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French Onion Tarte Tatin with Cheese

This French Onion Tarte Tatin is one of my favourite quick and easy savoury dishes. It’s so handy to make using basic ingredients I like to keep in stock in the fridge and pantry. This recipe is healthy too – as onions are naturally sweet, there’s no need to add any sugar or honey; the onions caramelise themselves!

French Onion Tarte Tatin

With some chèvre goat’s cheese hidden under the onions before hitting the crispy puff pastry, the flavours are divine – especially with a touch of fresh rosemary and toasted walnuts sprinkled on top, almost as an afterthought. I took inspiration for the accompanying flavours in this recipe from the classic French salade de chèvre chaud. For those of you not keen on goat’s cheese, however, you can replace the cheese with Comté, Emmental or your own favourite cheese – or omit the cheese entirely.

Serve with a salad of lamb’s lettuce with extra toasted walnuts and for those not vegetarian, go the full monty with added bacon bits (lardons).

A version of this recipe was first published on le blog on 10 December 2013, and as a guest at Ann Mah’s Tuesday Dinner series. The text is now updated with a printable recipe card and includes an accompanying video.

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French onion tarte tatin

Story of the Tarte Tatin

According to my old 1984 edition of Larousse Gastronomique, the Tarte Tatin dessert of caramelised apples (see my recipe here) was first served in Paris at Maxim’s giving a bow to its creators, the famous Tatin sisters.

Stéphanie and Caroline Tatin came up with this irresistible dessert quite by accident at the end of the 19th century while running their hotel/restaurant in the French Sologne region, south of Paris.  The story goes that, as the apples were caramelising in sugar and butter in the oven for their tarte solognote, they either realised they’d forgotten the pastry or that they’d burned the apples, so they simply plopped the pastry on top, baked then flipped the tart upside down, et voilà. From then on, it was served as their speciality until they retired in 1906, although they never called it a Tarte Tatin until Maxim’s took it on by storm in Paris on their dessert menu.

Onion Tarte Tatin – No Sugar!

Onions are naturally sweet: they contain about 5% sugar, which is good news for making an onion tarte tatin.  So there’s no need for making any caramel or adding any sugar. Cooking the onions slowly first means they caramelise themselves without the sugar.

If you do have a sweet tooth, however, you could add a touch of balsamic vinegar to the onions, to add a bit of acidity and extra rich colour.

Perfect Vegetarian Starter for Entertaining

It’s a handy recipe for all seasons and, depending on who’s sitting at the table, it can be dressed either up or down for something simple to oh-là-là effective as a starter at dinner.

It’s also vegetarian (it’s not vegan), happy food served with a side salad.

One large onion tarte tatin serves 6-8 slices. Cook it in advance for no longer than 25 minutes until light golden, upturn on to a serving plate that can transfer to the oven then leave to cool. Just re-heat in the oven for 10 minutes and it’s an easy, stress-free dish that’s ready to serve to your guests.

Mini French Onion Tarte Tatin

Onion Tartlet Tatins

If you’d like to be more chic, make individual onion tartlet tatins using non-stick tartlet moulds (this recipe makes 6 tartlets). Watch my VIDEO here to see just how quick and easy they are to make, just like the large onion tarte tatin.

I made them with regular onions – the best of French’s ‘Roscoff’ onions with some comté cheese.

Chevre Red Onions

Onion Tarte Tatin with Cheese – What’s Best?

French Onion Tarte Tatin with Goat’s Cheese

Like a French goat’s cheese salad or this goat’s cheese and walnut pasta sauce, don’t skimp on using good quality goat cheese. I like to use a couple of Crottins de Chavignol made with raw goat’s milk (lait cru). Not creamy fresh and not too mouldy mature, either – just somewhere in between which is perfect for cooking and full of flavour.

Can’t find Crottin de Chavignol? No worries – use a good quality farm goat’s cheese and about 6 thick slices in total for a whole onion tarte tatin. It depends on your taste.

French Onion Tatin Tartlets

Comté or Emmental Cheese for Onion Tarte Tatin

Otherwise, replace the goat’s cheese with a few slices of comté cheese (as I use in the tartlet tatins on the video) o

Not keen on cheese at all? Omit the cheese entirely and the tatin will be just as good – just don’t forget the walnuts!

