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French Apple Crumble Cake

How on earth could a simple apple crumble take me so long to find the correct name to fit this recipe? I’ve called this a French Apple Crumble Cake, yet it’s without the cake bit.

French Apple Crumble Cake

French Apple Dessert Inspiration

With an abundance of French apples this Autumn, I wanted a classic yet healthy apple dessert.
This recipe “Le Gâteau aux Petits Lu®” of Danièle Thompson caught my eye in Philippe Conticini and Pascal Frey’s compilation of nostalgic desserts by French celebrities in “Souvenirs Gourmands” (bought at their book launch in 2015 at the Pâtisserie des Rêves in Paris).

Danièle’s gâteau is genius. It’s basically a crumble with unsugared, lightly spiced apples. It’s given le French Touch by layering apple compote with a biscuit crumble in a rectangle or ring and left to chill in cake shape for 24 hours.

C’est tout.

Oat and almond toasted crumble

Well not quite.

Instead of using ready-made commercial biscuits, I made my own favourite Scottish oat crumble topping. So, does this make it an ‘Apple Crisp’, as it contains brown sugar and oats? Hmm. I’ve added ground almonds too.

Oat & Nut Crumble

This isn’t anything astounding, though, is it? As a Scot, it’s understandable we like adding porridge oats to  crumble toppings – as you can see from this simple apple oat crumble dessert. Moreover, the (optional) nutty addition of almonds adds more texture and flavour. Pudding proof is adding ground hazelnuts in this wicked chocolate hazelnut pear crumble.

Gingerbread spiced apple lemon compote

Naturally Sweet Apple Compote

The compote could be made purely with a sticky vanilla pod or bean but I love Danièle’s addition of pain d’épice/gingerbread spice. In this case, I had the French gingerbread spices to hand (cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, star anise) and so infused them into the bubbling lemon juice and apples.

So, what do I love most about this French Apple Crumble Cake? The choice of naturally sweet apples (Golden Delicious and Pink Lady) means there’s no need to add any sugar to the fruit. The result is sweet enough and it’s healthy too!

layering oat crumble with spiced apple compote

French Apple Crumble ‘Cake’

This isn’t really a French ‘cake’. Unlike apple crumble cakes on the web, this is rather more of a cake look-a-like.  In France, a “cake” is a transportable rectangular cake made with flour and it’s designed to rise (e.g. Banana Chocolate Marble Cake).

Instead, this French Apple Crumble Cake just rises to the occasion for teatime, dessert – or even breakfast or brunch and let’s even add it to the Thanksgiving table. It’s really a French gâteau but translated into English sounds awfully complicated. So I’m sticking with cake! Without the cake. Jings, now I’m making it sound complicated – but it’s just the delicious subtleties of the language.

French Apple Crumble Cake

Can I replace the Apples with other Fruits?

Keep it simple. Stick with apples rather than alternating with other fruits, as the compote should stay compact and avoid being too liquid.  Replace an apple with a pear at most but keep it at that to enjoy this recipe at its best. Using Granny Smith apples are good but remember they’re tart and would require some sugar.  Like in Danièle’s  original recipe, use a mix of Golden Delicious (I love how the French pronounce  them as “Gaulden“) and Pink Lady, as they’re the easiest to work with and naturally sweet.

Can I make it Gluten Free or Vegan?

This recipe is relatively low in gluten but if you want to omit the flour completely to make this completely gluten free, double the amount of oats and ground almonds. To make this recipe vegan, replace the butter with your favourite non-dairy spread or melted coconut oil for the best vegan crumble topping.

Can I freeze it?

I don’t recommend freezing it as, although possible, the crumble will become not as crisp and – dare I say such a horrible word in baking? Soggy. So let’s keep it crumbly crisp and serve simply chilled. Speaking of which, I do stress that the cake needs to chill for 24 hours in order to keep its perfect shape and eaten at its best on the day.

French Apple Crumble Cake Ice Cream

How to serve French Apple Crumble Cake

This French Apple Crumble Cake is excellent served simply on its own, as the French tend to do.  However, for many of us who love that little extra luxury on the side, a drizzling of caramel au beurre salé (see my salted caramel sauce recipe) would be perfect with a dollop of good crème fraîche.
If we want to be British about it, add custard – or try this lightly spiced French chilled custard, Chai Tea Crème Anglaise. For ice cream lovers, chestnut ice cream is a perfect Autumnal or Winter treat.
Alternatively, serve with the lot if you plan to make this for a perfect, fruity Thanksgiving dessert!
JINGS – I have it!  Let’s call it Thanksgiving Apple Crumble.

