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French Apple Crumble Cake

How on earth could a simple apple crumble take me so long to find the correct name to fit this recipe? I’ve called this a French Apple Crumble Cake, yet it’s without the cake bit.

French Apple Crumble Cake

French Apple Dessert Inspiration

With an abundance of French apples this Autumn, I wanted a classic yet healthy apple dessert.
This recipe “Le Gâteau aux Petits Lu®” of Danièle Thompson caught my eye in Philippe Conticini and Pascal Frey’s compilation of nostalgic desserts by French celebrities in “Souvenirs Gourmands” (bought at their book launch in 2015 at the Pâtisserie des Rêves in Paris).

Danièle’s gâteau is genius. It’s basically a crumble with unsugared, lightly spiced apples. It’s given le French Touch by layering apple compote with a biscuit crumble in a rectangle or ring and left to chill in cake shape for 24 hours.

C’est tout.

Oat and almond toasted crumble

Well not quite.

Instead of using ready-made commercial biscuits, I made my own favourite Scottish oat crumble topping. So, does this make it an ‘Apple Crisp’, as it contains brown sugar and oats? Hmm. I’ve added ground almonds too.

Oat & Nut Crumble

This isn’t anything astounding, though, is it? As a Scot, it’s understandable we like adding porridge oats to  crumble toppings – as you can see from this simple apple oat crumble dessert. Moreover, the (optional) nutty addition of almonds adds more texture and flavour. Pudding proof is adding ground hazelnuts in this wicked chocolate hazelnut pear crumble.

Gingerbread spiced apple lemon compote

Naturally Sweet Apple Compote

The compote could be made purely with a sticky vanilla pod or bean but I love Danièle’s addition of pain d’épice/gingerbread spice. In this case, I had the French gingerbread spices to hand (cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, star anise) and so infused them into the bubbling lemon juice and apples.

So, what do I love most about this French Apple Crumble Cake? The choice of naturally sweet apples (Golden Delicious and Pink Lady) means there’s no need to add any sugar to the fruit. The result is sweet enough and it’s healthy too!

layering oat crumble with spiced apple compote

French Apple Crumble ‘Cake’

This isn’t really a French ‘cake’. Unlike apple crumble cakes on the web, this is rather more of a cake look-a-like.  In France, a “cake” is a transportable rectangular cake made with flour and it’s designed to rise (e.g. Banana Chocolate Marble Cake).

Instead, this French Apple Crumble Cake just rises to the occasion for teatime, dessert – or even breakfast or brunch and let’s even add it to the Thanksgiving table. It’s really a French gâteau but translated into English sounds awfully complicated. So I’m sticking with cake! Without the cake. Jings, now I’m making it sound complicated – but it’s just the delicious subtleties of the language.

French Apple Crumble Cake

Can I replace the Apples with other Fruits?

Keep it simple. Stick with apples rather than alternating with other fruits, as the compote should stay compact and avoid being too liquid.  Replace an apple with a pear at most but keep it at that to enjoy this recipe at its best. Using Granny Smith apples are good but remember they’re tart and would require some sugar.  Like in Danièle’s  original recipe, use a mix of Golden Delicious (I love how the French pronounce  them as “Gaulden“) and Pink Lady, as they’re the easiest to work with and naturally sweet.

Can I make it Gluten Free or Vegan?

This recipe is relatively low in gluten but if you want to omit the flour completely to make this completely gluten free, double the amount of oats and ground almonds. To make this recipe vegan, replace the butter with your favourite non-dairy spread or melted coconut oil for the best vegan crumble topping.

Can I freeze it?

I don’t recommend freezing it as, although possible, the crumble will become not as crisp and – dare I say such a horrible word in baking? Soggy. So let’s keep it crumbly crisp and serve simply chilled. Speaking of which, I do stress that the cake needs to chill for 24 hours in order to keep its perfect shape and eaten at its best on the day.

French Apple Crumble Cake Ice Cream

How to serve French Apple Crumble Cake

This French Apple Crumble Cake is excellent served simply on its own, as the French tend to do.  However, for many of us who love that little extra luxury on the side, a drizzling of caramel au beurre salé (see my salted caramel sauce recipe) would be perfect with a dollop of good crème fraîche.
If we want to be British about it, add custard – or try this lightly spiced French chilled custard, Chai Tea Crème Anglaise. For ice cream lovers, chestnut ice cream is a perfect Autumnal or Winter treat.
Alternatively, serve with the lot if you plan to make this for a perfect, fruity Thanksgiving dessert!
JINGS – I have it!  Let’s call it Thanksgiving Apple Crumble.

