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Savoury Macarons: 15 Recipe Ideas to Serve with Them

Who can believe that the year has just about made a wrap?  Before it ties up with a silver bow on Hogmany or Saint Sylvestre, let me share 15 festive serving ideas to enjoy your Parisian savoury macarons at their best. This post was originally published on 20 December 2013, but is now updated to include many more recipe links since this was posted.

Do Savoury Macarons Still Need Sugar?

A Parisian macaron needs sugar in the recipe in order for the macaron shells to work but can we cut down on sugar for making savoury macarons? The cool answer is YES! While I was developing the recipe for the savoury macaron chapter in the book, I aimed at cutting down on the sugar as much as I could dare and couldn’t believe that the macarons still worked!

Mad About Savoury Macarons: Hot & Spicy

Savoury macarons may perhaps sound strange if you haven’t tried them yet – and once you have with a glass of bubbly during the festive season or for a special occasion, the result is pretty mind-blowing: they’re surprisingly delicious!

If you’ve tried any of the savoury macaron recipes from my first book’s ‘Mad Macs‘ chapter, you’ll discover that many of them are HOT and SPICY, which makes an interesting tasting sensation: the sweetness of the macaron helps put out the fire after the first couple of seconds!

In this post, I’d like to share 15 starter recipe ideas to serve with your savoury macarons.  They’re not just for an apéritif: served with a bowl of soup or on top of a bright and cheerful salad – or even a risotto – the surprise element is taken to the next level and adds a touch of gourmet fun to the table.

beet horseradish macaron with smoked salmon

Beetroot & Horseradish Macarons

Gourmet meals can be given that extra touch of chic with a horseradish and beetroot macaron (recipe on page 103 of my book). Here I’ve served it with Salar Scottish hot smoked salmon with an apple and horseradish sauce recipe.

terre et mer beetroot macaron

On our previous family visit to my husband’s island of Corsica, we had a surprising gourmet treat consisting of this Terre et Mer simple yet sophisticated starter recipe. It may look and sound unusual but, believe me, the mix of smoked salmon with smoky charcuterie dried hams just works.  Back at home, I added chiogga beetroot and apple slices (marinated in lemon juice) for an extra healthy crunch. However, adding this spicy macaron adds that je ne sais quoi WOW FACTOR.

It totally works – please try this, it’s a tasting delight.

Baked Roquefort Green Salad

Beetroot and horseradish macarons will also be fabulous with this artichoke, red onion and roquefort salad. The garden herb macarons (page 97) will also make this salad really sensational.

Beet and horseradish risotto with red wine and a savoury macaron

Why not serve them with a mini portion of beetroot and horseradish risotto, especially designed to accompany your mini savoury macaron on top?

Tikka Curry Macarons – Perfect with Soup!

Mini tikka curry macarons (on page 100) are brilliant with a Gin & Tonic but served with food? They’re a spicy surprise on the side to velvety soups, like this leek, pumpkin and ginger velouté.

festive savory macaron ideas

Or why not try them with a mini amuse-bouche of parsnip, round carrot and coriander soup? Round carrots, or Parisian carrots are round, short and dumpy and have an even sweeter flavour than normal carrots.

Mini Tikka MacSala macarons are just as delicious with a Curried Cauliflower Velouté too, with a sunken, seared scallop or two…

curried cauliflower soup with seared scallops

Tikka macarons, predominantly with cumin in them for spice, would also go well with this Moroccan Chicken & Prune Tagine. Why not? I found extra mini porcelain tagine dishes in Paris that could hide a mini cumin macaron in them for that extra fun surprise at the table.

turkey prune tagine macarons

Thai Red/Green Curry Macarons

Curry fans can make it hot under the mistletoe with the mini Thai curry macarons. Make them red or green, depending on your mood with a hint of coconut. Again, great with a Gin & Tonic but try them with food to get the party well and truly started.

Thai red christmas curry macarons by Jill

Thai green curry macarons can be a surprising addition to this recipe starter of sweet potato, crab and thai herb croquettes, served with a thai-style mayonnaise to use up your egg yolks (again, the recipe is with the croquettes).