More Apple Dessert Recipes:

Sticky Toffee Apple Pudding

Alsatian Apple Custard Tart

Individual Apple Rose Tatins

Classic French Tarte Tatin

Gingerbread, Apple & Salted Caramel Trifles

Cheat’s Danish Apple Cake by FabFood4All

Toffee Apple Hazelnut Cake by Tin&Thyme

Persimmon Apple Crumble with Rum Sauce by Christina’s Cucina

 

French Apple Crumble Cake

French Apple Crumble Cake Recipe

5 from 3 votes
French Apple Crumble Cake
French Apple Crumble Cake
Prep Time
25 mins
Cook Time
35 mins
Chilling Time
1 d
Total Time
1 hr
 

A chilled healthy Apple crumble style cake - served chilled with a naturally sweet and spiced apple compote sandwiched between an oat and almond crumble

Course: Brunch, Dessert, teatime
Cuisine: British, French, Scottish
Keyword: apple crisp cake, apple crumble cake,, baking with oats, healthy apple desserts
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 436 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
Crumble
  • 100 g (3.5oz) butter (room temperature)
  • 50 g (1.75oz) coconut sugar or muscovado sugar
  • 100 g (3.5oz) plain flour (all purpose)
  • 50 g (1.75oz) medium rolled oats
  • 50 g (1.75oz) ground almonds (almond flour)
Apple Compote (Gingerbread-spiced)
  • 1 kg (2lb 3oz) apples 3 Golden Delicious, 2 Pink Lady
  • 1 vanilla pod (or 1tsp vanilla powder)
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 cloves
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 1 lemon, juice only
  • 1/4 tsp fleur de sel (a pinch)
Instructions
Make the Crumble:
  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan/375°F/Gas 5

  2. Combine all the crumble ingredients an a large bowl, lightly rubbing through your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Set aside. (I often make double quantities of crumble and at this point freeze the other half for an extra speedy dessert next time!)

  3. Spread evenly on to a baking sheet covered in baking parchment or with a silicone mat. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the crumble is golden brown. Set aside to cool.

Make the Apple Compote:
  1. Peel and cut the apples into small cubes. Put all the ingredients in a saucepan, cover and heat gently for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until the apples have become soft (I love keeping a few bits still visible for texture). Set aside to cool.

Preparing the Apple Crumble Cake:
  1. Butter a 20cm cake ring or springform cake tin (or 20cm x 8cm rectangle) and place directly on the serving plate. Sprinkle half of the cooled crumble mix evenly on the bottom, then spoon all the apple compote evenly. Top with the rest of the crumble and transfer to the fridge for 24 hours. Lift off the cake ring or take off the springform tin (this is so much easier than it sounds!)

Recipe Notes

Serve chilled on its own with a dusting of icing/confectioner's sugar. Also good with warmed salted caramel sauce, chilled Chai Crème Anglaise (or at room temperature) or candied chestnut ice cream or a good old blob of crème fraîche.

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

Crispy Sesame Tuiles

Truth be told, I was planning all sorts of French travel posts and recipes lately but have been so tired after radiation treatment, I’ve things left aside until after the holidays. Yesterday, however, I did make these Crispy Sesame Tuiles for teatime, simply as they were so quick to make: they’re made in about 20 minutes!

I experimented using the basic Almond Tuiles recipe in my book, Teatime in Paris. Not only did they work using sesame seeds but they were so delicious, we couldn’t stop eating them! The bonus? They can keep even longer in a biscuit tin – if you can resist the temptation.

Crispy Sesame Tuiles

Sesame Seeds – High in Calcium

Why Sesame Tuiles? Well, for the last 4 months, I’ve had trouble balancing calcium levels following the removal of my thyroid – and especially parathyroid glands. Even if you don’t have thyroid issues, we need calcium in our diet for healthy bones. Sesame seeds are naturally high in calcium, so I’ve been sprinkling them on more or less everything: on breakfast oat granola, on my favourite goat’s cheese salade de chevre chaud, soups like corn chowder and grilled Béarnaise chicken. It has worked!

Then yesterday, I just thought, why not replace the almonds with sesame seeds in my favourite, easy-and-fast-to-make teatime Tuiles? They’re even crispier and not as sweet as the classic French biscuits.

sesame tuiles

Whether you need more calcium or not in your diet, I urge you to try them: you’ll discover that Crispy Sesame Tuiles are also rather addictive!

How Can I Serve Sesame Tuiles?

