Orange Blossom and Pomegranate Rice Pudding

Orange Blossom Pomegranate Rice Pudding with macarons from Teatime in Paris!

Passion Fruit and Raspberry Macaron Filling

Standing in the buzzing queue of many of Paris’s best pâtisseries, I often realise that decision-making has never been one of my strong points. Well, how can you blame me? With such sumptuous choices to ponder over, there are a number of pastry classics that look up from the shiny museum-like glass counters, saying “Go on – don’t forget me! Pick me!”

raspberry giant macarons with passion fruit cream

Admittedly, picking one or two out has become quicker, thanks to taking around eager testers on my previous chocolate and pastry tours around Saint-Germain in Paris. What a responsibility it can be to choose a wide enough variety of fabulous samples without them all floating off into a sugar coma.

One of the lighter popular classics is a giant pink macaron garnished with pastry cream and surrounded with fresh raspberries. What’s more, it’s gluten-free. However, it’s not that easy to cut up into sample pieces!

macarons ispahan style in local patisseries

Pierre Hermé, dubbed by Vogue Magazine as the Picasso of Pastry, christened the most famous of giant raspberry macarons the Ispahan, named after a tender, fragrant Iranian rose. The giant pink macaron is filled with a rose and lychee cream and finished off with beautiful fresh raspberries.

So many pastry shops in Paris have drawn on his inspiration with their own take on it. Even our local pâtisserie had their version (above) with the bottom macaron shell upside down…

Raspberry passion fruit giant macaron

As you can imagine, such Parisian pâtisserie temptations are a constant source of exciting inspiration.  For this dessert classic I replaced the lychee and rose with a zingy passion fruit filling, adding that extra acidic touch to the raspberries.

Truth be told, I ran out of passion fruits as I thought two would be enough. But after tasting the cream, I felt it needed another passion fruit for that extra fruity punch.  So instead I added some extra passion fruit purée as an emergency back-up. I use an excellent passion fruit purée from Monin. Incidentally, I also love their floral syrups to quickly and easily add that delicious fragrant touch to pâtisserie recipes such as rose, elderflower and violet for a summery Teatime in Paris.

Giant raspberry macaron with passion fruit cream

Passion Fruit Cream Filling for Giant Raspberry Macarons

I used the basic macaron recipe in “Teatime in Paris” adding a pinch of deep raspberry pink powdered colouring (if using “Mad About Macarons”, use the measurements specified in the Annex of the book, under “Egg White Reference Chart” based on 100g egg whites).  This will make 12 large macarons.  The filling is based on a classic pastry cream (recipe also in “Teatime in Paris”) but I’ve adapted it here based on the liquid of the passion fruit.  Don’t forget that macaron shells can be frozen, so I often prepare them in advance and defrost them the day of a dinner party and the rest is easy to put together.

Serves 6

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: about 15 minutes
Chilling Time: 1 hour (minimum)

250 ml full-cream milk
1 vanilla pod/bean, seeds scraped out (optional)
3 egg yolks
50 g sugar
30 g cornflour
juice of 3 passion fruits (the equivalent of 4 tbsp once seeds removed)
2 punnets of fresh raspberries

1. In a medium saucepan, gently heat the milk with the vanilla seeds, if using. Meanwhile, using a balloon whisk, mix the egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl until creamy, then whisk in the cornflour until smooth.  When the milk is hot (but not boiling), add half of the hot milk to the beaten egg yolk mixture. Whisk vigorously then quickly add the mix to the rest of the milk in the saucepan while whisking continuously.

2. Continue to whisk over the heat until the mixture thickens. Cover with cling film so that no skin forms on the surface and leave to cool for about 10 minutes then chill in the fridge for at least an hour.

3. Meanwhile, using a sieve, strain the juice and remove the seeds.

4. When chilled, whisk in the juice of the strained passion fruits and continue to chill until closer to serving time.

Spoon or pipe out the filling into the middle of 6 giant macaron bases and arrange about 8-10 raspberries (according to size) on the outside and finish off by topping with a macaron shell.

passion fruit cream

Speaking of passion fruit, have you tried the passion fruit and lemon meringue tartlet recipe from Teatime in Paris yet? My lovely friend, Christina, of Christina’s Cucina has just made them and posted the sample recipe!  You must pop in for a Parisian teatime in California – and please say hello from me.

