Chocolate Cherry Ganache – Macaron Filling

Rain in the Kirsch with these dark chocolate and cherry macarons!

Dark Chocolate Lava Cakes with Runny Hearts

A French dessert menu classic that’s so quick to prepare and great for any occasion.

Pure 100% Cacao Chocolate Mousse Recipe by Patrice Chapon

How many chocolate storefronts do you know resemble dark chocolate?  Every time I walk past the Chapon boutique in Paris’s growing sweet-lined rue du Bac, I could almost lick off the writing imagining it’s made of cocoa butter and gold leaf.

You may remember my visit to the first ever Bac Sucré Event in June this year (update: and again here in 2016), where I already wrote a bit about Chocolaterie Chapon. During the event, my daughter Lucie and I signed up for a short talk by Patrice Chapon, explaining how he has been making his chocolate since 1985 from “bean-to-bar” from his workshop in Chelles (a suburb 20km north-east of Paris).

Chapon chocolate maker Paris

Originally a restaurant chef then pastry chef in Deauville, I love how Monsieur Chapon then popped over the Channel for a short stint as official ice-cream maker to the Royal Family at Buckingham Palace – how cool is it to have had the Queen Mother surprise you one day with rose petals from the royal gardens, asking you to make a sorbet with them? After inspiration from Harrod’s food hall, he realised his real vocation was back in France making chocolate and by 2005, he opened this second shop in Paris.

It takes 10 days to make the chocolate as we see it in the store. Even the cacao growers in the tropics (10° North or South of the Equator) are amazed at what final result can be achieved from these simple looking beans.

He procures the beans after they’ve been fermented and dried, then does the rest himself. He grills them – 20 kilos at a time – for about 30 minutes at 105°C until they start to smell and taste like chocolate, even if still bitter at this stage. After grinding to obtain cocoa nibs then 8 hours maturing, he adds sugar (and powdered milk for milk chocolate), he continues to grind then liquify the cacao by a method called conching. Any acids or bitterness disappear after at least 48 hours and as if by magic, the end result after tempering and mixing, we’re left to discover the end result.

Chapon chocolate shop Paris rue du Bac

Tasting our way through the characteristic tropical-patterned packaged chocolate bars, each variety has its own subtle but particular flavours: Cuba has notes of spice and exotic fruits, Lucie agreed that Ghana has banana notes, and Madagascar has real after-notes of red fruits.

With wide-eyed children looking on at the generous samples laid out in front of us, Chapon surprised them with his witty Willy Wonka remark in French, “With this ticket, adults have a tasting of a chocolate mousse cone; children have their tasting of salsify” (which is a popular root that’s served as vegetable here, especially I hear at the school canteen). Their confused expressions were quickly transformed as their eyes feasted on chocolate lollipops.

domes fondant au sel or salted dark chocolate domes best award paris

My eyes were for the salted praline Dômes au Sel, winners of the Mairie de Paris Chocolate Grand Prix in 2003.

Chapon chocolaterie Paris rue du Bac

True to the chocolate bars, the mousses were so dense in chocolate, yet light and airy.  Chapon states that he uses about 20-30% less chocolate in his mousses due to the high cocoa content than more standard chocolate mousses that our grandmothers made.

As I left the boutique, realising again that I’d bought way too much chocolate (confessions of a chocoholic), I noticed that the recipe for the legendary chocolate mousse was printed on the brown paper bag.

pure dark chocolate mousse Venezuela Chapon

With so many chocolate varieties to choose from, I thought I’d be adventurous and go for the 100% pure cacao Rio Caribe of Venezuela.  On the tablet’s back label, it even specifies “100% minimum”, which would excite any cocoa connoisseur!

If I have to make one remark, the recipe’s chocolate quantity of 185g isn’t that ideal for us shoppers, since most of the tablets are 75g and so with two bars I was 35g short of pure Venezuela.  As it’s 100%, also note that it’s drier than most classic mousses.  The aftertaste is intense – a little goes a long way to appreciate the flavours. Just as in wine-tasting, I’d even go as far as to say that this chocolate mousse is earthy or as we say in wine terms, “sous bois” or undergrowth (for more on tasting, see my post about different notes on the nose).  It was almost leafy or, dare I say, mossy. In French, moss is mousse – so I’ll leave you to groan at your own pun!

