French Chocolate Mendiants – Perfect Easter Hats!

If any of you have walked around the inviting chocolate shops and patisseries around Paris, you may have spotted some French Chocolate Mendiants.  They’re delicious disks of chocolate covered in colourful dried fruits and nuts.

Read on for the story behind them but in the meantime, I think they make perfect hats to top macarons, cupcakes, cookies – or any of your favourite sweet treats for some fun. In this case, add a few mini Easter eggs and you have the perfect Easter Bonnet!

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french chocolate mendiants easter

This recipe was originally published on 6 April 2012 but the text and photos have been updated with a new printable recipe card.

What are French Mendiants?

Mendiant means ‘beggar’ in French. Mendiants are popular confiserie in France: simple disks of chocolate (dark, milk or white) with at least four kinds of dried fruit and nuts.

Each represents the robe colours of four mendicant monastic orders from the Middle Ages.

Fascinating, n’est-ce pas?

Mendiants are great for serving as mini bites or mignardises with coffee after dinner but are normally seen for special occasions such as Christmas. But since we’re talking chocolate – let’s make them for Easter… or for any time of year!

how to make french chocolate mendiants

Dried Fruits and Nuts the Colour of Mendiant Monks’ Robes

According to French tradition, raisins stand for the Augustinians, hazelnuts for the Carmelites, dried figs for the Franciscans, and almonds are for the Dominicans.

However, over time things have become totally out of hand: confectioners are adding orange peel, pistachio nuts, candied ginger and now I’ve added goji berries soaked in Kirsch (only because I forgot to buy some cranberries) and mini chocolate praline Easter eggs or even French chocolate fish!

almond lemon easter cake

This was used as decoration for this gluten free Lemon Easter Cake.

french chocolate disks mendiants

French Chocolate Mendiants Ideas for Toppings

Here I used dark chocolate and coarse praline chocolate, but mendiants can be made with plain, milk or white chocolate.

Use different nuts (I personally like to toast mine as it adds more depth of flavour) and dried fruits to add a contrast in textures and flavours.

I also added broken Mikado sticks (do you have these in America?) and homemade zig-zag sticks (just by melting chocolate and zig-zagging it on baking paper, then peeling off when set) for a nest and mini Easter eggs.

french chocolate mendiants disks easter

Easy to Peel Chocolate Off

As you can see, I’ve just used baking parchment to spoon the melted chocolate and – using the back of a spoon – form circles directly onto the sheet without any guide.  There’s no need!  They don’t need to be absolutely perfect: the spoon actually does make them into circles themselves.

Over time, however, I did eventually find a use for my silicone macaron mat (this links to my non-sponsored review, as I don’t need fancy gadgets to make homemade macarons (tips are all in my books). Using the macaron mat with it’s groovy circles, by spooning the chocolate into them, when I peel them off once set the chocolate is absolutely perfect.

how to make french chocolate mendiant disks

Do I need to Temper Chocolate for Mendiants?

Normally, professional chocolatiers temper their chocolate to sell Mendiants.  The reason being, they last so much longer and are prettier.

As I’m just making them at home with the idea of eating them quickly over the next few days, I honestly haven’t needed to.  Melt the chocolate in a Bain-Marie (in a glass bowl over simmering water) and spoon out on to a baking sheet.  As the chocolate takes a good 30 minutes to set, you have enough time to enjoy topping them.

As you can see, it’s not even a recipe: just melt good quality chocolate and plonk on the dried fruits and (toasted) nuts of your choice!  Et voilà !

Join me on Instagram for a Daily Dose of French Life

I have just posted my first Reel.  Jings – that wasn’t as easy as I thought. It’s amazing how much time all these things take and I’m not even sure you’re seeing them!  So, if you’d like to follow me for a dose of daily French life, please do join me on Instagram.

It’s where I post shots from in and around Paris (at the moment it’s more outside Paris due to lockdown, as I live next to Saint Germain-en-Laye between Paris and Versailles), food snippets of recipes or the market – or just some fun stuff!

See my Instagram Reel Video on how to make them HERE.

french chocolate mendiants easy recipe

French Chocolate Mendiants

PRINTABLE RECIPE BELOW

Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Setting Time: 30 minutes

200g dark chocolate (64% cocoa solids, minimum)
Candied orange peel, cut into cubes
Raisins or dried cranberries*
Hazelnuts, walnuts, pistachios, almonds or pine nuts (plain or toasted)

  1. Line a perfectly flat baking sheet with baking paper (or silicone mat).
  2. Break up the chocolate in a bowl and place over a pan of simmering water over a gentle heat (bain-marie) until the chocolate has melted.
  3. Using a dessertspoon, spoon the melted chocolate onto the baking paper, pressing each one down with the back of the spoon to make a circle.
  4. Gradually decorate with the fruit and nuts using different colours and textures for toppings. Don’t worry about the chocolate hardening; you will have enough time to enjoy dressing each disk before it hardens.
  5. Leave to cool for about 30 minutes. When set, remove each mendiant carefully from the sheet with your fingers or a palette knife.