Wine pairing: serve with a chilled Sauvignon Blanc and the sensation with the goat’s cheese brings out honey flavours. Ideally, serve a wine from the Loire Valley since it’s The French region for goats cheeses (Sancerre, Quincy, Menetou-Salon, Pouilly, Reuilly…)

French Onion Tarte Tatin – without Cheese

Made without the cheese, I love this on its own just as much. However, topped with a few slices of Stornoway black pudding it gives it a stunning touch of the Scottish alliance on a French plate!

French Onion Tarte Tatin

 

5 from 1 vote
French Onion Tarte Tatin with Goat's Cheese
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
35 mins
Total Time
55 mins
 

A crispy and soft upside down tart of caramelised onions without any added sugar or honey with rosemary or thyme, toasted walnuts and a hidden layer of melted goat's cheese. Ready-made puff pastry makes this onion tarte tatin even easier to prepare along with staple pantry and fridge items.

Course: Appetizer, Light Lunch, Main Course, Starter
Cuisine: French
Keyword: onion tarte tatin, savoury tarte tatin
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 284 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 4 large onions red or yellow
  • 1 packet (230g) ready-rolled puff pastry, all butter (or defrosted puff pastry, rolled into a circle)
  • 25g (1oz) unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary or thyme (or 1/2 tsp dried Herbes de Provence)
  • handful walnuts
  • pinch salt & pepper
  • 100g (4oz) goat's cheese or comté (optional)
Instructions
  1. Peel and cut the onions into thin slices. Meanwhile, over a medium-low heat, melt the butter with some olive oil in a non-stick frying pan (ideally that can be transferred to the oven otherwise use a 23cm non-stick cake pan to bake the tatin). Add the onions to the pan and leave to soften and cook for about 15 minutes, turning a few times to coat the onions in the butter and oil.

  2. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/Gas 6.

  3. Add chopped fresh herbs (or a teaspoon of dried Herbes de Provence) and season the onions. Transfer to a cake pan, if using. Slice the goat cheese (3 slices per person) and place them on top of the packed caramelised onions.

  4. Top with the larger disk of puff pastry, tucking it in around the sides of the pan. Prick the pastry (to stop the puff from rising in the oven) then transfer to the oven. Bake for 30 minutes, or until crisp and golden brown.

  5. Remove from the oven. Place a serving plate larger than the pan over the top. Carefully turn the tatin upside down on to the plate.

Recipe Notes

See accompanying video demonstration here.

Serving Suggestions:

A side-salad of lamb's lettuce (mâche) tossed in olive or walnut oil, white balsamic vinegar and extra toasted walnuts.

Wine pairing with onions:

With goat's cheese: serve with a chilled white Sauvignon Blanc and the sensation with the goat's cheese brings out honey flavours. Ideally, serve a wine from the Loire Valley since it's The French region for goats cheeses (Sancerre, Quincy, Menetou-Salon, Pouilly, Reuilly...). A Sancerre red is also a good match.
Otherwise with onions: serve with a fruity Chenin Blanc (e.g. Vouvray, Savennières) or rosé.

.

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

Palets Bretons: French Salted Butter Biscuits

Put just a few good quality basic ingredients together – salted butter, sugar, egg yolks, flour and baking powder – and what do you get? Irresistible Palets Bretons, the popular French salted butter biscuit or cookie from Brittany.

Palets Bretons

This recipe was originally published 10 April 2016. As it’s one of the most popular recipes on Mad About Macarons’ website, I have updated it to include a better, printable recipe card. I have also added ideas for toppings – let’s dress them up to celebrate Spring with teatime at home. 

See the video

click HERE

 

Palets Bretons Recipe

Homemade Palet Breton Recipe

These delicious sweet-yet-salty butter biscuits (cookies) may not be found easily in patisseries in and around Paris these days – but I guarantee you’ll find them lining the aisles of sweet munchies in French supermarkets. But let me warn you: once you make them, you’ll not want to buy the regular brands again.