More Apple Dessert Recipes:

Sticky Toffee Apple Pudding

Alsatian Apple Custard Tart

Individual Apple Rose Tatins

Classic French Tarte Tatin

Gingerbread, Apple & Salted Caramel Trifles

Cheat’s Danish Apple Cake by FabFood4All

Toffee Apple Hazelnut Cake by Tin&Thyme

Persimmon Apple Crumble with Rum Sauce by Christina’s Cucina

 

French Apple Crumble Cake

French Apple Crumble Cake Recipe

5 from 3 votes
French Apple Crumble Cake
French Apple Crumble Cake
Prep Time
25 mins
Cook Time
35 mins
Chilling Time
1 d
Total Time
1 hr
 

A chilled healthy Apple crumble style cake - served chilled with a naturally sweet and spiced apple compote sandwiched between an oat and almond crumble

Course: Brunch, Dessert, teatime
Cuisine: British, French, Scottish
Keyword: apple crisp cake, apple crumble cake,, baking with oats, healthy apple desserts
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 436 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
Crumble
  • 100 g (3.5oz) butter (room temperature)
  • 50 g (1.75oz) coconut sugar or muscovado sugar
  • 100 g (3.5oz) plain flour (all purpose)
  • 50 g (1.75oz) medium rolled oats
  • 50 g (1.75oz) ground almonds (almond flour)
Apple Compote (Gingerbread-spiced)
  • 1 kg (2lb 3oz) apples 3 Golden Delicious, 2 Pink Lady
  • 1 vanilla pod (or 1tsp vanilla powder)
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 cloves
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 1 lemon, juice only
  • 1/4 tsp fleur de sel (a pinch)
Instructions
Make the Crumble:
  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan/375°F/Gas 5

  2. Combine all the crumble ingredients an a large bowl, lightly rubbing through your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Set aside. (I often make double quantities of crumble and at this point freeze the other half for an extra speedy dessert next time!)

  3. Spread evenly on to a baking sheet covered in baking parchment or with a silicone mat. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the crumble is golden brown. Set aside to cool.

Make the Apple Compote:
  1. Peel and cut the apples into small cubes. Put all the ingredients in a saucepan, cover and heat gently for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until the apples have become soft (I love keeping a few bits still visible for texture). Set aside to cool.

Preparing the Apple Crumble Cake:
  1. Butter a 20cm cake ring or springform cake tin (or 20cm x 8cm rectangle) and place directly on the serving plate. Sprinkle half of the cooled crumble mix evenly on the bottom, then spoon all the apple compote evenly. Top with the rest of the crumble and transfer to the fridge for 24 hours. Lift off the cake ring or take off the springform tin (this is so much easier than it sounds!)

Recipe Notes

Serve chilled on its own with a dusting of icing/confectioner's sugar. Also good with warmed salted caramel sauce, chilled Chai Crème Anglaise (or at room temperature) or candied chestnut ice cream or a good old blob of crème fraîche.

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

10 Reasons to Visit Honfleur, Normandy

It doesn’t take long to discover why Honfleur is in France’s top 5 of tourist destinations. With only 2 hours’ drive from Paris, I have enjoyed much testing – and tasting – my way around Normandy’s most charming French coastal town to present at least 10 reasons to visit Honfleur. 

Ten reasons to visit Honfleur

Our most recent stay in Honfleur was for 6 days to sample as many restaurants for you, visit the local museums, walk and discover interesting landmarks, the organic market and soak up the wonderful general ambience of France’s historical and pretty port nestled on the Seine’s Estuary before it opens up to the English Channel.

10 Reasons to Visit Honfleur

So, what is there to do in Honfleur? What is Honfleur famous for? Find out in my 10 reasons to visit Honfleur and what makes it such a special, popular getaway in Normandy.

10 reasons to visit Honfleur

Honfleur’s Old Harbour (Vieux Bassin)

This is the first spectacle that hits you in Honfleur. The Vieux Bassin, or inner harbour, is the heart of the medieval town that has attracted writers, musicians, and painters over the centuries. Listen to the hypnotic bells vying with the tinkling yachts from the nearby churches and at the end of the harbour, is the 17th-century watch-tower, the Lieutenance.  It was here that Samuel de Champlain set sail from Honfleur in 1608 to colonise Canada and led to Quebec’s foundation.

Dotted with bright, colourful clinking boats and lined with bustling restaurants, seafood bars, cafés and art galleries, it’s an ever-changing mix of quietly humming weekly fishing haven to a weekend and holiday cacophany of happy tourists meandering along the port, watching the world go by while artists seated quietly behind easels squiggle their brushes to capture the varying scenes and ambience.

