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Chocolate Banana Marble Cake

Lucie squealed when she saw this chocolate banana marble cake peeking out from the aluminium foil in the kitchen. I squealed since that bottom layer wasn’t very marbled and the top was a bit too browned – but hey, nobody’s perfect.

Chocolate Banana Marble Cake

To see the marble effect, of course, someone had already cut a few slices before the ‘official opening’. By the opening, you’ll understand what I mean if you want to photograph a whole cake for a blog or book before it’s attacked.

Really, the girls think I’m some kind of expert French police detective but it doesn’t take much to notice when a squirrel has sneaked off with the hidden edibles in the kitchen, does it?

Chocolate Banana Marble Cake

Marble Cake

To create a marble or swirl effect like a tiger (hence its other names) divide up the batter towards the end, layer each ten make zig-zags with a fork from one end to the other – or swirl a couple of times in a figure 8 with a skewer.

Although, in this case, you could say it’s a chocolate banana cake that’s lost its marble!

Chocolate Banana Marble Cake

Normally we enjoy this for breakfast with a typical large French bowl of coffee to accompany it and take our time. However, this chocolate banana marble cake is also delicious coated in a fudgy dark chocolate glaze for teatime.

Chocolate Cake Glaze Festive Decor

If you have any chocolate macaron shells handy, then stick them on top for a soft yet almond crunch. To create an instant holiday decor, sprinkle on some edible glitter (I use edible metallic lustre powder to brush on macarons from DecoRelief in Paris – see stockists on the FAQ page) for a quick golden effect.

Chocolate Banana Marble Cake

Chocolate Banana Marble Cake

5 from 3 votes
chocolate banana marble cake
Chocolate Banana Marble Cake
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
50 mins
Total Time
1 hr 5 mins
 

A reduced sugar chocolate banana marble cake (or banana bread) perfect for breakfast or brunch, either topped with roasted banana or served at teatime with a fudgy dark chocolate ganache.

Course: Breakfast, Brunch, teatime
Cuisine: British, French
Keyword: bananabread, chocolate banana swirl, Chocolate Banana,, Chocolate Marble,, Marble Cake,
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 330 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 100 g (3.5oz) butter (unsalted) softened
  • 75 g (2.75oz) cane sugar
  • 3 eggs (organic) at room temperature
  • 170 g (6oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 (approx.225g/8oz) very ripe bananas + 1 for decor (optional)
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 100 g (3.5oz) dark chocolate chips good quality (bittersweet)
Teatime Chocolate Glaze (optional):
  • 50 g (2oz) dark (bittersweet) cooking chocolate good quality (64-74% cacao)
  • 50 g (2oz) icing (confectioner's) sugar sifted
  • 50 g (2oz) butter (unsalted)
  • 50 g (2oz) single or whipping cream at least 30% fat
Instructions
  1. Grease and flour a loaf tin, otherwise if you’re using a silicone mould there’s no need. Preheat the oven to 180°C/360°F/Mark 4/160°C fan.

  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until soft, light and creamy (this is even easier if you beat together in a stand mixer). Gradually add the eggs, one by one until well mixed. Incorporate the flour and baking powder until the batter is smooth.

  3. In another bowl, mash the banana with a fork and transfer half of it to the other bowl. In one of them, add the chocolate powder and chocolate chips and mix well.

  4. Pour the chocolate mix into the bottom of the tin, then pour in the banana batter, then the chocolate again then banana.
  5. Marble the cake by making zig-zags with a fork from one end to the other - or swirl a couple of times in a figure 8 with a skewer. If making this without the teatime glaze, cut the extra banana horizontally (if using) and place on top of the batter. Transfer to the oven and bake for 45-50 minutes. 

    The cake is ready when a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. If not, bake for another 5 minutes. Leave the cake to cool then remove from the mould to a wire rack to cool.

