French Berry Gratin with Elderflower

After a bubbly afternoon of Champagne tasting in Paris last week, I promised to make this ‘French Berry’ Gratin recipe with thoughts of that 100% Pinot Noir evoking grilled fruits. Isn’t it incredible how wine tastings can leave you dreaming about accompanying foods?

A fruit gratin is popular in France – probably because it not only showcases the sweetest of seasonal fruits, but it’s also such a quick yet elegant French dessert to whip up in under 30 minutes.

Berry Gratin

A Perfect Summer Heatwave Dessert

This kind of gratin isn’t to be confused with a Crème Brûlée, where the top has a thick layer of sugar and is burned to form a hard cracking layer on top. I have a classic recipe in Mad About Macarons, but try this Milk Chocolate and Passion Fruit Crème Brûlée – it’s from another planet!

Instead, this gratin dessert highlights the fruits; it’s lightly grilled without the crunch and it has a more liquid form of custard, rather similar to a Crème Anglaise rather than set.  That’s why it’s a handy summer recipe to have if you don’t want the oven on too much during a heatwave.

berry gratin recipe method

Although I say ‘sweet’, this berry gratin has just enough sugar added but not too much to overpower the natural sugars in the fruits.

It’s on the same lines as this Rhubarb and Strawberry Gratin – have you tried it yet?

Berry Gratin dessert

I’d normally make this using a vanilla pod/bean but this time I felt like some elderflower to highlight the strawberries.  If you’ve tried my Strawberry Eclairs with Elderflower Cream recipe in Teatime in Paris, you’ll know what I’m talking about!

As I’m not lucky enough to have elderflowers around, I cheat with a little cordial (Ikea have one) or syrup (Monin’s is good). However, if you have Elderflower liqueur such as Saint Germain, then that’s great too!

If you’re not into elderflower, then infuse this cream with some lemon verbena – so many variations are easy to dream up for this berry gratin recipe.

Berry Gratin recipe

Berry Gratin Recipe

5 from 1 vote
Berry Gratin Recipe
Berry Gratin with Elderflower
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
2 mins
Total Time
22 mins
 

Summer red fruit berry gratin, a quick yet elegant French dessert with fresh berries topped with an elderflower cream and toasted under the grill for a couple of minutes.

Servings: 4 people
Calories: 215 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 400 g (14oz) mixed fresh berries organic
  • 50 g (1.75oz) sugar
  • good pinch vanilla powder (or 1/2 tsp extract)
  • 2 tbsp elderflower cordial or syrup (or Saint Germain liqueur)
  • 100 g (3.5oz) whipping cream
  • 4 egg yolks
Instructions
  1. Divide the mixed berries between 4 ovenproof dishes and spread them out in a single layer.

  2. In a bowl, whisk together the yolks, sugar and vanilla until light and creamy (about 5 minutes). Continue to whisk, adding the cordial/syrup and the cream until well mixed.

  3. Pour over the fruits and place under a hot grill for just 2 minutes until the cream is toasted but not burned.  You could also use a blowtorch instead.
    Serve immediately -  or prepare a couple of hours in advance, chill then reheat in a warm oven at 140°C for about 5 minutes.

Recipe Notes

There are countless floral variations to this recipe: replace elderflower cordial/syrup with violet or rose syrup. Or replace the syrup with 25g more cream and infuse with lavender or lemon verbena.

 

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

 

Berry Gratin

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Have you made any of the recipes from le blog or fancy making this Berry Gratin recipe?  Please do leave a comment below or take a picture and hashtag it #MadAboutMacarons.  I love to see your creations on Instagram and Facebook.

Thanks so much for popping in! Just to let you know I’ll be rather disconnected on my annual travels (as ever, like the French, we leave Paris at this time!) over the next 3 weeks but will try to pop in when I can.  Have a lovely summer, wherever you are! Speaking of French Berries, don’t forget to wear a hat!

