Asparagus Clafoutis with Parmesan Sauce

You heard me right: this isn’t a classic French cherry clafoutis but an ASPARAGUS CLAFOUTIS.

We are totally mad about French Clafoutis every summer. It’s such an easy custardy classic dark cherry dessert – but it’s also just as delicious made with fresh raspberries – or my latest addictive craze, a gluten free version with strawberries.

However, if you haven’t tried a savoury clafoutis yet, I urge you to try this Asparagus Clafoutis! It’s delicate and divine.

Update: See me demonstrate how to make this on my new YouTube channel here.

Asparagus Clafoutis

White Asparagus Clafoutis Recipe

You may recall I tried out this gorgeous large custardy version of a White Asparagus Clafoutis recipe inspired by chef, Eric Frechon from the Bristol in Paris. It’s served in one big dish.

White Asparagus French Clafoutis

White Asparagus French Clafoutis

Since then I’ve played around with the recipe to serve it as a starter – this time with less yolks, adding lemon (optional – but really delicious with white asparagus), and serving with a most incredible yet easy parmesan sauce.

Lemon Asparagus Clafoutis

Asparagus Clafoutis

Serve as Individual Portions for a Touch of French Elegance

I also love to serve them as INDIVIDUAL PORTIONS – it’s perfect for entertaining or wanting to show that you’ve made that little bit extra effort for a dinner party or special occasion.

This turns a simple family dish into a wowzer summery lunch or light starter.

How to prepare asparagus

Stacked as they are sold at our local market

A Perfect Light Lunch

Just before serving, dribble a little olive oil and some lemon juice over the asparagus. While the clafoutis are creamy enough on their own, you can add some lemon zest to the batter, and forget the parmesan sauce for a lighter version – great for those on a summer diet!

Lemon Asparagus Clafoutis

Green Asparagus Clafoutis with Parmesan Sauce

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

Instead, the printable recipe below is for a green asparagus clafoutis – without the lemon but served with the most silky, creamy parmesan sauce that you can mop up with a crusty baguette.

The addition of a parmesan sauce with an asparagus clafoutis just takes it to another level! It’s so good, you may decide to double the quantity!

Parisian Inspiration

This time last year, I was kindly invited to take part in a pilot run for Parisian cookery classes with Chef Philippe Excoffier in Paris’s 7th arrondissement, where I wrote up an article about the delicious experience.

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

Asparagus Clafoutis

Remove the pedoncules or spikes to make asparagus easier to digest

Asparagus with Parmesan Sauce: A Marriage in Heaven!

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

Chef Excoffier added a parmesan sauce to his soufflés and I find that this adapted version compliments the Asparagus Clafoutis so well.  Although the clafoutis are already creamy inside and light, this cheesy addition means saucing it all up with the freshest French baguette (the French even have use the verb, ‘saucer’ to wipe the end of the sauce with the bread – it’s that good!).

Asparagus Clafoutis

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

 

Asparagus Clafoutis with parmesan sauce

 

Have you made any of the recipes from le blog or fancy making this asparagus clafoutis recipe?  Please do leave a comment below or take a picture and let me know you’ve made it via Instagram and Facebook. Enjoy the recipe!

French Asparagus Clafoutis with Parmesan Sauce

5 from 12 votes
Asparagus Clafoutis Recipe
Asparagus Clafoutis with Parmesan Sauce
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
55 mins
 

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

Course: Appetizer, Brunch, Light Lunch, Starter, Supper
Cuisine: French
Keyword: asparagus recipes, french asparagus recipe, savoury clafoutis recipe
Calories: 395 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 500 g (1 lb) fresh asparagus (2 bunches)
  • 3 eggs organic
  • 2 egg yolks organic
  • 15 g (1 tbsp) all-purpose flour (or 1/2 tbsp cornflour to make this gluten-free)
  • 115 ml (4fl oz) half-fat single cream (I use 12% fat cream)
  • 55 g (2oz) matured parmesan cheese finely grated (about 2/3 cup)
  • good pinch each salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan Sauce
  • 55 g (2oz) matured parmesan cheese finely grated
  • 140 ml (5 fl oz) half-fat single cream (1/4 pint)
  • good pinch each ground nutmeg, salt & pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/360°F/160°C fan/Gas 4.  Prepare 4 ramekin oven dishes (or 6 muffin moulds) by greasing them well with softened butter. 
    Snap the asparagus spears about 1/4 off the bottom, where they break naturally. Peel or scrape them as close as possible to the spear heads then cut the spears into 3.

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

  3. Cook the asparagus for 3 minutes (no more than 4 minutes if they're more chunky). Remove with a slotted spoon and immediately transfer to the cold water to stop the cooking process.

