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10 Reasons to Visit Honfleur, Normandy

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

Ten reasons to visit Honfleur

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

10 Reasons to Visit Honfleur

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

10 reasons to visit Honfleur

Honfleur’s Old Harbour (Vieux Bassin)

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

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

10 reasons to visit Honfleur

Honfleur’s Fresh Fish and Seafood

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

10 reasons to visit Honfleur, Normandy

Old Town

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

10 reasons to visit Honfleur

10 reasons to visit Honfleur, Normandy

Honfleur’s Beautiful Churches

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

10 reasons to visit Honfleur

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

10 reasons to visit Honfleur

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

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

10 reasons to visit Honfleur

Pont de Normandie

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

10 reasons to visit Honfleur

10 reasons to visit Honfleur

Honfleur’s Museums

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

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

10 reasons to visit Honfleur Normandy

Honfleur’s Markets

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

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

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

10 reasons to visit Honfleur

Honfleur’s Restaurants

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

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

10 reasons to visit Honfleur, Normandy

2 Hours Drive from Paris

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

Good Base for Visiting Normandy

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

10 reasons to visit Honfleur

Top Tips for Visiting Honfleur

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

10 reasons to Visit Honfleur

Chocolate Hazelnut Pear Crumble

What is it with crumble that it looks so totally not sexy in photos? This Chocolate Hazelnut Pear Crumble has taken me so long to post because of the images but in the end, I gave up and these photos will have to do. All that matters is the recipe – your proof is in the pudding!

chocolate hazelnut pear crumble

This Chocolate Hazelnut Pear Crumble is so quick to make and ticks all the autumn-winter-spring pear comfort-food dessert boxes. We love this not just for dessert but any leftovers are pounced on for breakfast, weekend brunch and – typically French – for teatime too as a crrrrumbeulle with a pot of tea.

Comice pears Parisian market

All throughout Autumn and Winter, we’ve had a constant supply of ripe-firm pears at our local market, which are just right for this crumble.  In February, and now in March, they’re still going strong! For this recipe I use Comice pears but you can use Williams, Conference – any of the winter varieties.

Pears, Apples and Chocolate Heaven

chocolate hazelnut pear crumble recipe method

As I was developing the recipe, I found that adding some apple helped soak up the juices, as pears for a crumble do tend to be rather wet and juicy, which could make it a bit soggy if used on their own.  However, the mixture of the two together and cooking them lightly at the beginning will prove to be just right.

Chocolate hazelnut pear crumble method

To make this recipe a little less in gluten than my classic apple crumble, I’ve replaced some of the flour with oats and the hazelnuts just add that incredible flavour.  It’s like having a homemade Nutella crumble but much healthier.

Although I add unsweetened cacao powder to the hazelnut crumble, the real secret is hidden underneath: good quality dark bittersweet chocolate (at least 64% cacao), in cooking disks or grated, just merges in to the fruit. It’s a perfect marriage in a baking dish.

Chocolate Hazelnut Pear Crumble

This one is ready to go in the oven. Just ensure that the chocolate and fruit are hidden underneath the crumble.

Chocolate Hazelnut Pear Crumble

Chocolate Hazelnut Pear Crumble
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
50 mins
 

An easy chocolate oat crumble that's a great compromise for a family dessert with fruit - the ultimate comfort-food with extra dark chocolate and lower in gluten than the classic crumble.

Course: Breakfast, Brunch, Dessert, teatime
Cuisine: British, French
Keyword: baking with oats, chocolate crumble, chocolate hazelnut recipes, low gluten, pear recipes
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 318 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
Chocolate Hazelnut Crumble
  • 50 g (2oz) Ground Hazelnuts
  • 50 g (2oz) Plain (all purpose) flour
  • 75 g (3oz) medium oats (porridge oats)
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 100 g (4oz) butter unsalted
  • 1 good pinch salt (fleur de sel)
  • 40 g (1.5oz) soft light brown sugar (cane sugar)
Fruity Filling
  • 10 g (0.5oz) unsalted butter
  • 3 firm to ripe Large Williams or Comice pears peeled, cored, chopped
  • 5-6 Granny Smith apples peeled, cored, chopped
  • 10 g (0.5oz) vanilla sugar or cane sugar with 1/2 tsp vanilla powder
  • 50 g (2oz) dark bittersweet chocolate (min 64%) (good quality, in button form or grated)
Instructions
  1. Combine all the crumble ingredients in a large bowl, lightly rubbing through your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Set aside.