* To knock them into Adult mode for that extra je ne sais quoi, soak them in Kirsch, Chambord, Armagnac, Frangelico or any of your favourite liqueurs.

Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days (if you can wait that long!)

french chocolate mendiants hats

 

Here I topped chocolate macarons with French chocolate mendiants for an Easter bonnet look.

You could do the same by decorating cupcakes, brownies, muffins, chocolate mousse, etc. with your own personal French chocolate mendiant touch, or just devour them on their own.

5 from 1 vote
French Chocolate Mendiants (disks with fruit and nuts)
Prep Time
30 mins
Setting Time
30 mins
Total Time
1 hr
 

French mendiants, chocolate disks traditionally topped with dried fruits and nuts, resembling the 4 monastic robes from the Middle Ages, seen in chocolate shops around France

Course: confiserie, Snack
Cuisine: French
Servings: 6 people
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 200 g (7oz) bittersweet chocolate (at least 64% cacao)
  • handful each golden sultanas &/or raisins
  • dried cranberries or goji berries
  • toasted flaked almonds, almonds or pine nuts
  • pistachio nuts
  • candied orange peel (optional)
Instructions
  1. Line a perfectly flat baking sheet with baking paper (or silicone mat - even better, a macaron mat will set them perfectly into round shapes).

  2. Break up the chocolate in a glass bowl and place over a pan of simmering water over a gentle heat (bain-marie) until the chocolate has melted.

  3. Using a spoon, pour the melted chocolate onto the baking paper, pressing each one down with the back of the spoon to make a circle (don't worry if they are a bit messy - it will set well later!)

  4. Gradually decorate with the fruit and nuts using different colours and textures for toppings. Don’t worry about the chocolate hardening; you will have enough time to enjoy dressing each disk before it hardens.

  5. Leave to cool for about 30 minutes. When set, remove each mendiant carefully from the sheet with your fingers or a palette knife.

Recipe Notes

* To knock them into Adult mode for that extra je ne sais quoi, soak them in Kirsch, Chambord, Armagnac, Frangelico or any of your favourite liqueurs.

Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days (if you can wait that long!)

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

 

Lightest French Chocolate Mousse Without Cream

Trust the French to transform just a few simple yet good quality ingredients into a most elegant dessert. This recipe essentially consists of 70% dark chocolate with whipped, organic egg whites making it extremely light. It’s fluffy yet still an intense, dark French chocolate mousse without cream!

A version of this recipe was originally posted on 8 October 2018 but is now updated to better explain the recipe process along with a video: how to make a Light French Chocolate Mousse Without Cream.

Jump to Recipe

Dark chocolate mousse recipe

It’s not unlike this egg white-based light-as-a-feather white chocolate mousse with orange blossom.

This dark chocolate one is intense and rich for serious chocolate lovers.

dark chocolate mousse

What Chocolate is Best for Chocolate Mousse?

In this chocolate mousse recipe, I use 70% bittersweet (dark) couverture chocolate. The better quality the chocolate, the better this mousse will be. One of my best-loved cooking chocolate is Nestlé’s Corsé tablets with 64% cocoa or Lindt’s intense dark cooking chocolate.

If you fancy something even more intense in chocolate, then I like to use Cacao Barry’s 72% Venezuelan chocolate: it has complicated flavours of wine, black olives and woodiness that comes from using two cacao beans, Criollo (the most sought after) and Trinitario. Alas, I’m not sponsored in mentioning them, but just sharing what I normally use for this recipe.

Egg Tips for Making Chocolate Mousse

The recipe is basically just using a few best quality ingredients: good bittersweet (couverture) chocolate – I use 70% cacao; a spoonful of unsweetened cocoa powder, a little sugar, fresh & ORGANIC egg whites and only one egg yolk.

TIP FOR EGGS: Ensure your egg yolk is at room temperature. It doesn’t matter for the egg whites, but if the yolk is cold and added to the chocolate it will seize the chocolate up while added.  If this does happen, then just add a spoon of boiling water to fix it.

Otherwise, to make it EVEN EASIER, I add the egg yolk to the whites at the END of whipping.

Seizing of Chocolate Problem completely solved!

dark chocolate mousse recipe method

Classic French Chocolate Mousse Recipe

As you can see from the recipe card below, the recipe is so easy: it’s basically melting (good quality) dark chocolate and unsweetened chocolate powder together over a pan of simmering water, then folding in whipped egg whites with a little sugar and an egg yolk as if as  an afterthought. Although slightly tweaked with more dark chocolate, less cocoa powder and the addition of salt, this is my favourite recipe originally inspired by chef Raymond Blanc. I also added the yolk in the egg whites rather than adding it to the chocolate.

Egg Yolk Recipes to Store Whites for Making Chocolate Mousse

Speaking of Blanc, this recipe uses SIX fresh egg whites. Only ONE egg yolk is used, so I’d suggest making any of the recipes from the egg yolk recipe database in advance.

That way you can put aside 5 egg whites (I normally store them in a clean jam jar in the fridge for up to 5 days) to make this mousse – and indeed, homemade macarons and financiers!

 

dark chocolate mousse

French Chocolate Mousse Without Cream!