The French’s Favourite Casserole: Blanquette de Veau

At this time of year, when we turn towards comfort food around Paris, this Blanquette de Veau is the most comforting of  French classics and is reputed to be the French favourite of family dishes.

In the Annex of Mad About Macarons, I have suggested recipes for using up egg yolks before saving the whites for your macarons. This is one of them. Blanquette de Veau is most often translated as Veal Casserole in White Sauce.

Blanquette de veau

A White Sauce That’s Far From Being Bland

‘White sauce’ doesn’t sound too sexy, does it?  Blanquette sounds fancier in French but the English translation just doesn’t give it justice.  It even sounds a bit bland.  To me, white sauce conjures up dull images of a plain béchamel sauce with flour, milk and butter.

This casserole couldn’t be further from plain!  For a start, there is no flour in the sauce; instead, the casserole is simply thickened by reducing the natural stock at the end and whisking in egg yolks and cream with a flourish of nutmeg and lemon juice.

Why Blanquette de Veau?

Veal Blanquette is a pure and simple French Grandmother’s dish which is passed on from family generation to generation.  It’s a casserole that’s so simple to prepare. “Blanquette” refers to the way it’s cooked: there’s no need to brown the meat beforehand; instead the veal is just placed in a large pot together with its partners in taste and, as it bubbles away merrily, you can get on with other things.

 

French blanquette de veau casserole

The Secrets to the Best Blanquette Sauce

The Blanquette de Veau is also Antoine’s favourite casserole – as long as it’s full of flavour.  What are the secrets to a white blanquette sauce, full of flavour? It has to be a rich, creamy fragrant sauce. Added with a hint of lemon and the touch of cloves just gives it that extra touch of warmth.  When it’s packed with comfort and flavour, you can see why the French consider it their favourite national stew!  It may be seen as family fare but serve this version at a dinner party and it works – ça marche!

It only really works, however, if you carry out the necessary extra steps at the end, otherwise the taste is nothing like the real thing.  I’ve seen recipes that just use crème fraîche and don’t take the time to whisk up the classic sauce using egg yolks to complete the dish. I’ve tried them and the resulting taste is well, less rich and downright bland. Let’s say it’s like making a curry without any spices…

My favourite French butcher in Le Vésinet near Paris

Which French Region is Blanquette de Veau From?

Blanquette de Veau is from our Ile-de-France region around Paris.  My local butcher, Monsieur Le Corre, is passionate about hunting and takes great pride in his best quality meats, often showing me the simplest way to prepare some classic cuts with a different twist (I’ll post on this later).  He’s also partial to showing off his latest catch, too!  For a blanquette, ideally you’ll need a mixture of best quality veal: mainly breast and shoulder. If you can’t get good veal, then chicken will also work well (use free-range, if possible) – and I’ve also seen many fish blanquette versions too.

Take the time in the last couple of steps to thicken the sauce.  Have I stressed enough how important this is? In true lazy gourmet style, however, I cheat a bit in the recipe by using frozen pickling onions from Picard, our favourite French frozen store.

creamy veal casserole made like the French

Blanquette de Veau Recipe

FULL PRINTABLE RECIPE BELOW

Recipe slightly adapted from one of my all-time favourite cookbooks, France: The Beautiful Cookbook – Authentic Recipes from the Regions of France by The Scotto Sisters and Gilles Pudlowski.  This book is full of the French classic dishes – I’ve particularly found that the savoury dishes are spot-on each time.

Preparation Time: 35 minutes
Cooking Time: 2.5 3 hours

1.5kg veal (mixture of breast & shoulder), cut into chunks
1 onion
3 cloves
bouquet garni (1 bay leaf, 4 sprigs thyme, 3 sprigs parsley)
1 leek (white part only), sliced
2 carrots, cut into chunks
250ml white wine
150g crème fraîche
2 large egg yolks (or 3 medium)
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
grated zest of half lemon (unwaxed)

Garnish:
24 small pickling onions (or use frozen)
24 small button mushrooms (Champignons de Paris)
30g butter
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1. Stud the onion with the cloves.  Place the veal in a casserole dish and add the carrots, onion, leek and bouquet garni.  Pour in the wine and add just enough water to cover the meat and vegetables.  Bring to the boil, skimming the surface for the first 10 minutes of any scum.  Cover and simmer gently for 2.5 hours. 

ingredients for blanquette de beau French casserole recipe

No need to brown the meat – just place the ingredients in a pot!