10 reasons to visit Honfleur

Honfleur’s Fresh Fish and Seafood

A giant pot of steaming moules (mussels) sums up the fresh seafood and fish that’s caught daily in Honfleur. We often see bikers whizz up the autoroute from Paris just for their Sunday lunch plate of oysters or mussels sold on the harbour.

10 reasons to visit Honfleur, Normandy

Old Town

The old town is what makes Honfleur so particularly charmant and so French. Its quaint narrow streets and pretty cobbled squares are crammed with half-timbered houses, juxtaposed with wooden and slate houses, many on 7 floors. Don’t forget to look up, as you may see plaques indicating famous birthplaces (Eugène Boudin, Erik Satie, Alphonse Allais…).

10 reasons to visit Honfleur

10 reasons to visit Honfleur, Normandy

Honfleur’s Beautiful Churches

St Catherine’s Church dates back to the 15th century. Constructed by local ship-builders, it’s primarily made of wood and resembles an upturned ship’s hull. St Catherine’s tower is separate across the square and houses the bells.

10 reasons to visit Honfleur

St. Leonard’s Church – With its 15th century portal, just a step inside reveals two spectacular fonts made out of natural seashells, with gigantic oyster shells crowning them (my photo wasn’t good enough here).

10 reasons to visit Honfleur

Notre Dame de Grace (Our Lady of Grace) – this chapel is in the heights of Honfleur and is accessible by a short, steep climb (really recommend the walk) or easily reached by car to Le Mont-Joli. I can’t recommend this highly enough – especially out of peak season to appreciate its special tranquility. Inside, boats and relics high on the ceiling and thanksgiving plaques by the Honfleurais and pilgrims can make this a rather personal experience. Every 15 minutes, the impressive external bells ring and on the hour, don’t miss the bells playing Bizet’s Carmen from l’Arlésienne.

It’s also here that the last king of the French, Louis-Philippe and his wife, Marie-Amélie, spent their last days in France before leaving for England.

10 reasons to visit Honfleur

Pont de Normandie

From the Mont-Joli next to the Chapel of Notre Dame de Grace, is a fabulous view of the River Seine’s Estuary and the Pont de Normandie – 2.14 kilometres across the Seine from Honfleur to Le Havre. Opened in 1995, the Normandy Bridge is the largest  cable-stayed bridge in the world. It’s a motorway toll bridge but for walkers and cyclists it’s free, with a footpath. Check out the monument just at this panoramic viewpoint: it glorifies Notre Dame de Grace for sparing Honfleur during the 1944 Battle of Normandy.

10 reasons to visit Honfleur

10 reasons to visit Honfleur

Honfleur’s Museums

With Honfleur being the birth-town of major artists such as Eugène Boudin (who inspired Claude Monet) and Erik Satie, it’s great to delve deeper and discover more about them and other artists and writers (Alphonse Allais) that worked here. Feel the history of the Honfleurais of its fishing, maritime world and way of life over the centuries. We purchased a reduced-priced collective ticket for the following 4 museums (except the separate salt lofts):

  • The Eugène-Boudin museum is above all devoted to art about Honfleur, daily Norman life in the 18-19th Centuries,  the estuary and showcases nearly a hundred works by Eugène Boudin – known as the painter of the sky and sea, who influenced Claude Monet – among others. I particularly loved discovering artists such as Adrien Voisard-Margerie with his painting of Toulouse-Lautrec and his model. Also featured are 20th Century artists (Dufy, Villon) who worked in the region and more recent works from Denis River, who was also born in Honfleur in 1945.
  • On entry to The Satie Houses – Erik Satie’s birthplace in 1866 – we’re told that it’s not a museum as such; instead a whimsical discovery through sound, light, images and objects to appreciate the musician and composer’s eccentric character. Via movement-sensitive audiophones (tour is also in English), listen to his life and anecdotes to the sound of the Gymnopédies, Gnossiènes or the Morceaux en forme de poire. The final theatrical show is, alas, only in French but you can appreciate the character of Satie, including one-page works that were written, for example, when he hadn’t had breakfast yet and was about to venture out from his home in Montmartre (rue Cortot).
  • Musée de la Marine is about the history of the port, housing a collection of model ships and marine artefacts on just one floor in St Stephen’s Church (the oldest church in Honfleur), on the old harbour. It is paired with the Ethnographical and Popular Arts Museum around the corner – presenting the inside of ten 16th-century Normandy dwellings.
  • Greniers de Sel (Salt Lofts) salt lofts, 17C buildings made of stone and covered with tiles. These lofts were built under the salt tax agreement to store 10,000 tons of salt needed by the cod fishing boats to preserve the fish.

10 reasons to visit Honfleur Normandy

Honfleur’s Markets

In St Catherine’s quarter, under the shadow of St Catherine’s Bell Tower, is the local farmers’ organic market on Wednesday mornings. Here you’ll regularly find an abundance of locally harvested watercress (to see how it’s grown, see my post from Veules-les-Roses, including a recipe for French watercress soup.)