  2. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/400°F/Gas 6.
  3. Peel, core and chop up the apples and pears roughly into chunks. Melt the butter in a large non-stick frying pan, toss in the fruit chunks and sprinkle over the vanilla sugar. Leave to cook over a medium heat, turning the apples and pears now and again, for about 5-8 minutes. The fruit should not be mushy, just lightly cooked. Drain off any excess fruit juice if there is any (set aside and reduce over medium heat to serve apart with the crumble later so that there's no waste).

  4. Transfer the fruit to a gratin or pudding dish (no need to butter it) and scatter over the dark chocolate. Sprinkle on a generous amount of crumble until the fruit and chocolate are completely covered.

  5. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the top is toasted or lightly browned. Leave to cool slightly before serving.

Recipe Notes

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Replace the dark chocolate with milk chocolate according to taste.

We normally serve this chocolate hazelnut pear crumble on its own but if you prefer, add some vanilla ice cream, pouring cream or an adult boozy ice cream such as this non-churn Calvados ice cream (replace the Drambuie with Calvados).

 

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

 

More Crumble Love

If you love crumbles, have you tried these yet?

More Pear Recipes

chocolate hazelnut pear crumble

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The Hottest Paris Food Tour

Do you love your food and planning your first visit to Paris? Then a warm, tasty introduction to traditional French foods is a delicious way to start your trip. I recently discovered that The Paris Guy has an evening food tour, that’s quite literally the hottest Paris food tour in the Marais!

While most walking Paris food tours focus on markets, ingredients, bread and cheese plus the sweeter side (like I used to lead in Saint Germain-des-Prés) on chocolates, pastries and macarons while walking, discussing and tasting in and between boutiques, Le Marais Paris Food Tour concentrates on primarily sit-down restaurant tastings of oysters and Champagne, wine, cheese, galettes (savoury crêpes) with cidre, Boeuf Bourguignon, more wine and crème brûlée – and that’s not all.

HOttest Paris Food Tour

Thank you to the Paris Guy for sponsoring this post by inviting me to experience Le Marais Paris Food tour. As always, all opinions are entirely my own. Affiliate links are included in this post, as The Paris Guy has kindly offered my readers 5% off their tours in Paris if you use the unique code, MADABOUTMACARONS.

The Hottest Paris Food Tour

The Hottest Paris Food Tour in the Marais kicks off with a warm welcome early evening near the metro, République. Our English-speaking guide for the 3-hour walking tour was Erica.

Hottest Paris Food Tour The Paris Guy #parisfoodtours

Our group was made up of a maximum of 12 so, along with the food tastings, anecdotes and history thrown in, it ended up being a fun social evening too.

Oysters and Champagne

To get us in the French mood, the POP sounded as our bottle of Champagne was opened with some explanations on the French’s famous bubbly. Platters of N°4 and N°3 oysters arrived in this lovely seafood bar. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll see I love flowers and so this was a perfect spot to appreciate them too.

Hottest Paris Food Tour #parisfoodtours

A touch of smoked salted butter served with the most delicious bread is delicious – but be careful: go easy on the bread in the initial stages, as you need to pace yourself on this food tour!  There’s still more to come.

Sipping on Champagne, I also loved the refreshing minty touch to their carafe water. If you know me, however, I usually prefer more Champagne than grabbing (or “crab-bing”) that bottle of water!

hottest paris food tour #parisfoodtour

Crab a bottle!

See anemones at the Parisian seafood bar?