2. About 45 minutes before the end of cooking, prepare the garnish.  Wash mushrooms, pat dry and cut into halves or quarters, depending on their size.  Fry them at first without any oil or butter (my tip – not in the original recipe!) in a non-stick pan until they have given out all of their juices.  This concentrates their flavour.  THEN add 25g of the butter and the lemon juice to them and set aside. Sauté the onions in a small pan with the rest of the butter until golden.

vegetable garnish for blanquette de veau

3. Lift the lid of the casserole dish and smell these flavours!  Discard the bay leaf and thyme stalks. Remove the meat and vegetables with a slotted spoon and transfer to a large serving dish, adding the mushrooms and pickling onions.  Set aside and keep warm in a cool-moderate oven.

Blanquette de Veau French veal pot casserole

4. Boil the cooking liquid over a high heat until reduced.  Meanwhile, in a bowl, hand-whisk the crème fraîche, lemon zest, yolks, grated nutmeg, and season with salt and pepper.  Blend in 3 tablespoons of the hot stock then quickly whisk in the yolk mixture back into the stock.  Stir constantly until thickened but do not boil (it will reduce its subtle flavours). Whisk until the sauce is smooth and velvety.

how to reduce sauce for a blanquette casserole

Pour the sauce over the meat and serve with basmati or Thai rice.  This dish is also lovely reheated the next day.  For busy gourmets, this dish can be prepared the day before a dinner party.  Just prepare steps one and two in advance then chill in the fridge.  Make the sauce on the day of serving and voilà!

classic blanquette de veau or French veal casserole recipe

Antoine loves to serve this with a delicate white wine, such as an Alsace Riesling or Pinot Gris, otherwise a St. Véran, Marsannay or other Burgundy will be fabulous.

Blanquette de Veau (French Veal Stew)
Prep Time
35 mins
Cook Time
3 hrs
Total Time
3 hrs 35 mins
 

Recipe slightly adapted from one of my all-time favourite cookbooks, France: The Beautiful Cookbook - Authentic Recipes from the Regions of France by The Scotto Sisters and Gilles Pudlowski.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: French
Servings: 6
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 1.5 kg (3.5 lb) veal mixture of breast & shoulder, cut into chunks
  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves
  • bouquet garni 1 bay leaf, 4 sprigs thyme, 3 sprigs parsley
  • 1 leek white part only, sliced
  • 2 carrots cut into chunks
  • 250 ml / 9 fl oz white wine
  • 150 g / 5.5 oz crème fraîche
  • 2 large egg yolks or 3 medium
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • grated zest of half lemon unwaxed
Instructions
  1. Stud the onion with the cloves.  Place the veal in a casserole dish and add the carrots, onion, leek and bouquet garni.  Pour in the wine and add just enough water to cover the meat and vegetables.  Bring to the boil, skimming the surface for the first 10 minutes of any scum.  Cover and simmer gently for 2.5 hours.
  2. About 45 minutes before the end of cooking, prepare the garnish. Wash mushrooms, pat dry and cut into halves or quarters, depending on their size. Fry them at first without any oil or butter (my tip – not in the original recipe!) in a non-stick pan until they have given out all of their juices. This concentrates their flavour. THEN add 25g of the butter and the lemon juice to them and set aside. Sauté the onions in a small pan with the rest of the butter until golden.
  3. Lift the lid of the casserole dish and smell these flavours! Discard the bay leaf and thyme stalks. Remove the meat and vegetables with a slotted spoon and transfer to a large serving dish, adding the mushrooms and pickling onions. Set aside and keep warm in a cool-moderate oven.
  4. Boil the cooking liquid over a high heat until reduced. Meanwhile, in a bowl, hand-whisk the crème fraîche, lemon zest, yolks, grated nutmeg, and season with salt and pepper. Blend in 3 tablespoons of the hot stock then quickly whisk in the yolk mixture back into the stock. Stir constantly until thickened but do not boil (it will reduce its subtle flavours). Whisk until the sauce is smooth and velvety.
Recipe Notes

Pour the sauce over the meat and serve with basmati or Thai rice. This dish is also lovely reheated the next day. For busy gourmets, this dish can be prepared the day before a dinner party. Just prepare steps one and two in advance, cool then chill in the fridge. Make the sauce on the day of serving and voilà!