Or what about serving a mini mac with these light, gluten-free ginger, crab and coriander quiches?

Garden Herb Macarons

Inspiration for this warming French watercress soup (soupe au cresson) came after a trip to the beautiful watercress beds in Normandy. Serve with garden herb macarons (recipe on page 97 of the book).

Or surprise your guests with mini herb macarons as a side to this cherry tomato, wild strawberry and rocket salad, peut-être? It’s perfect for those of you lucky sun-kissed macaronivores in the Southern Hemisphere.

Bloody Mary Macarons – for Adults Only!

Moreover, serve the above salad with a Bloody Mary macaron for a surprise with a slightly bigger punch (although please do ensure that you inform guests that there is a touch of vodka in them). Vodka lovers will adore the delicious surprise element, having these served as an apéritif.

Why not serve a few mini Bloody Mary Macarons with these roasted tomato & mozzarella bites? They’re ideal as nibbles in the winter, when tomatoes are not usually as tasty out of season and so roasting them slightly in this way concentrates their flavour.

Add the macarons also to those party toffee cherry tomatoes – great fun!

We’re back to that warming bowl of soup again, though. What about serving Bloody Mary Macarons with a smooth Sweetcorn & Red Pepper Chowder? In fact, most of the savoury macarons in my book goes with this, as a touch of spice is sensational wrapped up in a tiny, chic Parisian macaron.

Sweetcorn and red pepper cream soup recipe

Savoury Macarons: The Recipes

All of the above mentioned savoury macarons are in their very own Mad Macs Chapter in my first book,
Mad About Macarons! They’re not just fun but utterly delicious and add a fun side to the festive table or special occasions at any time of year.

I’m a green and red curry macaron ‘read-thai’ to party!

Traditional Parisian Macarons

Not ready to make the plunge to savoury macarons? Then don’t forget in both my books, I have plenty of sweet macaron recipes to choose from!

christmas macaron ideas

Check out the full index of bonus recipes to accompany Mad About Macarons!, including many egg yolk recipes and desserts to serve with your gluten-free macaron treats.

Thank you for all your wonderful support and motivating comments over the year on le blog, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and for spreading the word about Mad About Macarons!

Happy holidays and wishing you a
Healthy, Happy and a Macaron-ivorous New Year!

Serving ideas for savoury macarons

Vacherin Ice Cream Cake

The Vacherin Ice Cream Cake has to be one of the most impressive yet simplest special occasion cakes to make – it almost feels like cheating!

Trust the French to turn something we generally have stocks at home into an occasion. Take a tub of ice cream, a tub of sorbet and dress it up to party with some meringue and whipped cream. It also just happens to be gluten free.

Vacherin Ice Cream Cake Recipe

What is a French Vacherin Dessert?

Not to be confused with the round Vacherin cheese made of cow’s milk, the Vacherin dessert is also round in shape and basically composed of ice cream. I’ve seen some Vacherins on the web that are confusing, as they look more like a pavlova just with meringue, cream and fruit. A French Vacherin is an iced celebration dessert.

It couldn’t be easier: a Vacherin is made up of a layer or two of meringue, topped with vanilla ice cream then raspberry sorbet and finished off with a Chantilly cream, often laced with a little festive tipple.

An Ice Cream Birthday Cake

Vacherin Ice Cream Birthday Cake

My French father-in-law, Jean-Pierre, adores a Vacherin. Each time we have a family reunion or party of some sort – whether it’s a birthday or an excuse for a special dessert, he always orders a Vacherin Glacé from the local patisserie. It’s such a French classic, that most patisseries sell them in the freezer, opposite the counter.

So, when Jean-Pierre (‘le Toucan‘) was visiting recently, I decided to make my own homemade Vacherin to surprise him for his 80th birthday. Thankfully they arrived when they did last month, before this Covid-19 virus has taken over.

Pink Boobies

Surprise, Jean-Pierre! Except I really did create an element of surprise.

