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Fluffy Cheese Scones

Whatever time of day it is, there’s something incredibly comforting about serving warmed fluffy cheese scones with melted butter and a pot of tea.

Somehow teatime at home is all highly civilised.

Fluffy Cheese Scones

This post was originally published in March 2017 as Cheese Scones with Spring Onions & Rosemary. As it has been one of your favourite recipes on le blog, I’ve updated the photos and done away with the fancy spring onions. Now you still have the fluffiest cheese scones that can be rustled up in even less time. Moreover, for 12 scones this recipe only needs one egg so while perhaps rationing our fresh produce, this recipe should rise to the occasion!

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Fluffy Cheese Scones

Out of the treats that come out of our kitchen, there’s one thing I can serve for lunch – in true British style with soup – and my ‘Scottish-half’ girls always squeal,  “YES! CHEESE SCONES!”  They may be so grown up now but as soon as these scones come out of the oven, my teenagers are little girls purring like the cat that’s got the cream.  Perhaps it’s the memory of our cheese scone ritual we had, stopping off at the Scottish garden centre tearoom near Prestwick airport on our way back to Paris Beauvais.  We did this so often over the years visiting Granny and Grandpa that it was our shuttle. Alas, these days there’s far too much homework and exams.

As a result, I make cheese scones at home, as they are – surprisingly – so quick and easy to make.

Two Top Tips for High-Rise, Fluffiest Cheese Scones

My idea of a perfect cheese scone is that it’s light, high and fluffy.  I started off many years ago using the classic recipe in the Be-Ro Flour Cookbook. Now, over the years I have used this slightly adapted recipe which ensures that they have a lovely height.

There are TWO SECRETS to high rise scones:

  • Don’t be shy on the baking powder. Even if using self-raising flour, add a teaspoon; and
  • Don’t work the dough too much – including not rolling it out too flat.  Keep it quite thick, cutting them with a scone or cookie cutter.

How Do You Eat Cheese Scones?

How do you eat yours?  We just split them in half while warm and spread on a little butter, watching it melt.  Perfect with a cup of tea – and also with soup (see ideas below).

 

Best Cheese to Use for Savoury Scones

Ideally use a good, strong, mature cheddar (orange will give it a lovely colour but it’s not necessary) as the flavour should shine through. Using half of grated aged parmesan or a mature hard orange vieille mimolette adds extra punch too. The stronger the better!

Personally, as we don’t have the easiest access to the best mature cheddar in France, I use a half and half mix of what orange cheddar I can find with best quality French Comté cheese (preference 12-18 months mature), thus making them a bit of a Scottish-French Auld Alliance.

Scone Glaze

As we’re currently being careful not to use too many eggs (I want to avoid going to the shops too much!), I brushed the tops of the scones with milk only.
For a shiny royal scone look, however, the best way is to brush the tops of the scones with the milk and egg yolk glaze.

Then top the scones with more grated cheese and/or poppy seeds and sesame seeds.

The result? The cheese scones have a lovely, finished shine that gives that slight crunch to the outside and split open warm, they’re soft, light and fluffy inside – ready to spread with quickly melting butter!

fluffy cheese scones soup

Look – we’re not even a shiny batch but open us up and taste!

Quick Soup Recipes from the Pantry

Cheese scones are also a real treat served for a light lunch with a comforting bowl of soup. Here are some ideas for homemade soup, using little from the pantry:

 

perfect-fluffy-cheese-scones

Fluffy Cheese Scones Recipe

5 from 13 votes
Fluffy Cheese Scones Recipe
Fluffy Cheese Scones
Prep Time
25 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
40 mins
 

An easy recipe for the fluffiest, light cheese scones. Only uses one egg for a batch of 12

Course: Breakfast, Brunch, Light Lunch, Snack, teatime
Cuisine: British
Keyword: cheese scones, savoury scones
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 293 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 250 g (9oz) Plain (all-purpose) flour T55
  • 1 tbsp Baking powder (use only 1 tsp if using self-raising flour)
  • 1 tsp Bicarbonate of soda
  • pinch salt & pepper
  • 50 g (2oz) Butter, unsalted (at room temperature)
  • 100 g (3.5oz) Cheese, finely grated (Cheddar, French Comté, Mimolette)*
  • 1 tbsp Rosemary, finely chopped (or fresh thyme, chives, dried Herbes de Provence)
  • 1 egg (@60g)
  • 100 ml (3.5fl oz) Milk (whole or semi-skimmed)
Glaze
  • 1 egg yolk (optional)
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp sesame or poppy seeds (optional)
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 220°C/425°F/Gas 7/200°C fan. Line a baking tray with parchment paper or a silicone mat.