 

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

 

Pumpkin Spice Macarons & Roasted Red Kuri Squash Filling

I’m back! And to make up for it I’m presenting you with these pumpkin spice macarons!

Oof! It has been a real marathon so it’s good to be back finally on le blog. These past few months have been  challenging. Juggling the stress of house renovations, a new bricolage world of riveting French DIY vocabulary has blossomed and I’ve even dabbled in some interior design (I made the plans for my office). I realised all this work has left its mark when I found myself glancing at the paint and tile colours in a few Parisian pâtisseries before the cakes!

The most exciting project, of course, has been preparing the new book: writing, recipe testing and taking hundreds of photos … all around teatime. I can’t wait to share its progress with you very soon but as it’s now going through edits and design with Waverley Books, I finally have an excuse to take a tea break and make some pumpkin spice macarons, strictly for le blog and perfect for Autumn!

Pumpkin spice Parisian macarons

I’ve never really understood why the French don’t seem to be that much into pumpkin. Last week at the market in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, I even had a lovely French seller – complete with chic body warmer, hair tied back with scarf – ask ME (yes, I kept pinching myself it was unreal) how to cook mini pumpkins (Jack-be-littles) rather than show them off as decorative items for Autumn.

Pumpkin Purée and Pumpkin Spice

For sweet recipes, there isn’t any pumpkin purée in the French shops, an ingredient that appears to be familiar with most of my American blogger friends at this time of year.  When I looked up some macaron recipes, there wasn’t even any pumpkin in them – instead simply ‘pumpkin pie spice’, another ingredient that’s difficult to find here.  So there was only one thing for it: to make my own pumpkin purée and find a quick spicy alternative.

potimarron or red kuru squash spiced macarons

Potimarron Pumpkins

I set out to grab a giant quarter slice of pumpkin, as they’re normally sold here. With Hallowe’en gradually becoming more popular here with youngsters, giant Jack-o’-lanterns are also more available than before, ready to carve for this Friday’s spooky date.  This year, pumpkins seem to be overshadowed by the smaller potimarron, The Autumn foodie fashion item in the French supermarkets and at our local farmers’ markets just outside Paris.  They’re everywhere!

What’s Potimarron in English? Apparently it’s Red Kuri, Japanese Squash or Orange Hokkaido.  It’s darker than pumpkin without the ridges and has a more intense, even chestnut-like texture and flavour (as the French name implies: marron, meaning chestnut).  What I love about it is, unlike pumpkin, you can even eat the skin!

pumpkin spiced Japanese squash macarons

I remembered a post by David Lebovitz about how to roast potimarron or red kuri squash: he dribbled olive oil over the slices, added herbs and roasted in the oven for 20-30 minutes at 200°C.  I tried this method using potimarron in my favourite pumpkin, leek and ginger soup and it really is delicious.

Inspiration knocked for these pumpkin spice macarons when David mentioned that the Red Kuri squash slices could also be roasted with brown sugar and cinnamon. Instead I used pain d’épices or gingerbread spice, perhaps the French’s closest quick answer to pumpkin pie spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger & all-spice powder).  And in case some of you have hands up in horror, wondering why there are no Hallowe’en decorations on these macarons – I’m ridiculously scared of spiders and anything in the least bit squirmish; perhaps I grew up with too many Scottish ghost stories!

roasted red kuri or Japanese squash

Roast me in the oven for nearly 30 mins, covered in brown sugar, pumpkin spice and top with foil

Macaron Fruit Fillings – A Tip!

One word about using fruit purées for macaron fillings: it can make macarons become rather soggy.  One tip is to add ground almonds (almond flour) to soak up the juices which I’ve done here.  The good news with this recipe is that for impatient macaronivores, you can eat this macaron after only 6 hours in the fridge and finish them the next day.  Any longer and they will turn slightly soggy – but the taste is divine and full of healthy, spicy squash! I wouldn’t recommend keeping the pumpkin spice macarons any longer than 2 days or even freezing them as you would for all the macaron recipes in my book.  If you prefer to keep them longer like in the book, use equal quantities of purée, melted white chocolate and whipping cream.

Colouring the meringue for making pumpkin macaron shells

Instructions on how to make the macaron shells are given step-by-step in both my books, Mad About Macarons! and Teatime in Paris! Just add a dash of powdered colouring (I use a pinch of red and yellow) and a teaspoon of pumpkin spice or pain d’épices to the meringue.

pumpkin spice macaron filling with red kuri squash

Top me off with a macaron shell and I’m yours!