  4. Prepare the clafoutis batter: beat the eggs, yolks, grated parmesan, flour and season with salt and pepper.

  5. Drain the asparagus, setting aside a spear top per person for the decor and one spear top each for the clafoutis. Place the rest of the asparagus in a food processor and mix to a purée with some of the batter.

  6. Stir in the puréed asparagus to the rest of the batter. Pour into the individual buttered ramekin dishes/muffin moulds, placing a spear top in each. Alternatively, pour into one buttered ovenproof dish, throwing in the rest of the spears. Bake in the oven for about 25-30 minutes (35 mins for a large clafoutis).

  7. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 10-15 minutes, then using a sharp knife, release the clafoutis from around the edges and place directly on the serving plates.

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

Recipe Notes

Decorate with an asparagus spear, a basil top or edible flowers.  Also delicious with smoked salmon. Serve with a crusty French baguette.

I used 4 ramekin dishes but regular muffin moulds also work well, including briochette silicone moulds (makes 6 generous portions).

Wine Suggestions: Serve with a fruity white wine - such as a Voignier (Condrieu a real treat!), a dry Muscat or Riesling from Alsace, or Chenin from the Loire (Savennières).

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

French Asparagus Clafoutis

Palets Bretons: French Salted Butter Biscuits

Put just a few good quality basic ingredients together – salted butter, sugar, egg yolks, flour and baking powder – and what do you get? Irresistible Palets Bretons, the popular French salted butter biscuit or cookie from Brittany.

Palets Bretons

This recipe was originally published 10 April 2016. As it’s one of the most popular recipes on Mad About Macarons’ website, I have updated it to include a better, printable recipe card. I have also added ideas for toppings – let’s dress them up to celebrate Spring with teatime at home. 

See the video

click HERE

 

Palets Bretons Recipe

Homemade Palet Breton Recipe

These delicious sweet-yet-salty butter biscuits (cookies) may not be found easily in patisseries in and around Paris these days – but I guarantee you’ll find them lining the aisles of sweet munchies in French supermarkets. But let me warn you: once you make them, you’ll not want to buy the regular brands again.

You will, however, find them disguised in French patisseries.

Palets Bretons French Butter Biscuits

Pastry chefs often use Palets Bretons as a base for individual creamy strawberry cakes, topped with chocolate or crunchy nougat, for example.

Palets Bretons Chocolate Easter Eggs

Chocolate toppings are the best during Easter – think of all the possibilities you could make!

If you’ve made them already, please do leave me a comment below and tell me how you like them – plain or decadent for a tea party.

Palets Bretons Recipe

Sablés and Palets Bretons: What’s the Difference?

Very like Sablés Bretons, Palets Bretons (meaning “Breton disks”) are much thicker, airy and lightly crispy.

Sablés Bretons are thinner and are a shiny salted biscuit/cookie resembling shortbread. Sablé means sand in French, referring to the crumb-like texture of the dough.

What Butter is Best to Use for Palets Bretons?

Perfect with an afternoon cup of tea, the best part is that Palets Bretons are not that sweet since they contain a large amount (about 20%) of the famous Breton salted butter from the North coast of France. This is what makes them compulsive eating!

Ideally, use good quality salted butter from Brittany for this recipe but – as this isn’t always easy to find outside of France – use unsalted butter and add good quality salt from Brittany such as fleur de sel from the Guérande, so that the resulting taste is more authentic.

Palets Bretons Chocolate Easter

How to Serve Palets Bretons?

I know you may be tempted to add vanilla, cinnamon, or lemon zest – but there’s nothing to beat enjoying Palets Bretons plain to enjoy their irresistible, salty and buttery addictiveness.

Somehow, the word ‘plain’ doesn’t do them justice! Taste them for yourself and tell me in the comments below how you prefer them.

Ideas for Palets Bretons Biscuit Toppings

This is also a handy French recipe to have up your sleeve as it serves as a base for many chic yet easy desserts like cheesecake, mousse or even if it’s just a topping of pastry cream and fresh strawberries.

  • Here I piped on some pistachio pastry cream, taken from my recipe book, Teatime in Paris. Many of the cream variations are good: e.g. coffee, hazelnut and chocolate;
  • A blob of chocolate ganache (or chocolate spread if you don’t have time) would also be perfect with the salt and sweet – especially for Easter: stick on some mini Easter eggs, edible flowers, raspberries – let your imagination go mad;
  • As this is part of the egg yolk recipe collection, USE UP THE EGG WHITES to make this Chocolate Passion Fruit Mousse (and macarons, of course!)?
  • Top with crunchy nougatine – I saw a Parisian pastry shop carry this in their window – great idea, as the salty biscuit goes heavenly with the nuts.  Get the easiest French nougatine recipe here;
  • A simple dollop of Chantilly cream or even crème frâiche with a strawberry on top will be simply and utterly delicious.

