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French Chocolate Passion Mousse with Caramel Nougatine

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

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

Chocolate Passion Fruit Mousse

The result?

French Chocolate Passion Mousse

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

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

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

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

French chocolate passion mousse

Who took the spoon?

What to say in French for Being Excited

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

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

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

For Nutty Caramel Lovers

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

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

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

French Chocolate Passion Mousse & Nougatine

French chocolate passion mousse recipe

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French chocolate passion mousse

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recipe Notes

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

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

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

 

Quick French Apple Tart with Calvados Cream

I wish I could write a blog post as quick as it takes to make this Quick French Apple Tart.  Seriously, taking photos and posting them here takes me forever. There are times I’d rather pop into the kitchen and rustle up a family treat than slave over a hot computer!

Quick French Apple Tart

Jump to Recipe

50 Shades of French Apples for Dessert

Rant over – blame a bad back, the downside of being tall and so grocery shopping has been kept to a minimum lately. The other evening, I was craving dessert. Instead, even a gorgeous assiette de fromage wasn’t going to happen: the cheese plate was beautiful, ready and waiting but we didn’t even have cheese to put on it. I fancied another apple dessert, especially after this Apple Crumble Cake, a recipe that’s perfectly easy for entertaining but needs 24 hours in the fridge to set.

With our Autumnal surroundings suggesting 50 Shades of Apples all around Paris (and chestnuts too) and dropping temperatures, we want pomme-pommes. (Chapeau to you if you can smile at that dreadful pun!)

Even our garden mole is going mad about apples – albeit for fake Granny Smiths from our garden centre.

If you haven’t yet met la taupe du jardin, she’s quite a local celebrity with the passing French kids that go to the pre-school maternelle en route. They peer over the garden wall to see the latest message, if I’ve remembered her the night before – and sometimes post on Instagram/FaceBook stories. Do you think I’m teaching her wee fans to become a teacher’s pet?

Back to this Quick French Apple Tart. The patisseries/bakeries by this time were closed, there wasn’t much in the fridge and so I had 15 minutes to prepare dessert before dinner was ready.

Does this sound familiar?

Can You Make a Quick Dessert with 2 Granny Smith Apples?

With only 2 Granny Smith apples left in the fridge and a ready-made (rolled) puff pastry (pâte feuillétée ‘pur beurre’), I found this so quick to make. Two apples are not enough for a classic Tarte Tatin and although fine for a French Apple Custard Tart, there wasn’t enough time.

Then I had this flash of preparing a quick – almost cheat – recipe based on the one I use for my Fast Fig Tart in ‘Teatime in Paris‘. Et voilà. Not exactly ground-breaking stuff: an apple tart is an apple tart, right?
However, see how far only 2 Granny Smith apples can go with thin slices?

Quick French Apple Tart Recipe

The beauty with preparing this kind of speedy tart with Granny Smiths is that by working quickly and slicing them up finely (use a sharp knife), there’s no need to pre-soak the apples in lemon juice.  They don’t have time to go brown!

Instead, I melted a little butter in the microwave, mixed it with muscovado sugar and brushed it over the apples before slamming it in the oven with some slivered almonds scattered on top to echo the thin, almond-pasted base. But that’s entirely up to you.  That thin, buttery sugar topping isn’t even necessary. Serve either warm or at room temperature with a dusting of icing sugar.

Quick French Apple Tart Dessert

French Fall Apple Tart

I saved you a slice for next day to take a better photo and this time with a dollop of Calvados Cream.

Except, I snapped mine so quickly to join the others for teatime that I knocked over the plate. Not at all the same kind of ‘accident’ like the upside-down apple tart invented by the Tatin sisters! Have you ever tried Calvados Cream with pine needles? I didn’t eat that part but I still enjoyed it as a French Fall Apple Tart!

Quick French Apple Tart

Quick French Apple Tart with Calvados Cream

5 from 10 votes
Quick French Apple Tart
Quick French Apple Tart with Calvados Cream
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
40 mins
 

A fast and easy apple dessert to prepare at the last minute with ready-made puff pastry, 2 Granny Smith apples, honey, butter, almonds and Calvados. Add the extra Calvados cream for special occasions.