Chapon Paris Chocolate Mousse Recipe pure cacao

Pure 100% Cacao Chocolate Mousse Recipe by Patrice Chapon

Patrice Chapon states the best chocolate to use for his mousse is either Equagha, équateur, Mexique or 100% Rio Caribe. His new tablet, Brésil, would also be good.

185g Pure Origin Chocolate Chapon (I used 100% Venezuela Rio Caribe)
100g semi-skimmed fresh milk
1 egg yolk
6 egg whites
37g cane sugar

Chapon chocolate mousse recipe ingredients

1. Heat the milk until it boils. Grate the chocolate in a large bowl.

2. Pour the hot milk over the grated chocolate and stir gently until well mixed using a wooden spoon.  Add the yolk and continue to stir until the mixture is brilliant.

3. In a separate bowl, whip up the egg whites using an electric whisk, adding half of the sugar at first and then at the end when they are whipped and fluffy (but not firm).

4. Gradually incorporate the egg whites, folding it in delicately until all mixed together and smooth.

5. Either keep it in the bowl or transfer to individual serving bowls (I would suggest little ones here, as this mousse is so intense!)

6. Refrigerate overnight (I suggest covering with cling film) and enjoy next day.

Pure chocolate mousse Patrice Chapon Recipe

Serving suggestion: scoop the mousse …

or spoon into Almond Tuiles from my new book, Teatime in Paris!

100% pure chocolate mousse recipe by Chapon served with French tuiles

Serve with French Almond Tuiles for dessert

If you’re in Paris, either drop in and taste the mousse for yourself at Chapon’s boutiques.

CHAPON
69, rue du Bac, 75007 Paris
Tel. 01-42 22 95 98

Update!

For more chocolate and pastry treats, join me and my friend, Ann Mah, for a tasting down rue du Bac in Paris.

Upside-Down Dark Chocolate Pear Cake

That did it – it had to be a chocolate pear cake since the pears just sat there showing off their perfect hippy contours in the fruit bowl, pride of place on the breakfast table.

Really. No takers? It was the same for lunch, goûter, and dinner. Were they just too pretty to look at?  I decided it was “conference” time with the family last weekend; would they also like their pears hugged in chocolate, the unanimous response was

“Oh, we love pears!”

Upside down chocolate coffee pear cake recipe

Chocolate Pear Cake Inspiration

I hit on the idea of this chocolate pear cake while trying out a delicious recipe for a Drunken Damson Dessert by Angela Reid from Green & Black’s Chocolate Recipe Book. As I poured the chocolate mix on top of my damson-replaced nectarines soaked in the gin, I was thinking that next time I should try a non-alcoholic version and flip it upside-down so that the pears would be caramelised and glistening on top – rather like a Tarte Tatin style chocolate cake.

nectarine and chocolate pudding

This is nearly a flourless cake since I added just a couple of tablespoons, just to cake it up a bit but for gluten-free diets you can skip the flour.  I also love adding coffee to pear (see this coffee and poached pear recipe); the coffee also brings out the dark chocolate’s intensity.

The photos really don’t do this cake justice.  The family didn’t give me much time to photograph it and, as it was at the end of the day, the sun was playing up and I was juggling the rest of dinner.  There wasn’t even time to do a photo set-up. Plonk! Snap! But enough of my excuses. I suggest you make this and show me your better shots!  What counts is that it tastes fabulous and I’ll have to make it again soon.

upside down dark chocolate coffee pear cake recipe

Upside-Down Chocolate Pear Cake

Serves 6-8

Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 50 minutes

Caramel:
2 tbsp water

100g sugar
25g butter

3 pears (Guyot or Conference)

Chocolate Cake:
50g sugar

4 eggs
250g dark chocolate (at least 64% cocoa solids)
175g butter (unsalted)
1 tpsp coffee powder

2 tbsp plain flour (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F (gas 6). Butter a 25cm cake pan (no need to if using a silicone round cake mould, or moule à manqué that’s non-stick).