A classic French chocolate mousse like this recipe doesn’t need any cream. The egg whites make this light and fluffy and we can appreciate the good quality of the chocolate.

According to my Larousse Gastronomique, a French Mousse is literally a foam and can be savoury as well as sweet.  It’s created by whipping up many egg whites to achieve this and cream is normally not used – although many recipes add a touch of cream to lighten it up.  Personally I prefer it without the cream; that way the chocolate shines through completely.

Now on Video: How to make a French Chocolate Mousse from Scratch Without Cream

Low Sugar Chocolate Mousse

Little sugar is used in this chocolate mousse, too.  Too much sugar not only makes the mousse become grainy but it also interferes with the flavour of the intense chocolate. Too much sugar masks the chocolate, so chocolate mousse with low sugar is the answer.

“What’s the point of having good quality ingredients if you mask it with too much sugar?” I agree with many French pastry chefs that shout this out from the Parisian rooftops here!

How Long Does Chocolate Mousse Take to Set in the Fridge?

This light and fluffy French chocolate mousse only takes about 2 hours to set in the fridge.  What’s more, if you have any leftovers, it can keep in the fridge for 2-3 days.

Wood Cottage like chocolate

Wood Cottage in Le Vésinet – A Chocolate House?

As the dark chocolate mousse was chilling nicely in the fridge, we popped along to Wood Cottage in Le Vésinet (just west of Paris, in les Yvelines), for a FREE (!) jazz concert.  It’s an annual event at the end of the summer – and a real treat. Now classed a historical monument, the 1864 Wood Cottage buildings look remarkably like chocolate, don’t they?

More Chocolate – in Montmartre

While we’re on the subject of chocolate, stay tuned for the most incredible Parisian chocolate shop personality just 5 minutes’ walk from Le Moulin Rouge in Montmartre, à l’Etoile d’Or with Denise Acabo. Meanwhile,

French dark chocolate mousse no cream

Have you made any of the recipes from le blog, my books, or fancy making this light French chocolate mousse without cream?  Please leave a comment below if you’ve made it – I love to hear from you.

Join me for a daily dose of French life around Paris on Instagram / Facebook and say bonjour!

How to Make Chocolate Mousse from Scratch

Meanwhile, how do you make chocolate mousse from scratch? Here’s how in the recipe below – and it’s a healthy dessert too, full of feel-good endorphins.

French Dark Chocolate Mousse Recipe

5 from 7 votes
dark chocolate mousse
French Dark Chocolate Mousse
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Chilling Time
2 hrs
Total Time
2 hrs 30 mins
 

A French classic dessert with no cream: a light yet intensely bittersweet dark chocolate mousse for serious chocolate lovers who love their chocolate rich and airy.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: French
Keyword: chocolate mousse recipe without cream, lightest chocolate mousse recipe, French chocolate mousse recipe
Servings: 5 people
Calories: 243 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 170 g (6oz) 70% dark (bittersweet) cooking chocolate (a cup)
  • 10 g (2 tsp) unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Van Houten)
  • 170 g (6oz) organic egg whites (from 5 large fresh eggs)
  • 30 g (1oz) sugar
  • 1 organic egg, separated (at room temperature)
  • pinch salt fleur de sel*
Instructions
  1. Melt the chocolate and cocoa powder together in a bowl over a pan of simmering water (Bain-marie), taking care not to overcook the chocolate (don't have the water at a rolling boil, just simmering gently). As soon as the chocolate begins to melt, switch off the heat and stir until completely smooth, then take the bowl off the heat.

  2. Separate the extra egg, keeping the yolk aside for later (it's important the yolk is at room temperature).

    In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites (using a stand mixer or electric beaters) with the sugar until soft and strong peaks form. Add the extra egg white and continue to whisk.

  3. When the whites are strong and hold well, continue to whisk in the egg yolk and add the fleur de sel.

    Gradually add the whipped egg whites to the chocolate using a strong yet flexible spatula, folding each carefully until well blended together. Repeat folding gently until the consistency is completely mixed together, light and airy.

  4. Either transfer the bowl to the fridge or pour/spoon into serving glasses and place in the fridge to set for at least 2 hours until ready to serve.

    Serve chilled and top with fresh fruit, shaved chocolate or a sprig of mint.

Recipe Notes

Serve chilled with chocolate macarons (see the recipes in both my books), crispy almond tuiles, or garnish with a sprig of mint, edible flowers or fresh fruit. If you really want the cream, add a dollop of freshly whipped Chantilly cream.

* Variations: Omit the salt and add a teaspoon of soluble coffee granules for a mocha treat - or add the zest of an orange or lime for a citrus take on the recipe. Add a tablespoon of Cognac or Grand Marnier liqueur for a special occasion (adults only).

Note: see list of egg yolk recipes for the leftover egg whites needed for this recipe.

Recipe demonstrated fully on VIDEO HERE.

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

French Chocolate Mousse

French Chocolate Passion Mousse with Caramel Nougatine

It happened last night.  Excitement set in as this French Chocolate Passion Mousse was a simple  experiment that worked.