The main market is on Saturday mornings, with fruits and vegetables, other Normandy local specialities such as Cider,  Calvados and cheeses (such as Pont l’Evèque, just down the road), plus plenty of fish and seafood. Head to Place Arthur Boudin for the flower market and for clothes, accessories and souvenirs, you’ll find them at the Cours des Fossés et Rue de la Ville.

Arriving in Honfleur on non-market days is not a problem, as shopping is also great for local produce to quaint antique shops. Try the Crottes de Mouettes (seagull droppings!), morsels of chocolate and caramel.

10 reasons to visit Honfleur

Honfleur’s Restaurants

Whether it’s fine dining in any of the numerous Michelin-listed addresses, enjoying a plate of oysters or mussels by the harbour, or a good quality traditional Normandy crêpe, there’s something for all budgets and tastes in Honfleur. Here is my personal list of favourites. Note that during January and February, many restaurants close for their annual holidays (I loved the humour in one window – although closed it finished off saying “sending salty iodine kisses”).

  • La Fleur de Sel – Chef Vincent Guyon sets the bar high with gastronomic dishes at great value. Ensure to book, as this small gem has already been discovered. Perhaps my favourite.
  • SaQuaNa – Chef Alexandre Bourdas shows just why he received 2 Michelin Stars. Just watch opening times, as when we were there previously, they were shut for their annual holiday. Ensure to book.
  • Le Bréard – I mention this, as it serves great food but, from our experience, the service needs work: not in speed but in politesse.  It’s up to you if you don’t mind and just concentrate on the dishes, although it’s the first time I’ve been served bread and told not to eat it yet.
  • Entre Terre et Mer – although also a super restaurant, just across the road we love their oyster bar where a simple, fresh plate of oysters or mussels are great value.
  • La Chaumière – slightly out of town, this characteristic thatched hotel-restaurant has a homely feel.  Outside eating in summer with views over to Le Havre, and cosy nooks by the roaring fire, friendly service and super menus. Great for celebrating a birthday, too.
  • Le Manoir des Impressionnistes – Also slightly out of town, this is an ideal quiet haven away from it all with good, simple yet beautifully presented food. We just found the wine list a bit pricey but the list is excellent. If you’re looking to speak English, the British owner, Brigitte, usually comes around the tables to say hello.
  • La Crêperie des Arts –  We’ve tried many crêperies in Honfleur and this one gets our top vote each time as the buckwheat galettes (savoury crêpes) are beautifully lacy thin and all fillings use fresh ingredients (alas, more establishments serve the likes of tinned fruit with the local cheesy galettes or on sweet crêpes). Great friendly service.
10 reasons to visit Honfleur

10 reasons to visit Honfleur, Normandy

2 Hours Drive from Paris

With only 2 hours drive north of Paris, Honfleur is particularly accessible. It’s pretty much a straight drive up the Autoroute (A13), passing Giverny. So, if you have time en route, visit Monet’s house and garden. However, if you’re looking to spend time between Paris and Honfleur, it’s a “straight” sail on the buckling River Seine all the way up to the Estuary. If you don’t have time to spare but want a customized trip of Normandy in a day, then Context Paris have an 8-hour tour, including Honfleur – see the Context site here for details.

Good Base for Visiting Normandy

If you’re staying in Honfleur for a few days, it’s a great base for visiting the nearby towns of Étretat, Deauville, Cabourg, Veules-les-Roses (check out the summer sea festival), and Le Mont Saint-Michel. It’s also great for discovering the nearby Cidre and Calvados farms, as well as cheese in nearby Pont l’Evèque.

10 reasons to visit Honfleur

Top Tips for Visiting Honfleur

  • If you can, do try and speak as much French as you can.  The locals appreciate visitors but, as we are in France, it’s only polite to try and speak the language. No matter how little you speak, if you show willingness to try, it helps keep the lovely Honfleurais smiling.
  • If arriving by car, try to park on the outskirts of the town using the various car parks as much as possible.  Busy periods mean busy traffic and, as many streets are one-way and pedestrian only, this will make everyone’s lives easier. Please note that the harbour is closed to traffic after 1 May.
  • For boat trips, information on timings for museums and other visits including Calvados tastings, see Honfleur’s tourist information office
  • Personally speaking, our best time to visit Honfleur is out of tourist peak season (particularly avoiding the French summer holidays in July to August), as it is less crowded. If you do make it during a tourist wave, ensure to book your restaurants and do some advance planning using the links on this post.
Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored. This was a personal trip and as we live in the Paris region, this is to share the best things to do if you’re visiting Paris and want a weekend or short getaway not too far from the Normandy coast. The only link to Context Travel above, is an affliate link at no cost to you.