Hottest Food Tour in Paris

See Anemones in front of this seafood bar in the Marais?

Say Cheese – French Fromage!

Normally the Paris Guy Food Tour starts with the Oyster tasting with Champagne but exceptionally, as it hadn’t yet opened at our meeting time, we started with the cheese. With over 1000 cheeses in France, no savoury tour is complete without it!

Hottest Paris Food tour

I’ll leave you to discover the cheesy stories and tips on the tour but the tasting platter had a good variety of many of my personal favourites. If you’re a couple, ensure you both have a taste of the stronger types together (just saying…), absolutely delicious served with fig jam (see my Corsican fig jam recipe here).

Hottest Paris food tour Marais #paristravel

Walking past many landmarks in the Marais, such as the Mairie of the 3rd arrondissement above, we headed for the famous rue des Rosiers in the Jewish quarter. The speciality? Falafel.

Falafels, deep-fried chickpea balls, are one of those deliciously “Did you know that they’re vegan?” types of foods that we enjoyed outside (the only tasting outdoors on the tour), with finger-licking sesame sauce coupled with a vibrant, festive ambience.

hottest paris food tour #Paristravel

Galettes – Savoury Crêpes

Next up on the tour was a walk to a cosy Crêperie. Typically served in Brittany and in Normandy, traditional wafer-thin buckwheat galettes – savoury crêpes – are enjoyed with cider served in giant cups. We tasted a couple of varieties: Forestière (chicken and mushroom) and the popular Complète with ham, cheese and egg washed down with some Cidre Brut.

hottest Paris food tour #Paristravel #Parisfood

I did tell you you need to pace yourself! Our last stop was a most relaxed setting in a quiet, slightly hidden Parisian Brasserie for not one but TWO finale tastings.

hottest Paris Food Tour restaurant tastings #paristravel #Parisfoodtours

As more wine was served, so was a generous tasting of Boeuf Bourguignon, a typical hearty beef stew from Burgundy, slowly cooked with mushrooms and carrots in Burgundy wine. Served with purée (also wonderful with Gratin Dauphinois), this is the ultimate French comfort food.

French culinary favourites on the hottest paris food tour

This is when Amelie Poulin would adore coming here too.  Her favourite part of this Parisian dessert, crème brûlée, is cracking the burned sugar surface and discovering the eggy vanilla cream underneath.

Incidentally, I have a recipe for a milk chocolate crème brûlée here.

hottest paris food tour creme brulee finale #paristravel

As we said Au Revoir to Erica, our cheerful Paris Guy guide, Paris by Night awaited outside. The 17th Century Eglise Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis was glistening in all its glory before heading back into the metro home on rue St Antoine.

hottest Paris food tour Marais

Hottest Paris Food Tour – 5% Reader Discount!

Looking to try traditional French food in Paris on your first trip? Prefer to sit more in restaurants than mainly eat outside? Then this is the ideal evening walking tour – indeed, literally the hottest Paris food tour for couples, solo travellers, families with older children and amongst friends – and great as gifts too if friends or family are going to Paris!

Just don’t forget to bring your appetite…

Hottest Paris Food Tour

 

DisclosureThank you to the Paris Guy for sponsoring this post by inviting me to experience their Le Marais Paris Food tour. As always, all opinions are entirely my own. Affiliate links are included in this post, as the Paris Guy has kindly offered my readers 5% off their tours in Paris if you use the unique code, MADABOUTMACARONS (also includes their tours in Italy).

Raspberry Vegan Macarons: Aquafaba French Meringue

Some friends of mine have been trying the Veganuary challenge but I’m not as brave to go the whole way. See? It has taken me until the last day of January to even post these Raspberry Vegan Macarons!

Vegan macarons

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 them using aquafaba.