For the Teatime Glaze (optional):
  1. Melt the chocolate, icing sugar and butter in a bowl placed over a pan of simmering water (bain-marie). When melted, stir in the cream until the glaze is well blended.  Leave to cool for about 5 minutes then pour over the cake, evening the glaze with a knife and decorate whatever takes your fancy. I added some mini macaron shells and finally dusted it with gold food powder, just tapping it over with a couple of fingers.

Recipe Notes

Please resist temptation to eat this straight away, as the marble cake tastes even better the next day.  Can keep for 3 days in a cool place stored in an airtight tin or in aluminium foil (although not in the fridge) - if you're lucky not to have tigers around!

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

Chocolate Banana Marble Cake

PIN me to give me a swirl later!

Have you made any of the recipes from le blog or fancy making this Chocolate Banana Marble Cake?  Please do leave a comment below or take a picture and hashtag it #MadAboutMacarons.  I love to see your creations on Instagram and Facebook. Thanks so much for popping in and for making and sharing the recipes!

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chocolate banana swirl loaf

Goat Cheese & Walnut Pasta Sauce

This Goat Cheese & Walnut Pasta Sauce has just evolved over the last few years.

I never even thought to write up the recipe, it’s so simple. In 2011, I originally posted our favourite French summer classic, Warm Goat Cheese Salad (Salade de Chèvre Chaud). It’s more of an assembly job of good ingredients than a recipe but there are a few tips I picked up when I first moved to France in 1992 that I talk about here. So, how did it turn into a deliciously clingy pasta sauce?

Goat Cheese & Walnut Pasta Sauce

Goat Cheese & Walnut Pasta Sauce

A French Salad without the Salad!

We love the salad version, but we often find salads difficult to digest in the evening (I also have IBS, so huge salads are not ideal). Outside the summer months, we also don’t feel like salad. Enough said.

It’s a Salade de Chèvre Chaud without the salad – although place some small spinach leaves on the bottom of each plate if you still want your greens. The heat of the pasta slightly wilts them.

French goat cheese - crottin de Chavignol

From the fromagerie at our local market in Saint-Germain-en-Laye

Best Goat Cheese to Use

Like the salad version, don’t skimp on using good quality goat cheese. The best kind of goat cheese to use is Crottin de Chavignol (from the charming little Loire village that also boasts some remarkable Sancerre wines from the famous town up the road) made with raw goat’s milk (lait cru).

In some of the touristy brasseries in Paris, watch out for the cheap’n’nasty stuff; the other day I was served a sickly sweet version with a thick layer of fig jam spread on Poilâne bread, then topped with the cheapest supermarket goat cheese that was bitter and didn’t like being melted (incidentally, fig jam is best served separately with a cheese board – just saying. So if you see fig jam included – AVOID IT!). Sitting on top of a ridiculous amount of green salad without much dressing, this seriously gives our visitors to France the wrong idea of the classic dish.

Needless to say, it gets my goat. Stick to garlic, olive oil, good cheese, herbs and walnuts.

Goat Cheese & walnut pasta sauce

The best, fresh quality ingredients is all that’s needed

As with the salad version, I gently fry garlic in olive oil, add chopped fresh rosemary from the garden,  melt in the cheese, toast some walnuts either in another frying pan (dry fry) or quickly under the grill to toss on top and by the time I cook the fresh pasta for a couple of minutes and toss it in the sauce with a bit of cream, dinner is ready as soon as we’ve opened the wine!

If you love goat cheese and are not keen on salads, then make this sauce with pasta next time. It’s the taste of French summer on a plate that can be enjoyed at any time of year.