Palets Bretons French Biscuits

How to make Palets Bretons: roll the dough into a sausage, chill, then press into unbuttered muffin moulds

How to Make Palets Bretons – or French Salted Butter Biscuits

Many French chefs tell you to roll out the dough between two baking sheets, cut out circles using cookie cutters and bake them directly in pastry rings. As I’m making them at home and don’t have that many pastry rings (who does?), I find it so much quicker and easier to roll out the dough into a sausage shape and bake them in muffin moulds.

This recipe makes enough for about 10 large Palets Breton biscuits using regular muffin moulds (at 156 calories per large biscuit). I love making these mini versions (using mini muffin moulds) but if you prefer the bigger version, then just double the recipe quantity below -the dough also freezes well up to a month in its sausage shape. Defrost in the fridge before use and cut to size for the rest of the recipe.

Egg Yolk Recipe

For those of you who love to make macarons, macaron trifles, meringues, financier cakes, tuiles, etc. you need just egg whites. This recipe uses 2 egg yolks (or 4 yolks if you make a bigger batch of larger biscuits), so is ideal to make if you’re planning to make any of them later.

Don’t forget that there’s an egg yolk recipe database for you on the website, searchable by number of egg yolks!

Palets Bretons French Butter Biscuits

Best Buttery French Teacakes & Biscuits

Love buttery French teacakes and biscuits like these Palets Bretons? Enjoy similar, quick and easy French teatime recipes in the first chapter of my second book, Teatime in Paris!
You’ll find Financier teacakes (including gluten-free chocolate hazelnut), chocolate-filled Tigrés, Madeleines, Diamond biscuits, almond Tuiles, Canelés, Coconut macaroons … and that’s just part of the FIRST chapter, out of 6 main French pastry types.

 

5 from 7 votes
Palets Bretons - Salted French Butter Biscuits from Brittany
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
35 mins
 

Easy French recipe for the best buttery, salted cookies using just 6 easy-to-find ingredients and ideas for teatime toppings

Course: Dessert, Snack, teatime
Cuisine: French
Keyword: French butter cookies, palets bretons, Salted butter biscuits,
Servings: 20 Mini biscuits
Calories: 78 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 90 g (3oz) butter (unsalted)* at room temperature
  • 75 g (2.5oz) sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt (fleur de sel) omit if using good quality French salted butter
  • 2 egg yolks organic
  • 125 g (4oz) Plain flour (all-purpose)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
Instructions
  1. Using a mixer, beat together the softened butter, sugar and salt until light and creamy.  Mix in the egg yolks then the flour and baking powder until a lovely soft dough forms. (If you don’t have a mixer or electric whisk, this can be done by hand in a large bowl).

  2. Using the palm of your hands, roll the dough back and forward to create a sausage shape until the diameter is the size of your moulds (here I used mini muffin silicone moulds @5cm diameter). Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 180°C/360°F/160°C fan (gas mark 4)

  4. Cut disks of 1.5cm (3/4 inch) and press them into the muffin moulds (unbuttered – there’s enough butter in the biscuits!)

  5. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

  6. Leave to cool in the moulds then turn them out on to a baking rack.

Recipe Notes

* As finding good quality salted butter from Brittany is difficult to find outside of France, I make this recipe using unsalted butter and add good quality 'fleur de sel' from the Guérande.

Delicious on their own with a cup of tea (such as Jasmine green tea or Ceylon).
They’re also ideal as a base for easy French individual desserts. For example, top with Chantilly cream, chocolate ganache, chocolate mousse, lemon curd, or French pastry cream and strawberries.

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

Palets Bretons French Butter Biscuits

French Chocolate Passion Mousse with 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 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.

Chocolate Passion Fruit Mousse

The result?

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.

Excited in the French Kitchen – Be Warned!

Just don’t tell the French. 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 apparently told a few friends and – even worse – Antoine’s family that I was excitée to see (rather ‘had the hots’ for) all 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.

I’ve also had many hot flushes for macarons too. I still can’t help becoming excited.  It’s when these macaron feet form in the oven.

French chocolate passion mousse

Who took the spoon?

Just saying, “Ça m’excite” is even worse – and I know I’m not alone on that one.  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.

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

Join me here on Pinterest!

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 organic eggs)
  • 30 g (1oz) caster sugar
  • 2 passion fruits juice sieved off, seeds removed
  • 1 egg yolk
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 then the egg yolk 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.  Serve with chocolate or exotic fruit macarons (see recipes in either of my books), 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.