Pumpkin Spice Macarons:
Filling with Roasted Red Kuri

This recipe is ideal for serving later in the day.  Just chill in the fridge for 6 hours.  Best eaten within a couple of days. The basic French recipe for macaron shells are well explained in both Mad About Macarons! and Teatime in Paris! (150g egg whites for about 40 macarons).

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: max 35 minutes
Chilling time: min 1 hour

For roasting:

1/2 red kuri squash or Potimarron
2 tbsps brown sugar
3 tsps pumpkin spice or pain d’épices

Cream:

2g sheet of gelatine
2 egg yolks
50g brown sugar
50g whipping cream
100g roasted red kuri purée (half of one red kuri)
2 tsps pumpkin spice or pain d’épices
2 tbsps ground almonds (almond flour)
100g chilled mascarpone

1.  Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan.  Cut the kuri squash in 2 and, using only half of it, scoop out the seeds.  Cut into slices and place on a non-stick baking sheet, sprinkling with the brown sugar and spice.  Cover with aluminium foil and roast in the oven for about 20-30 minutes, depending on the size of the slices.  When ready, set aside to cool then purée using a mixer or by hand with a masher.  Weigh out 100g of purée.

2.  For the cream, soak the gelatine in cold water for about 15 minutes.  In a bowl, hand-whisk the yolks and sugar until creamy.  Heat the cream in a saucepan until nearly boiling, then whisk into the yolk mixture then transfer back to the pan over a medium heat, whisking constantly until the sauce thickens (rather like a pastry cream).

3.  Take off the heat, add the gelatine (squeeze of excess water) to the warm cream, whisking until melted then add the purée, ground almonds and spice.  Set aside to cool then chill for about an hour.

4.  Hand-whisk in the mascarpone then transfer the cream to a piping bag with a 1cm plain tip.  Pipe onto half of the shells then assemble with the remaining macaron shell tops and chill in the fridge.

pumpkin spice macarons potimarron red kuri squash

Are you planning to make spooky macarons for Hallowe’en?

Why not share your pumpkin spice macaron – or Hallowe’en inspired macarons with us?  Post them on the Mad About Macarons Facebook page or tag me on Instagram (@madaboutmacarons).  It’s always exciting to see you baking the recipes from my books.

Happy macaron-making!

Whisky Toffee Frozen Crème Brûlée

It was a sign:  a Scottish saltire traced onto such dazzling blue Parisian skies this week by the routine planes rumbling over us, to and from Charles de Gaulle Airport.

It was another reminder of this month’s historic Scottish referendum that has created such a powerful and passionate impact on a country that was already once independent.

Saltire flag forming clouds in sky

 

I’ve never been into politics much but, hearing many lively debates and enthusiasm about the subject, it became increasingly frustrating that I couldn’t vote as a Scot living in France.  I could hear the same calls from my fellow Scots living in England, Wales or Ireland.  A familiar remark from friends and family, who were either for or against an independent Scotland was, “Well, my heart wanted to vote Yes to Scotland being an independent country; but my head told me it was better to stay together with the UK”. With such a close winning vote of 55% to stay in the UK, the Scots have perhaps been divided on the results but as we could think that the Yes voters are upset – or ‘gutted’ as I heard on BBC radio the day of the results – the debate continues.

“We’re not crying into our porridge yet.”declared my Uncle David, a proud Scot from the Shetland Islands. “We’re just delayed a bit”, he said, as thousands of Scottish flags were being waved in Glasgow and Edinburgh this weekend, showing their excitement at how quickly they’ve received so much enthusiastic support.

whisky toffee frozen crème brûlée

Did someone say whisky toffee is in that, Jimmy? 

Another Scottish sign came via Jamie Schler’s recent whisky recipes on her blog, Life’s A Feast: with a beautifully glazed Honey Whiskey Bundt Cake, and her celebratory Whisky Soufflé.  It occurred to me how little I cook or bake with Scottish Whisky.  Admittedly, the last time I added it was to coffee macarons (the recipe for Café MacWhisky is in the book, by the way).  These macarons make an excellent accompaniment to this whisky toffee frozen crème brûlée dessert, a recipe I’d ripped out from Mum’s pile of Sunday Times mazagines this summer when in Edinburgh, as it’s an ideal egg yolk recipe for all of you macaron lovers.