Course: Breakfast, Brunch, Dessert
Cuisine: French
Keyword: apple tart
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 402 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
French Apple Tart
  • 1 packet ready-made all-butter puff pastry ready-rolled, if possible (250g)
  • 2 Granny Smith apples organic
  • 85 g (3oz) ground almonds
  • 1 tbsp runny honey (e.g. Accacia)
  • 60 g (2oz) butter softened (unsalted)
  • 1 tbsp Calvados (or Pommeau)*
  • 1 tbsp muscovado sugar or organic coconut flower sugar
  • 1 tbsp slivered almonds optional (for decor)
  • icing (confectioner's) sugar optional (for decor)
Calvados Cream
  • 140 ml (5oz) whipping cream no less than 30% fat
  • 60 ml (2oz) mascarpone cream
  • 2 tbsp Calvados (or Pommeau de Normandie)*
Instructions
For the Apple Tart:
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/180°C fan/Gas 6

  2. If the puff pastry isn't already rolled, roll out the pastry to about 5mm (1/4") thickness in either a rectangular or round shape. Place on a baking sheet covered with baking paper.

  3. Prepare the almond paste: in a bowl, stir together the ground almonds, honey, 15g of the softened butter and Calvados (or Pommeau). Spread evenly over the pastry, leaving a small space (1cm) in from the edge.

  4. Peel and core the Granny Smith apples and slice them as thinly as possible using a good, sharp knife. Quickly arrange them in rows on the pastry.

  5. Melt the remaining butter, stir in the muscovado sugar and brush on top of the apples. Scatter with slivered almonds, if using and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes.

Calvados Cream:
  1. In a chilled bowl, whisk the whipping cream with the mascarpone and add the Calvados or Pommeau towards the end, just as the cream thickens.

Recipe Notes

* Pommeau is a lighter apple wine from Normandy made with 1/3 Calvados and 2/3 non-fermented apple juice.  If you can find this easily, this is fabulous to replace Calvados.

Serve with a dollop of the Calvados or Pommeau cream - or, if you prefer ice cream, replace the Drambuie to make this no-churn Calvados or Pommeau Ice Cream.

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” (groan!).

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 I’m not a chef serving this in a restaurant so I don’t have these kind of worries at home but I hear the best way to keep Béarnaise sauce without it splitting is by keeping it in a thermos.

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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Pear Belle Helene – A Parisian 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, Pear Belle-Hélène, was born when a famous chef fell in love with a silky soprano’s voice?

It’s a pear-fectly scumptious love story between music and dessert.

Poire Belle Helene

La Belle-Hélène

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

Chef Escoffier’s Creation on Helen’s Beautiful Pear

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 creation of Helen’s ‘Beautiful Pear’ (pun totally intended!) 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

The Most Intense Chocolate Sauce

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

Hazelnuts Crack the Top Note!

Normally the Pear Belle-Hélène 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 Hazelnuts #dessertstory #dessertrecipes #chocolatepear

What Can I serve with Pear Belle-Hélène?

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-Hélène dessert!

 

Poire Belle Helene #dessertstory #Parisian

Pear Belle-Hélène: the Recipe

5 from 1 vote
Poire Belle Helene
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.

It's best to use pears that are just ripe (not over, not under). If slightly under, then allow for slightly more cooking/poaching time.

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

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

 

Poire Belle Helene #dessertstory #chocolatedessert #dessertrecipes

Poire Belle Helene – a Parisian Recipe with a Story

Raspberry Vegan Macaron Recipe (Using Aquafaba French Meringue)

Some friends of mine have been trying the Veganuary challenge but I haven’t been as brave to go the whole way – yet. It has taken me until the last day of January to even post this Raspberry Vegan Macaron Recipe but now I’m happy I have!

If you’re looking for my regular Parisian macaron recipes, you’ll find them all in both of my books (more below).

Vegan macarons

Jump to Recipe

Flexitarian is my name: I rarely eat red meat, stick to poultry and fish as much as possible – in between at least a few vegetarian weekly meals. To be a vegan means carrying on eating a deliciously crispy French baguette but cutting out all that gorgeous unpasteurised French cheese, butter, milk and organic eggs etc.

I’m simply not ready to give them up yet – even although I know I want to make the change eventually.  However, I do enjoy my healthy maple oat granola or spiced granola in the mornings with almond milk and, for vegan party food, make these energy bites in the form of dried fruit spicy snowballs and salted toffee cherry tomatoes, great with a glass of rosé. That’s it, really – for now.

So why am I making these Raspberry Vegan Macarons so late in the day? I love a challenge and besides, I want to see if I can make eggless macarons using aquafaba.