10 reasons to Visit Honfleur

Poire Belle Helene – A Musical Story

I do love a story – especially when it’s about something as delicious as a poached pear sitting on good vanilla ice cream and given a warm, clinging thick coat of French chocolate sauce. Did you know that the Parisian classic dessert, Poire Belle Helene, was born when a famous chef fell in love with a  silky soprano’s voice? It’s a pair-fectly scumptious love story between music and dessert.

Poire Belle Helene

The scrumptious musical inspiration happened in Paris, 17 December 1864 at the Théâtre des Variétés on Boulevard Montmartre. The French soprano, Hortense Schneider (known as la Snédèr) was singing the title role of Helen of Troy (or Sparta) in the first performance of Jacques Offenbach’s opera bouffe, La Belle-Hélène.

Funnily enough, the soprano was originally turned down by the Théâtre des Variétés when she came to Paris from Bordeaux. It’s thanks to Offenbach who invited her to the Théâtre des Bouffes Parisiens in Passage Choiseul, which the composer founded in 1855 for the performance of his operettas and opera bouffes. From then on, Hortense Schneider became a real Parisian celebrity – even if she was renowned for being a bit of a Prima Donna.

Poire Belle Helene - French recipes with a story

Captivated by Schneider’s silky smooth voice as the beautiful Helen at that first performance, the young chef, Auguste Escoffier – who would be a mere 18 years old – dreamt up this symphony of flavours: a pear poached in vanilla syrup, served with vanilla ice cream and topped with the silkiest smooth French chocolate sauce. Could the soprano have been a bit pear-shaped?

Here was chef Escoffier’s Beautiful Helen Pear or Poire Belle Hélène. Somehow it sounds so much better in French, doesn’t it?  Like a good tune, it’s all in the mixing of simple, good ingredients.  So, please use good quality chocolate for the sauce, good fresh Pear Williams (ripe but firm; not turnips, either!) – and if you don’t use homemade ice cream, then use good quality which uses vanilla beans/pods rather than just an aroma.

Poire Belle Helene #pears #dessertlove #parisian

As you can see from some of the photos, the chocolate sauce thickened as it became cool in taking these pictures. If you prefer your sauce to be more liquid, then add just a little more cream before reheating.

Poire Belle Helene #dessertstory #pears #chocolatedesserts

Normally the Pear Belle Helene dessert is garnished with grilled flaked almonds but, as I adore chocolate and hazelnuts together, toasted broken hazelnuts add a cracking crescendo to a delicious finale.  A chocolate hazelnut macaron adds a fabulous Encore (recipe in Mad About Macarons)

Pear Belle Helene Recipe

Poire Belle Helene – the Recipe

Poire Belle Helene Dessert
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
40 mins
Total Time
1 hr
 

The Classic Parisian dessert of a poached pear, vanilla ice cream and thick French chocolate sauce was invented by legendary chef, Auguste Escoffier, after hearing the French soprano, Hortense Schneider, sing the title role in Offenbach's Belle-Hélène in Paris, 1864.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: French
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 238 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 250 g (9oz) sugar
  • 500 ml (18fl oz) water
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla powder (optional)
  • 6 pears (Williams, ripe but firm) peeled, stalk and core left intact
  • 1 litre tub vanilla ice cream
  • 40 g (1.5oz) broken hazelnuts, grilled (for garnish)
Chocolate Sauce
  • 100 ml (3.5 fl oz) double cream (Crème fleurette 30% fat)
  • 50 ml (2fl oz) full cream milk
  • 125 g (4.5oz) dark chocolate bittersweet (at least 64%)
Instructions
  1. In a large saucepan, boil the water and sugar to form a syrup. Add the vanilla powder, if using.

  2. Peel the pears, leaving the stalk and the core intact. Ensure the pears are covered by the syrup by placing parchment paper on top and cover with a lid.  Poach in the syrup for about 30 minutes until tender.

  3. Remove the pears from the syrup and finely cut the ends off so that each pear can stand up right without falling over. Chill in the fridge until needed.

Chocolate Sauce:
  1. Heat together the cream and milk over a medium heat until nearly boiling. Break the chocolate into a bowl, pour over the hot cream and stir until the chocolate sauce is smooth.

Assembly:
  1. In each serving dish, serve 2 scoops of ice cream, top with a pear and pour over the sauce.  Garnish with grilled or toasted hazelnuts and serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

Serve with chocolate or chocolate-hazelnut macarons or with chocolate hazelnut cookies.

Nutritional Information: 238 calories per serving; 4g protein; 12g fat; 29g carbohydrates.