  2. Mix together the flour, baking powder/soda, salt, pepper, and rosemary in a large bowl.  Either rub in the butter using your fingers but if you have a mixer, this is even better.  Mix just until the butter looks like breadcrumbs in the flour then add the cheese. Add the egg and milk and mix until fully combined. The result should be a sticky dough. If you find it's too dry, add a little bit more milk.

  3. Roll out on a floured surface to about 2 cm thick (nearly an inch) and using a scone/cookie cutter (6cm/2.5"), cut out medium-sized rounds. Alternatively, to save time or if you don't have cutters, roll into a circle (use a plate as a guide) and cut into triangles with a sharp knife.

  4. Place on the baking tray and brush with a mixture of egg yolk and a little milk to glaze (yolk is optional but recommended for a shiny glaze).

  5. Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown.

Recipe Notes

YIELD: Makes 12 scones.

CALORIES: One portion of 2 scones is 293 calories.

CHEESES: mature, strong cheeses are best such as cheddar, mimolette, parmesan, comté & gruyère.

BUTTERMILK SCONES: If you replace the milk with buttermilk, omit 1 tsp of baking powder, but personally I prefer cheese scones made with milk, as find they rise better.

VIDEO: Now available on video.

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

 

 

Quick Almond Milk Rice Pudding

When we’re looking for satisfying, healthy comfort food using cupboard ingredients, then this Quick Almond Milk Rice Pudding ticks the boxes.

Made the night before, we love it chilled or slightly warm for breakfast. Top with toasted almonds and served with extra dried fruits, it’s all prepared in just 35 minutes. What’s more, these creamy pots happen to be gluten free and vegan.

Quick Almond Milk Rice Pudding

Almond Milk as a Cupboard Diet Staple

Only a couple of weeks ago, I found myself reaching for more long-life cupboard ingredients at the supermarket that could come in handy over time. Although I can’t find an alternative to fresh cow’s milk for my morning bowl of coffee, as a family, we have completely converted to serving almond milk with our breakfast maple & oat granola.  Yippee!  We’re making progress on the vegan front, albeit slowly but each step helps, I hope.

Almond milk’s shelf life is long, making it an ideal pantry staple. What’s more, it is fortified with calcium, is lactose-free and is lower in calories than regular milk.
(Note: for those who are allergic to nuts or almonds, replace almond milk with coconut milk.)

Moreover, what’s more exciting than having a delicious challenge to make gourmet food with simple, easy-to-find ingredients?

Sweetened vs Unsweetened Almond Milk

Normally I spend time checking labels but exceptionally, this time around, in my speed to get organised as quickly as possible, I reached for our local French supermarket’s own brand of almond milk.

As Lucie poured it over her coveted dark chocolate & coconut granola the other day, she was shocked at how sweet it was. Reading the label together – to our amazement – the brand had added sugar to the almond milk.

Who adds sugar to milk, I ask you?

How to Use Sweetened Almond Milk

Clearly we had to find another use for this sweetened almond milk. So that no food would go to waste, I tried out my favourite French creamy riz au lait recipe, using less rice, much less sugar, no egg yolks and came up with this creamy almond milk version.

I literally added just a couple of tablespoons of raw cane sugar to this rice pudding but if you are using an organic, unsweetened almond milk (like we normally use from the health food store), then use the sugar quantities I’ve stated in the recipe below.

What Can I Use Instead of Almond Milk?

Don’t have almond milk in the pantry? Then rice milk or soya milk also work just as well, keeping the rice pudding creamy.

Quick Almond Milk Rice Pudding

Rice Pudding Topping Ideas

If you like the touch of rose to desserts, then I urge you to add just a little rosewater to this (see recipe below).  Topping the rice puddings just takes it to another level. Here are some ideas, based on what you have at hand:

  • Chopped fresh fruit or chopped dried fruits (figs, apricots, dates);
  • Toasted almonds (or any other nuts) just adds that perfect crunch and brings out the natural almond flavours too. Either toast them for a few minutes under the grill or dry-fry in a frying pan.
  • Top with a spoonful of jam – even better if slightly warmed so that it melts on top. I love fig jam, rhubarb & rose jam (or my strawberry & elderflower speedy jam in my book, ‘Teatime in Paris’) – or serve with this rhubarb and hibiscus compote – it’s fabulous.
  • Oat praline topping. Incidentally, make a batch of it and store it in a jam jar and use to top on ice cream or any dessert.

 

Quick Almond Milk Rice Pudding

5 from 7 votes
Quick Almond Milk Rice Pudding
Almond Milk Rice Pudding
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
35 mins
 

A Quick French Riz au lait rice pudding made with organic almond milk for a healthy vegan breakfast or dessert and an easy recipe to prepare using long-life cupboard ingredients.