So much so, I shocked even myself by a last-minute mind-blowing idea of adding some pink colouring to the meringue.  Not exactly a great idea for a very traditional Corsican father-in-law male – but let’s just say it continued the raspberry sorbet theme? I loved how he totally ignored my pink boobies all around the cake, though. Luckily I had a few macaron shells handy to disguise them!

Vacherin French Ice Cream Dessert

Easy Dessert to Prepare in Advance

Moreover, a Vacherin is a perfect dessert made in advance.  Just prepare the day before, the morning itself – or even a few days before.

If you prefer the Chantilly cream fresh and unfrozen, then add this at the last minute and enjoy adding your own personal decorations. I added gold leaf, some pistachios and served cape gooseberries on the side, just as an excuse for some winter fruit, otherwise raspberries are great.

How to Prepare a Vacherin

A Vacherin is more about organising the presentation of ice cream than an actual recipe, to be honest. Traditionally it’s made with vanilla ice cream and raspberry sorbet, but I used nougat ice cream with extra raspberry ripple in it. Pistachio ice cream would be wonderful too.

I make my own meringue as a base but you could buy yours or even make a macaron base out of it and stick macaron shells or whole macarons all around the cake.  Just follow the macaron recipe instructions in either of my books.

Warning: If you do buy macarons from a store, ensure they have not been frozen first – otherwise do not freeze and serve at the last minute.

First take an 18cm cake ring. Trace a circle on parchment paper. Whip the meringue until stiff peaks are easy to work with a piping bag and pipe it as a spiral in the ring (no need to add colouring – keep it white!)

With the remaining meringue, pipe out little kisses. These will be stuck around the cake at the end.

While the meringue is baking in a coolish oven, use the cake ring to mould out both ice cream layers. The ice cream shouldn’t be too hard, making it easy to spread it into the ring. For this part, you will need to act fast so that the ice cream is easy to work with (still frozen, not melted!). KLxDate

Start with vanilla ice cream (or try this lemon verbena ice cream), then with raspberry sorbet. Leave each layer to harden in the freezer for 30 minutes.

Top the vanilla ice cream with the meringue base, turn upside down and top with Chantilly Cream, sticking on the meringue kisses around the sides using more cream.
NOTE: I don’t add any sugar to the Chantilly cream, as there’s enough sugar in the meringue and ice cream.

Place in the freezer until dessert! I should add that this dessert is gluten free.

Vacherin Ice Cream Dessert Macarons

 

Vacherin French Ice Cream Dessert

French Vacherin Ice Cream Cake

5 from 4 votes
Vacherin-Ice-Cream-Dessert
Vacherin Ice Cream Cake
Prep Time
25 mins
Cook Time
1 hr
Freezing Time
1 hr
Total Time
2 hrs 25 mins
 

A French iced celebration cake that's easy to prepare in advance. Just add meringue to a layer of vanilla ice cream and raspberry sorbet and top with unsugared Chantilly cream, laced with Chambord raspberry liqueur (gluten free).

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: French
Keyword: French iced dessert, gluten free desserts, Ice cream cake, Ice Cream Dessert, Vacherin
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 396 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
Meringue
  • 3 egg whites
  • 100 g (3.5oz) sugar
  • 100 g (3.5oz) icing sugar (powdered/confectioner's sugar)
Ice Cream
  • 500 g (18oz) vanilla ice cream or other creamy, soft ice cream
  • 400 g (14oz) raspberry sorbet
Chantilly Cream
  • 300 g (10.5oz whipping cream (crème fleurette 30% fat)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla powder or few drops vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp Chambord Liqueur (or Kirsch) (optional)
Decor (optional)
  • pistachios
  • dusting of icing/confectioner's sugar
  • fresh raspberries
Instructions
Meringue
  1. Take an 18cm cake ring and trace the ring on to parchment paper as a guide for the spiral. Preheat the oven to 130°C/110°C fan/250°F/Gas 1/2

  2. Using an electric whisk (hand or stand mixer) whip up the egg whites until foaming, then gradually add a third of the normal sugar until it starts to look brilliant, then add the rest until the meringue has stiff peaks. Stop the whisk and fold in the icing sugar

  3. Transfer the meringue to a piping bag with a regular, straight tip and pipe out into a spiral on to the parchment paper. Using the rest of the meringue, either pipe out another spiral or pipe out small kisses. Bake in the oven for an hour.