Goat Cheese & Walnut Pasta Sauce

Goat Cheese & Walnut Pasta Sauce

Goat Cheese & Walnut Pasta Sauce
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
30 mins
 

My saucy take on the French classic, Salade de Chèvre Chaud, with toasted walnuts and rosemary to create a delicious creamy goat cheese pasta sauce. Serve with fresh tagliatelle, spaghetti or fusilli - and add some fried bacon bits if you're feeling extra decadent.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: French
Servings: 2 people
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp walnuts
  • 3 cloves garlic peeled, core removed & chopped finely
  • 4 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
  • 2 (60g small cheeses) Crottins de Chavignol or good quality matured goat cheese
  • 1 tbsp fresh rosemary (or thyme) finely chopped (or herbes de Provence)
  • 115 g (4oz) half fat cream (crème fleurette)
  • 100 g (3.5oz) lardons/bacon bits optional
  • 250 g (9oz) fresh pasta
  • handful fresh spinach leaves optional
Instructions
  1. Toast the walnuts under the grill for a couple of minutes (keep an eye on them, as you don't want them to burn) or dry-fry in a non-stick frying pan. Set aside.

  2. Gently fry the chopped garlic in the olive oil for a minute but don't brown (it will otherwise turn bitter).  Add the fresh herbs then chopped goat cheese and leave it to melt then add the cream, plus salt and ground pepper to taste.

  3. Meanwhile, prepare the pasta according to packet instructions. I prefer using fresh pasta which only takes a couple of minutes but if you use dried pasta, prepare the pasta more in advance or take the sauce off the heat so as not to overcook.

  4. Drain the pasta and toss into the pan with the sauce, sprinkling over the toasted walnuts.

Recipe Notes

Good matching wines: Sauvignon Blanc or fruitier Chenin Blanc, ideally from the Loire (the goat cheese is from the same region). The result is a creamy, almost honey-like taste that marries to well together.

 

 

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

Have you made any of the recipes from le blog or fancy making this French Goat Cheese & Walnut pasta sauce? Please don’t be shy; leave a comment below or take a picture and hashtag it #MadAboutMacarons on Instagram and Facebook – I love to see you making the recipes!

French Goat Cheese Walnut Herb Pasta

PIN ME and make me later with fresh rosemary.

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French Crème Caramel

I was scared to make this classic French Crème Caramel for many years after my arrival in France. Instead, I sat back and let my French mother-in-law make her delectable family-sized version each time we visited them in their pretty Provençal village of Saignon.  Back in Paris, I’d order it hands down each time it was on the dessert menu in brasseries,  bistros or cafés.

Somehow that pristine dark caramel reflecting our wide, greedy eyes looked so perfect yet was so light that I thought it was a no-go to make. French Crème Caramel seemed so simple but it was totally out of my comfort zone.

French Crème Caramel

French Crème Caramel – a classic favourite!

Growing up in Scotland, we made ours using a green-boxed packet mix: my job was to squeeze out each sachet of caramel into each dish and excitingly, the whole thing worked just beautifully. Many years on, I cringe at packet mixes but then it’s an entirely different era; now we prefer to make dishes from scratch – as we know exactly what’s in it, can lower sugar levels and add our own creative twists.

This classic French dessert can easily take on many twists – as the likes of teas, herbs, and floral infusions work well while infusing in the milk.  I’ve made this with jasmine tea, Earl Grey tea and fresh or dried lemon verbena (incidentally, have you tried this lemon verbena ice cream?).  They’re all fantastic – but I keep referring back to the good old classic vanilla.  There’s something so nostalgic about it, isn’t there? Fresh berries or exotic fruits on the side are enough for me. Simple yet effective.

Over the years, I prefer this version, as I’ve experimented making Crème Caramel with cream, milk and cream, milk and eggs but in the end, this is by far my favourite: just with milk but the addition of 3 egg yolks gives it that creamy melt-in-the-mouth feel, keeping it light.

French crème caramel recipe

Not long after launching this blog, I was fortunate to have my Japanese friend, Nami, from Just One Cookbook guest post before she hit super stardom.  Here is her recipe for Japanese Purin, a no-bake version using gelatine.

This French Crème Caramel recipe below does look long and complicated but I’ve given detailed recipe steps to explain how easy it is.  Et voilà !