Crispy sesame tuiles are not just great on their own for teatime. Here are some ideas to serve with some of our favourite desserts:

Sesame Tuiles

Here I’ve used white sesame seeds but try black sesame too – and with this Black Sesame ice cream, inspired by our gourmet visit to Japan last summer.
Read more on our experience of Teatime in Japan here.

Crispy Sesame Tuiles

Crispy Sesame Tuiles

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Crispy Sesame Tuiles

5 from 8 votes
Sesame Tuiles Best Recipe
Crispy Sesame Tuiles
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
8 mins
Cooling Time
4 mins
Total Time
22 mins
 

A variation of French Tuiles (literally 'roof tiles' by their biscuit shape) using sesame seeds instead of almonds - and high in calcium. Recipe adapted from French almond Tuiles from my book, Teatime in Paris.

Course: Dessert, teatime
Cuisine: French
Keyword: teatime recipes
Servings: 9 people
Calories: 162 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 70 g (2.5oz) Egg whites from 2 eggs
  • 65 g (2.25oz) cane sugar (or granulated sugar)
  • 65 g (2.25oz) butter melted
  • 35 g (1.25oz) plain flour (all-purpose)
  • 65 g (2.25oz) sesame seeds
  • pinch salt (fleur de sel)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/170°C fan/gas 5.

  2. Place all the ingredients in a bowl and stir together with a spoon until well combined.

  3. Line 2 baking sheets with baking paper or a silicone mat and spoon the mixture into oval discs - using the back of a spoon - to about 6cm (2.5") in diameter.

  4. Bake in separate batches* (one tray at a time) in the oven for 8 minutes - keep your eye on them, as they cook fast. They should be toasted around the edges and cooked but golden in the middle.

  5. Straight from the oven, transfer each flat tuile (using a palet knife or pie slice) to a rolling pin to shape them to their tuile - or roof-tile - shape. Otherwise transfer to a wire rack to cool for 4 minutes.

Recipe Notes

Enjoy the tuiles freshly made, otherwise eat within 2 days if stored in an airtight container.

* If not using all the batter, keep covered in the fridge for 2-3 days.

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

 

 

 

Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle Roof Visit (Paris Day Trips)

I promised you this taster of the Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle Roof Visit. It’s a fabulous way to discover this royal town’s history which breathes around the Château and boasts a rooftop view over the River Seine to Paris.

As Paris visitors flock further west to the Palace of Versailles – also in les Yvelines – this visit will uncover the importance of Saint-Germain-en-Laye with the Kings of France before the court moved to Versailles in 1682. Birthplace of Louis XIV and also the composer, Claude Debussy, you will find that Saint-Germain has had a few surprising culinary births too.

Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle Roof Visit

Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle Roof Visit

Following on from this introduction to Saint-Germain-en-Laye as part of my series of easy-to-do day trips from Paris, guided visits on the castle roof run between May and end September, and are easily reserved in advance (see all practical details at the end of this post).  Although visits are only in French, English can be organised in advance if done in a group.

In the meantime, before your visit, let me whet your appetite as a Scottish-French local and guide you on your own DIY tour.

Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle Roof Visit

Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle

There were two castles: the current pentagon-shaped Château Vieux and the Château Neuf . The latter newer castle was built under Henri II, finished by Henri IV and dismantled under Louis XVI and his brother, future Charles X. It’s one of the rare castles dismantled before the French Revolution, with the bricks and stone recycled by the Saint-Germanois.

Today, the Château Vieux now houses the National Archaeological Museum. A model in the museum gives us an idea of both castles’ grandeur, terraces and gardens which, at the time, cascaded all the way down to the Seine (now the town of Le Pecq).

Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle Rooftop visit

The layout of both castles in Saint-Germain-en-Laye (apologies for the unavoidable reflections on the glass case)

Today the castle’s inner courtyard is one of the Renaissance’s most beautiful.

Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle Roof Visit

A visit on the castle’s rooftop is pretty special, showing off a panorama of the Seine Valley – including a skyline view of Paris to La Défense and Sacré Coeur. Look carefully, and you catch sight of the Eiffel Tower, poking out behind the Mont Valérien.

Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle Roof Visit

Just by visiting the Castle roof in the space of 30 minutes, we gathered nuggets of delicious history as we walked around the chimneys.

Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle Roof Visit

The fortified castle originated in 1122, when Louis VI le Gros built on the plateau of Laye. Only the dungeon (the square tower on the left of the museum entrance) retains the original shape, with a Campanile tower stuck to it, much like that of the Louvre in Paris.

Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle Roof Visit

Louis IX (Saint Louis) completed the castle and by 1238 had a chapel built, the only part of the castle to survive the fire during the Hundred Years’ War from 1337 between Philippe VI Valois and the Black Prince. It was Charles V that re-built the castle by 1367, adjoining the Gothic Chapel.

Saint Louis Chapel

Louis IX’s Gothic Chapel was probably good practise for his Saint Chapelle in Paris built ten years later, constructed on much the same lines.

Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle Roof Visit

It’s here that the story starts to get deliciously interesting at Saint-Germain-en-Laye, as it’s where François I married la Reine Claude in 1514. Since then, the rosace was filled in, as the banquet hall he added on was right behind it.

Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle Roof Visit

Each time I walk around the Chapel, I can’t help thinking of greengage plums. What? Plums? Did you know that the Greengage plum is known as Reine Claude in French, named after François I’s Queen as she adored them so much? Speaking of which, have you tried my Spicy Plum Jam? La Reine Claude would have surely approved with it spread on her royal baguette over breakfast with François I.

François I at Saint-Germain-en-Laye

This was François I’s favourite residence. He loved the castle so much, he turned Charles V’s fortress into a Renaissance palace.

Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle Roof Visit

He is said to have spent 1000 days at Saint-Germain-en-Laye which, considering the sumptuous castles in the Loire Valley and Fontainbleau, is quite something!  François I’s symbols are not difficult to spot on the roof: his crowning initial with the Fleur de Lys carved in stone and flaunted on the imposing chimneys high above the town. Spot also his salamander, especially on the enormous banquet hall chimney inside.

Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle Roof Visit

Saint-Germain-en-Laye castle roof visit

François I’s son, Henri II continued with more of the building work, including the new castle which was completed under Henri IV. During the reigns of both Henri IV and Louis XIII, the Château Vieux was left to royal children and their household staff.

Louis XIV and Saint-Germain-en-Laye

The Sun King, Louis XIV was born in Saint-Germain’s Château Neuf, 5 September 1638. All that’s left of the “new” castle is the red-bricked Pavillon, now part of the Hotel Henri IV that looks over the Seine to Paris. This hotel boasts a couple of other births from the culinary world: soufflé potatoes and the legendary Béarnaise sauce.

Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle Roof Visit

I was lucky to see the original birth and baptism papers from the local archives during an enlightening conference of Louis XIV in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, thanks to our local historian, François Boulet. The baptism took place in the St Louis Chapel when Louis (le Dauphin) was 4 years old in the presence of his parents, Louis XIII and Anne of Austria.  It was such a long awaited royal birth that 30,000 bells peeled all around France to celebrate!

Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle Visit

Following Louis XIV marriage in 1660, he moved into the Château Vieux, breaking with tradition with the new castle.

From his reign in 1666, Louis XIV spent a staggering quarter of his reign at the castle before eventually moving to his newly embellished Versailles in 1682. In Saint-Germain, it wasn’t merely for hunting but for the Court, where the greater part of his powerful and personal decisions were made. We often just associate Versailles with Louis XIV but we can frequently forget just how important Saint-Germain was for the the Sun King and the court. It’s also where he learned to dance and where Lully performed many of his premières in the giant ballroom.

Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle Roof Visit

Improvements were made to the castle by Jules Hardouin Mansart and André Le Nôtre designed the French gardens and the vast terrace overlooking the Seine before his other wee gardening job at Versailles.

Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle Roof Visit

Saint-Germain Pharmacist Treats Royal Headaches with Chocolate

As the longest reigning monarch in France, Louis XIV probably ate extremely well at Saint-Germain-en-Laye. I suspect one of the ingredients to a long and prosperous life was chocolate, introduced to the French court by his mother, Anne of Austria, and his wife, Marie-Therèse who both brought over their chocolate luxuries – in the form of a chocolate drink – from Spain.

Later at  Versailles, it was under Louis XVI that chocolate finally flourished outside of the French court in Paris, thanks to the pharmacist in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Sulpice Debauve, appointed King’s Physician in 1778 to help cure the Queen Marie-Antoinette’s headaches through chocolate coins or pistoles. More on that later, as this addictive subject merits its own post – but again, Saint-Germain is one of the ingredients!

Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle Roof Visit

James VII of Scotland in Exile at Saint-Germain-en-Laye

When Louis XIV and his court permanently moved to Versailles on 20 April 1682, the Sun King ‘lent’ the Château Vieux to his cousin, James VII of Scotland (II of England) while the Stuarts were in exile from Britain during the Glorious Revolution. He stayed here with his family for 13 years until his death in 1701 and is buried in the church across the road from the castle.

Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle Roof

Many of the Jacobites stayed in Saint-Germain-en-Laye until the French Revolution and finally left in 1793. For a brief summary of the Jacobites, read this great article here. Did you know that Saint-Germain is twinned with Ayr in Scotland?

Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle Roof Visit

French Revolution, Wars to Today

During the French Revolution the castle was used as a prison, then a hospital for the treatment of contagious diseases, a cavalry school under Napoleon Bonaparte, barracks then a military prison.

Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle Visit

Thanks to a visit from Queen Victoria to Saint-Germain-en-Laye in 1855, eager to learn more of its British past with the Stuarts, she urged Napoleon III to save the castle from abandon and so it was restored. In 1862 Napoleon III created the Museum of Celtic & Gallo Roman Antiquities as part of the castle and the following year it was listed as a historical monument. Restoration work was carried out by Eugène Millet, who studied under Viollet-le-Duc (of Notre Dame restoration fame).

The Peace Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye was signed at the castle on 10 September 1919, officially ending WWI with Austria.

Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle Roof Visit

The Castle was used as Headquarters by the German Army in France during the German Occupation (1940-1944), as was the Château d’Hennemont, which is now the Lycée International. Many German bunkers are reminders throughout Saint-Germain of around 18,000 soldiers occupying the military town. Thankfully, and astonishingly, Saint-Germain wasn’t bombarded by the allies. There are two bunkers right next to the castle in between the hôtel particuliers or mansion houses.

Saint-Germain-en-Laye castle Museum

Today, the castle houses the National Archaeology Museum. It includes the world’s largest collection of prehistoric art, illustrating the life and inventions of men from their origins to the merovingian period. Furniture is replaced by countless exhibition cabinets, showing a fascinating insight into life to the middle ages.

Saint-Germain-en-Laye’s Speciality Cakes

No visit can finish without a taste of the local culinary specialities. Both puffed potatoes or some Sauce Béarnaise, born at the Henri IV hotel’s restaurant, are not the easiest to sample on the street (see the recipe for Sauce Béarnaise here), so I’d recommend popping in to at least two patisseries in particular for their speciality cakes.

Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle

Teatime in Saint-Germain-en-Laye

Since 1920, the Pâtisserie Hardy has been making Le Gâteau Saint-Germain, of which I’m constantly told that the recipe’s secret has never left their boutique. It’s a sweet tart filled with almond paste with bits of almonds and glazed with a light icing – see my recipe for le Saint-Germain here.

Saint-Germain-en-Laye Debussy

Saint-Germain-en-Laye’s chocolate speciality, Le Debussy, was created by the Patisserie Grandin to celebrate the birth of composer, Claude Debussy on the same street on rue au Pain, the oldest street in town (called bread street, as at the time of François I, this was where the bread was baked as there was no oven at the castle.)

Le Debussy is a hazelnut sponge with praline mousse with raisins soaked in rum and coated in dark chocolate. You’ll also find a Saint-Germain cake at Grandin. If you love rum, then it’s guaranteed to satisfy with its boozy glaze!

Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle Roof Visit

Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle Roof Visit

 

Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle Roof Visit

We loved the compact yet relaxed 30-minute roof tour: simply book on the morning itself directly at the Museum ticket office to ensure your place. Alternatively, book a longer visit by telephone or email in advance, and you’re good to go (precise details below). Note: I may add that I suffer from vertigo but I honestly had no trouble on this Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle Roof Visit.  As groups are small with a guide and another member of museum staff behind us with clear footpaths, it’s very secure. No children under 10 are admitted, however.
So, on a lovely day, jump on the RER A express train line from Paris to Saint-Germain-en-Laye, pop into the ticket office just across the road to book if it’s not done already, then enjoy a walk around. There’s so much to see and do.

What Else to do in Saint-Germain-en-Laye?