It’s based on a classic French dark chocolate mousse (see my video on how to make it HERE) with its particularity being that it uses NO CREAM. However – I didn’t have enough egg whites and so experimented by adding – PASSION FRUIT juice. Then I experimented further and omitted egg yolks and so it just uses whites and passion fruit juice.

Chocolate Passion Fruit Mousse

The result?

French Chocolate Passion Mousse

It lightened it up even further, the taste was sensational and so I was rather excited about it. Those of you that heard me on Instagram stories will agree that I sounded really excited.

Saying I’m Excited in French like ‘Emily in Paris’

Don’t tell the French you’re excited. It’s not new as a cliché that was brought up in ‘Emily in Paris’.
Mention that you’re ‘excité’ in French and oh-là-là – your friends will tell you to take a cold shower.  Being excited just doesn’t have the same meaning here.

In the early days on arriving in Paris, I told a few friends and – even worse – my French parents-in-law that I was excitée to see (which means I ‘had the hots’/’was horny’ for) the farmers coming to the market, showing off their organic produce.  It’s just as well I didn’t babble on about their radishes and carrots!

French chocolate passion mousse

Who took the spoon?

What to say in French for Being Excited

Just saying, “Ça m’excite” is even worse – and I know I’m not alone on that one. That’s just saying it makes you horny.

The French don’t have a real equivalent of saying that they’re excited about something.  They are more likely to shrug their shoulders and say, ‘C’est cool‘, or ‘C’est chouette“. They don’t become as bubbly and enthusiastic as we do – in fact, it’s seen as slightly childlike.

I don’t care any more. I’ll forever be a bubbly-sounding kid, ‘excited’ in the kitchen watching macaron shells rise in the oven… So, when there’s a jam jar filled with leftover egg whites from the ever-growing egg yolk recipe collection, I still become excited. Either I could make a batch of homemade macarons – or I could make this light and fluffy French chocolate mousse – now with passion in it!

For Nutty Caramel Lovers

For nutty caramel lovers, I added a rather addictive Almond-Pistachio Nougatine. All because it’s February. Amour, love, chocolate, caramel and passion is in the air!

It’s based on this easy nougatine recipe, inspired by the famous Parisian rice pudding topping of chef Stéphane Jégo of l’Ami Jean restaurant in the 7th. I encourage you to try it – and if you can’t finish it all, ask for the famous Riz au Lait Doggy Bag!

This version is so quick and easy to make.  Unlike the original that uses 4 different kinds of nuts, I’ve cut it to my 2 favourites: almonds and pistachios, use just organic cane sugar and good, French President butter.

French Chocolate Passion Mousse & Nougatine

French chocolate passion mousse recipe

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French chocolate passion mousse

 

5 from 6 votes
Chocolate Passion Fruit Mousse
French Chocolate Passion Mousse & Almond-Pistachio Nougatine
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Chilling Time
1 hr 30 mins
 

The lightest French dark chocolate mousse with no cream but the juice of 2 passion fruits - served with the nuttiest caramel: an almond and pistachio nougatine

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: French
Keyword: chocolate passion fruit, French chocolate mousse, gluten free desserts, no-cream chocolate mousse
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 205 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
French Dark Chocolate Mousse
  • 170 g (6oz) dark chocolate (I use 72% cacao - use only good quality)
  • 15 g (0.5oz) unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Van Houten)
  • 210 g (7.5oz) egg whites (from 6 fresh organic eggs)
  • 30 g (1oz) caster sugar
  • 2 passion fruits juice sieved off, seeds removed
Almond-Pistachio Nougatine (Optional)
  • 140 g (5oz) slivered almonds
  • 100 g (3.5oz) unsalted pistachios
  • 50 g (1.75oz) butter unsalted
  • 140 g (5oz) organic light brown cane sugar
Instructions
Dark Chocolate Mousse
  1. Melt the chocolate and cocoa powder together in a bowl over a pan of simmering water ('bain-marie'), taking care not to overcook the chocolate (don't have the water at a rolling boil; simmer gently). As soon as the chocolate is easy to stir, switch off the heat and stir until smooth, keeping the bowl over the pan to keep warm.

  2. Meanwhile, sieve out the seeds from the passion fruits. In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites (using a stand mixer or electric beaters) with the sugar until soft peaks form. Gradually add the passion fruit juice to the whites and continue to whip until firm.

  3. Fold the chocolate into the whites using a spatula.

  4. Divide the mousse into 6 serving dishes and chill for at least an hour.

Almond-Pistachio Nougatine (Optional)
  1. Place the nuts in a single layer on a non-stick baking sheet and lightly toast them under a hot grill for a couple of minutes. Keep your eye on them and don’t move away from the grill, as this happens quickly and you do NOT want them to burn (any burning will make the nuts bitter).  Toasting them lightly brings out their natural flavour. When toasted, set them aside to cool.

  2. In a heavy-based saucepan, melt the butter on a medium heat. As soon as it’s melted, add the sugar. Using a wooden spoon, initially stir the sugar and butter together, then wait about 5 minutes until the mixture starts to form a  liquid and a caramel forms.  As soon as this happens, stir until smooth and it’s light brown (not dark brown, otherwise bitter), add all the nuts.