5 from 3 votes
French Crème Caramel
French Crème Caramel
Prep Time
25 mins
Cook Time
45 mins
Total Time
1 hr 10 mins
 

An easy, step by step recipe for the classic French Crème Caramel. No cream but made with egg yolks for a light, melt-in-the-mouth perfect end to any meal.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: French
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 306 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
Caramel:
  • 100 g / 3.5oz sugar
  • 2 tbsp water
Custard Cream:
  • 500 ml / 17 fl oz milk (whole milk)
  • pinch vanilla powder (or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 2 medium eggs (organic)
  • 3 egg yolks (organic)
  • 70 g / 2.5oz sugar
Instructions
Make the caramel:
  1. Put the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Over a low heat, stir using a wooden spoon until the sugar has completely disappeared or dissolved. Turn up to a low-medium heat and leave the caramel to form without stirring. This should take about 10 minutes (PLEASE don't multitask and leave the pan - keep your eye on it). Wait until the caramel is medium to dark brown - not light otherwise it will just be too sweet. (Don't leave it to go too dark, either, otherwise it will be bitter!)

  2. Pour the caramel into 4 ramekin dishes, ensuring that it coats completely the base.  Set aside to cool so that the caramel sets and immediately put the saucepan in the sink and soak in water, making it easier to clean later.

Make the custard cream:
  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C/340°F/150°C fan/Gas 3.  Pour the milk into a medium saucepan, adding the vanilla and just allow the milk to heat to simmering point (not boiling). Take off the heat.

  2. Whisk the eggs, yolks and sugar in a large bowl. Pour in the hot milk and whisk constantly. Put the ramekins into a roasting tin and pour in the custard mix over the caramel. Place in the oven and pour in warm water into the roasting tin so that it comes to about 2/3 of the way up the ramekins.

  3. Bake for about 40 minutes or until set (they're not cooked properly if there's a dip in the middle). Remove from the oven carefully, and gradually remove the ramekins onto a cooling rack. When cool, transfer to the fridge and chill for at least 2 hours - or overnight.

  4. To serve, slice through a cross in the middle of each ramekin with a thin sharp knife and loosen the creams by running the knife also around the sides.  Turn upside down directly on to the serving plates.  Or just serve them directly in their ramekins, as many Parisian brasseries do! Best served at room temperature.

Recipe Notes

Serve with fresh berries or slices of exotic fruits, depending on the season.

Tip: To release the crème caramels from their ramekins, my Dad explained "as an engineer" that it was easier to slice a cross through the middle.  Since then, I've always used this method, and find there's no need to grease the ramekins. However, if you prefer to grease them with butter, do so just before pouring in the custard.

 

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

Have you made any of the recipes from le blog (from my books, too) or fancy making this classic French Crème Caramel?  Please leave some comment love below, take a picture and hashtag it #MadAboutMacarons on Instagram and Facebook – or simply tell family and friends about le blog! Thanks so much for sharing.

 

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Curried Cauliflower Soup with Seared Scallops – and a Flooded Seine

This weekend, as we’re waiting for the flooded Seine to rise to its peak in Paris and upstream today or tomorrow, we’re also keeping spirits high – both here and in Burgundy.  First with the Fête de Coquille de Saint Jacques (Scallop Festival) high on the hill in Montmartre and the 74th Fête de Saint-Vincent Tournante wine festival in Burgundy. As I’m not able to go to either of them, I’ve instead made a comprise of the two in a dish: Curried Cauliflower Soup with Seared Scallops.

Paris January 2018 Seine Floods

The Seine Floods January 2018

France’s meteorological service has confirmed that this is now the third-wettest last couple of months on record since data collection began in 1900.  Luckily, it looks very unlikely that we’ll reach the record flooding of 1910, when the river Seine rose to a whopping 8.62 metres.  Even although we live near the Seine next to Saint-Germain-en-Laye, west of Paris, in 1910 the flooding came as far as the bottom of our garden!

