of fresh corn at our local farmers’ market last week, I pounced on them like there was no tomorrow.
I first tasted the most creamy sweetcorn soup on our last visit to South Africa in the French colonial wine town of Franschhoek, near Cape Town. Antoine and I had splashed out to celebrate our wedding anniversary at Grande Provence, where the chef had bowled us over with his soup (quick pause here for a pun groan). It was simply but elegantly poured at the table from a white porcelain milk jug into an oversized rimmed porcelain bowl, serving as a moat around a heap of turnip purée and crowned with a gigantic tempura prawn, along with a few other fancy green garnishes.
I was in awe. Antoine knows that these kind of special eating-out moments are always a good investment, as I’ll probably try to copy the experience at home. Well, in this case, without the fancy frills part. Over the last couple of years, this creamy, velvety velouté soup has turned into a much simpler but delicious starter for dinner guests. To cut the sweetness, I added red pepper and a hint of smoked paprika. Smaller helpings of this is better, as it is pretty rich. If you can’t find fresh corn on the cob (which really is best), then use frozen kernels and 3/4 litre vegetable stock.
Sweetcorn and Red Pepper Creamy Soup Recipe
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 minutes
3 fresh corns on the cob
1 red pepper, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
salt and pepper
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 sprigs flat parsley leaves
100g single cream
1. Rip off the outer leaves and threads and snap off the bases with a twist of the wrist. Cut the kernels from the cobs and throw them into a large heavy-based pan, including the bare cobs (this will help make your natural stock). Pour over just enough water to cover the lot (about 1.25 litres) and bring to the boil then boil for another 5 minutes.
2. Melt the butter in a large saucepan and soften the onion and pepper gently over low to medium heat for about 10 minutes until translucent then add the smoked paprika. Meanwhile, using a strainer, remove and discard the cobs. Strain off the corn and add to the onion and peppers. Continue to gently soften for another 5 minutes and continue to reduce the corn stock during this time.
3. Add the sweetcorn stock and cream to the vegetables and simmer for another 5 minutes. Add the parsley and season to taste then liquidise either in a blender or using a stick blender. If the soup is too thick, I add a dash of semi-skimmed milk.
Serve with fresh bread and salted butter or why not a savoury macaron if you prefer gluten-free? (Savoury macaron recipes are in my first book, Mad About Macarons!). Toe-curling with a glass of chilled Chenin Blanc wine.