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

 

Dubarry Cauliflower Cream Soup

We’re going savoury today with the creamiest, crème de la crème of French soups.
Known as Crème Dubarry or Velouté du Barry, Dubarry Cauliflower Cream Soup is a simple French gourmet classic. For a soup, it also has a deliciously hot royal romance behind it, which simmered away between Versailles and Paris in the 18th century.

Dubarry Cauliflower Cream Soup

What is Dubarry – or Du Barry in French Cuisine?

Turning to my French Larousse dictionary, anything called ‘Du Barry‘ in French cooking contains cauliflower – from a simple salad to the most famous Crème Dubarry, often served on winter menus in chic Parisian restaurants.

Why Dubarry? It’s a smooth, rich cauliflower cream soup or silky velouté that gets its name from the Comtesse du Barrywho adored the humble winter chou-fleur.

Trust the French to bring cauliflower and a hungry royal love affair together!

Comtesse Du Barry

Who was the Comtesse du Barry?

The Comtesse du Barry was the last mistress and favourite of King Louis XV. (Not to be confused with the chain of French boutiques, Comtesse du Barry, known in and around Paris for its gourmet tinned meals for those who would rather have foie gras or truffles on toast than baked beans.)

The Countess was renowned for her beauty, her blond curls, her blue eyes, her love for luxury – and her way of wrapping her little finger around aristocratic, influential men.

Antoine and I were intrigued to visit part of the residence given to her by Louis XV, where she stayed in Louveciennes in Les Yvelines, just 10km west of Paris. Alas, the domaine is now private and not open to the public – but once a year for just a couple of hours, guided visits are arranged in May by the Office de Tourisme de Boucles de Seine.  As photos were not permitted inside the residence, my photos are restricted to the lush grounds.

Louveciennes was host to painters such as Madame Vigée Le Brun (who painted 3 portraits of Madame du Barry) and the Impressionists. Camille Pissaro also later lived here and Sisley painted many landscapes, which shows not that much has changed outside her residence.

It’s another lovely walk in the area, as part of the 4 Impressionist Walks by the Seine (see my post on the Renoir walk from Chatou to Carrières-sur-Seine).

Outside Madame du Barry’s residence was the enormous pipe – still camouflaged today – in the lush countryside.

Apparently the noise of the water from the pipes was rather distressing for Madame; it transported water to the Versailles fountains from the Seine river via the Machine du Marly, an extremely incredible feat of engineering to cope with Louis XIV’s luxurious tastes for the palace.

Madame du Barry to Countess

The Countess wasn’t always a countess. Raised as Jeanne Bécu in a convent (since her mother had a dangerous liaison with a Franciscan monk), she then worked her way up from hairdresser to haberdashery in Paris. It was the wealthy, influential casino owner, Jean-Baptiste du Barry that changed her direction as Mademoiselle.

Jeanne became his mistress, and became mistress to others too in royal circles – right up to Louis XV. One problem: she wasn’t appreciated as being a non-aristocrat in French society and the king couldn’t see her unless she had a title. The King solved this by ensuring her marriage to Du Barry’s brother, the Count Guillaume du Barry in 1768, giving her title of Countess – even if she was and is still referred to as Madame.

After King Louis XV’s death in 1774, Madame du Barry wasn’t permitted to stay in the court (Queen Marie-Antoinette thought of her as rather common – read vulgar) and so she stayed here, continuing to lavishly entertain in her particularly impressive oak-panelled dining room.

Countess Amorous Royal Chocolate Drinks

It was apparently under this enormous tilleul or lime tree that the elderly King Louis XV and young Madame du Barry would sip chocolat together in Louveciennes, not far from Versailles. Although the luxury of chocolate (as a drink) was brought to the French court via Louis XIII then Louis XIV, it was Louis XV that was reputed to have loved chocolate the most.

Considered an aphrodisiac drink, the king prepared his own love potion chocolate drink in his appartments in Versailles, adding an egg yolk to his chocolate recipe to ensure its extra velvety, rich texture – see the recipe here, via Versailles Palace.

Dubarry French Cauliflower Cream

Dubarry Cream of Cauliflower

Keeping with rich, velvety textures, Countess du Barry’s chef, Louis Signot, created a soup with Jeanne’s favourite vegetable. It was so simple yet sophisticated enough for royal approval. It’s not clear what is the original recipe but looking around in cookbooks (in vain), French gourmet dictionaries, online, and even from French recipe booklets received from our local market there are two versions of Dubarry Cauliflower Cream Soup.

