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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 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

 

 

Macaron Berry Sherry Trifle

A good sherry trifle is a must dessert as part of a Best of British party table. If you’re watching a Royal Wedding, celebrating a Royal birth, have Wimbledon strawberry parties this summer, then you’re covered with this easy no-bake, yet adult – Macaron Berry Sherry Trifle. For Francophiles, decorate this as the French flag for Fête Nationale on 14th July, or just enjoy this for any occasion right up until Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year!

It celebrates the freshest of sweet berries in season with ready-made macaron shells soaked in berries and sherry then topped with the lightest elderflower Chantilly cream.  And if you want to make a Union Jack decoration with berries, then this is a perfect quick dessert to fly the flag.

Macaron Berry Sherry Trifle

As the Royal family love a touch of French in their cuisine, I’m giving the traditional trifle a Parisian macaron touch: bake a batch of macaron shells in advance (and even store them in the freezer) and this trifle is an easy dessert to assemble on the day.

Traditional sherry trifle is something I remember Mum making when I was a teenager growing up in Scotland. If we needed to impress friends with a typically British dessert, then a boozy trifle ticked all the boxes. Well, perhaps not all the boxes: I did wish on a couple of occasions that one of our guests went back for so many more helpings, that he’d get tipsy and give me a kiss but I was a pathetic romantic dreamer.  Of course, he was far more interested in the trifle!

Macaron Berry Sherry Trifle

If you know my recipes in ‘Teatime in Paris‘, then you’ll know I adore the combination of sweet, fresh strawberries with elderflower – I have a most delicious strawberry éclair with an elderflower pastry cream that will make you forget to watch the wedding or the best shots in Wimbledon – but that’s another story.  Here, I’ve just added a hint of elderflower to the trifle’s Chantilly Cream to add some intrigue.

If you can’t find elderflower cordial or syrup, then you could always use Saint Germain elderflower liqueur – added with the sherry already in there, and your party will swing!

Macaron Berry Sherry Trifle

Macaron Berry Sherry Trifle – an easy dessert to assemble

Macaron Berry Sherry Trifle Recipe

Although the photos for this recipe are made as a romantic dessert for 2 large portions, the recipe below is for 8-10 people. Let’s be honest: I don’t have a lovely party-sized glass bowl!

5 from 2 votes
Macaron Berry Sherry Trifle
Macaron Berry Sherry Trifle
Prep Time
40 mins
Total Time
40 mins
 

Macaron Berry Sherry Trifle - a traditional British party dessert, replacing classic trifle sponges or lady fingers with gluten free Parisian macaron shells. 

Course: Dessert, teatime
Cuisine: British
Servings: 10 people
Calories: 300 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 40 macaron shells
  • 250 g / 9oz fresh raspberries
  • 250 g / 9oz fresh blueberries
  • 250 g / 9oz fresh strawberries
  • 200 g / 7oz dry Sherry
  • 3 tbsp raspberry jam
Elderflower Chantilly Cream:
  • 300 g / 11oz whipping cream chilled (at least 30% fat)
  • 3 tbsp elderflower cordial or syrup (or caster sugar + vanilla essence)
Instructions
  1. First, chill a large bowl in the fridge or freezer for the Chantilly cream.  
    In a large glass bowl (if making one large trifle) or individual glass serving dishes, place half of the macaron shells at the bottom.  Top with half of the blueberries.

  2. Liquidise half of the raspberries and strawberries with the sherry in a food processor (or just mash the berries with a fork to keep things easy) and pour the boozy pulp juice over the macarons.

  3. With the remaining macarons, sandwich them together with the raspberry jam, so that there is the equivalent of one macaron per person.  Plop the macarons on the top.

  4. To make the cream: whisk the chilled cream in the chilled bowl until soft peaks form.  Add the elderflower cordial/syrup (or sugar with a few drops of vanilla extract) and continue whisking until firm peaks form.

  5. Top with the cream by either spooning or piping it out. Refrigerate until ready to serve and decorate with the remaining fresh berries.