You will, however, find them disguised in French patisseries.

Palets Bretons French Butter Biscuits

Pastry chefs often use Palets Bretons as a base for individual creamy strawberry cakes, topped with chocolate or crunchy nougat, for example.

Palets Bretons Chocolate Easter Eggs

Chocolate toppings are the best during Easter – think of all the possibilities you could make!

If you’ve made them already, please do leave me a comment below and tell me how you like them – plain or decadent for a tea party.

Palets Bretons Recipe

Sablés and Palets Bretons: What’s the Difference?

Very like Sablés Bretons, Palets Bretons (meaning “Breton disks”) are much thicker, airy and lightly crispy.

Sablés Bretons are thinner and are a shiny salted biscuit/cookie resembling shortbread. Sablé means sand in French, referring to the crumb-like texture of the dough.

What Butter is Best to Use for Palets Bretons?

Perfect with an afternoon cup of tea, the best part is that Palets Bretons are not that sweet since they contain a large amount (about 20%) of the famous Breton salted butter from the North coast of France. This is what makes them compulsive eating!

Ideally, use good quality salted butter from Brittany for this recipe but – as this isn’t always easy to find outside of France – use unsalted butter and add good quality salt from Brittany such as fleur de sel from the Guérande, so that the resulting taste is more authentic.

Palets Bretons Chocolate Easter

How to Serve Palets Bretons?

I know you may be tempted to add vanilla, cinnamon, or lemon zest – but there’s nothing to beat enjoying Palets Bretons plain to enjoy their irresistible, salty and buttery addictiveness.

Somehow, the word ‘plain’ doesn’t do them justice! Taste them for yourself and tell me in the comments below how you prefer them.

Ideas for Palets Bretons Biscuit Toppings

This is also a handy French recipe to have up your sleeve as it serves as a base for many chic yet easy desserts like cheesecake, mousse or even if it’s just a topping of pastry cream and fresh strawberries.

  • Here I piped on some pistachio pastry cream, taken from my recipe book, Teatime in Paris. Many of the cream variations are good: e.g. coffee, hazelnut and chocolate;
  • A blob of chocolate ganache (or chocolate spread if you don’t have time) would also be perfect with the salt and sweet – especially for Easter: stick on some mini Easter eggs, edible flowers, raspberries – let your imagination go mad;
  • As this is part of the egg yolk recipe collection, USE UP THE EGG WHITES to make this Chocolate Passion Fruit Mousse (and macarons, of course!)?
  • Top with crunchy nougatine – I saw a Parisian pastry shop carry this in their window – great idea, as the salty biscuit goes heavenly with the nuts.  Get the easiest French nougatine recipe here;
  • A simple dollop of Chantilly cream or even crème frâiche with a strawberry on top will be simply and utterly delicious.

Palets Bretons French Biscuits

How to make Palets Bretons: roll the dough into a sausage, chill, then press into unbuttered muffin moulds

How to Make Palets Bretons – or French Salted Butter Biscuits

Many French chefs tell you to roll out the dough between two baking sheets, cut out circles using cookie cutters and bake them directly in pastry rings. As I’m making them at home and don’t have that many pastry rings (who does?), I find it so much quicker and easier to roll out the dough into a sausage shape and bake them in muffin moulds.

This recipe makes enough for about 10 large Palets Breton biscuits using regular muffin moulds (at 156 calories per large biscuit). I love making these mini versions (using mini muffin moulds) but if you prefer the bigger version, then just double the recipe quantity below -the dough also freezes well up to a month in its sausage shape. Defrost in the fridge before use and cut to size for the rest of the recipe.

Egg Yolk Recipe

For those of you who love to make macarons, macaron trifles, meringues, financier cakes, tuiles, etc. you need just egg whites. This recipe uses 2 egg yolks (or 4 yolks if you make a bigger batch of larger biscuits), so is ideal to make if you’re planning to make any of them later.

Don’t forget that there’s an egg yolk recipe database for you on the website, searchable by number of egg yolks!