Ice Cream
  1. Using ice cream that's a little soft for ease of use, place the cake ring on to a rimmed baking sheet and spread the ice cream into an even layer. Place in the freezer for 30 minutes. Then repeat the process by topping with the sorbet. Freeze for another 30 minutes.

Chantilly Cream and Preparation
  1. Whip the whipping cream for about 5 minutes until thickened. There's no need to add any sugar as there's enough sugar in the ice cream and meringue. Once whipped into peaks, add the liqueur, if using. Transfer the cream to a piping bag with a star tip.

  2. It needs quick work during this stage so that the ice cream doesn't melt. Remove the ice cream mould, placing the meringue spiral underneath. Spread a third of the cream all around the surface and stick on the meringue kisses around the sides, sticking on a little extra cream for each meringue. Finish off the rest of the cream by piping it out in a circle around the edges. Either serve immediately or freeze for at least another 30 minutes until ready to serve. Decorate as desired with pistachios, raspberries and icing sugar.

Recipe Notes

Serve with a rosé Champagne or demi-sec Champagne.

I would recommend enjoying this dessert in one go and not re-freezing this dessert if leftovers (who needs an excuse to eat the whole lot, anyway?). Ideally, make using shop-bought ice cream - although this is delicious with homemade lemon verbena ice cream.

This iced celebration dessert is gluten free.

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

Vacherin French Ice Cream Cake

 

 

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 Queen of Sheba 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, topped with a silky rum glaze.

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 moist 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 potato flour or cornflour (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 with the diced butter 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. Mix together until melted and set aside.

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

  3. 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.

  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

 

French Apple Nougat Tart

Some of you saw a few photos of this Apple Nougat Tart recently. A promise is a promise, as I said I’d post the recipe on le blog, didn’t I? So, voilà – here it is, even if a bit later than I was hoping! I didn’t have my kitchen for a couple of weeks as it was getting a few licks of paint – and I finally have a new oven!

Now this makes three apple dessert recipes in a row here but we can never have too many apple desserts, can we? Besides, I need to keep making tarts to help extinguish that lingering odour of fresh paint.

French apple almond walnut tart

Apples with Almonds

Like the previous Quick Apple Tart recipe, it pairs almonds with apples and, while I used ground almonds in the base with a splash of Calvados, this tart uses slivered almonds as a crunchy nougat topping with just sugar and egg whites.

On another occasion, I tried to camouflage apple nougat tart leftovers next day for goûter in the hope I’d get the rest all to myself. Och! It’s always better to share.

French Apple Nougat Tart Slices

I discovered the recipe for Apple Nougat Tart in Jacquy Pfeiffer’s cookbook, The Art of French Pastry. If any of you have seen the 2010 video on The Kings of Pastry (this link is a trailer), he’s the prime subject and I thoroughly recommend you watch it. Hailing from Alsace, this outstanding pastry chef co-founded the French Pastry School in Chicago.

French Apple Nougat Tart

Sweet Pastry Recipe

The chef’s sweet tart base is prepared the day before. Shame on me but, instead of waiting 24 hours, I adapted the Sweet Tart base recipe in Teatime in Paris (there’s a whole chapter on Tarts in the book) by replacing some of the flour with ground almonds (almond flour). The result worked really well and so I’ve posted this alternative pastry base recipe below.

As in Teatime in Paris, the method of making the tart base is all explained, step-by-step using a tart pan or a tart ring.

Best Tart Apples for Making Tarts

The chef’s secret to preparing the apples for this French Nougat Tart is to cook the apple chunks on a high heat in butter quickly until the apples are seared, then cool them off on baking paper. It’s a cracker of a pastry tip for making this. Braeburn apples are good for this; so are a mixture of Pink Lady and Granny Smith.

However, lately I’ve been experimenting without using lemon juice with apples.  If you peel, core and chop your apples quickly enough and immediately throw them into a hot pan, there is no need to go through soaking them in lemon juice.  Good news if you’re in a hurry.