  3. Stir in the nuts until they’re all well covered and sticky in the caramel. Turn out immediately on to a patisserie mat (Silpat) or directly on to a clean, marble surface.

  4. Leave to cool on the counter for about 10 minutes or until the caramel hardens. Store in an airtight tin or jam jar and eat within a month.

Recipe Notes

This recipe is gluten free.  Top with the nougatine or serve with extra passion fruit. The mousse can be made in advance, chilled overnight and is excellent served next day. For a plain chocolate mousse recipe, see my short video of how to make it HERE.

Also delicious served with chocolate or exotic fruit macarons (see macaron recipes in either of my books, 'Mad About Macarons' and 'Teatime in Paris')

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

 

Luxury Chocolate Coconut Granola (Vegan)

There’s nothing more cereal-ously satisfying to see that many of you still enjoy making this healthy, homemade maple granola for breakfast.  For serious chocolate and coconut lovers, I’ve now taken it to a nutty new level. Make way for a luxury dark Chocolate Coconut Granola with plump dried cranberries, toasted brazil nuts, seeds – all wrapped in maple syrup and then melted dark chocolate. Moreover, this granola just so happens to be vegan.

The recipe is now demonstrated on a short video on my YouTube Channel HERE!

Jump to Recipe

Healthy Chocolate Coconut Granola

No Added Sugar

This started out as a basis of a recipe I saw in a French magazine years ago. However, it was unnecessarily overloaded with sugar. You may know I have a sweet tooth – but not THAT sweet. Too much sugar can totally kill a dessert or a macaron filling overloaded with it. Likewise, for breakfast, I prefer sugar kept to the minimum. There’s NO added sugar in this!

When it comes to granola, the beauty of making homemade is you can control this.  By adding natural sugars via healthy, dried fruits and maple syrup, there is NO ADDED SUGAR. Add the dried fruits after baking so that the juicy fruit retains all of its healthy nutrients.

chocolate coconut granola vegan

Gluten Free Homemade Granola

If you follow a strict diet or you are Celiac, please do ensure that your oats are specifically labelled as being GLUTEN FREE.

Is Coconut Oil Good or Bad?

Coconut oil is basically a good saturated fat oil. Ensure, however, you check the label when buying that it’s both cold-pressed and unrefined.

When is Granola NOT Vegan?

Making this for somebody following a strictly vegan diet and worried about granola being 100% vegan?
Granola is not vegan when honey or milk chocolate is used – it’s as simple as that. Also ensure that there are no milk additives in your cocoa powder.

Chocolate Coconut Granola for Vegans

If you are following a strict vegan diet, use vegan dark chocolate for the recipe. Good quality chocolate chips are good, as are dark chocolate chips. If you’re not following a vegan diet, however, you may prefer to use milk chocolate which will work well.

chocolate coconut vegan granola

Quality Chocolate – Best Tips for Baking Chocolate Granola

How do you bake a good quality chocolate granola? The the best tip I have for you is adding the chocolate AFTER baking. Bake it together in the oven and the chocolate will be burnt – who wants that? Burnt chocolate is incredibly bitter and what a waste of your best chocolate! Instead, melt it gently and give it the respect it deserves.

Either wait until your granola cools down completely and add chocolate chips or, my favourite method, as soon as it comes out of the oven, scatter over your chocolate chips, drops or grated dark chocolate and leave it to melt into the hot cereal.  As soon as the chocolate melts, stir the granola around again to mix it well together. Leave to cool (even quicker if 15 minutes in the fridge) and voilà – a gourmet chocolate coconut granola is ready for you to fill a cookie jar!

Chocolate coconut granola vegan

Healthy Nuts & Seeds

Brazil nuts are particularly good for selenium (great for memory). Just 2 brazil nuts a day will have you covered – just don’t forget to buy them!

Sesame seeds (poppy seeds or flaxseeds) are good natural sources of calcium. All this makes for a HEALTHY THYROID too – and, if you’re like me without a thyroid, it’s a great way to keep a daily healthy supply of essential nuts and seeds.

Dark chocolate coconut granola

Healthy Homemade Granola Variations

To vary the flavours, try with a mixture of almonds like in this plain Maple Granola without the chocolate

or with a hint of warm spices such as cinnamon, gingerbread spice or pumpkin spice for a spiced festive granola version for the holidays.

Looking for more healthy homemade breakfast cereals?

Try my friend, Christina’s simple Alpen copycat recipe with half the sugar of the regular popular muesli.

 

Chocolate Coconut Granola (Vegan)

5 from 4 votes
chocolate coconut granola vegan
Chocolate Coconut Granola
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
40 mins
Total Time
55 mins
 

Homemade dark chocolate granola with coconut, brazil nuts, cranberries and sesame seeds with no added sugar, just natural ingredients to sweeten this luxury start to the day, stuck together with the best melted chocolate.