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

Poire Belle Helene Hazelnuts #dessertstory #dessertrecipes #chocolatepear

To bring out the tasty crunch of the toasted hazelnuts, serve with Hazelnut and Chocolate Chip Cookies – another perfect duet that sings along with Hortense’s interpretation of Offenbach and a Poire Belle Helene dessert!

Poire Belle Helene #dessertstory #Parisian

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Poire Belle Helene #dessertstory #chocolatedessert #dessertrecipes

Poire Belle Helene – a Parisian Recipe with a Story

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.

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

Pin me for later! Caramelised Pineapple Rice Pudding

 

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Chicken Prune Tagine – Spicy Comfort Food

A Tagine is, broadly speaking, the French’s answer to the British’s favourite curry. When looking for a bit of comforting spice and the warming exotic, as the British go Indian, the French go Moroccan. As we’re a British-French family we love both – but during the winter, one of our favourite slow-cooked casseroles is this Chicken Prune Tagine, as it’s lighter than it looks.

chicken prune tagine

When I first arrived in Paris in 1992, Indian curry houses were rare; on the other hand, Moroccan Couscous restaurants were – and still are – extremely popular. What I love about tagines (or tajines, named after the dish they’re traditionally cooked in) is that they’re healthy, too. No need for a heavy dessert afterwards, either. The best dessert following this? Sliced juicy table oranges, with a hint of orange blossom water and more grilled almonds, if you have any left – and what about a orange and prune macaron?

This has been my go-to splashed and tattered recipe for years, adapted from a magazine cut-out (with my added notes like ‘More garlic!’, ‘add saffron’ and ‘fresh coriander a must’). Even French/Spanish family that live in Morocco approved this recipe, which is the ultimate compliment. Ideally it’s cooked in a tagine dish but is just as good in a good, heavy crock pot.

turkey prune tagine

This recipe started out as a lamb tagine but gradually, as the family have been eating meat less and enjoying more poultry, we’ve replaced it with something a bit more ‘meaty’ than chicken – even although chicken is super for this recipe. Traditionally, chicken tagine is usually made with olives and citron confit or preserved lemon (I love that too – recipe to come!). As it can be a bit acidic, the kids prefer this moreish chicken prune tagine version.

Meaty Poultry: Oyster (fowl) – Perfect for Chicken Prune Tagine

So what’s the special poultry meat that can fool us into thinking that it looks like lamb yet tastes slightly lighter? We find it at many local boucheries or at the local market: known as Sot l’y laisse or huîtres de poulet. They are Oyster Fowl – two oyster-sized rounds of darker poultry meat, found near the thighs.

sot l'y laisse or oyster fowl

They’re rather large – so large that, by rule of thumb, we usually have 3 per person and they can be each cut into 3.  They resemble pig’s cheeks (joues de porc), another interesting ingredient for spicy dishes. Please remind me later if you’re interested, as I have another recipe I often make yet haven’t posted. It’s dynamite.

What do they have in common? They’re so much cheaper and just as tender as lamb in a slow-cooked casserole.

Turkey prune tagine

Serve this Chicken Prune Tagine with medium sized semolina (couscous). According to packet instructions for semolina, use about 100g (3.5oz) per person with the same amount of water. Instead, for 4 portions, I’ll use 400g (14oz) of semolina, tossed in a tablespoon of olive oil, salt, pepper and 400ml of liquid: water topped with a tablespoon of Moroccan orange blossom water and mixed with a handful of golden sultanas, then heat.

Did you spot the macaron? It’s one of my savoury macarons from Mad About Macarons which uses mainly cumin and is ideal for serving before or during a fun spicy evening. It’s a taste sensation that tickles the senses: pop in a mini mac and hit the cayenne spice then the second that follows, the (reduced) sugar in the macaron shells put out the fire. Taste it and see!

turkey prune tagine macarons

Chicken Prune Tagine Recipe

Chicken Prune Tagine
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
1 hr 40 mins
Total Time
2 hrs
 

A lightly spiced chicken tagine with prunes, served with orange blossom and sultana semolina and topped with toasted almonds and fresh coriander - perfect winter comfort food. Savoury macarons optional!