2. Make a caramel by stirring the sugar into the water in a heavy-based saucepan.  Leave to simmer (don’t stir at this stage) until a golden caramel forms then stir in the butter.  Immediately pour the caramel into the cake pan.

pears in cake pan on top of caramel and before the chocolate mix is poured on top

3. Peel the pears and cut them in half.  Remove the cores with a sharp knife then cut each half into three slices. Arrange them as packed together as you can on top of the caramel (they’ll shrink as they cook) and bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove to cool slightly.

4. Using a hand whisk, beat the eggs with the sugar in a large bowl until pale and creamy. Break up the chocolate into pieces and melt it together with the butter and coffee powder in a heat-proof bowl on top of a pan of simmering water (bain-marie), ensuring that the water doesn’t touch the chocolate bowl. When smooth and melted, whisk together the chocolate into the egg, then add the flour (if using), mix then pour the chocolate batter on top of the pears.  Bake for 25-30 minutes.

5. Leave to cool slightly for about 10 minutes. Using a sharp blade of a knife, go around the sides to ensure nothing is sticking.  Place a large serving plate over the pan and, holding on to both plate and pan, flip the plate upside down to demould the cake.

upside down dark chocolate coffee pear cake

Serve either cold or slightly warm with cream but it’s just as good entirely on its own.

Next time I’m adding some candied ginger and perhaps a teaspoon of ground ginger to replace the coffee. What do you think?  Are you more for classic plain or spicy with pear and chocolate?

upside down chocolate caramel pear coffee cake

Update: An intense caramel photo shot with the chocolate and pear cake. Ah, is that better? I made this again and have updated the recipe to suggest you caramelise the pears just a little longer in the oven and have adjusted step 3 accordingly. But if you prefer the previous more natural poached look, then leave in the oven for just 10 minutes in step 3.

Chocolate Coffee Fondant Cakes

“I’m starving!” Lucie flew in the door with the rain blowing in with her. “Canteen was terrible today so I only ate some baguette.”  It was just as well I had some of these chocolate coffee fondant cakes in the oven.

Normally my bunnies are flexible eaters at school but somehow there are a few days in the year where apparently la cantine doesn’t even meet the I’ll-just-eat-it-because-I’m-hungry mark.  I wasn’t much better: if that had been the kids, I’d have scolded them. I’d just returned from an extra bendy weekly yoga session (feeling wobbly and stretched to 2 metres) and, having only downed a yogurt for lunch in a rush, suddenly thought of a warming yet healthily wicked, quickly-made pick-me-up. Besides, Lucie needed energy before disappearing again for a fencing practise. Enough excuses?

chocolate coffee cakes using briochette moulds

Then Julie arrived like clockwork: dump rucksack, throw off Converse – shoelaces still done – blocking the front door and stairs. “What’s for goûter, Mum? Canteen was rubbish, so I ended up …. oooooh, what’s that amazing smell?  Chocolate?”

We like plain and simple chocolate cake, or perhaps a layered chocolate cake with ganache, but we love squidgy individual chocolate cakes when they’re fast to prepare and, even better, packed with good quality chocolate (no less than 64% cacao solids) and less sugar.  Over the years we’ve surprised ourselves, as gradually we’ve become used to reducing sugar with more bittersweet tasting chocolate in recipes after some happy sampling of the likes from the wonderful pâtisseries that Paris has to offer.

chocolate coffee fondant cakes

No fancy food photo props here.  Luckily I had a couple of minutes (yes, that’s far too long for hungry teenagers!) to attempt to focus on them with my modest telephone camera!

I also make lighter chocolate moelleux (lava) cakes for dessert (see recipe HERE) with more eggs. What I love about this recipe, is that it’s easier on the butter than in most fondant cakes I’ve tried plus it has a more intense chocolate taste, with the coffee bringing it out even further.  A little goes a long way but boy, it’s packed with fatigue-fighting and stress-bashing magnesium! They’re dense: a perfect warm and rewarding teatime treat.

chocolate coffee fondant cakes with mocha glaze

Chocolate Coffee Fondant Cakes with Mocha Glaze

Adapted from part of a recipe by Jonathan Blot (one of my favourite pastry chefs, of Acide Macaron in Paris) in the 4th issue of Fou de Patisserie magazine.