Course: Breakfast, Brunch, Snack
Cuisine: French
Keyword: chocolate granola, granola, vegan granola
Servings: 12 servings
Calories: 280 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 300 g (10.5oz/3 cups) jumbo oats (if on a strict GF diet, ensure they're labelled gluten free)
  • 100 g (3.5oz/1 cup) brazil nuts roughly chopped (or mix with walnuts)
  • 50 g (2oz/1/2 cup) sunflower seeds
  • 25 g (2 tbsp) sesame seeds (or flax seeds)
  • 50 g (2oz) dessicated coconut
  • pinch salt (fleur de sel)
  • 3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Van Houten)
  • 75 g (3 tbsp) coconut oil, melted (unrefined/cold-pressed) or neutral oil
  • 100 ml (5 tbsp) maple syrup
To add after baking:
  • 100 g (3.5oz/1 cup) dried plump cranberries (or golden raisins)
  • 125 g (4.5oz) dark chocolate chips, drops, or grated chocolate (Vegan if necessary)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan)/350°F (Gas 4).

  2. In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients except the chocolate and dried fruits. Mix well until completely coated in the coconut oil and maple syrup.

  3. Cover a baking tray with baking paper (or a silicone mat). Spread out the oat mixture evenly. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, turn over the mixture and return to the oven for a further 15-20 minutes.

  4. As soon as out of the oven, immediately sprinkle over the chocolate chips/drops/grated chocolate and the dried fruits over the hot granola (see note*). After about 5 minutes, turn over the granola to mix in the melted chocolate and dried fruits. Leave to cool for the chocolate to set either on the counter at room temperature or for 15 minutes in the fridge. Transfer to a sealed container when cool.

Recipe Notes

Store in an airtight container at room temperature. Enjoy at its best within 10 days.

* Quicker altervative: wait until the granola cools completely then add chocolate chips and fruits (the result is different - no clumps achieved with melted chocolate but still good).

Serve with almond milk, fresh berries or with homemade rhubarb compote for a vegan breakfast or any of your favourite vegan accompaniments.
Otherwise, if it doesn't need to be vegan, enjoy with yoghurt, milk or Skyr (we're seeing this appearing from Iceland in French supermarkets all of a sudden - it's great!)

See the short Video Demonstration here.

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

 

‘Reine de Saba’ Chocolate Almond Queen of Sheba Cake

Mention ‘The Queen of Sheba’ and Handel’s famous music from Solomon plays full swing in my head.
Little did I know when I married my Frenchman in 1997 that the Queen of Sheba is la Reine de Saba in French.  So imagine, years later, how it was music to my ears to hear that the French make a gluten-free chocolate cake called the Queen of Sheba. A Reine de Saba Chocolate Almond Cake is a welcome arrival to any party, topped with a silky rum glaze.

Reine de Saba Chocolate Almond Cake

Reine de Saba (Queen of Sheba)

I loved to play ‘The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba’ as a piano duet with my bestie growing up in Edinburgh.  Even the day I married my Frenchman, Dad and I arrived to Handel’s music as I played Queen for the day. What a memorable entrance it was with an oversized Scottish golf umbrella, wondering if the organ of Saint Giles would be drowned out by the bagpipes playing to the tourists outside.

Only recently I discovered that there’s a Reine de Saba museum in Paris, particularly dedicated to Yemen. Out of 27 years in the City of Light, I still haven’t been to it yet on rue de Pradier in the 19th. So, if you have been or plan to go, please tell me below in the comments.

Reine de Saba Chocolate Almond Cake Recipe

I saw a recipe for the Reine de Saba cake in a free French booklet of 50 Best Chocolate Recipes published by France Loisirs many years ago. It was popped into my bag at the checkout after Christmas shopping in a French kitchen appliance shop in Paris’s 16th. If you know the chic 16th in Paris, getting something free here is pretty much unheard of, so I treasured it.

Earmarking the festive-looking Reine de Saba chocolate cake, this wee book of recipes was forgotten about during that festive season madness. It was put away in the bookcase for another Christmas, dwarfed and hidden by my other cookbooks. Then recently on a bout of tidying (inspired by an episode of Marie Kondo on Netflix, as I thought, ‘Do I really need to keep all of those books?’), I re-discovered this slim chocolate-coloured book. It fell apart the moment I opened it. Well, it was free.

Reine de Saba Chocolate Almond Cake slice

That Reine de Saba recipe still looked enticing. After trying it out a few times using different moulds, toppings, and tweaking a couple of things like reducing sugar and adding rum, this is it. That wee book perhaps is already in tatters but this recipe is definitely a keeper and now a firm, family favourite next to the Chocolate Ginger Fondant Cake.

Gluten-Free Dessert Recipes

Can you Handel another French gâteau that just happens to be a gluten free chocolate cake? If you would like more recipes like this, don’t forget that you can find all my best gluten free recipes here on le blog.

What Can I do with the Leftover Egg Yolks?

As you can see from the recipe below, this recipe calls for two egg whites. Normally egg whites can keep for a few days in the fridge but I prefer to use up fresh egg yolks as quickly as possible on the day.  You’ll find a whole index of egg yolk recipes here on le blog.