I often call Saint-Germain a mini royal Paris, as it’s so beautifully compact for boutiques and there’s plenty to do. I thoroughly recommend wearing good walking shoes as there’s plenty to do:
  • The farmers’ market (Tuesdays, Fridays & Sunday mornings – the latter is the biggest);
  • The quaint boutiques! Even the several cheese shops alone are worth a stop. Check out Foucher’s interior – it’s like stepping back to 1923 when it opened.
  • Walk in the extensive castle grounds (it’s free), including the long terrace built by Le Nôtre overlooking Paris, plus a walk through the beautiful forest (the walks are all well signposted);
  • Have a picnic in the park, or why not do it in style by ordering a gourmet version straight from Monsieur Fine Bouche, who offers €10 off your first order when you use the code, ‘MadAboutMacarons’;
  • Visit the church across from the castle, where James VII Scotland rests;
  • An afternoon visit to the Claude Debussy Museum, recently refurbished at N° 38 rue au Pain (closed Mon/Tues);
  • Maurice Denis Museum – this is currently closed for renovation until 2020;
  • The Fête des Loges in July-August is one of Europe’s biggest fairs. Shuttles run from the RER station.
  • An absolute must? My DIY chocolate & patisserie tour – Patrick Roger, Pascal le Gac (formerly from Maison du Chocolat), Gontran Cherrier, Eric Kayser, to name a few more, plus an ice cream stop at La Fabbrica de Luca, a few doors away from the oldest house in Saint-Germain on rue de la Salle. Have I missed anything?
Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle

Practical Information

SAINT-GERMAIN-EN-LAYE CASTLE ROOF VISIT: Open 2 MAY – 30 SEPTEMBER
2 Types of Visits are possible, organised directly at the Chateau Museum in FRENCH ONLY. For a guided visit in English, advance reservation should be done for a group.
  • Historique du château et visite des toits” (1h weekly visits – 1h30 on weekends Full price each 5€/7€)
    ADVANCE RESERVATIONS ONLY by telephone (01-34 51 65 36) or by email  (Reservation.man@gmx.fr)
  • Promenade sur les toits (Duration: 30 min Wednesdays, Saturdays & Sundays at 2.45pm Full price each €4). Reservations to be made on the day itself, weather permitting, directly at the boutique/ticket office of the Museum.
Musée d’Archéologie nationale – Domaine national de Saint-Germain-en-Laye
Place Charles de Gaulle
78105 Saint-Germain-en-Laye
Billetterie/Ticket Office: Tel 01-39.10.13.22
www.musee-archeologienationale.fr
Jardin des Arts
3 rue Henri IV
78100 Saint-Germain-en-Laye

Getting There from Paris:

Only 20 km west, this makes for an ideal day trip from Paris with a short 30 minute train-ride on the RER A line (red) west (ouest) to the terminus at Saint-Germain-en-Laye.
Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle Roof Visit

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Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored.  As a local, I’m proud to introduce new ideas for your day trips from Paris.

DIY Paris Day Trips Saint Germain

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

Healthy Crumble with Oats

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.

More Crumble Love

If you love crumbles, have you tried these yet?

More Pear Recipes

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Sign up for your free email alert, straight to your inbox: choose from daily, weekly or monthly to be informed when new posts are fresh on the website. Your email is NEVER SHARED and, as always, you can easily opt out at any time at the bottom of every email.

chocolate hazelnut pear 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, eggless baking, 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.

Although fresh pears are best for this recipe, tinned pears are also great!

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

Chocolate Hazelnut Pear Crumble

 

Chocolate Ginger Fondant Cake

Who likes the combination of chocolate and ginger? After making a huge batch of chocolate ginger macarons, I had to share this Chocolate Ginger Fondant Cake – a family favourite with a wee kick to it. It’s such a quick and versatile French classic that lends itself to all sorts of delicious flavour alliances.

Chocolate Ginger Fondant Cake

What’s more, it tastes even better next day! So, even although it’s quick to make, prepare this fondant a day before serving and you’re already prepared for tomorrow’s dessert.

French Fondant Classic

There’s nothing really mind-boggling new really. Based on a classic French flourless chocolate cake, a speciality of the Aquitaine region, the ratio is normally the equivalent amount (200g) of good quality dark (bittersweet) chocolate, butter and sugar with 4-5 eggs.

Over the years, however, I’ve lowered the sugar to appreciate the chocolate better – and, ever since I discovered Trish Deseine’s idea of adding just a tablespoon of flour “as an afterthought” (from her wonderful book, Nobody Does it Better), I’ve used this version and cut down the sugar. If you prefer to keep this cake gluten free, then omit the flour (or replace with almond flour).

This is my family’s favourite version with lowered sugar and added candied ginger.

chocolate ginger macaron

Candied Ginger

Have I told you before about the fantastic candied (glacé) ginger we can get in France? The best hails from the market town of Apt in the Luberon (Provence), where it’s the world Capital of Candied Fruits. Apt Union is the address if you’re heading in that direction. Buy by the kilo, as it’s great value for money (incidentally, I see they only deliver in France). If you can’t find it, no worries – use stem ginger in syrup. It tends to be a lot hotter, so thinly slice it and add only as much as you dare! (update: I see you can buy candied ginger from Trader Joe’s, Amazon and Walmart in the USA)

Add candied ginger to chocolate macarons (as I do in the recipe in Mad About Macarons) and it’s the best surprise ever to bite into the middle of a fudgy, fondant macaron.