Makes 6 using a non-stick silicon muffin tin or briochette mould

Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 6 + 10 minutes
Calories per serving: 221 Kcal

70g butter
100g good quality chocolate (64% cocoa solids)
1/2 tsp instant coffee granules
2 eggs
50g caster sugar
30g plain (all-purpose) flour

Chocolate & Coffee Glaze

45g chocolate
20g/20ml espresso coffee

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°fan (Gas mark 6).  Measure out the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and place over a pan of simmering water.  Add the coffee powder and stir until just melted.

2.  Take off the heat then add the sugar and beat in the eggs until mixed together.  Add the flour in one go until completely mixed.  Place the moulds on a baking tray then spoon into non-stick (I used flexipan silicone moulds – briochette shaped) moulds. If you’re using regular muffin moulds, butter them lightly before filling with batter.

3. Bake for only 6 minutes (yes, I know it’s exact but don’t cook any more than this if you prefer them squidgy).

4. Meanwhile, make the glaze: make a small cup of espresso coffee (ideally directly into a small measuring cup).  Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water.  Add the hot coffee and stir until melted then spread over each cake.

The cakes are even better eaten next day after overnight maturing.  They can last in an airtight container for up to 3 days.  You’ll see how they are dense in chocolate!

chocolate coffee fondant cakes with mocha glaze

Chocolate Coffee Fondant Cakes with Mocha glaze

Just after I made them, I noticed on Instagram that it was National Chocolate Cake Day on 27th January.  Isn’t it fun how the US celebrate treats during the year? Liz Berg had the same idea for Chocolate Cake Day, with her deliciously runny lava cakes at That Skinny Chick Can Bake. Well no wonder: they’re so quick, comforting, nourishing, easy, delicious and totally satisfying.  Next time I’ll do what I normally do and push in a square of pear in the middle of each cake before baking.  And for the perfect Valentine’s Day treat, sprinkle on golden edible lustre and top with macaron hearts!

Chocolate Coffee Fondant Cakes
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
16 mins
Total Time
31 mins
 
Adapted from part of a recipe by Jonathan Blot (one of my favourite pastry chefs, of Acide Macaron in Paris) in the 4th issue of Fou de Patisserie magazine.
Course: Dessert, teatime
Cuisine: French
Servings: 6
Calories: 221 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 70 g butter
  • 100 g good quality chocolate 64% cocoa solids
  • 1/2 tsp instant coffee granules
  • 2 eggs
  • 50 g caster sugar
  • 30 g plain all-purpose flour
Chocolate & Coffee Glaze
  • 45 g chocolate
  • 20 g/20ml espresso coffee
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°fan (Gas mark 6). Measure out the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and place over a pan of simmering water. Add the coffee powder and stir until just melted.
  2.  Take off the heat then add the sugar and beat in the eggs until mixed together. Add the flour in one go until completely mixed. Place the moulds on a baking tray then spoon into non-stick (I used flexipan silicone moulds – briochette shaped) moulds. If you’re using regular muffin moulds, butter them lightly before filling with batter.

  3. Bake for only 6 minutes (yes, I know it’s exact but don’t cook any more than this if you prefer them squidgy).
  4. Meanwhile, make the glaze: make a small cup of espresso coffee (ideally directly into a small measuring cup). Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Add the hot coffee and stir until melted then spread over each cake.
Recipe Notes

The cakes are even better eaten next day after overnight maturing.  They can last in an airtight container for up to 3 days.  You’ll see how they are dense in chocolate! 

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

 


 

A quick question: do you bake using digital scales?

I thoroughly recommend using digital scales when baking. If you’re used to ounces, it’s easy to flip the switch on scales.  If I give the equivalents in ounces in this recipe, I’m into messy-looking 3/4 oz and 2 1/4 oz etc.  Digital scales are easy to find, not expensive to snatch up and you’ll discover that your baking will have constant successful results!  See more on my post HERE.

Express Mini Christmas Puddings

I’m on a roll again.  Healthy, easy, no bake, no fuss and festively tasty.  Put these welcome words together at this time of year and you get … express mini Christmas puddings! They taste of Christmas and they’re gluten free, Vegan and Nut-free (although do check dried fruit packet ingredients just to be sure).