Raspberry Vegan Macarons 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 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 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

Airing Vegan Macarons

As for regular macarons, leave them to sit out and air for at least 30 minutes. 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 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 filling, I personally find it’s not that easy to find tasty vegan ideas to sandwich the shells together, as I can’t use the normal chocolate ganaches or buttercreams. I would need a lot of time to work on this part! The easiest to hand was homemade raspberry jam – or try it with this rhubarb, hibiscus & rose jam. Another easy alternative 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 Recipe

5 from 1 vote
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 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, 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

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.
raspberry vegan macarons

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Vegan Macarons – My Conclusion

At first glance, we could be convinced that they look like regular macarons using egg whites. They’re not quite as picture perfect compared to my classic Parisian macarons. I’m happy they had feet and no hollows, even if they were slightly sticky – there’s still room for improvement. To be honest, the most important element in French patisserie is taste before looks and so 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 shells is strange, especially with raspberry: definitely sweet but there is the “weird” sensation with the aftertaste of, well, chick peas.

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

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

Vegan macarons recipe Aquafaba

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Bourdaloue Pear Tart – a Parisian Classic

Many a Parisian knows of their Bourdaloue pear tart. It’s a classic found in many patisseries at this time of year and has been glazing around the City of Light since the 1900s.

Just after I took these photos in the pear-fect street of Rue Bourdaloue in Paris’s 9th arrondissement, I bit into this tartlet. The filling fell straight out of the soggy base. Frankly for the price, it was disappointing and not the freshest of pastries.  It can happen but it’s incentive to make homemade at times.

Bourdaloue Pear Tart

To get to know the Bourdaloue Pear Tart better, I reached for Larousse Gastronomique. Translated into English it reads:

Bourdaloue is a tart invented by a pastry chef in Paris’s Rue Bourdaloue during la Belle Epoque – composed of poached Pear Williams, drowned in a vanilla frangipane cream, covered in broken macarons and finally glazed in the oven.

The words, “drowned in a vanilla frangipane cream” has me glazed over myself. But who knew it was covered in broken macarons? All versions I see of this tart in Paris patisseries are covered simply in slivered almonds. I’m not keen on breaking macarons – perhaps for a macaron tiramisu – so let’s top with some shells. Now for the tart!

Bourdaloue Pear Tart

The frangipane cream filling is often made using a mix of both an almond cream and crème patissière (pastry cream). While this is absolutely delicious, for this recipe I prefer cutting corners: I skip the pastry cream step and make an easy almond cream adding a dash of good, dark Jamaican rum.

I’m sure the pears won’t mind being drowned in that.

Bourdaloue Pear Tart

What Pears are Best for the Bourdaloue Tart?

As in Larousse, I’ve made this tart using Williams, while Comice or Conference are just as good for poaching pears from scratch (see this recipe for Poached Pears in Coffee and Vanilla for the method). I’ve even tried using fresh pears without poaching: just act quickly and sprinkle with some lemon juice to prevent them turning brown. Pick pears that are not yet ripe but not brick hard either. Slightly soft yet firm is perfect.

This recipe, however, is based on the one in the Larousse French Book of Desserts, which uses tinned pears in syrup. If Pierre Hermé can do it, I don’t feel too bad at cutting corners here with tinned. It’s so much easier and just as tasty.

Bourdaloue Pear Tart

Let me add that if you’re following a professional pastry course like the CAP Patisserie, then you wouldn’t use tinned pears. After baking the tart, you’d mix an egg yolk with water and brush it on to the pastry sides and bake for a further couple of minutes. Then you’d make a fancy nappage glaze to polish it all off.

For this easier recipe, just brush with about 4 tablespoons of slightly warmed apricot jam after the tart comes out of the oven. I recommend making your own pastry (I use my favourite one from the tart chapter in Teatime in Paris) but if you’re short for time, use ready-made shortcrust pastry (pâte sablée).

Bourdaloue Pear Tart Step by Step

Bourdaloue Pear Tart Recipe

 

Bourdaloue Pear Tart

Bourdaloue Pear Tart
Prep Time
25 mins
Cook Time
35 mins
Chilling Time
1 hr 30 mins
Total Time
1 hr
 

Bourdaloue Pear Tart, named after the Parisian street where it was invented in the 1900s. A shortcrust tart base filled with Williams pears and almond cream, glazed and topped with slivered almonds and macarons.