Course: Breakfast, Brunch, Dessert
Cuisine: French
Keyword: almond milk recipes, almond milk rice pudding, quick rice pudding recipe, riz au lait, veganbreakfasts
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 420 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 1 litre organic almond milk (6%) (unsugared)*
  • 1 vanilla pod/bean (or 1/2 tsp vanilla powder/extract)
  • 140 g (5oz) short grain pudding rice (arborio/risotto rice)
  • 30 g (1oz) golden sultanas (raisins or other dried fruits)
  • 50 g (1.75oz) sugar (I use raw cane sugar)
  • 1 tsp rose water
  • slivered almonds (optional, for decor)
Instructions
  1. In a large saucepan, bring the almond milk to the boil with the vanilla pod, if using (or vanilla powder/extract). Remove the vanilla pod, scraping out the seeds with a sharp knife and return the seeds to the pan.

  2. Rain in the rice, sugar, rose water and dried fruits. Using a wooden spoon, stir every 3-4 minutes so that the rice doesn't stick together.

  3. The rice pudding will start to thicken after 25 minutes. Continue to stir gently for another 5 minutes and transfer to individual pots or dishes. Leave to cool and either serve or chill and serve next morning.

Recipe Notes
  • If you discover your almond milk contains sugar, reduce the sugar by at least a half.

Serve chilled or at slightly warm with toasted almonds (toasted for a few minutes under a grill or dry-fried in a frying pan) and any topping of your choice: e.g. chopped dried apricots, chopped banana, honey, walnuts. See more ideas in the post.

Don't have almond milk? Rice or Soya Milk also works just as well.

See my other recipe here for a French custardy rice pudding, using egg yolks.

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

Bon appétit !

Quick Almond Milk Rice Pudding

Dubarry Cauliflower Cream Soup

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

Dubarry Cauliflower Cream Soup

What is Dubarry – or Du Barry in French Cuisine?

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

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

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

Comtesse Du Barry

Who was the Comtesse du Barry?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Madame du Barry to Countess

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

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

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

Countess Amorous Royal Chocolate Drinks

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

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

Dubarry French Cauliflower Cream

Dubarry Cream of Cauliflower

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

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

How to Prepare Cauliflower Cream Soup

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

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

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

Dubarry Cauliflower Cream Soup

Dubarry Cauliflower Cream Soup Garniture

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

Dubarry Cauliflower Cream

Dubarry Cauliflower Cream Soup Recipe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recipe Notes

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

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

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

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

 

 

 

Reine de Saba Chocolate Almond Cake

Mention ‘The Queen of Sheba’ and Handel’s famous music from Solomon plays full swing in my head.
Little did I know when I married my Frenchman in 1997 that the Queen of Sheba is la Reine de Saba in French.  So imagine, years later, how it was music to my ears to hear that the French make a gluten-free chocolate cake called the Queen of Sheba. A Reine de Saba Chocolate Almond Cake is a welcome arrival to any party.

Reine de Saba Chocolate Almond Cake

Reine de Saba (Queen of Sheba)

I loved to play ‘The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba’ as a piano duet with my bestie growing up in Edinburgh.  Even the day I married my Frenchman, Dad and I arrived to Handel’s music as I played Queen for the day. What a memorable entrance it was with an oversized Scottish golf umbrella, wondering if the organ of Saint Giles would be drowned out by the bagpipes playing to the tourists outside.

Only recently I discovered that there’s a Reine de Saba museum in Paris, particularly dedicated to Yemen. Out of 27 years in the City of Light, I still haven’t been to it yet on rue de Pradier in the 19th. So, if you have been or plan to go, please tell me below in the comments.

Reine de Saba Chocolate Almond Cake Recipe

I saw a recipe for the Reine de Saba cake in a free French booklet of 50 Best Chocolate Recipes published by France Loisirs many years ago. It was popped into my bag at the checkout after Christmas shopping in a French kitchen appliance shop in Paris’s 16th. If you know the chic 16th in Paris, getting something free here is pretty much unheard of, so I treasured it.

Earmarking the festive-looking Reine de Saba chocolate cake, this wee book of recipes was forgotten about during that festive season madness. It was put away in the bookcase for another Christmas, dwarfed and hidden by my other cookbooks. Then recently on a bout of tidying (inspired by an episode of Marie Kondo on Netflix, as I thought, ‘Do I really need to keep all of those books?’), I re-discovered this slim chocolate-coloured book. It fell apart the moment I opened it. Well, it was free.

Reine de Saba Chocolate Almond Cake slice

That Reine de Saba recipe still looked enticing. After trying it out a few times using different moulds, toppings, and tweaking a couple of things like reducing sugar and adding rum, this is it. That wee book perhaps is already in tatters but this recipe is definitely a keeper and now a firm, family favourite next to the Chocolate Ginger Fondant Cake.