Back to the fondant cake!

Add That Extra Touch to Chocolate

As with many plain chocolate fondant cakes (including those chocolate coffee individual fondants), I adore melting a teaspoon of coffee granules into the chocolate.  It brings out the earthiness of the chocolate and renders it extra smooth. If you prefer without the coffee, a couple of good pinches of salt (fleur de sel) is just as good, as I use in this recipe.

For spice lovers who want to go the full monty, then add a good pinch of cayenne pepper – you’ll see: bittersweet dark chocolate with cayenne is incredible!

chocolate ginger fondant cake

Adding candied ginger to the bottom of the cake tin – the result is it hides into the chocolate – totally melt-in-the-mouth

Chocolate Ginger Fondant Cake
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Cooling time
20 mins
Total Time
40 mins
 

A deliciously fondant dark, bittersweet fudgy chocolate cake with candied ginger for that extra kick - a French classic which can easily be turned into a gluten-free dessert by replacing the spoonful of flour with almond flour. Best made in advance and served next day at room temperature.

Course: Dessert, teatime
Cuisine: French
Keyword: bittersweet fudgy chocolate cake, chocolate fondant, French chocolate fondant recipe, quick chocolate cake
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 454 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 200 g (7oz) dark (bittersweet) chocolate No less than 60% cacao
  • 200 g (7oz) unsalted butter cut roughly into cubes
  • 150 g (5.5oz) sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt (fleur de sel) (or tsp coffee granules if making a plain chocolate cake)*
  • 5 organic eggs (medium)
  • 1 tbsp plain (all-purpose) flour if gluten free, replace with almond flour
  • 50 g (2oz) candied ginger (or one stem ginger in syrup, sliced)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C/160°C fan/360°F/Gas 4.
    Grease a round cake tin (25cm/10 inch) and line with cooking parchment.

  2. Over a pot of simmering water, place the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl (bain-marie) and melt the chocolate gently for about 10 minutes.

  3. As soon as the chocolate and butter have melted, take off the heat. Add the sugar and mix together with a spoon, gradually add the eggs and then add the flour, mixing until just combined.

  4. Place the candied ginger at the bottom of the cake tin then pour over the chocolate mixture and bake for 20 minutes.

  5. Remove from the oven (don't worry if it looks uneven, it will flatten out while cooling) and leave to cool for about 20 minutes then turn out of the tin on to a serving plate.

Recipe Notes

Nutritional Information per serving:

454 Calories; 6g protein; 35g Carbohydrates; 32g fat.

Serve with the Chai Tea Crème Anglaise or with a dollop of Drambuie ice cream for a special occasion - or simply on its own.

* add a couple of pinches of cayenne pepper for that extra subtle dynamite.

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

chocolate ginger fondant cake

Serving Suggestions for Chocolate Ginger Fondant Cake

Either serve on its own slightly warmed or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream, Drambuie ice cream or Parisian restaurant style with a classic vanilla Crème Anglaise.

Even better, this Chai Tea Creme Anglaise is the perfect match with just enough warming spice to complement the chocolate ginger fondant cake.

chocolate ginger fondant cake

Have you made any of the recipes from le blog, my books, or fancy making this Chocolate Ginger Fondant Cake?  Please leave a comment below or take a picture and hashtag it #MadAboutMacarons and share it on Instagram or Facebook . Even better, spread the word; tell your friends or family about the website.

THANK YOU so much for sharing the recipes!

chocolate ginger fondant cake

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Teatime in Paris by Jill Colonna

Photo courtesy of Waverley Books

Personal Gifts

Don’t forget that both recipe books, Mad About Macarons and Teatime in Paris (my personal favourite, as it’s macaron recipes plus pastries too), are great gifts. If you grab your copy now, I can send you a personalised label to stick inside either book.

Just let me know by getting in touch privately via this contact form with your address details, what you’d like me to say in particular, and I’ll send it out to you with the warmest of wishes!

Lightest Dark Chocolate Mousse

Trust the French to transform just a few simple yet good quality ingredients into a most elegant dessert. This dark chocolate mousse is also an extremely light chocolate mousse. Unlike many recipes I’ve tried, this one essentially consists of dark chocolate with whipped egg whites. So, it’s a light yet dark French chocolate mousse – without any cream!