Course: Dessert, teatime
Cuisine: French
Keyword: Bourdaloue Tart, Pear Almond Tart, Pear Tart
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 387 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
Sweet Pastry (based on my recipe in 'Teatime in Paris') or use ready-made shortcrust
  • 125 g (4.5oz) unsalted butter softened
  • 75 g (3oz) icing (powdered) sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt (fleur de sel)
  • 1 organic egg
  • 225 g (8oz) plain (all-purpose) flour preference Type 45
  • 25 g (1oz) ground almonds/almond flour
Pear and Almond Cream Filling:
  • 6 half pears tinned
  • 100 g (3.5oz) unsalted butter softened
  • 75 g (3oz) sugar
  • 2 organic eggs
  • 3 drops almond extract
  • 100 g (3.5oz) ground almonds/almond flour
  • 2 tbsp good quality dark rum
  • 20 g (handful) slivered almonds
Glaze:
  • 100 g (3.5oz) apricot jam slightly warmed
Instructions
Sweet Pastry:
  1. Using a stand mixer with a paddle beater (otherwise mix by hand but use cold butter), mix the butter, sugar and salt until pale and creamy. Gradually add the egg, flour and ground almonds until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl.  Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for an hour.

  2. Leave to rest at room temperature for 10 minutes then roll out the pastry to about 3-4mm on a lightly floured surface. Wrap the pastry around the rolling pin to transfer to a loose-bottomed tart tin (28cm diameter).

  3. Using your fingers, press the pastry right into the sides of the tin. Roll the rolling pin over the top to even off the pastry, prick with a fork then chill for 30 minutes.

Pear and Almond Filling:
  1. Drain the pear halves from the syrup on kitchen paper. When dry, cut them in slices horizontally (optional).

  2. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and creamy. Add the eggs, almond extract, ground almonds and rum.

  3. Spread over this mixture evenly over the tart base using a palette knife (or pipe it out in a spiral). For a 28cm tin, this will look quite thin but it will puff up in the oven and keep your tart golden and crispy.

  4. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/400°F/Gas 6. Using a (palette) knife, carefully transfer the pears evenly over the top and sprinkle with the slivered almonds.

  5. Bake in the oven for 30-35 or until golden. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 10 minutes.  Remove from the tin and brush over with the apricot jam. Top with macaron shells (recipe in both my books).

Recipe Notes

Nutritional Information: 387 calories per serving; 6g protein; 29g carbohydrates; 26g fat.

For more detailed instructions on the tart's pastry, see the tart chapter in my book, Teatime in Paris.

 

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

 

Have you made any of the recipes from le blog, my books, or fancy making this Bourdaloue Pear Tart recipe?  Please leave some comment love below, take a picture and hashtag it #MadAboutMacarons on Instagram or Facebook – or just tell your family and friends about le blog! Thanks so much – I love to see you enjoying the recipes.

Bourdaloue Pear Tart

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Butternut Walnut Gratin – Playing Winter Squash

This is my form of playing squash in Autumn and Winter – with delicious butternut. This Butternut Walnut Gratin is so simple, it’s not even much of a recipe. When the family is craving cheesy comfort food, it’s a healthy meal in just one dish.

Butternut walnut gratin recipe

Butternut squash is great with this dish but any other kind of your favourite pumpkin will do. I often use the popular French potimarron (marron meaning chestnuts in French), that are everywhere at our markets, more than the regular pumpkin. Known as Japanese pumpkin or Kuri – meaning chestnut in Japanese as it actually tastes of chestnuts – we love potimarron, as the skin is edible whereas butternut it’s preferable to cut it off.

How To Prepare Butternut Squash

For this butternut walnut gratin recipe, I’m lazy and find it too difficult to cut it up raw as it’s far too hard. Perhaps I don’t have good enough knives but my lazy method is to just prick the skin with a fork and pre-roast the butternut on a baking tray in a medium oven for up to 15 minutes.