Gluten-Free Dessert Recipes

Can you Handel another French gâteau that just happens to be a gluten free chocolate cake? If you would like more recipes like this, don’t forget that you can find all my best gluten free recipes here on le blog.

What Can I do with the Leftover Egg Yolks?

As you can see from the recipe below, this recipe calls for two egg whites. Normally egg whites can keep for a few days in the fridge but I prefer to use up fresh egg yolks as quickly as possible on the day.  You’ll find a whole index of egg yolk recipes here on le blog.

Moreover, if you’re looking for a recipe with 2 egg yolks, then you can find that too, such as these Honey & Lemon Sablé biscuits, or a creamy lemon sauce to serve with roast chicken, turkey or stuffed mini pumpkins. I even have a most deliciously creamy cauliflower velouté coming up next which, surprisingly, also uses 2 yolks.

Reine de Saba Chocolate Almond Cake Christmas

French Christmas Dessert Recipes

The baked, crispy glaze topping takes this recipe into Christmas dessert mode or for a special occasion birthday cake. The family loved this topped with freshly whipped Chantilly cream, laced with just a touch of dark rum (or with Grand Marnier®).

Finish off with a dusting of unsweetened chocolate powder or edible gold dust. If you like your Christmas chocolate cake spiced, then add a teaspoon of gingerbread or pumpkin spice to the cake and/or the glaze.

Plus (you know it’s coming, don’t you?) why not serve with some almond macarons? Don’t forget that Parisian macarons are also gluten free.  You’ll find the recipes for all my macarons in both my books, Mad About Macarons and Teatime in Paris!

Reine de Saba Chocolate Almond Cake

Reine de Saba Chocolate Almond Cake

5 from 6 votes
Reine de Saba Chocolate Almond Cake slice
Reine de Saba Chocolate Almond Cake
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
45 mins
 

A French celebratory, gluten free chocolate and almond cake, made extra special with a hint of Grand Marnier and topped with a festive glaze.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: French
Keyword: chocolate almond cake, gluten free chocolate cake, reine de saba cake
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 309 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 125 g (4.5oz) dark chocolate (min. 60% cacao)
  • 75 g (3oz) butter unsalted, diced
  • 3 organic eggs separated
  • 1 egg white
  • 75 g (3oz) sugar
  • 75 g (3oz) ground almonds (almond flour)
  • 1 tbsp cornflour or potato flour (Maïzena)
  • 2 drops vanilla extract (or 1/2 tsp vanilla powder)
  • pinch salt (fleur de sel)
  • 1 tbsp Grand Marnier® (or dark rum) optional
For the Glaze:
  • 175 g (6oz) icing (confectioner's) sugar
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tsp Grand Marnier ® (or dark rum) optional
  • 1 tsp gingerbread or pumpkin spice optional
Instructions
  1. Break the dark chocolate into bits in a bowl and place over a pan of simmering water (bain- marie). Ensure the water doesn't touch the bottom of the bowl so not to overcook the chocolate. As soon as the chocolate melts, add the butter. Mix together until melted and set aside.

  2. Separate the eggs: place the 4 egg whites in a large clean bowl to whip them later. In another bowl, place the 3 egg yolks and whisk together with the sugar until light and creamy. Add the cornflour, vanilla and stir in the ground almonds. Add in the melted chocolate, alcohol if using, and mix together. Set aside at room temperature.

  3. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/400°F/Gas 6. Grease a 20cm cake tin with butter.

  4. Whisk the egg whites with the salt in either a stand mixer or using an electric hand whisk. When the whites are whipped up and firm, gently fold into the chocolate and almond mixture.

  5. Pour the batter into the cake tin and bake for about 20 minutes without browning the surface (a smaller, higher cake tin will need longer baking, about 30 minutes). Remove from the oven to cool.

Make the Glaze:
  1. Mix together the egg white with the icing sugar and Grand Marnier (or rum) if using.

    Depending on the cake tin, there are 2 ways of baking the glaze:

    1) Directly in an easy-release cake tin: once the cake is cooled down (but still warm), spread on the glaze and return to the oven for no more than 5 minutes. Remove from the oven, leave to cool then turn out on a serving plate.

    2) Remove the cake from the tin and place on an ovenproof serving plate. Spread on the glaze then return to the oven for no more than 5 minutes. Remove from the oven then decorate, if desired.

Recipe Notes

For special occasions such as Christmas, serve the cake topped with whipped cream laced with a dash of Grand Marnier® or rum or simply with a dollop of crème fraîche.

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

Reine de Saba Chocolate Almond Cake

 

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

French Apple Autumn 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 winged it. 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

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

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