Palets Bretons French Butter Biscuits

Best Buttery French Teacakes & Biscuits

Love buttery French teacakes and biscuits like these Palets Bretons? Enjoy similar, quick and easy French teatime recipes in the first chapter of my second book, Teatime in Paris!
You’ll find Financier teacakes (including gluten-free chocolate hazelnut), chocolate-filled Tigrés, Madeleines, Diamond biscuits, almond Tuiles, Canelés, Coconut macaroons … and that’s just part of the FIRST chapter, out of 6 main French pastry types.

 

5 from 8 votes
Palets Bretons French Butter Biscuits
Palets Bretons - Salted French Butter Biscuits from Brittany
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
35 mins
 

Easy French recipe for the best buttery, salted cookies using just 6 easy-to-find ingredients and ideas for teatime toppings

Course: Dessert, Snack, teatime
Cuisine: French
Keyword: French butter cookies, palets bretons, Salted butter biscuits,
Servings: 20 Mini biscuits
Calories: 78 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 90 g (3oz) butter (unsalted)* at room temperature
  • 75 g (2.5oz) sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt (fleur de sel) omit if using good quality French salted butter
  • 2 egg yolks organic
  • 125 g (4oz) Plain flour (all-purpose)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
Instructions
  1. Using a mixer, beat together the softened butter, sugar and salt until light and creamy.  Mix in the egg yolks then the flour and baking powder until a lovely soft dough forms. (If you don’t have a mixer or electric whisk, this can be done by hand in a large bowl).

  2. Using the palm of your hands, roll the dough back and forward to create a sausage shape until the diameter is the size of your moulds (here I used mini muffin silicone moulds @5cm diameter). Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 180°C/360°F/160°C fan (gas mark 4)

  4. Cut disks of 1.5cm (3/4 inch) and press them into the muffin moulds (unbuttered – there’s enough butter in the biscuits!)

  5. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

  6. Leave to cool in the moulds then turn them out on to a baking rack, pretty side up.

Recipe Notes

* As finding good quality salted butter from Brittany is difficult to find outside of France, I make this recipe using unsalted butter and add good quality 'fleur de sel' from the Guérande.

Delicious on their own with a cup of tea (such as Jasmine green tea or Ceylon).
They’re also ideal as a base for easy French individual desserts. For example, top with Chantilly cream, chocolate ganache, chocolate mousse, lemon curd, or French pastry cream and strawberries.

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

Palets Bretons French Butter Biscuits

Quick Almond Milk Rice Pudding (Vegan)

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 (see topping ideas below). What’s more, these creamy pots happen to be GLUTEN FREE and VEGAN.

Read on to discover the version of almond milk rice pudding that Alexandre Dumas made, according to his Grand Culinary Dictionary (1873).

Quick Almond Milk Rice Pudding

Quick Almond Milk Rice Pudding – Make it a Pantry 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?

Ideal Recipe for 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 are great almond milk substitutes, 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.

Bon appétit !

Quick Almond Milk Rice Pudding

Almond Milk Rice Pudding by Alexandre Dumas

I discovered recently that Alexandre Dumas (author of ‘The Three Muskateers’ & ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’) listed Almond Milk Rice Pudding in his impressive ‘Grand Dictionnaire de Cuisine’ (1873). The recipe he uses is just like the one below but without any dried fruits, vanilla or rose water. Instead he adds just a little lemon zest and a couple of almond leaves if you prefer to make something a bit more historical about your rice pudding!

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 or lemon zest
  • 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

French Chocolate Passion Mousse with Caramel Nougatine

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

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

Chocolate Passion Fruit Mousse

The result?

French Chocolate Passion Mousse

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

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

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

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

French chocolate passion mousse

Who took the spoon?

What to say in French for Being Excited

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

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

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

For Nutty Caramel Lovers

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

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

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

French Chocolate Passion Mousse & Nougatine

French chocolate passion mousse recipe

Join me here on Pinterest!

French chocolate passion mousse

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recipe Notes

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

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

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

 

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 served in many chic Parisian restaurants. For a soup, it also has a deliciously steamy 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

 

 

 

French Apple Nougat Tart

Some of you saw a few photos of this French 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,

French Apple Nutcracker Tart

French 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