Moreover, if you’re looking for a recipe with 2 egg yolks, then you can find that too, such as these Honey & Lemon Sablé biscuits, or a creamy lemon sauce to serve with roast chicken, turkey or stuffed mini pumpkins. I even have a most deliciously creamy cauliflower velouté coming up next which, surprisingly, also uses 2 yolks.

Reine de Saba Chocolate Almond Cake Christmas

French Christmas Dessert Recipes

The baked, crispy glaze topping takes this recipe into Christmas dessert mode or for a special occasion birthday cake. The family loved this topped with freshly whipped Chantilly cream, laced with just a touch of dark rum (or with Grand Marnier®).

Finish off with a dusting of unsweetened chocolate powder or edible gold dust. If you like your Christmas chocolate cake spiced, then add a teaspoon of gingerbread or pumpkin spice to the cake and/or the glaze.

Plus (you know it’s coming, don’t you?) why not serve with some almond macarons? Don’t forget that Parisian macarons are also gluten free.  You’ll find the recipes for all my macarons in both my books, Mad About Macarons and Teatime in Paris!

Reine de Saba Chocolate Almond Cake

Reine de Saba Chocolate Almond Cake

5 from 6 votes
Reine de Saba Chocolate Almond Cake slice
Reine de Saba Chocolate Almond Cake
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
45 mins
 

A French celebratory, gluten free moist chocolate and almond cake, made extra special with a hint of Grand Marnier and topped with a festive glaze.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: French
Keyword: chocolate almond cake, gluten free chocolate cake, reine de saba cake
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 309 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 125 g (4.5oz) dark chocolate (min. 60% cacao)
  • 75 g (3oz) butter unsalted, diced
  • 3 organic eggs separated
  • 1 egg white
  • 75 g (3oz) sugar
  • 75 g (3oz) ground almonds (almond flour)
  • 1 tbsp potato flour or cornflour (Maïzena)
  • 2 drops vanilla extract (or 1/2 tsp vanilla powder)
  • pinch salt (fleur de sel)
  • 1 tbsp Grand Marnier® (or dark rum) optional
For the Glaze:
  • 175 g (6oz) icing (confectioner's) sugar
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tsp Grand Marnier ® (or dark rum) optional
  • 1 tsp gingerbread or pumpkin spice optional
Instructions
  1. Break the dark chocolate into bits in a bowl with the diced butter and place over a pan of simmering water (bain- marie). Ensure the water doesn't touch the bottom of the bowl so not to overcook the chocolate. Mix together until melted and set aside.

  2. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/400°F/Gas 6. Grease a 20cm cake tin with a little butter.

  3. Separate the eggs: place the 4 egg whites in a large clean bowl to whip them later. In another bowl, place the 3 egg yolks and whisk together with the sugar until light and creamy. Add the cornflour, vanilla and stir in the ground almonds. Add in the melted chocolate, alcohol if using, and mix together. Set aside at room temperature.

  4. Whisk the egg whites with the salt in either a stand mixer or using an electric hand whisk. When the whites are whipped up and firm, gently fold into the chocolate and almond mixture.

  5. Pour the batter into the cake tin and bake for about 20 minutes without browning the surface (a smaller, higher cake tin will need longer baking, about 30 minutes). Remove from the oven to cool.

Make the Glaze:
  1. Mix together the egg white with the icing sugar and Grand Marnier (or rum) if using.

    Depending on the cake tin, there are 2 ways of baking the glaze:

    1) Directly in an easy-release cake tin: once the cake is cooled down (but still warm), spread on the glaze and return to the oven for no more than 5 minutes. Remove from the oven, leave to cool then turn out on a serving plate.

    2) Remove the cake from the tin and place on an ovenproof serving plate. Spread on the glaze then return to the oven for no more than 5 minutes. Remove from the oven then decorate, if desired.

Recipe Notes

For special occasions such as Christmas, serve the cake topped with whipped cream laced with a dash of Grand Marnier® or rum or simply with a dollop of crème fraîche.

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

Reine de Saba Chocolate Almond Cake

 

Cracked Macaron Black Forest Creams

Imagine the surprise: a tray of cracked macarons on opening the oven door. Don’t despair – it can happen and there are easy reasons why. In the meantime, make these deliciously easy Cracked Macaron Black Forest Creams.

Cracked macaron black forest creams

They’re so good, you’ll want to make a batch of macaron shells (perfect or otherwise) just for this gluten-free dessert!

Cracked macaron Black Forest Creams

Why Cracked Macarons?

It can happen at times – even with a good macaron recipe.  On opening the oven, there are a few cracked macarons – or even a whole tray of cracked macarons.  Why did this happen? It’s not the end of the world. Jings, even in some expensive Parisian patisseries, I’ve seen them sell a few cracked macarons and they still taste cracking amazing!

In my first book, Mad About Macarons, I have a whole section on troubleshooting all sorts of macaron problems using my French macaron recipe. Cracked macarons are probably because either:

  • Your batter is too runny (making the shell weak);
  • The egg whites weren’t initially beaten enough;
  • Too much final mixing of the batter (macaronnage);
  • Too much humidity in the oven.