One is based on milk, cream and potatoes; the other Crème Dubarry is based on a white roux (butter and flour) with added egg yolks and cream at the end of cooking. Seen as Louis XV’s chocolate potions included egg yolks, I’m guessing the King cracked for the latter version so I’m sticking with this. The vegetable market’s booklet recipe, however, used a whopping 6 egg yolks. Instead I developed the recipe as follows, as it’s silky enough without being too overwhelmingly rich to start off a meal.

How to Prepare Cauliflower Cream Soup

This is the first time I’ve made a white roux for a soup. Normally I wouldn’t add flour to soup and use a potato to thicken it instead. However, for the sake of authenticity with French recipes, let’s make that roux by adding butter, gently cooking the leeks and adding the flour to make a paste then stir in the stock and tiny cauliflower florets.

All of the bitter stalk is discarded. Small, digestible florets are used, cleaned first in a mixture of water with a dash of vinegar. Don’t forget to keep the smallest florets aside for the garniture.

Once mixed or blended using a stick blender or ‘giraffe‘ (I love how some of my French friends call it this!), create the liaison (pun totally intended!).  A mix of the egg yolks and cream are gradually blended into the soup by adding some of the soup liquid to the cream, then adding the whole lot to create that rich, velvety Dubarry cream.

Dubarry Cauliflower Cream Soup

Dubarry Cauliflower Cream Soup Garniture

The garniture for serving Dubarry Cauliflower Cream Soup is just as important as the cream itself, it appears. There are 2 simple classic garnitures: finely chopped chervil and tiny cauliflower florets (pre-cooked à l’anglaise – English-style in boiling water).

That’s it. My personal preference is not to cook the cauliflower garniture at all. Just sprinkle with the smallest of florets and the heat of the soup and the raw crudité-style cauliflower adds a magnificent crunch! I also finely grate a cauliflower floret on top of the soup too.

Seared scallops are another possibility. If you’ve seen my recipe for Curried Cauliflower soup, I got the idea of adding seared scallops when tasting wine under January hailstones in Clos Veogeot at the annual Burgundy wine festival, la fête de Saint Vincent. So add scallops if you fancy – but for royalty, the good old classic cauliflower with chervil or parsley will do!

 

Even although the Parisian gerbet macaron wasn’t yet created in Paris yet, there’s nothing stopping you from serving the Dubarry Cauliflower Cream with a mini curry macaron, is there? The recipe is in the savoury macarons chapter from my book, Mad About Macarons! I’m sure the Countess would have approved.

This has turned out to be a long post for a few wee bowls of soup – but don’t you love a delicious French love story behind it?

 

Dubarry Cauliflower Cream

Dubarry Cauliflower Cream Soup Recipe

5 from 5 votes
Dubarry French Cauliflower Cream Soup
Dubarry Cauliflower Cream Soup
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
50 mins
 

A rich, creamy French classic soup or velouté that was created for Madame du Barry, King Louis XV's last and favourite mistress, who adored cauliflower

Course: Appetizer, Light Lunch, Soup, Starter
Cuisine: French
Keyword: cauliflower cream, cauliflower soup, Crème Dubarry
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 160 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 700 g (1.5lb) organic cauliflower (prepared after stalk/leaves removed)
  • 2 leeks (white part only) sliced
  • 55 g (2oz) butter (unsalted)
  • 2 tbsp flour (all purpose)
  • 1 litre chicken stock * (stock mixed with hot water)
  • 2 egg yolks organic
  • 100 g (3.5oz) half-fat cream or crème fraîche
  • Fresh chervil or flat-leaf parsley optional, for decor
  • 1/2 tsp each of salt (fleur de sel) & freshly ground pepper
Instructions
  1. Remove the bitter stalk and leaves from the cauliflower, reserving the florets. Wash in a mixture of water with a dash of vinegar and set aside. Clean and slice the leeks.

  2. In a large, heavy pot, melt the butter then sweat the leeks in it until translucent but not brown. After 4-5 minutes, add the flour and stir together well until a smooth paste forms. Gradually whisk in the hot stock. Add the cauliflower florets, setting aside a few of the raw, smallest florets for decor. Bring to the boil.

  3. Cover, turn down the heat and leave to simmer gently for about 25 minutes.

  4. Towards the end of cooking, in a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the cream, salt and pepper. Add a ladle-full of the soup's hot liquid and whisk together. Using a hand-mixer, blitz the soup until well blended. Gradually whisk in the yolk and cream mixture until the soup is smooth. Adjust seasoning if necessary.

  5. Serve topped with tiny raw cauliflower florets, chopped fresh chervil or parsley.

Recipe Notes

*  fresh chicken stock is best for this recipe, although I cheat and buy frozen stock from our local gourmet frozen French food store, Picard.

Decorate with a few tiny reserved (raw) cauliflower florets and sprigs of fresh chervil or parsley.

Update (March 2020): Try the same recipe using broccoli - it's fabulous!

