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Vacherin Ice Cream Cake

The Vacherin Ice Cream Cake has to be one of the most impressive yet simplest special occasion cakes to make – it almost feels like cheating!

Trust the French to turn something we generally have stocks at home into an occasion. Take a tub of ice cream, a tub of sorbet and dress it up to party with some meringue and whipped cream. It also just happens to be gluten free.

Vacherin Ice Cream Cake Recipe

What is a French Vacherin Dessert?

Not to be confused with the round Vacherin cheese made of cow’s milk, the Vacherin dessert is also round in shape and basically composed of ice cream. I’ve seen some Vacherins on the web that are confusing, as they look more like a pavlova just with meringue, cream and fruit. A French Vacherin is an iced celebration dessert.

It couldn’t be easier: a Vacherin is made up of a layer or two of meringue, topped with vanilla ice cream then raspberry sorbet and finished off with a Chantilly cream, often laced with a little festive tipple.

An Ice Cream Birthday Cake

Vacherin Ice Cream Birthday Cake

My French father-in-law, Jean-Pierre, adores a Vacherin. Each time we have a family reunion or party of some sort – whether it’s a birthday or an excuse for a special dessert, he always orders a Vacherin Glacé from the local patisserie. It’s such a French classic, that most patisseries sell them in the freezer, opposite the counter.

So, when Jean-Pierre (‘le Toucan‘) was visiting recently, I decided to make my own homemade Vacherin to surprise him for his 80th birthday. Thankfully they arrived when they did last month, before this Covid-19 virus has taken over.

Pink Boobies

Surprise, Jean-Pierre! Except I really did create an element of surprise.

So much so, I shocked even myself by a last-minute mind-blowing idea of adding some pink colouring to the meringue.  Not exactly a great idea for a very traditional Corsican father-in-law male – but let’s just say it continued the raspberry sorbet theme? I loved how he totally ignored my pink boobies all around the cake, though. Luckily I had a few macaron shells handy to disguise them!

Vacherin French Ice Cream Dessert

Easy Dessert to Prepare in Advance

Moreover, a Vacherin is a perfect dessert made in advance.  Just prepare the day before, the morning itself – or even a few days before.

If you prefer the Chantilly cream fresh and unfrozen, then add this at the last minute and enjoy adding your own personal decorations. I added gold leaf, some pistachios and served cape gooseberries on the side, just as an excuse for some winter fruit, otherwise raspberries are great.

How to Prepare a Vacherin

A Vacherin is more about organising the presentation of ice cream than an actual recipe, to be honest. Traditionally it’s made with vanilla ice cream and raspberry sorbet, but I used nougat ice cream with extra raspberry ripple in it. Pistachio ice cream would be wonderful too.

I make my own meringue as a base but you could buy yours or even make a macaron base out of it and stick macaron shells or whole macarons all around the cake.  Just follow the macaron recipe instructions in either of my books.

Warning: If you do buy macarons from a store, ensure they have not been frozen first – otherwise do not freeze and serve at the last minute.

First take an 18cm cake ring. Trace a circle on parchment paper. Whip the meringue until stiff peaks are easy to work with a piping bag and pipe it as a spiral in the ring (no need to add colouring – keep it white!)

With the remaining meringue, pipe out little kisses. These will be stuck around the cake at the end.

While the meringue is baking in a coolish oven, use the cake ring to mould out both ice cream layers. The ice cream shouldn’t be too hard, making it easy to spread it into the ring. For this part, you will need to act fast so that the ice cream is easy to work with (still frozen, not melted!). KLxDate

Start with vanilla ice cream (or try this lemon verbena ice cream), then with raspberry sorbet. Leave each layer to harden in the freezer for 30 minutes.

Top the vanilla ice cream with the meringue base, turn upside down and top with Chantilly Cream, sticking on the meringue kisses around the sides using more cream.
NOTE: I don’t add any sugar to the Chantilly cream, as there’s enough sugar in the meringue and ice cream.

Place in the freezer until dessert! I should add that this dessert is gluten free.

Vacherin Ice Cream Dessert Macarons

 

Vacherin French Ice Cream Dessert

French Vacherin Ice Cream Cake

5 from 4 votes
Vacherin Ice Cream Cake
Prep Time
25 mins
Cook Time
1 hr
Freezing Time
1 hr
Total Time
2 hrs 25 mins
 

A French iced celebration cake that's easy to prepare in advance. Just add meringue to a layer of vanilla ice cream and raspberry sorbet and top with unsugared Chantilly cream, laced with Chambord raspberry liqueur (gluten free).

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: French
Keyword: French iced dessert, gluten free desserts, Ice cream cake, Ice Cream Dessert, Vacherin
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 396 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
Meringue
  • 3 egg whites
  • 100 g (3.5oz) sugar
  • 100 g (3.5oz) icing sugar (powdered/confectioner's sugar)
Ice Cream
  • 500 g (18oz) vanilla ice cream or other creamy, soft ice cream
  • 400 g (14oz) raspberry sorbet
Chantilly Cream
  • 300 g (10.5oz whipping cream (crème fleurette 30% fat)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla powder or few drops vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp Chambord Liqueur (or Kirsch) (optional)
Decor (optional)
  • pistachios
  • dusting of icing/confectioner's sugar
  • fresh raspberries
Instructions
Meringue
  1. Take an 18cm cake ring and trace the ring on to parchment paper as a guide for the spiral. Preheat the oven to 130°C/110°C fan/250°F/Gas 1/2

  2. Using an electric whisk (hand or stand mixer) whip up the egg whites until foaming, then gradually add a third of the normal sugar until it starts to look brilliant, then add the rest until the meringue has stiff peaks. Stop the whisk and fold in the icing sugar

  3. Transfer the meringue to a piping bag with a regular, straight tip and pipe out into a spiral on to the parchment paper. Using the rest of the meringue, either pipe out another spiral or pipe out small kisses. Bake in the oven for an hour.

Ice Cream
  1. Using ice cream that's a little soft for ease of use, place the cake ring on to a rimmed baking sheet and spread the ice cream into an even layer. Place in the freezer for 30 minutes. Then repeat the process by topping with the sorbet. Freeze for another 30 minutes.

Chantilly Cream and Preparation
  1. Whip the whipping cream for about 5 minutes until thickened. There's no need to add any sugar as there's enough sugar in the ice cream and meringue. Once whipped into peaks, add the liqueur, if using. Transfer the cream to a piping bag with a star tip.

  2. It needs quick work during this stage so that the ice cream doesn't melt. Remove the ice cream mould, placing the meringue spiral underneath. Spread a third of the cream all around the surface and stick on the meringue kisses around the sides, sticking on a little extra cream for each meringue. Finish off the rest of the cream by piping it out in a circle around the edges. Either serve immediately or freeze for at least another 30 minutes until ready to serve. Decorate as desired with pistachios, raspberries and icing sugar.

Recipe Notes

Serve with a rosé Champagne or demi-sec Champagne.

I would recommend enjoying this dessert in one go and not re-freezing this dessert if leftovers (who needs an excuse to eat the whole lot, anyway?). Ideally, make using shop-bought ice cream - although this is delicious with homemade lemon verbena ice cream.

This iced celebration dessert is gluten free.

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

Vacherin French Ice Cream Cake

 

 

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