Apple Nougat Tart Topping

The recipe calls for just slivered almonds for the topping but I also experimented using a mixture of sliced almonds, fresh walnuts, hazelnuts and pecans too.  The result is deliciously fabulous.

However, in my humble and honest opinion, there’s nothing to beat the original recipe using just almonds to let the apples shine through. Chef Pfeiffer adds a touch of cinnamon to the topping, although I like it also without, sticking with the vanilla. It’s all a matter of personal taste, bien sûr.

This year we’re seeing Christmas figurines from the Nutcracker all around Paris.  I particularly love seeing them at each entrance to the Tuileries Gardens.

Inspired by chestnuts around Paris, add a few marron glacés (candied chestnuts) on top to complete a Parisian Christmas touch. I love this tart on its own but serve with vanilla ice cream, chestnut & vanilla ice cream, spiced chai crème anglaise or a dollop of crème fraîche.

French Apple Nutcracker Tart

Apple Nougat Tart Recipe

5 from 6 votes
French-Apple-Almond-Walnut-Tart
French Apple Nougat Tart
Prep Time
25 mins
Cook Time
50 mins
Resting Time
1 hr
Total Time
2 hrs 15 mins
 

A delicious sweet tart with apple chunks in vanilla and topped with a crunchy almond nougat, inspired by French pastry chef, Jacquy Pfeiffer. Sweet pastry dough from 'Teatime in Paris'.

Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: French
Keyword: apple almond tart, apple nougat tart, apple tart
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 338 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
Sweet Pastry
  • 125 g (4.5oz) unsalted butter softened
  • 75 g (2.75oz) icing (confectioner's) sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt (fleur de sel)
  • 1 medium egg (organic)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla powder or extract
  • 200 g (7oz) plain, all-purpose flour (type 45)
  • 50 g (1.75oz) ground almonds (almond flour)
Apple Filling
  • 3 Organic apples (Braeburn, Pink Lady, Granny Smith) peeled & cored
  • 30 g (1oz) butter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla powder (or 1 3/4 tsp extract)
  • 2 tbsp cane sugar (or Turbinado)
Nougat Topping
  • 55 g (2oz) organic egg whites
  • 55 g (2oz) sugar
  • 55 g (2oz) slivered almonds (or mix of sliced almonds, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts)
Instructions
Sweet Pastry Base
  1. For more complete instructions, follow the recipe on pages 106-109 in my book, 'Teatime in Paris'. Mix the butter and sugar in a stand mixer until creamy. Add salt then other ingredients until just mixed, then stop. Form the dough into a ball, wrap in cling film or in a bag and chill in the fridge for at least an hour.

  2. Take the pastry out of the fridge. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/360°F/Gas4. Roll out the pastry on a very lightly floured surface to 4mm thickness. Press into the pastry ring or pan. Roll over the rolling pin on top to trim then push the pastry again into the ring to ensure it's straight against the sides. Set aside the remaining pastry, returning it to the fridge or freeze for making another tart.

  3. Blind bake the pastry by topping with parchment paper and fill with baking beans, washed coins, rice or dried beans. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes, then set aside to cool on a wire rack, removing the baking beans.

Apple Filling
  1. Prepare a sheet of parchment paper on the side.

    Heat a large frying pan over high heat and add the butter. Meanwhile, chop the apples into large dice (cut them quickly and there's no need to use lemon juice). When the butter is golden, fry the apples in sugar and vanilla for at least 5 minutes until seared a golden brown on one side. Turn the apples, cooking on high still for another 2 minutes then transfer to the parchment to cool.

Nougat Topping
  1. In a bowl, whisk the egg whites with a fork until loosened up then stir in the sugar and sliced (or other chopped) nuts.

  2. Evenly spread the cooled apples into the pastry base and top with the nougat. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

Recipe Notes

Best served on the day but can be kept refrigerated until next day. Also freezes well (double wrap).
Serve with vanilla ice cream, a dollop of crème fraîche or chestnut ice cream.