Course: Main, Main Course
Cuisine: French, Moroccan
Keyword: chicken prune tagine, couscous, spicy poultry slowcooked dish, tagine
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 473 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 1.2 kg (2lb 12oz) chicken breasts or whole chicken cut into 12 pieces (or oyster fowl)
  • 5 tbsp plain flour (for coating the chicken)
  • olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic peeled & grated
  • 4 cm piece fresh ginger grated
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or more if you like it hot!)
  • 2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp 4-spices powder (cloves, cinnamon, ginger, pepper)
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 600 ml (1 pint) chicken stock
  • sprig fresh thyme
  • 3 tomatoes chopped
  • 24 juicy prunes (ideally with stones for flavour)
  • Pinch saffron ground or strands (optional)
  • 25 g (1oz) almond slivers toasted under grill, for garnish
  • fresh coriander for garnish
Instructions
  1. Coat the chicken in flour and fry in olive oil in a large non-stick casserole dish. When browned on all sides, strain and remove from the pot. Keep aside on a plate. Add the grated garlic, ginger and cayenne, frying for a minute. Add the rest of the spices and fry for a further minute.

  2. Add the chicken back to the pot with the chicken stock and thyme Cover and cook on low heat for at least an hour. 

  3. Add the tomatoes, prunes and saffron, if using. Cook for a further 30 minutes. Prepare the semolina, as per packet instructions and serve with toasted almond slivers and lots of fresh coriander.

Recipe Notes

Serve with semolina (100g per person/100ml water including a tbsp orange blossom water, a tbsp olive oil for 6, pepper, salt, olive oil), prepare as of packet instructions and add a knob of butter when reheating.

The tagine can be made the day before and reheated before serving. Also freezes well. I suggest making the first part without the prunes. Cool, chill & freeze then after defrosting, reheat adding the prunes and continue the rest of the recipe.

Serve with a Moroccan red wine (we love 'Tandem', a syrah fruity/peppery red made as a joint effort by Alain Graillot and Ouled Thaleb winery near Casablanca).

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

 

chicken-prune-tagine-couscous

Thanks so much for sharing, pinning or commenting below – it means the world to hear that you’ve either made/enjoyed this Chicken Prune Tagine or even popped in just to say bonjour.

I forgot to tell you one of our other favourite winter warming slow-cooked casseroles: it’s this classic French Blanquette de Veau.

turkey prune tagine

Cumin and have a spicy winter warmer with a wee savoury macaron!

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Cranachan Parfait – An Iced Scottish Dessert

Cranachan is the name of a classic Scottish dessert. It’s so easy to put together and is made with simple ingredients: cream, honey, oatmeal and Whisky and layered with fresh Scottish raspberries. Here I’ve revisited the Scottish dessert with a French twist by turning it into a Cranachan Parfait.

Cranachan parfait

The Cranachan parfaits are soft honeycomb ice creams (no-churn) with a touch of Malt Whisky, topped with an oat praline crumble and served on a disk of Scottish shortbread then topped with raspberries.

The Scottish Cranachan dessert was originally served to celebrate the summer harvest festival. No matter how much people say their raspberries are better, there’s nothing to beat fresh Scottish berries! Even the best French ones don’t match up to them, in my humble opinion.

Cranachan parfait

However, when it comes to the major Scottish celebration dinners such as Burn’s Night on 25th January and Saint Andrew’s Night on 30th November, we’re always short for fresh, seasonal raspberries.

Luckily at our local Farmers’ market yesterday, I found some delicious raspberries – from Morocco! Surprisingly, they were full of flavour but as I prefer to buy local and seasonal, the berries are just for show here. Without fresh berries, thinly spread some good quality raspberry jam on the shortbread rounds before placing the Cranachan parfaits on top.

Cranachan parfait recipe method

Cranachan Parfait: Developing the Recipe

For the parfaits, I took inspiration from chef, Anne-Sophie Pic, who makes a vanilla parfait by making a hot syrup and pouring it directly onto egg yolks and whisks until frothy. She then adds whipped cream and turns it into spherical moulds. Here, I replaced the syrup with runny floral honey (ideally in Scotland, use heather honey) and since I was adding Whisky to the cream, doubled the portion of egg yolks in order for it to solidify more in the freezer, even although they will still be beautifully soft.

If you prefer a stronger-in-alcohol Scottish dessert, then try this non-churn Drambuie ice cream, delicious with chocolate ginger fondant cake!

Although made the night before, the parfaits can keep in the freezer for up to 10 days, so it’s parfait to prepare this dessert in advance.

cranachan-parfait-recipe

Making oat praline and shortbread rounds

I’ll post a separate recipe for Shortbread later – as my Granny’s Black Book of recipes contains several! Here I’ve used one of my favourites which uses more butter and, once the Shortbread is still warm and soft out of the oven, just cut out disks the same size of moulds.

No moulds? No worries. This Cranachan Parfait recipe doesn’t have to be made using moulds. Make it easier by placing the cream into a cake tin lined with parchment paper and freeze as a whole block, cutting off slices when ready to serve.

oat praline cranachan parfait

Oat Praline Crunchy Topping

Instead of oatmeal for the traditional dessert, soaked in Whisky overnight, I’ve made a simple praline with porridge oats to add some crunch for the texture. If you love crunchy praline on desserts, try this nutty nougatine recipe.