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

 

 

 

Béarnaise Sauce – Recipe & Origins Near Paris

How many times have you seen the French classic Béarnaise Sauce on a menu and thought it was perhaps too difficult to make? Well, let me show you how easy it is to whip up the real McCoy at home. It also tastes 100 times better than the jarred stuff in supermarkets!

Moreover, did you know that there’s at least another herb in it, apart from tarragon? Read on from the birthplace of the Sauce Béarnaise itself in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, just outside Paris and discover the  simple Béarn-ecessities of life!

Sauce Béarnaise

Difference Between Hollandaise & Béarnaise Sauce

In the 1800s, Chef Antonin Carême noted that in French cuisine, there were four basic sauces – each called a “Mother Sauce”. Later, Auguste Escoffier took Câreme’s rules of Haute Cuisine a step further by adding a basic fifth sauce, the Hollandaise sauce, an emulsion of egg yolks, white vinegar and wine (or lemon juice) plus melted butter.

The Hollandaise’s most famous offspring, the Béarnaise sauce, has the fragrant addition of shallots, tarragon and chervil – yet had nothing much to do with the French Province of Béarn. The Béarnaise Sauce was born in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, just west of Paris.

Béarnaise Sauce

The Origins of Béarnaise Sauce, near Paris

It took place at Le Pavillon Henri IV, a hotel in Saint-Germain-en-Laye which was built over the original spot of the Château Neuf, where Louis XIV was born in 1638 – for more on this part, see my post here.

In the 1830’s, Head Chef Jean-Louis Françoise-Collinet experimented with a shallot reduction then, taking the basic recipe for Sauce Hollandaise, replaced the lemon juice with white wine vinegar, shallots, chervil and tarragon and the Sauce Béarnaise was born. It’s the tarragon and white wine vinegar that makes that fragrantly addictive acidity that we associate with the star of sauces with serious steaks.

Why did Collinet call it Béarnaise? Inspired by the name of the hotel, Henri IV, it was the King’s previous home at the Château Neuf before it was a restaurant and he came from the province of Béarn. Shortly after, the chef also accidentally invented the soufflée potato and served both of his creations at the opening of the hotel in 1836.

Béarnaise sauce

Le Pavillon Henri IV, SaintGermain-en-Laye, the birthplace of Béarnaise Sauce

Béarnaise Sauce – Tarragon, Chervil and Parsley

Today, the hotel’s chef, Patrick Käppler, has posted the Béarnaise Sauce recipe in French, published by the Hotel Pavillon Henri IV here, without the actual quantities. As you can see, to continue the sauce’s tradition, he doesn’t just use the classic tarragon (estragon) – but also chervil (cerfeuil), another essential ingredient, and parsley (persil) too.

Following my challenge from L’Office de Tourisme in les Yvelines, this Béarnaise Sauce recipe was also cited by the novelist, Alexandre Dumas.  More known for his Three Muskateers and The Count of Monte Cristo, as a serious gourmet and cook, he also published his Grand Culinary Dictionary (only in French).  He cites using a good vinegar from Orléans, uses oil instead of butter and parsley or tarragon:

Alexandre Dumas: Le Grand Dictionnaire de Cuisine (1873), under “Sauce”,

Sauce échalote à la béarnaise.
Mettez dans une petite casserole deux cuillerées à bouche d’échalote hachée et quatre cuillerées de bon vinaigre d’Orléans ; la poser sur le feu et cuire les échalotes jusqu’à ce que le vinaigre soit réduit de moitié ; retirez alors la casserole, et quand l’appareil est à peu près refroidi, mêlez-lui quatorze jaunes d’oeufs, broyez-les à la cuiller et joignez-leur quatre cuillerées à bouche de bonne huile. Posez alors la casserole sur un feu doux ; liez la sauce en la tournant, retirez-la aussitôt qu’elle est à point, et lui incorporez encore un demi-verre d’huile, mais en l’alternant avec le jus d’un citron ; finir la sauce avec un peu d’estragon ou de persil haché et un peu de glace de viande.

Béarnaise Sauce

What Goes with Béarnaise Sauce?

Béarnaise Sauce can transform a simple grill and is the perfect accompaniment with salmon, chargrilled steaks, chicken and asparagus. If you love Eggs Benedict, you’ll know that poached eggs marry well with Hollandaise sauce – but try it with Béarnaise sauce, with its added herbs, and it is sheer luxury.

Béarnaise Sauce

Can Béarnaise Sauce Keep?