Raspberry Vegan Macaron Recipe (with Aquafaba French Meringue)

Aquafaba – it is miraculous to watch how this fancy name for the brine of tinned chickpeas or beans can go from a simple thick brown reduced liquid to a whipped up, shiny, regular-looking meringue. It looks like it’s made from egg whites but it’s easy to be fooled in the looks department: it’s entirely vegan with no eggs used!

As with my regular macaron recipes in my books using egg whites, I use the French meringue method – so no candy thermometers are needed. It’s a lot easier, producing just as good results.

raspberry vegan macarons

French meringue using Aquafaba, the brine from canned chickpeas

All was going well, just as I would be making regular gluten-free French meringue macarons by both my books. Once I’d completed the macaronnage (basically the mixing of the batter to eliminate air bubbles and produce a shiny texture) it looked ready to pipe out the shells, even if a bit thicker than I’m used to.

Piping out the vegan macarons mixture, the batter was indeed thicker and a bit grainier than for my regular macarons and, therefore, susceptible to having pointy tops (I shall refrain here from what I normally call them!). Apart from that, no problem.

raspberry vegan macarons - method

Making Vegan Macarons – Do I need to Air Them?

As for regular macarons, leave vegan macarons to sit out and air for at least 30 minutes before baking. Even using aquafaba for vegan macarons, the effect is the same: the outer layer becomes quite hard to the touch.

Once this happens, they’re ready to bake.

Raspberry vegan macarons

Oven Temperature for Making Vegan Macarons

I knew that Aquafaba doesn’t like high temperatures and for making aquafaba meringue, it prefers lower temperatures much like for normal meringues. So, I reduced the oven slightly from my usual macaron temperature to 140°C fan just to try out the first batch.

Oh-oh. A totally maca-wrong move.

raspberry vegan macarons first attempt

Rasbperry Vegan Macarons – Learning that oven temp is NOT the same as for making regular macarons!

Clearly that first batch wasn’t right!  The temperature was still FAR TOO HIGH. As with making regular macarons, I bake the trays one at a time; just as well, as at least I didn’t ruin the rest of the batter! I could easily correct it by reducing the oven temperature to 110°C fan (130°C) for the next batch.

Bingo!  It worked.  For the vegan macarons filling, I personally find it’s not that easy to find tasty vegan ideas to sandwich the shells together, as I can’t use normal chocolate ganaches or buttercream. I still need time to work on this part! The easiest to hand was homemade raspberry jam – or try it with rhubarb, hibiscus & rose jam. Another easy vegan macaron filling is classic peanut butter but that would look strange with pink.

When ready to eat next day, I sprinkled them with some freeze-dried raspberry powder for that extra raspberry flavour.

raspberry vegan macarons

Vegan Macarons – My Conclusion

At first glance, these vegan macarons look like regular macarons using egg whites. However, they’re not quite as picture perfect compared to my classic Parisian macarons. I’m happy these vegan macarons had feet and no hollows, even if they were slightly sticky – there’s still room for improvement! I feel that the most important element in French patisserie is taste before looks. So, for vegan macarons I need to work on that part first before really working on the perfectly smooth appearance.

Their taste, however, is nothing like regular macaron shells – no matter how much you hear, “Don’t worry; it will taste better in the end”. I added vanilla powder and some natural raspberry powder, just to help it along the way for flavour points. The eventual taste of the vegan macarons shell is strange, especially with raspberry: definitely sweet but there is the “weird” sensation with the aftertaste of, well, chick peas.

Although it’s good to know we can produce vegan macarons, I’m sticking to my own traditional French-meringue macarons using egg whites for now.  That’s at least until I can work on perfecting the same kind of taste we’re used to from all these wonderful classic Parisian patisseries.

Mad About Macarons – Macaron Recipe

For my classic Parisian macaron recipes, you’ll find most of them in Mad About Macarons! , along with detailed step-by-step instructions with tips on troubleshooting, decorating them, making for weddings etc. – and in the chapter devoted to macarons in my latest book, Teatime in Paris.

Don’t forget that regular Parisian macarons are made with egg whites but are gluten free.