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Asparagus Clafoutis with Parmesan Sauce

Why am I so crazily mad about French Clafoutis at this time of year? It’s such an easy eggy custard-style classic dark cherry dessert – but it’s also just as delicious made with fresh raspberries – or my latest addictive craze, with strawberries and pistachio.  Have you, however, tried it as a savoury dish? You must try this delicate Asparagus Clafoutis.

Lemon Asparagus Clafoutis

White Asparagus Clafoutis

You may recall I tried out this large custardy version of a White Asparagus Clafoutis recipe inspired by chef, Eric Frechon from the Bristol in Paris.  However, since then I’ve lightened up the recipe.

This time the asparagus shines through with less parmesan cheese and yolks, I’ve added a subtle touch of lemon zest and made them as individual Asparagus Clafoutis portions – just perfect for a summery starter or light supper served with a crusty French baguette.

How to prepare asparagus

Stacked as they are sold at our local market

Lightly Served

Just before serving, dribble a little olive oil and some lemon juice over the asparagus. While the clafoutis are creamy enough on their own, the lemon version prefers to stay light – great for those on a summer diet!

Lemon Asparagus Clafoutis

Green Asparagus Clafoutis with Parmesan Sauce

Not everyone, however, seems to be in love with white asparagus, as I’ve discovered through your comments via Facebook and Instagram.

Instead, the printable recipe below is for a green asparagus version – this time without the lemon and served with the most silky, creamy parmesan sauce.

Asparagus Clafoutis

This time last year, I was generously invited to take part in Paris Perfect’s cookery classes with Chef Philippe Excoffier in Paris’s 7th arrondissement, where I wrote up this article about the delicious experience.

Chef Excoffier showed us how to prepare asparagus, telling us there was nothing to beat the old-fashioned traditional way and to remove the pedoncules or spikes to make digestion easier. He also served his legendary cheese soufflés – the Soufflés Suissesse. I strongly recommend trying out his signature dish in his restaurant in rue de l’Exposition, near the Eiffel Tower.

Asparagus Clafoutis

Remove the pedoncules or spikes to make asparagus easier to digest

Clafoutis is not exactly the most stylish looking of dishes and not to be confused with a soufflé.  While a soufflé stays upright and puffy, made with bechamel and whisking up the egg whites, the much easier clafoutis falls back down after cooling from the oven – there’s nothing to worry about when that happens: it’s totally normal and as it should be!

Chef Excoffier added a parmesan sauce to his soufflés and I find that this adapted version compliments the Asparagus Clafoutis so well.  Although the clafoutis are already creamy inside and light, this cheesy addition means saucing it all up with the freshest French baguette.

Asparagus Clafoutis

Serve them directly in their pots, to make it even easier!

Asparagus Clafoutis Recipe

5 from 4 votes
Asparagus Clafoutis Recipe
Asparagus Clafoutis with Parmesan Sauce
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
55 mins
 

A perfect elegant yet simple dinner starter or light summer supper served with crusty French baguettes to mop up the most silky creamy parmesan sauce.

Course: Appetizer, Brunch, Light Lunch, Starter, Supper
Cuisine: French
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 395 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 500 g (1 lb) fresh asparagus
  • 3 eggs organic
  • 2 egg yolks organic
  • 10 g (4 tsp) all-purpose flour (or 2tsp cornflour to make this gluten-free)
  • 115 g (4 oz) half-fat single cream
  • 50 g (1.75oz) matured parmesan cheese finely grated
  • 1 tbsp grated zest of half an unwaxed lemon (optional - for white asparagus version only)
  • good pinch each salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan Sauce
  • 50 g (1.75oz) matured parmesan cheese finely grated
  • 140 g (5oz) single cream
  • good pinch each ground nutmeg, salt & pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/360°F/160°C fan/Gas 4.  Prepare 4 ramekin oven dishes by greasing them well with softened butter. 
    Snap the asparagus spears 2/3rds of the way down, where they break naturally. Peel them as close as possible to the spear heads then cut the spears into 3.

  2. Fill a large pan with water and bring to a rolling boil.  Add a generous heaped teaspoon of salt to the cooking water. Prepare a large bowl of (preferably iced) cold water.