Béarnaise sauce is best when made as close as possible to serving.  Ideally, serve within an hour (no more than 2 hours max.), keeping the sauce slightly warm (not hot!) over a pan of simmering water. If the sauce gets too hot and starts to split, add a little warm water.  Frankly, I’ve not had problems with the latter, as the recipe is so easy and as long as it’s served reasonably quickly, the results are light and fluffy. The sauce also freezes well.

Sauce Béarnaise

Béarnaise Sauce Recipe

Many chefs make this straight in the pan using the same quantities in the recipe, just like Dumas describes above.  I prefer making it over a bain-marie (bowl over simmering water) and, although this method sounds more hassle, it’s actually much less easy to curdle the sauce and the result is light and sabayon or mousse-like. However, if you prefer to make the sauce in the same pan, then carefully ensure that the temperature doesn’t get too high.

 

Béarnaise Sauce
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
25 mins
 

An easy recipe for the classic French Sauce Béarnaise, inspired by the creator in the 1830s near Paris, in Saint-Germain-en-Laye.

Course: Condiments
Cuisine: French
Keyword: Bearnaise, Bearnaise history, French cuisine, French sauces, Hollandaise, Parisian cuisine
Servings: 6
Calories: 280 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 50 g (2oz) white wine vinegar
  • 90 g (3.5oz) white wine
  • 2 small shallots chopped finely
  • 3 branches fresh tarragon branches separated from finely chopped up leaves
  • 3 grinds black pepper
  • 3 egg yolks organic
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 125 g (4.5oz) unsalted butter gently melted
  • 1 tbsp fresh chervil finely chopped
  • pinch salt fleur de sel
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh parsley (flat-leaf) optional
Instructions
  1. Bring the white vinegar, wine, shallots, tarragon branches and pepper to a boil in a small saucepan. As soon as it boils, reduce the heat and leave to reduce for about 5 minutes until there's about a couple of tablespoons. Pour into another bowl and set aside to cool then filter out the shallots and herbs using a sieve.

  2. Fill the saucepan with 1/4 of water and bring to a simmer.  Place over it a large bowl with the cooled vinegar reduction, yolks and water then whisk constantly until the sabayon becomes mousse-like.

  3. After about 5 minutes, as soon as the sauce starts to thicken, take the bowl off the heat and, continuing to whisk, incorporate the warm, melted butter. Add the chopped tarragon, chervil and parsley, if using.  Season with a little salt and it's ready to serve.

Recipe Notes

If not serving straight away, keep at room temperature and return the bowl over the simmering water before ready to serve to re-heat, adding a little hot water if necessary.

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

The Béarn-ecessities of life
They’ll come to you …

Béarnaise Sauce

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Caramelised Pineapple Rice Pudding (Riz Condé)

I love a gourmet challenge – as you can tell from my latest Vegan Raspberry Macarons. However, you may recall in my latest newsletter, our regional Seine Saint Germain tourist office set me a local French culinary challenge. So here’s my first recipe, Caramelised Pineapple Rice Pudding. 

The aim is to recreate recipes of author, Alexandre Dumas (The Count of Monte Cristo, 3 Muskateers…). During some initial research, I discovered a fruity French rice pudding dessert made with pineapple or apricots and, after a twist or two to Ananas à la Condé, have come up with individual desserts to make a Dumas-style version of  French rice pudding.

Caramelised pineapple rice pudding

What is Condé Rice Pudding (Riz à la Condé)?

According to Larousse and other more recent French culinary dictionaries, Condé (or à la Condé) is a chilled entremet (old French for the modern dessert) made of rice pudding cooked in milk, presented in a savarin or crown-like mould and served with poached fruits in syrup. The classic is made either with apricots or pineapple slices soaked in Kirsch and decorated with candied fruits.

Why the name, Condé? It refers to the Prince of Condé (aka le Grand Condé), chief subordinate to King Louis XIV and occupied the family’s estate of the Château de Chantilly. The Prince of Condé allured such influental guests as MolièreRacineLa Fontaine and Bourdaloue (a French minister/preacher, who’s Parisian street, rue de la Bourdaloue, is named after him and is where the Bourdaloue Tart was invented – see my recipe here).

The Prince of Condé’s butler/chef was the legendary Vatel, renowned for committing suicide since the fish didn’t arrive on time for Louis XIV visit. Did Vatel invent this dish? Who knows, but it certainly wasn’t with pineapple. Pineapples didn’t arrive in France until 1733 under King Louis XV, when they could be grown in the Potager’s greenhouses in Versailles.

Caramelised pineapple rice pudding

Caramelised Pineapple Rice Pudding

My French Culinary Dumas Challenge

With 172 years apart, our famous novelist neighbour, Alexandre Dumas, built the Château de Monte Cristo in Port Marly and, as of 1847, held lavish parties centred around the most gastronomic of feasts with impressive wines. Towards the end of his life, Dumas wrote Le Grand Dictionnaire de Cuisine, documenting many of the classic ingredients and recipes around – all of them, no doubt, served at his castle-like demeure in les Yvelines.