Unless Scrooge arrives or Antoine changes my mind, this weekend I’m looking forward to sitting en famille to watch the girls’ favourite Christmas movie, The Polar Express, and nibble on a few of these bonbons without any guilt.  Do you love that film? It just brings out the kid in us again and makes adult responsibilities drift aside for a couple of hours. We somehow become more aware of bells jingling in the distance…

mini Christmas pudding bonbons

This recipe started out as ‘snowballs’  from my Scottish Granny’s Black Book, using only oats (mainly), raisins, cocoa powder and milk then covered in  desiccated coconut.  After experimenting with Granny’s recipe, I’ve rather altered them since, alas, I found them way too sweet. I also wanted an extra Christmassy taste with the addition of more dried fruits, gingerbread spice and orange peel, especially.  For the snowball look, I just roll them in desiccated coconut, as Granny used to dip them in icing first then in coconut – but by adding a bit of orange juice and making the mixture quite wet, the coconut sticks no problem without the extra sugar.

quick and easy spicy dried fruit christmas snowballs

We started out as snowballs – look!

However, a couple of years ago, I saw the most gorgeous picture of mini Christmas puds on Pinterest, via the blog, IncludingCake. She had rolled actual Christmas pudding cake into cute little puddings and I pinned it to remind myself to make them one Christmas – so thank you, Jo, for the pudding inspiration!  However, I turned the filling around from Christmas puddings to a gluten free/vegan version that feels just as Christmassy with the flavours.

So how do we give these snowballs a make-over Christmas pudding effect?  To cover, melt white chocolate or make up a quick icing of icing/powdered sugar with a little orange juice – or why not a boozy splash of Grand Marnier, just to be naughty (but for adults only.)?

express mini christmas puddings

Express Mini Christmas Puddings

This recipe is inspired by Granny’s recipe in her Black Book and so I’m sure it came from a magazine, the Sunday Post newspaper or the Jimmy Young radio show back in the 70s.  If you’re watching over, sorry for altering it so much, Agnes, but I know you would have loved them! The oats, raisins and coconut are still in there, though, plus a much reduced sugar quantity.

MAKES APPROX 25

Preparation Time: 30 minutes

50g raisins
40g dried apricots, finely chopped
40g dates, finely chopped
5 tbsps orange juice
60g (+ 40g for snowballs) desiccated/shredded coconut
60g caster sugar
40g oats
40g candied orange peel, finely chopped (or the grated rind of an untreated orange)
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
50g coconut oil
2 tsps gingerbread/pumpkin spice

For puddings, to cover:

50g white chocolate
approx 25 dried cranberries (or glacé cherries)
green marzipan (optional)

1. Place all the above ingredients in a large bowl and mix together with a spoon until all the flavours are well blended.  If the coconut oil is solid, melt very gently for just a few seconds in the microwave.

Mixing spiced dried fruits to make Christmas pudding bonbons

2.  Form little balls by rolling a couple of teaspoons of the mixture at a time in the palm of your hands (you could say this is a handy recipe!).  Set aside on a plate or baking sheet and place in the fridge for a few minutes.

3.  To cover, either melt 50g good quality white chocolate in the microwave (or in a bowl over a pan of simmering water – bain marie) or make up some classic icing by mixing icing/confectioner’s sugar with a teaspoon of orange juice (or Grand Marnier for the adults).  Dribble this on the top to form the sauce effect and top with a dried cranberry (craisin) or bit of glacé cherry and green marzipan, cut to shape.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.  Best eaten at room temperature with your favourite cup of tea at teatime or festive sparkly.

express mini Christmas puddings

Express mini Christmas puddings

Wait a minute.  Please stop what you’re doing, just for a few moments.

Don’t make a sound. Just listen. Do you hear them? Sleigh bells jingling faintly in the distance.

I’m off now. Back to some responsibilities, like setting up the crèche to really get in to the Christmas spirit and remind the children what Christmas is really about.

Before I go, I’m absolutely thrilled and honoured to be featured with such impressive company in the Huffington Post’s 2014 Best Cookbook Gifts for Cooks and Food Lovers on Your List.  Thank you for adding Mad About Macarons to the list, Jamie Schler. What a lovely sweet ending to the year!

Good luck and have fun with all of your Christmas and holiday planning!