  3. Cook the asparagus for 3 minutes (no more than 4 minutes!) then remove with a slotted spoon and immediately transfer to the cold water to stop the cooking process. 

  4. When cool, drain the asparagus, setting aside 4 spears for the decor and 4 for the ramekins. Place the others in a food processor and mix to a purée with the cream. 

  5. Prepare the clafoutis batter: beat the eggs, yolks, flour, grated parmesan and season with salt and pepper.  Mix in the creamy asparagus mixture then pour the batter into the individual buttered ramekin dishes, placing a third of a spear in each. Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes.

  6. Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly for 5-10 minutes, then using a sharp knife, cut around the edges to remove and place directly on the serving plates.

For the Parmesan Sauce:
  1. Bring the cream to the boil, adding some salt, pepper and a pinch of ground nutmeg.  Add the parmesan then beat together well until smooth with a balloon whisk. Serve immediately around each clafoutis.

Recipe Notes

Keep back one asparagus spear per person for the decor.

If making the clafoutis with white asparagus, add lemon zest. There's no need for the parmesan sauce - just serve with a dash of olive oil and lemon juice.

For the green asparagus clafoutis, serve with the parmesan sauce.  I used 4 ramekin dishes but muffin moulds also work well, including briochette silicone moulds (this recipe makes 6 if using briochette moulds).

Wine Suggestions: Serve with a rich, aromatic white wine - such as a Chardonnay, Voignier, a Pinot Blanc from Alsace, or white Rioja.

 

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

 

Asparagus Clafoutis with parmesan sauce

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Have you made any of the recipes from le blog or fancy making this asparagus clafoutis recipe?  Please do leave a comment below or take a picture and hashtag it #MadAboutMacarons.  I love to see your creations on Instagram and Facebook. Thanks so much for popping in!

Strawberry Pistachio Clafoutis

Who said that a French Clafoutis should be made only with cherries? Cherry season has perhaps started in France, but let’s first celebrate the most sweet, shiny seasonal strawberries with a Strawberry Pistachio Clafoutis. 

Strawberry Pistachio Clafoutis

With some desserts, I’m fussy – especially with French Clafoutis, a speciality of the Limousin in France. In my honest opinion, a clafoutis is a light, set eggy custard that’s perfumed with fresh seasonal fruits (traditionally made with cherries – see this classic Cherry Clafoutis Recipe with a hint of almonds) and not a stick-to-the-top-of-your-mouth heavy cake-like dessert that can taste of too much flour.

I urge you to try this twist to the classic – not unlike the Raspberry Clafoutis with Lemon Verbena – where I’ve replaced the flour with fragrant pistachios.

pistachio-strawberry-tart

Strawberry Pistachio tartlets from ‘Teatime in Paris’

Strawberry and Pistachio Desserts

If you’ve been following the recipes on le blog, you’ll notice that strawberry and pistachio are one of my favourite flavour combinations.

Haven’t tried this combination yet?

Then do try this strawberry pistachio panna cotta (serve with pistachio macarons and it’s heaven!), or the strawberry and pistachio tartlet recipe from the tart chapter in ‘Teatime in Paris‘. I’m sure you’ll be concocting many more of your own twists with this combination in your recipes.

 

Fresh Strawberries

The other day at the market in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, I simply got carried away.  Well, tell a Scot there’s a promotion or special price for 4 packs of sweet-smelling strawberries and I pounced on these Fraises de Charlotte like they’d go out of fashion tomorrow. Needless to say, the last couple of batches were just ever so slightly fatigué, so baking them at this ‘just becoming tired’ stage is perfect for making this Strawberry Pistachio Clafoutis.

I do stress that you use fresh strawberries and not frozen for this recipe, so that all the flavours are at their best.

Strawberry pistachio clafoutis

Adding in some wild strawberries to fill in the gaps!