While the recipe below calls for American Bourbon whiskey, I’ve opted for Scottish Whisky.  Both are slightly different in flavour and they have different spellings: in Scotland and the rest of the world it’s always referred to as Whisky but in America and Ireland it can be Whisky or Whiskey, depending on the producer’s chosen spelling.

Chocolate and whisky macarons

On another note, there was yet another sign this week: I need to hide any macarons that are lying out for photos.  I quickly took this one with just three chocolate macarons that were left, salvaged before they were also pounced on from the pastry box in the fridge.  But when I went back to continue the photo with the crème brûlée, there were only two.  It’s a mystery that one.  The girls say it wasn’t them.  Perhaps it was a Scottish ghost?

whisky brûlée frozen custard recipe with chocolate macarons

The recipe asks for a ‘shot of bourbon’.  Being a bit lazy, I poured out a small enough shot glass of Ballentine’s Whisky (a blended Scotch, ideal for cooking/baking) and threw it into the pan.  It didn’t take long to realise visibly that my toffee caramel became rather liquid, so I added more sugar and boiled it up to thicken.  No harm was done, as I ended up with more toffee so dribbled even more on top of the ice cream before freezing.  But for the record, a shot is 25ml.

As I left them in the freezer overnight, caramelising the sugar with the blowtorch hardly melted the ice cream.  That way it was easy to return them to the freezer before serving later. To enjoy them at their best, remove from the freezer 5-10 minutes before serving.

Toffee whisky iced brûlée egg yolk recipe with chocolate macarons

Whisky Toffee Frozen Crème Brûlée

Recipe adapted from the UK’s Sunday Times Magazine.  I substituted 1 shot of Maker’s Mark Bourbon whiskey stipulated in the magazine with Balletine’s Scottish Whisky, but you can use your own favourite American bourbon. The recipe says it serves 4 but I filled 8 ramekins with it.

Serves 8
Preparation Time: 10 minutes

FOR THE CREME FROZEN CUSTARD

2 vanilla pods (or 4 tsp of vanilla extract)
300ml whole milk
300ml double cream
100g caster sugar
6 egg yolks

FOR THE SALTED WHISKY TOFFEE

80ml double cream
20g butter
1 shot of whisky (25ml)
Pinch sea salt

TO BRÛLEE

20g caster sugar
A mini blowtorch

recipe for whisky toffee with frozen creme brûlée

1. Deseed the vanilla pods.  Pour milk and cream into a pan, add the pods and vanilla seeds.  Heat until it almost boils. Turn off the heat and allow the vanilla cream to infuse for 30 mins.

2. Boil the toffee ingredients in another pan, then gently simmer.  Stir for 3 minutes, then chill in the fridge.

3. Hand-whisk the caster sugar into the egg yolks.  Add to the pan with the vanilla cream.  Place on a low heat; stir for 7 minutes until it becomes a light custard.  Cool, then chill for an hour.

4. Take the custard out of the fridge. Remove the vanilla pods from the vanilla cream.  Pour the custard and cream into an ice-cream maker until it has the consistency of soft ice cream.  Turn off the machine and ripple in the toffee, using a spoon.  Scrape the frozen custard into serving glasses.  Freeze for 2.5 hours.

5. Sprinkle caster sugar over the top of the desserts with a teaspoon.  Heat the sugar with a mini-blowtorch until it forms a caramel.  Serve immediately or refreeze until ready to serve.

whisky toffee frozen crème brûlée

Unlike a classic crème brûlée, where you crack into the caramel directly into the cream, this frozen version makes the hardened caramel even more exciting.  Try it: it’s like skating your spoon and cracking into the ice.

To accompany Mad About Macarons’ Egg Yolk chapter, check out the database of more egg yolk recipes on le blog!

Black Forest Chocolate Cream Desserts – and a Trip to Germany

Do you really think a sweet tooth determines our family holiday destinations? Well, perhaps it does, as it inspired these Black Forest Chocolate Cream Desserts! 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 – they have again been awarded by Michelin in their 2021 guide.

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 Schwartzwald German trip provided inspiration for these gluten free Black Forest No Bake Cream Desserts 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 cream desserts

Black Forest Chocolate 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 roast cherries with a splash of Kirsch)

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!

Black Forest chocolate cream desserts

Disclaimer: None of the establishments mentioned in this post are sponsored. This was a private family trip and I’m sharing these addresses as we personally found them to be excellent.