My challenge is to recreate some of his recipes, although it’s not as easy as I thought.According to a few menus documented in the Chateau de Monte Cristo, he doesn’t even specify many of the desserts (entremets) but cites mainly “Seasonal Fresh Fruit” or a “Basket of Fruits”.

The pineapple was the height of luxury as so difficult to come by, and was seen more as a symbol that adorned not just Versailles but the aristocratic homes in the 19th Century. They were so expensive that it was big business – you could even RENT a pineapple to show off. As Alexandre Dumas was most lavish and proud to show off his wealth to his guests, I figure the pineapple is the perfect recipe to kick off my Dumas recipe challenge!

caramelised pineapple love hearts

How To Make Pineapple Love Hearts

Quite by accident, I cut out pineapple love-hearts for Valentines using a small corer. As the corer was a bit too small, I cut out 2 rounds, realising it turned into a heart. No pinks, no ribbons – just a heart that’s hiding secretly, drowned in the most lush pool of vanilla and rum syrup.

Caramelised pineapple rice pudding

Caramelised Pineapple Rice Pudding

Caramelised Pineapple Rice Pudding

This recipe classic is normally one large rice pudding, augmented with vanilla and egg yolks to hold its shape, placed in a large crown-like savarin mould and decorated with pineapple slices macerated in Kirsch. In order to boil off the alcohol and make this recipe family friendly, I caramelise pineapple slices in a rum syrup (it’s a variation to this whole roasted rum pineapple recipe), place individual vanilla rice puddings (in mini savarin moulds) on top of a slice of caramelised pineapple and serve with nougatine for added crunchy texture.

5 from 1 vote
Caramelised pineapple rice pudding
Caramelised Pineapple Rice Pudding
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
40 mins
Chilling Time
2 hrs
Total Time
55 mins
 

A French Rice Pudding served "à la Condé" style on top of caramelised pineapple roasted in a rum syrup and topped with passion fruit. A perfect light yet special dessert for any occasion - and a chic way of serving vanilla rice pudding!

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: French
Keyword: caramelised pineapple, chic rice pudding desserts, pineapple rice condé, rice pudding, riz à la condé
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 394 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
Caramelised Rum Pineapple
  • 1 pineapple, medium
  • 1 vanilla pod/bean (or 1 tsp vanilla powder)
  • 150 g (5.5oz) sugar
  • 125 ml (4.5oz) boiling water
  • 2 tbsp dark rum
  • 1 passion fruit (optional, to decorate)
Vanilla Rice Pudding
  • 150 g (5.5oz) round pudding rice
  • 75 g (3oz) brown cane sugar
  • 500 ml (18fl oz) full cream milk
  • 1 vanilla pod/bean (or 1tsp vanilla powder)
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 40 g (1.5oz) butter, unsalted
Instructions
For the Caramelised Pineapple
  1. Caramelise the sugar with a couple of drops of water over a low heat without stirring. Meanwhile, cut the vanilla pod down the middle and scrape out the seeds using a sharp knife (even easier, just add a tsp vanilla powder). Reserve the emptied pods, if using.

  2. As soon as the caramel turns a dark golden colour, add the boiling water and vanilla seeds. Stir using a wooden spoon and bring to the boil. Take off the heat and add the rum.

  3. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/400°F/Gas 6. Prepare the pineapple by cutting off the outer skin with a sharp knife. Remove the inside core using a corer or sharp knife. Place in a roasting tin, pour over the syrup and roast in the oven for 35 minutes (adding the scraped vanilla pod, if using) - coating the pineapple with the syrup a couple of times. Remove from the oven and cool.

For the Rice Puddings
  1. Meanwhile, while the pineapple is in the oven, weigh out the pudding rice, sugar, milk in a saucepan. Add the vanilla and stir to combine. Cook over a medium heat, half covered, stirring a couple of times during cooking.  After about 35 minutes the rice will have thickened. 

  2. Take off the heat and beat in the 3 yolks and butter.  Press the mixture into 6 individual savarin moulds (I use silicone but buttered moulds such as muffin tins will do if you don't have savarin). Leave to cool first then chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight or transfer for up to an hour in the freezer.

To Serve
  1. Place a pineapple ring in each bowl, turn out the rice puddings from the moulds and place on top. Dribble over the caramelised vanilla and rum syrup and top with some passion fruit seeds. Serve chilled and decorate with an edible flower.

Recipe Notes

Serve with Nougatine to give some added crunch for texture.

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

 

Caramelised pineapple rice pudding

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