This makes it much easier to remove the skin and cut into chunks for the dish (which will end up being cooked again to perfection with the other flavours). However, you could (to save time) prick the skin and place on a microwaveable dish for about 10 minutes and continue with the recipe below.

Chestnuts – the French’s Festive Favourite

As you can tell from previous recipes, such as the chestnut flour tarts and the pumpkin crumbles, the family love the association of pumpkin and leeks – and above all, chestnuts!  I know, I understand they may not be that easy to find chez vous, but the French are MAD ABOUT CHESTNUTS, especially during the festive season.

Instead of chestnut flour this time, I’m adding vacuum-packed pre-cooked whole chestnuts (I keep a store of them like a squirrel, as there’s no need to keep in the fridge). If you can’t find them, replace with mushrooms.

To top it all off, toasted walnuts add that essential crunchy texture, clinging and adding some earthiness to the cheese. I have added smoked paprika but if you prefer the real non-vegetarian thing, then if you’re a bacon lover, add some pre-fried smoked bacon slivers or lardons (bacon bits or cubes of poitrine fumé).

Butternut walnut gratin

What to do with Butternut or Pumpkin Seeds?

Don’t discard the seeds, as you can toast them with spices, salt and pepper and serve with drinks before the meal! The French are particularly into no waste (myself included), so never throw them out! I haven’t posted the recipe yet but my Scottish friend, Janice from Farmersgirl Kitchen, has a super recipe for toasted pumpkin seeds which is also just as good with squash seeds.

Butternut Walnut Gratin

Butternut Walnut Gratin
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
35 mins
Precook
15 mins
Total Time
55 mins
 

A winter comforter in one dish with pre-roasted butternut squash, leeks, ready prepared chestnuts, a subtle warming sprinkle of smoked paprika and topped with toasted walnuts for the crunch that cling to a layer of melted cheese.

Course: Main, Main Course, Supper
Cuisine: French
Keyword: butternut dishes, cheesy, gratin
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 400 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 500 g (18oz) butternut squash (weight with seeds removed), cut into rough cubes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 leeks cut into slices
  • 200 g (7oz) pre-cooked chestnuts I use vacuum-packed but in jars or tins are good too *
  • 110 g (4oz) half fat thick crème fraîche 12% fat
  • 175 g (6oz) Emmental cheese grated
  • 50 g (2oz) walnuts
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley finely chopped
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/400°F/Gas 6.

    Prick the butternut squash's skin and roast it whole (or pumpkin) in the oven for 15 minutes until the skin starts blistering. Remove and leave to cool slightly. Alternatively, prick the skin and put on high in the microwave for 10 minutes.

  2. Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan and gently sauté the sliced leeks for about 10 minutes until softened. Set aside.

  3. When the squash is easier to handle, peel off the skin and cut in 2 using a good knife. Remove the seeds with a spoon (don't discard) and cut the softened squash into rough chunks.

  4. In a gratin dish, throw in the slightly softened squash chunks, the leeks and cooked chestnut. 

  5. Top with the crème fraîche by dolloping on some spoonfuls in regular intervals, add a touch of salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle lightly and evenly the smoked paprika. 
  6. Top the lot with the cheese, walnuts and parsley. 

  7. Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling and golden.

Recipe Notes

Serve with a good French baguette and a chilled white such as a Riesling from Alsace. If you can't find chestnuts, replace with fresh mushrooms that have been dry fried separately until they lose their juices (so beautifully concentrated in flavour).

I've added smoked paprika but if you prefer, add 100g of pre-fried lardons or bacon bits.

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

Have you made any of the recipes from le blog, my books, or fancy making this butternut walnut gratin?  Please leave a comment below or take a picture and hashtag it #MadAboutMacarons on Instagram / Facebook – even better, just share it with a friend and tell them about le blog!

Butternut walnut gratin

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