 

I still can’t believe that we’ve been blessed by the birds spreading a carpet of wild strawberries (fraises des bois) in the garden this year.  I thought that mint in the herb garden took over the other plants, but I’m now surprised to see the strawberries popping up in all nooks and crannies, as we say in Scotland.  They’re like tiny voilet-tasting bonbons.

strawberry pistachio clafoutis

Bubble, bubble, out of the oven

 

In this strawberry pistachio clafoutis, it’s the strawberries that dominate: baking strawberries in this way intensifies the flavours – it’s incredible! The pistachio is quite subtle but adds that extra intrigue to the fruit, plus helps to soak up the juices too.

Please note, that for all my recipes, I encourage you to weigh out your ingredients using a digital scale (find out why in this post), so that you have continued successful results each time you make this.

Strawberry Pistachio Clafoutis Recipe

5 from 3 votes
Strawberry Pistachio Clafoutis
Strawberry Pistachio Clafoutis
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Resting Time
10 mins
Total Time
45 mins
 

Strawberry Pistachio Clafoutis, a delicious twist to the classic French cherry baked custard dessert using sweet fresh strawberries and pistachios to soak up the juices- and it so happens to be gluten free too.

Course: Breakfast, Dessert, teatime
Cuisine: French
Keyword: clafoutis, pistachio, strawberry, gluten-free,
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 273 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 200 g (7 oz) fresh strawberries washed, hulled & cut in 2 if big
  • 4 medium organic eggs
  • 1 organic egg yolk
  • 70 g (2.5oz) sugar + 1 tbsp for the dish
  • 170 g (6oz) single or pouring cream
  • 50 g (1.75oz) ground pistachios (pistachio flour)
  • few drops bitter almond extract (optional) (even better, pistachio extract)
  • 15 g (0.5oz) butter for the dish
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C fan/ 200°C / 400°F (gas 6).

  2. Butter a gratin or pie dish and top with about a tablespoon of sugar, shaking the dish to spread it evenly.  Lay the strawberries over the surface in one layer.

  3. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, yolk, sugar, cream, ground pistachios and extract, if using.

  4. Pour this egg mixture over the strawberries and bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown and cooked in the middle (it shouldn't sink in the middle). I'd suggest placing the dish on baking tray to catch any sticky juices that could run out, if too full.

  5. Set aside to cool and either serve at room temperature or chill in the fridge until ready to serve.

Recipe Notes

Matching wines with strawberries: this is great with a light fruity red such as a Pinot Noir (from Alsace or a Burgundy), or a gamay Beaujolais Cru as it brings out the fruitiness yet light enough not to overpower the dessert. Otherwise a chilled rosé Champagne or New World fizz.

 

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

strawberry pistachio clafoutis

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Have you made any more of the recipes from le blog or fancy making this French Clafoutis dessert?  Please do leave a comment below or take a picture and hashtag it #MadAboutMacarons.  I love to see your creations on Instagram and Facebook.

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Thanks so much for popping in!

French peonies from the market

Let me leave you with some peonies I picked up at our local market – to say thank you for following and for making the recipes!  Don’t forget there’s more on Instagram…

 

French Crème Caramel

I was scared to make this classic French Crème Caramel for many years after my arrival in France. Instead, I sat back and let my French mother-in-law make her delectable family-sized version each time we visited them in their pretty Provençal village of Saignon.  Back in Paris, I’d order it hands down each time it was on the dessert menu in brasseries,  bistros or cafés.

Somehow that pristine dark caramel reflecting our wide, greedy eyes looked so perfect yet was so light that I thought it was a no-go to make. French Crème Caramel seemed so simple but it was totally out of my comfort zone.

French Crème Caramel

French Crème Caramel – a classic favourite!

Growing up in Scotland, we made ours using a green-boxed packet mix: my job was to squeeze out each sachet of caramel into each dish and excitingly, the whole thing worked just beautifully. Many years on, I cringe at packet mixes but then it’s an entirely different era; now we prefer to make dishes from scratch – as we know exactly what’s in it, can lower sugar levels and add our own creative twists.

This classic French dessert can easily take on many twists – as the likes of teas, herbs, and floral infusions work well while infusing in the milk.  I’ve made this with jasmine tea, Earl Grey tea and fresh or dried lemon verbena (incidentally, have you tried this lemon verbena ice cream?).  They’re all fantastic – but I keep referring back to the good old classic vanilla.  There’s something so nostalgic about it, isn’t there? Fresh berries or exotic fruits on the side are enough for me. Simple yet effective.