It’s not unlike this egg white-based light-as-a-feather white chocolate mousse with orange blossom but this dark chocolate one is decadent for serious chocolate lovers.

Dark chocolate mousse recipe

Just before Julie left recently for her new studies in London, I’d asked what she’d love as her favourite meal together as a special send-off.  It was classic lasagna (it was also a toss-up for this Corsican Cheese and Spinach Lasagne), loads of unpasteurised cheese, followed by this dark chocolate mousse for dessert.

Her list didn’t stop there, though; she added, “and a batch of chocolate, chestnut and cinnamon macarons, please.” with her most beautiful eyes sparkling over a cheesy grin that melted my heart. How can a Mum refuse that?

So, as you can see, her wish was granted – including an extra bonus of unusually warm weather so that dinner was outdoors – and before I could say, “Let’s keep some macarons for teatime tomorrow ….” the whole lot disappeared.  I wasn’t complaining; I’d kept the other box aside, hidden at the back of the fridge! Although, they’ve got used to that trick by now so ended up putting the rest in the freezer.

Incidentally, the recipe for the dark chocolate macarons with chestnut and cinnamon is in my book, Teatime in Paris.

dark chocolate mousse

Classic French Chocolate Mousse Recipe

As you can see from the recipe card below, the recipe is so easy: it’s basically melting (good quality) dark chocolate and unsweetened chocolate powder together over a pan of simmering water, then adding one egg yolk and whipped up egg whites with sugar. Although slightly tweeked with more dark chocolate, less powder and the addition of salt, this is my favourite recipe inspired by Raymond Blanc.

Speaking of Blanc, this recipe uses many egg whites. Only ONE egg yolk is used, so I’d suggest making any of the recipes from the egg yolk recipe database in advance. That way you can put aside plenty of egg whites (I normally store them in a clean jam jar in the fridge for up to 5 days) to make this mousse – and indeed, homemade macarons!

No Cream!

A classic French chocolate mousse like this doesn’t need any cream. The egg whites make this light and fluffy and we can appreciate the good quality of the chocolate.

dark chocolate mousse recipe method

Dark Chocolate Mousse

5 from 2 votes
dark chocolate mousse
Dark Chocolate Mousse
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Chilling Time
1 hr 30 mins
Total Time
30 mins
 

A French classic without any cream: a light and intensely bittersweet dark chocolate mousse for serious chocolate lovers - topped with the most fondant macarons.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: French
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 133 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 170 g (6oz) dark (bittersweet) cooking chocolate best at 70% (but no less than 64%)
  • 15 g (0.5oz) unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Van Houten)
  • 290 g (10.5oz) organic egg whites (from approx. 10 eggs)
  • 30 g (1oz) sugar
  • 1 organic egg yolk
  • pinch salt fleur de sel
Instructions
  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, just simmering 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. In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites (using a stand mixer or electric beaters) with the sugar until soft peaks form.

  3. Quickly stir in the egg yolk and half of the fluffy egg whites then fold in the rest of the whites using a spatula, adding the pinch of fleur de sel salt.

  4. Spoon into serving glasses and place in the fridge to chill for about 1.5 hours until ready to serve.

Recipe Notes

Serve with good quality chocolate macarons (see the recipes in both my books) and/or garnish with edible flowers. If you really want the cream, add a dollop of freshly whipped Chantilly cream.

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

dark chocolate mousse

Have you made any of the recipes from le blog, my books, or fancy making this dark chocolate mousse recipe?  Please leave a comment below or take a picture and hashtag it #MadAboutMacarons on Instagram / Facebook, or just tell your friends to join me on le blog! Thanks so much – I love to see you enjoying the recipes!

Wood Cottage like chocolate

As the dark chocolate mousse was chilling nicely in the fridge, we popped along to Wood Cottage in Le Vésinet (just west of Paris, in les Yvelines), for a FREE (!) jazz concert.  How lucky everyone was that day with such glorious weather.

Now classed a historical monument, the 1864 Wood Cottage buildings look remarkably like chocolate, don’t they? I’ll be writing more about Le Vésinet and many other of our lovely local towns just outside Paris soon, so don’t forget to sign up below so you don’t miss any new posts.

dark chocolate macarons

While we’re on the subject of chocolate, stay tuned for the most incredible chocolate shop personality just 5 minutes’ walk from Le Moulin Rouge in Montmartre, à l’Etoile d’Or with Denise Acabo.

French dark chocolate mousse no cream

Never Miss a New Recipe or Article!

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