Want to go the Full Monty? Serve with Cranachan Macarons, the recipe of which is in my first book, Mad About Macarons.

Cranachan parfait Scottish dessert

Cranachan Parfait

Cranachan Parfait
Prep Time
40 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Freezing time
2 hrs
Total Time
1 hr 10 mins
 

Cranachan Parfait, a French twist to the traditional Scottish dessert of cream, honey, Whisky, oats, served with raspberries, buttery shortbread and topped with a crunchy oat praline.

Course: Dessert, teatime
Cuisine: French, Scottish
Keyword: cranachan, honeycomb ice cream, parfait recipe, raspberry dessert, scottish desserts, Whisky desserts
Calories: 455 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
Cranachan Parfaits
  • 4 egg yolks (organic)
  • 4 tbsp runny honey (Heather honey, if possible)
  • 1 tbsp Malt Whisky
  • 350 gr (12oz) Whipping Cream (30%) Crème fleurette
Oat Praline Crumble
  • 75 g (3oz) porridge oats
  • 75 g (3oz) granulated sugar
  • 10 g (0.5oz) unsalted butter
Shortbread
  • 200 g (7oz) unsalted butter (softened)
  • 75 g (3oz) caster sugar
  • 200 g (7oz) flour (all-purpose)
  • 75 g (3oz) rice flour (or cornflour)
  • pinch salt
  • fresh raspberries to serve
Instructions
Cranachan Parfaits
  1. Chill a large bowl in the fridge for the cream. Place the egg yolks in a large bowl, heat the honey without boiling it and pour it over the yolks and beat with electric beaters (or a stand mixer) for about 10 minutes until thick and moussy. Add the Whisky and beat again until well mixed.

  2. In the chilled bowl, whisk the cream like a Crème Chantilly until soft peaks and the same consistency as the yolk-honey mixture. Gently fold the 2 mixtures together and spoon either into spherical silicone moulds (this used 10 spheres), greased muffin tins, or in a lined cake tin. Transfer to the freezer and leave overnight to set.

Oat Praline Crumble
  1. In a saucepan, heat the sugar with a few drops of water.  Just as it starts to change colour after about 5 minutes, stir using a wooden spoon until the sugar is completely dissolved and the caramel is medium golden. Add the butter and stir to mix well then pour in the oats. Stir until the oats are well covered then immediately transfer to a baking tray.

  2. Once cool, break the praline into small pieces and reserve in a jam jar.  (This can keep for about 10 days)

Shortbread
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/360°F/Gas 4.
    Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until pale and creamy (either by hand or in a stand mixer).  Gradually add the flour, rice flour and salt until the mixture comes together into a dough that's easy to work with. 

  2. Spread the mixture into a greased non-stick baking tin and thinly even it out using a palette knife. Alternatively roll the dough out with a rolling-pin until about 1cm thick and bake in the oven for about 25 minutes until golden brown. 

  3. When the mixture is still soft and warm, cut out disks with a cookie cutter (the same size as the moulds). Leave to cool on a wire tray.

To Serve
  1. When ready to serve, place the shortbread disk on each plate (spread each with raspberry jam if no fresh raspberries), turn out the frozen parfaits at the last minute and place on top.  Sprinkle with the oat praline and, if using, serve with fresh raspberries.

Recipe Notes

This recipe can be made even easier without the moulds or shortbread. Simply freeze the honey and Whisky cream in a lined cake tin overnight and slice before serving. Serve with the oat praline and a glass of single Malt Whisky.

Store the egg whites in the fridge for 3-4 days and make macarons or financiers with them (recipes in my books). Otherwise freeze the whites until later!

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

If you would like to try the classic, more traditional recipes for Cranachan, see my Scottish friends’ recipes, from both Christina’s Cucina and Janice’s Farmhouse Kitchen version, based on a Whisky Mac.

Cranachan parfait

Cranachan Parfait, a French twist to the Classic Scottish dessert

If you prefer to make this a gluten-free dessert then replace the shortbread with a giant pink macaron. There’s a whole chapter about giant macaron desserts, also in my book, Mad About Macarons!

Enjoy this for any Scottish occasion, or at any time of the year and ideally serve with a good single Malt Whisky.
Incidentally, the Gaelic word for cheers translates as Health, just like the French.

Cheers, Santé, Sláinte !

 

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P.S. This is part of the egg yolk recipe database, as it uses 4 yolks.  Keep the egg whites for 3-4 days in a clean jam jar in the fridge (or freeze until ready to bake) to make macarons, financiers, tuiles or meringues from my books and le blog!