In our case recently, I made a whole batch and much of this lot cracked simply because I hadn’t cleaned the oven.  Lingering oil on the oven base creates humidity and so the chocolate macarons just cracked up in there.  However, they still tasted wonderful.  I have a neighbour who chucked a whole batch of Italian-meringued macarons in disgust and I never forgave him – perfectionist or not.  Please don’t waste perfectly good macaron shells!  This gluten free dessert below is the answer before your next batch.

macarons no feet reasons

Why did some macarons not produce any feet?

Why Don’t My Macarons have Feet?

Another case something went wrong was when Lucie and I made chocolate macarons side-by-side together, preparing them for school.  It was a wonderful time in the kitchen together with her Japanese rock at full blast – but I didn’t think to check her weighing out exactly all the ingredients.  As you can see from the above photo with both our macarons on the same baking tray, her macarons (using the same ingredients, same oven, same baking sheet) didn’t produce feet. Why?  She realised afterwards that she hadn’t measured out the ingredients properly using digital scales: instead of 250g icing (powdered) sugar, she only measured out 100g – that’s a whopping difference!

So, please follow the recipe to the letter and don’t cut down on the sugar – as any changes you make will result in something like no feet!  Incidentally, no macaron feet is also due to runny batter (see above), insufficient airing or oven temperature too low. However, the ingredients used were still so good and they were perfect candidates for the base of this chocolate cherry boozy dessert.

cracked macarons soaking in kirsch for black forest creams

Cracked Macaron Black Forest Creams

If you’ve made these gluten free Macaron Tiramisu desserts, you’ll remember that we left the macaron shells to soak in coffee and Amaretto.  In this case, we’re doing the same but using a Kirsch syrup.  Either pour on the syrup on a filtered tray on top of another tray or simply pour over the macarons in a shallow dish and turn the macarons over, ensuring that each shell is fully coated in the lush boozy syrup and leave overnight or for at least an hour.

cracked macaron black forest creams

Cracked Macaron Black Forest Creams are not just great with boozy cherries but also delicious with raspberries too! Just replace the Kirsch with Chambord raspberry liqueur.

cracked macaron black forest creams

Cracked Macaron Black Forest Creams

Love Chocolate and Cherries?

Try these Black Forest Chocolate Cream Desserts, as part of the egg yolk recipe collection and save the whites for making macarons. It’s a never-ending delicious cycle! It’s a great recipe using fresh cherries when in season or using Griottine® cherries, preserved in alcohol – or even just good quality tinned cherries.
Make more of the recipe below plus make this chocolate cherry macaron ganache.

5 from 5 votes
cracked macaron black forest creams
Cracked Macaron Black Forest Creams
Prep Time
25 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Resting time
1 hr
Total Time
40 mins
 

Cracked chocolate macarons? Make these easy Black Forest creams with Kirsch-soaked macaron shells topped with roasted cherries and Kirsch Chantilly cream. A gluten-free dessert for cherry season or any time of year.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: French
Keyword: black forest, cherry desserts, chocolate cherry, cracked macarons, gluten free, kirsch recipes, macaron desserts
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 292 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 125 g (4.5oz) macaron shells (ready made: 36 needed) macaron recipe in either of my 2 books
  • 50 ml (2 fl oz) water
  • 50 g (2oz) sugar (+ 1 tbsp for roasting cherries)
  • 60 ml (2.5 fl oz) Kirsch liqueur
  • 36 cherries (fresh or jarred such as Griottines*) (6 per person)
  • 300 g (10.5oz) whipping cream (chilled) (30% fat)
  • 1 tbsp icing (powdered) sugar
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 25 g (1oz) dark chocolate, grated (optional for decor)
Instructions
  1. Make the Kirsch syrup: in a saucepan gently heat the water, sugar and 40ml (1.5fl oz) Kirsch together and stir until a thicker syrup forms.  Set aside to cool. Chill a bowl for preparing the Chantilly cream.

  2. Using a shallow dish filled with the macaron shells, pour over the syrup. Turn over now and again until all the macarons are fully steeped in the juices then leave for at least an hour to soak.

  3. Roast the cherries in 190°C fan/210°C/410°F/Gas 6: place the cherries in a roasting tin, sprinkle with sugar and splash with the rest of the Kirsch. Roast until the juices are released (about 10mins) then cool. 

  4. Make the Chantilly Kirsch cream: using an electric whisk, beat the chilled whipping cream in the chilled bowl with 1 tbsp icing (powered) sugar until soft peaks form.  Add 1 tbsp Kirsch or the roasted cherry juice and beat again until the peaks hold.

  5. Place the soaked macarons at the bottom of 6 serving dishes, sprinkle with chocolate powder, top with 6 cherries and top with Kirsch Chantilly cream. Either sprinkle on more cocoa powder or good quality grated dark chocolate.

Recipe Notes

* Note: If making with 'Griottine' cherries (cherries jarred in liqueur), then this recipe is even easier! Just pour over the boozy cherry juice from the jar on your macarons instead of making the syrup.

This recipe is also delicious made with raspberries instead of cherries. Simply replace the Kirsch with Chambord raspberry liqueur.

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

 

cracked macaron black forest creams