The tourist river cruises and all other boat traffic on the Seine in Paris and upstream has been stopped. It’s not difficult to see why by these photos I took on Thursday afternoon.  Already it was approaching close to 6 metres, more than four metres above its normal height. But apart from some RER and metro lines closed, the City of Light is in good hands and the skies are holding off on the forecasted rain – for the moment!

curried cauliflower soup seared scallops

Annual Burgundy Wine Festival Inspiration

This year’s Burgundy wine festival, la fête de Saint Vincent Tournante, is taking place in Prissé, Macon.  I’ve been thrilled to take part in previous festivals – and even interviewed on French radio! Join me in the typical ambience by reading these posts on Clos Vougeot, 2015 and Saint Aubin in 2014: the chosen village gears up to the event by decorating trees, houses, wine casks and the likes with coloured crèpe paper flowers (representing the wine qualities – white flowers or fleurs blanches) and interesting sculptures. As we’re given the list of local wine producers taking part with their special festival blends, we flit between tastings trying to keep warm with stands offering simple dishes that compliment the wines.

In 2014, I distinctly remember a welcoming bowl of curried cauliflower soup with seared scallops.  The French are not known as being soup lovers but this chef was popular that day, as he served out this comforting, healthy soup – with the crème de la crème of seared, almost sweet, scallops fried in front of us and left to sink into the soup as we were holding our glasses of Saint Aubin white wine balanced on a string around our necks.

curried cauliflower soup with seared scallops

Ever since that delicious moment, I have been making this at home as it’s so easy to reproduce.  When it comes to curry, the French never serve it hot and spicy: instead it’s usually only lightly fragranced with curry powder – perfect so as not to overpower the scallops, as we’re left to appreciate their nutty flavours in browned butter and hint of turmeric. I’ve recently discovered a Scottish Hebridean smoked salt from the Isle of Lewis which, topped to finish, is a most subtle compliment to finish it all off – and, if you have my book, Mad About Macarons, it’s brilliant served with a mini curry Tikka Macsala macaron!  The spicy curry’s fire is put out by the balancing sweetness of the macaron shells.

Curried Cauliflower Soup with Seared Scallops

 

curried cauliflower soup with seared scallops

seared scallops in turmeric and smoked salt

 

Curried Cauliflower Soup with Seared Scallops
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
45 mins
 

A lightly curried cauliflower soup given the French touch with sweet, seared fresh scallops in turmeric and Scottish smoked salt.

Course: Main, Soup, Starter
Cuisine: French, Scottish
Servings: 6
Calories: 139 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 1 large cauliflower weighing about 1kg/2lb, leaves & core removed, cut into florets
  • 1 tbsp curry powder (or ground cumin)
  • ground pepper
  • 2 tsp salt fleur de sel
  • 900 ml /30fl oz chicken/veg stock
  • 6 fresh scallops
  • 20 g /0.75oz butter unsalted
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp smoked salt optional
  • fresh coriander leaves & dried onions for garnish and curry macarons!
Instructions
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy based pan and add the onion. Cook gently for 5 minutes without browning. Add the cauliflower florets and curry powder and sauté in the oil for another 5 minutes until the curry coats the florets. Add the pepper, salt and stock (the stock should be at the same level as the cauliflower, just enough to cover).
  2. Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for about 20 minutes until the vegetables are soft.
  3. Blend until smooth.
  4. Melt the butter in a frying pan over medium-high heat and once foaming, add the turmeric and scallops. Sear them for about one minute on each side (depending on their thickness – please don’t overcook as they’ll turn rubbery). Top with a pinch of smoked salt, if using. You may want to cut the scallops in half.
  5. Pour the soup into bowls, add a scallop each to sink into the soup and serve with crispy onions, fresh coriander and a mini curry macaron (optional! Recipe in my 1st book, Mad About Macarons)

Recipe Notes

Food & Wine Pairing:

What wine to accompany this curried cauliflower soup with seared scallops? A chilled glass of white Burgundy or a Chenin Blanc.

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

 

Cheers! Santé !

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