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

 

Roasted Tomato Mozzarella Bites

Each time I make these Roasted Tomato Mozzarella Bites, they disappear so fast I can never take any photos.  Believe me, when you make them yourself, you’ll know exactly what I mean.

The beauty about these nibbles is the roasted tomatoes. I know; slicing up fresh tomatoes, plopping on some fresh mozzarella and basil, dribbled with some olive oil and sea salt and it’s done, right? OK. Yes, I hear you.  But we don’t always get the greatest of tomatoes ALL the time.

There’s nothing to beat homegrown but when we can’t grow our own tomatoes and we’re left with slightly tasteless ones when they’re out of season or a bit tired at the supermarket, then this is the answer. Roasting the tomatoes for a few minutes first makes all the difference.

Roasted Tomato Mozzarella Bites

Roasted Tomato Mozzarella Bites

Quick Roasting Tomatoes Concentrates Flavour

The concentrated tomato flavour by quick-roasting in the oven means that there’s no need for any fancy extra ingredients.  Keep it simple. I use the longer tomatoes, as they give off less juice and so ideal for roasting quickly (e.g. Torino, Roma).

Torino Tomatoes at the French market

You’ll just need good quality fresh mozzarella (bufala even better): either balls or chopped into little bite-sized pieces.  Top each tomato slice along with a bit of fresh basil, salt and olive oil – if you really need to. To top it, here’s my Italian-blooded friend, Christina Conte, talking about the reasons to hold back on balsamic etc. on Caprese salads!

The flavour ends up being so full of blissful tomato, that you’ll just want to eat it as is. Don’t believe me? Just try it!

As I watched our cherry tomato plant just roast in the soaring temperatures this week to over 40°C, I could have probably done this recipe just by picking them directly off the plant and forgetting about the oven! Speaking of which, have you tried these salted toffee cherry tomatoes?

Luckily for us, our mini dwarf basil plant hasn’t grilled completely in this Parisian heatwave. To top it, we’ve got some pretty little basil flowers that are totally edible too. If you’re one of these people who puts the flowers to the side of the plate or picks them off, please don’t. The herb flowers pack a punch with a concentrated basil that explodes on the palette!

Roasted Tomato Mozzarella Bites

Bland Tomatoes? Roast them!

Great party food, excellent served with drinks at any time of year.  By roasting the tomatoes, the flavour is concentrated and so even the blandest of tomatoes can be livened up for a party – although the better the tomatoes, the more your toes will curl with the pure and simple taste. Cheers!

Roasted Tomato Mozzarella Bites

5 from 7 votes
Roasted tomato mozzarella bites
Roasted Tomato Mozzarella Bites
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Cooling Time
15 mins
Total Time
50 mins
 

Easy Caprese tomato mozzarella & basil bites are concentrated in flavour with roasted tomatoes, making them great party food and full of flavour at any time of year.

Course: Appetizer, Drinks, Side Dish, Snack, Starter
Cuisine: Italian, Mediterranean
Keyword: appetizers, party food, tomato mozzarella
Servings: 10 people
Calories: 94 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 5 Tomatoes (organic) (I use Roma, long tomatoes)
  • 1 tsp fleur de sel sea salt
  • pepper, to taste (optional)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
  • 300 g (11oz) fresh mozzarella balls (if small, one per tomato slice, otherwise cut in half)
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil leaves to top each tomato
Instructions
  1. Slice the tomatoes not too thinly (about 1.5cm) so that they'll roast and not burn (they should be still wet when done). Place slices on baking parchment on a baking tray. Roast in the oven at 170°C/150°C fan/340°F/Gas 3 for about 20 minutes until roasted but not brown.

  2. Leave to cool on the baking tray. Meanwhile, place the mozzarella balls in a bowl with the olive oil, sea salt and pepper, if using.

  3. Place the basil then mozzarella balls on each tomato slice and using a tooth pick, lift off each tomato slice, skewering the pick into the tomato and mozzarella and transfer to a serving plate. If there are leftover tomato slices, place one on top to make a sandwich.

Recipe Notes

Excellent with a glass of chilled white, rosé or red wine or try a French Kir Royal for something different.

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com