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Patrick Roger’s Chocolate Cake for Easter

Keeping the kids amused during the French school holidays is always fun. Art museums in Paris? What about checking out sculptures … made entirely out of chocolate?

There’s been much hype around chocolatier Patrick Roger’s new boutique at La Madeleine so it was time to enjoy the Patrick Roger experience in Paris with his out-of-the-box chocolate sculptures under one roof. As the tourists poured in and we looked around for the rest of the sculptures, we discovered the upstairs gallery was closed to the public. What? You mean…? We …. can’t see any more today? Dark chocolate lumps formed in our throats.

Chocolatier Patrick Roger’s chocolate sculptures at La Madeleine, Paris

Tails between our legs, we headed down Rue Royale. There’s yet another Patrick Roger boutique around the corner but attention, it’s well hidden. If there are too many people in the boutique at Place de la Madeleine, don’t waste your time – whizz over to the other one at the end of Cité Berryer, Village Royal (off Rue Royale on the right), just 5 minutes’ walk away.

As if by chocolate magic, Patrick Roger appeared that evening on France’s popular TV show, Top Chef. He was hosting a Chocolate Cake Challenge. The competing professional chefs’ faces were a picture when they saw Patrick’s alluring cheeky face appear but displaying his grand ‘MOF’ uniform: Meilleur Ouvrier de France, 2000. As he demonstrated his recipe, it called our next holiday activity; Amateur but macaron-style!

Patrick Roger chocolate cake

THIS is when I can eat out of a bucket!

This was also a good excuse to use the most exquisite cooking chocolate from our local chocolate factory. As the Chocolaterie du Pecq only open their doors to the public in December, I’d gone bananas and stocked up with a whole cupboard of their products! The paradox? They supply their chocolate to Menard’s La Chocolatière in Tours, where Patrick Roger started out his career!

Patrick Roger Chocolate Cake

By Patrick Roger for Top Chef

Cake:
5 egg whites
210g caster sugar
1 egg yolk
100g flour, sifted
50g unsweetened cocoa powder
100g butter
80g hazelnuts, finely chopped

1. Using a mixer, whisk the egg whites, adding the caster sugar gradually until you have firm peaks. Add the egg yolk and continue to mix.

2. Fold in the flour with a large spatula and add the sifted cocoa powder. Gently melt the butter in a saucepan and mix into the batter with the hazelnuts.

3. Pour into a rectangular mould (I used a silicone rectangular cake mould) and bake 30 mins at 160°C. (I found with my oven that I needed to bake it for 40 minutes at this temperature).

4. When cool, cut the biscuit into 3 slices horizontally. (As you can see, I didn’t cut them as precisely as Patrick Roger did and regretted this afterwards!)

Patrick Roger chocolate cake

Syrup:
100g water
100g granulated sugar
100g rum
2  vanilla pods
the zest of an orange

5. In a saucepan, boil the above ingredients and scrape out the vanilla seeds from the pods.

6. Using a brush, cover each layer with syrup.

Patrick Roger chocolate cake

Chocolate fun for the school holidays

Ganache: (600g)
300g cream
40g honey
40g butter
300g dark chocolate (I used 64%)

7. Boil the cream with the honey, and pour onto the broken chocolate bits and whisk gently. Add the butter. Mix using a hand blender.

8. Cover the biscuit layers with the ganache, one on top of the other. Leave to rest for 30 mins then cover the cake with cocoa powder.

9. Using a stencil, dust with icing sugar to decorate.

Patrick Roger chocolate cake

Bear footprints? Well if you saw the weather in Paris last week, it snowed. Big time!

We were just left with un petit problème: we had too many chocolate macaron shells. A few of them managed to eat up the little extra ganache that was left but the rest have gone straight in to a pastry box in the freezer ‘bank’. That way the next chocolate dessert can be decorated with macarons with no effort at all!

Patrick Roger chocolate cake

Our family verdict? For chocolate dessert fans who don’t like their cake too sweet and appreciate the intense chocolate flavours coming through, this is for you. Merci beaucoup, Patrick Roger! NOW, can we get to see more sculptures?

Hey – was it you who walked on our chocolate cake? Patrick Roger’s Grizzly chocolate sculpture

Joining Together in Mac-rimony plus a Crème Caramel in a Cheesebox?

It’s already one week later and I’m still recovering. Is it the age or the mileage, perhaps? Or both?

This was no ordinary weekend. Not only was it decision time for the French to elect their President, but we also witnessed no ordinary Scottish wedding. It was my brother’s extra special day; I’m a proud sister, bowled over to gain such a precious sister-in-law and a beautiful family. My eldest daughter squeezed me tightly as I placed the lid on this box of mini macs just before leaving the house. “Mum, no wonder these are the cutest macarons you’ve made: you poured so much love into them…” That was the first lump that formed in my throat. I always become emotional at weddings and so that was a last-minute reminder to pack the extra tissues.

The happy couple asked me to make some mini curry macarons for the drinks. With some extra batter, I piped out couples stuck together (Tip: normally you shouldn’t pipe out your batter too close to each other, as they do spread on the baking sheet) and wrote on them using edible food colouring pens.

Joining together in mac-rimony

This time the fragile macs made it through Beauvais airport’s security belt in one go and the box remained upright.  Just as we sailed smilingly through to the other side, Antoine informed me that he couldn’t find a parking place at the airport. He had parked the car ‘somewhere outside’. Trop tard. There wasn’t much we could do. Either we could laugh about it or cry. I didn’t expect to use the tissues so soon, thinking of the Gendarmes clamping the car with a fine as we boarded.

The bellowing bagpipes in Edinburgh’s Royal Mile made us all feel smiles better. With a nippy easterly wind opposite Parliament Square, we gazed at the bagpiper clad in short sleeves and kilt, wondering if he was wearing his tartan the traditional way: feeling the drafty winds from the south, as it were. Braveheart, indeed. Needless to say there is a distinct lack of photographs here. In between hugging and joyful tears, Antoine and I fondly remembered our own wedding across the road nearly 15 years ago. The only differences? The sun was shining and the bagpiper had changed. So had we, but we could have done the wedding thing all over again. I wonder if Antoine would still arrive in an Irn-Bru taxi?

Made from girders… my daughters’ new Scottish tipple

Flying back next day, we were lucky to make it in time for Antoine to vote. Before François Hollande was even elected, some humourists were out and about in Paris. View of the rue de l’ancienne comédie: Impasse de Sarkozy.

A dose of French humour…

Turning the corner into Boulevard St Germain, wacky chocolatier Patrick Roger also showed off his wit in the boutique’s window: a chocolate die picturing Hollande and Sarkozy.

The jokes were flying around on Facebook and on TV. Antoine was particularly in hysterics with a picture of a round, empty box of Président camembert cheese filled with a ‘Flamby’ (a commercial crème caramel.) Hollande’s endearing nickname of Flamby is due to his wobbly ideas, apparently. My personal preference was “vote Hollande if you want a Pays Bas” (Pays Bas to non-French speakers is another word for the country, Holland.) Ah, the French and their politics.  I’ve never taken to politics but when you live in France, you have to have some sort of clue what’s going on: it’s a passionate topic that always finds itself around a French table with friends or family.

Time will tell with President Hollande. From this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health…until 2017? I wonder if I should make some caramel Flamby macarons in his honour – or does that sound a bit cheesy?