Over the years, I prefer this version, as I’ve experimented making Crème Caramel with cream, milk and cream, milk and eggs but in the end, this is by far my favourite: just with milk but the addition of 3 egg yolks gives it that creamy melt-in-the-mouth feel, keeping it light.

French crème caramel recipe

Not long after launching this blog, I was fortunate to have my Japanese friend, Nami, from Just One Cookbook guest post before she hit super stardom.  Here is her recipe for Japanese Purin, a no-bake version using gelatine.

This French Crème Caramel recipe below does look long and complicated but I’ve given detailed recipe steps to explain how easy it is.  Et voilà !

5 from 2 votes
French Crème Caramel
French Crème Caramel
Prep Time
25 mins
Cook Time
45 mins
Total Time
1 hr 10 mins
 

An easy, step by step recipe for the classic French Crème Caramel. No cream but made with egg yolks for a light, melt-in-the-mouth perfect end to any meal.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: French
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 306 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
Caramel:
  • 100 g / 3.5oz sugar
  • 2 tbsp water
Custard Cream:
  • 500 ml / 17 fl oz milk (whole milk)
  • pinch vanilla powder (or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 2 medium eggs (organic)
  • 3 egg yolks (organic)
  • 70 g / 2.5oz sugar
Instructions
Make the caramel:
  1. Put the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Over a low heat, stir using a wooden spoon until the sugar has completely disappeared or dissolved. Turn up to a low-medium heat and leave the caramel to form without stirring. This should take about 10 minutes (PLEASE don't multitask and leave the pan - keep your eye on it). Wait until the caramel is medium to dark brown - not light otherwise it will just be too sweet. (Don't leave it to go too dark, either, otherwise it will be bitter!)

  2. Pour the caramel into 4 ramekin dishes, ensuring that it coats completely the base.  Set aside to cool so that the caramel sets and immediately put the saucepan in the sink and soak in water, making it easier to clean later.

Make the custard cream:
  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C/340°F/150°C fan/Gas 3.  Pour the milk into a medium saucepan, adding the vanilla and just allow the milk to heat to simmering point (not boiling). Take off the heat.

  2. Whisk the eggs, yolks and sugar in a large bowl. Pour in the hot milk and whisk constantly. Put the ramekins into a roasting tin and pour in the custard mix over the caramel. Place in the oven and pour in warm water into the roasting tin so that it comes to about 2/3 of the way up the ramekins.

  3. Bake for about 40 minutes or until set (they're not cooked properly if there's a dip in the middle). Remove from the oven carefully, and gradually remove the ramekins onto a cooling rack. When cool, transfer to the fridge and chill for at least 2 hours - or overnight.

  4. To serve, slice through a cross in the middle of each ramekin with a thin sharp knife and loosen the creams by running the knife also around the sides.  Turn upside down directly on to the serving plates.  Or just serve them directly in their ramekins, as many Parisian brasseries do! Best served at room temperature.

Recipe Notes

Serve with fresh berries or slices of exotic fruits, depending on the season.

Tip: To release the crème caramels from their ramekins, my Dad explained "as an engineer" that it was easier to slice a cross through the middle.  Since then, I've always used this method, and find there's no need to grease the ramekins. However, if you prefer to grease them with butter, do so just before pouring in the custard.

 

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

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Your email is never shared and you can always opt out at any time…

Have you made any of the recipes from le blog (from my books, too) or fancy making this classic French Crème Caramel?  Please do leave a comment below or take a picture and hashtag it #MadAboutMacarons.  I love to see your creations on Instagram and Facebook. Thanks so much for popping in!

 

Raspberry Clafoutis with Lemon Verbena

A delicious twist to the classic French clafoutis recipe using raspberries and a lemony twist of verbena – and it’s gluten free!

Cheese Scones with Spring Onion & Rosemary

How to make the fluffiest cheese scones for teatime!