 

raspberry vegan macarons

 

Troubleshooting Vegan Macarons

  • Like regular Parisian macarons, ensure you weigh your ingredients by the gram or ounce using a digital scale (see reasons why in my article here) and follow the recipe to the letter.  Although not difficult to make, following the recipe through exactly will achieve the right result, although the only other culprits could be your ingredients and oven, as all ovens behave differently. For this, I’d suggest an oven thermometer, just to ensure your oven is doing what it says it’s doing;
  • As with regular Parisian macarons, avoid using liquid colouring as it waters down the meringue, making it difficult to work with.  I use powdered colouring where only a quarter teaspoon, for example, is needed. For stockists, see baking chat for more information;
  • Like regular Parisian macarons, bake each tray one at a time. It’s more time consuming – and even more so for vegan macarons – but worth it as home kitchen ovens normally just don’t like dealing with it. Leaving the vegan macarons in the oven with the door open for 15 minutes at the end of baking proved to work so much better;
  • When baking vegan macarons, it’s totally different to baking regular Parisian macarons: the vegan aquafaba meringue prefers a lower oven temperature and baked (much like meringues) for longer.

 

Vegan macarons

Vegan Macaron Recipe

4.5 from 4 votes
Vegan macarons
Raspberry Vegan Macarons
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Resting time in cool oven
15 mins
Total Time
45 mins
 

Picture perfect raspberry vegan macaron recipe. Eggless macarons made with Aquafaba (brine from tinned chickpeas) French meringue and filled with lemon verbena infused raspberry jam.

Course: Dessert, teatime
Cuisine: French
Keyword: aquafaba macarons, eggless macarons, raspberry vegan macarons, vegan desserts, Vegan macarons
Servings: 18 macarons
Calories: 115 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 100 g (3.5oz) Aquafaba, chickpea brine (reduced from a 400g tin)
  • 75 g (3oz) caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 150 g (5.5oz) finely ground almonds (almond flour)
  • 150 g (5.5oz) icing/confectioner's sugar
  • pinch powdered pink colouring or beetroot colouring (optional)
Instructions
  1. Drain the brine/liquid from a 400g tin of chickpeas into a saucepan. Reduce the liquid (uncovered) on low-medium heat for about 10 minutes until reduced to about 2/3. Leave to cool then refrigerate overnight.

  2. Using a stand mixer (or with electric hand beaters), whisk the aquafaba and cream of tartare in a large bowl, adding the caster sugar gradually once it starts to foam. Continue to whisk, gradually on high speed for 10 minutes or until the aquafaba starts to form firm, glossy peaks. If using, add a good pinch of pink powdered food colouring.

  3. Sift the ground almonds and icing sugar into a large bowl, putting aside any leftover bits of almonds for decorating desserts later. Add the whipped aquafaba and, using a good flexible spatula, mix the ingredients together until combined. Beat out any air using  pastry scraper, continuing back and forward until the batter is glossy and falls off the scraper. Transfer the batter to a piping bag with a plain tip (8mm).

  4. Line 2 flat baking trays with baking parchment (I prefer this to a silicone mat, as it's easier to produce feet). Pipe out small rounds, leaving enough space between each (they will spread in the oven slightly) .

  5. Leave the trays out to air for about 30 minutes until they are quite hard to the touch. If still too soft, leave out for longer. Preheat the oven to 130°C/110°C fan/250°F/Gas 1/2.

  6. Bake each tray separately for 15 minutes. Turn the oven off and leave the tray in the oven with the door open for a further 15 minutes (this sounds cumbersome but after experimenting was the best way for this recipe). Leave to cool.

  7. For the filling: Arrange the macaron shells into pairs and marry each couple together by piping out one half with raspberry jam, top with the other shell then set aside in the fridge for 24 hours. (I heated up a quarter of a jar of raspberry jam with a few lemon verbena leaves and left the jam to cool).

Recipe Notes

Add the leftover chickpeas to this Moroccan-style spicy Chicken & Prune Tagine, for example.

For regular macaron recipes using egg whites, see the recipes in both my books, Mad About Macarons and Teatime in Paris.

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

 

Vegan macarons recipe Aquafaba

Cranachan Parfait – An Iced Scottish Dessert on Shortbread

Looking for a taste of Scotland? Cranachan, the classic Scottish dessert, is so easy to put together and is made with simple ingredients: cream, honey, oatmeal and Whisky and layered with fresh Scottish raspberries. However, here I’ve revisited the Scottish classic 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.

Can I make this Scottish Dessert without the 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 – A Chilled Scottish Dessert

5 from 5 votes
Cranachan Parfait Scottish dessert
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, farm fresh)
  • 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) rolled 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 another large bowl, heat the honey without boiling it (I put it a few seconds in the microwave) 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 fresh raspberries.

Store the egg whites in the fridge for 3-4 days and make macarons or financiers with them (recipes in my books) or these French Tuiles. 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 !

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!