Recipe Notes

For the elderflower Chantilly cream, I use Ikea's cordial or Monin's syrup (their elderflower/sureau is particulary good).

If you prefer trifle with jelly, use the homemade raspberry & rose jelly used in my recipe for raspberry, rose & lychee mini macaron trifles.

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

For those of you who want to decorate your desserts with a Union Jack flag using berries, now’s your chance to get creative! You’ll make a much better job than I have, I’m sure.

British Union Jack decoration with berries

Trifle for two, and two for tea…

Serve with Darjeeling tea, the Champagne of teas – or a glass of fizz!

A Trifle More, with Cracked Macarons …

If you love trifle, try my other easy versions with gingerbread or make them gluten free with macarons!  Cracked macarons? Don’t bin them! They’ll taste delicious in these easy trifle recipes:

Eton Mess

Don’t have macarons, gingerbread or trifle sponges? Use meringues instead, omit the sherry and use rose syrup instead of the elderflower – and you have an ETON MESS!

Have you made any of the recipes from le blog or fancy making this trifle?
Please do leave a comment below or take a picture and hashtag it #MadAboutMacarons.  I love to see your creations on Instagram and Facebook. Thanks so much for popping in!

Berry Sherry Macaron Trifle recipe

 

French Crème Caramel

I was scared to make this classic French Crème Caramel for many years after my arrival in France in 1992. Instead, I sat back and let my French mother-in-law make her delectable family-sized crème caramel each time we visited them in their pretty Provençal village of Saignon.  Back in Paris, I’d order it hands down each time on dessert menus in brasseries, bistros or cafés.

French Crème Caramel

French Crème Caramel – a classic favourite!

No Packet Mixes!

Somehow that pristine dark caramel reflecting our wide, greedy eyes looked so perfect yet was so light that I thought it was a no-go to make. French Crème Caramel – known as flan in other parts of the world – seemed so simple but it was totally out of my comfort zone.

Growing up in Scotland, we made ours using a green-boxed packet mix: my job was to squeeze out each sachet of caramel into each dish and excitingly, the whole thing worked just beautifully. Many years on, I cringe at packet mixes but then it’s an entirely different era; now we prefer to make dishes from scratch – as we know exactly what’s in it, can lower sugar levels and add our own creative twists (see below for flavour ideas).

French crème caramel recipe

French Crème Caramel Flavour Variations

This classic French dessert can easily take on many flavour variations – as the likes of teas, herbs, and floral infusions work well while infusing in the milk.

Give a Crème Caramel a twist by infusing tea or herbs into it – the following are crème caramel flavour ideas:

  • Jasmine tea;
  • Lavender (infuse 1/2 tsp of dried lavender flowers);
  • Earl Grey or Matcha Green tea;
  • Fresh or dried lemon verbena (incidentally, have you tried this lemon verbena ice cream?).

The Lightest, Silkiest Classic French Crème Caramel Recipe

All tea and herbal variations are delicious for that extra je ne sais quoi – but I keep referring back to the good old classic vanilla.  There’s something so nostalgic about it, isn’t there? Fresh berries or exotic fruits on the side are enough for me. Simple yet effective.

Over the years, I prefer this version, as I’ve experimented making Crème Caramel with cream, milk and cream, milk and eggs. In the end, this is by far my favourite: just with milk but the addition of 3 egg yolks gives it that creamy, silky, melt-in-the-mouth feel, keeping it perfectly light.

Not long after launching this blog, I was fortunate to have my Japanese friend, Nami, from Just One Cookbook guest post before she hit super stardom.  Here is her recipe for Japanese Purin, a no-bake version using gelatine.

This French Crème Caramel recipe below does look long making it home from scratch – but it’s the opposite: I’ve given detailed recipe steps below to explain how easy it is. Et voilà !

 

French Creme Caramel Recipe

Have you made any of the recipes from le blog (from my books, too) or fancy making this classic French Crème Caramel?  Please leave some comment love below, take a picture and hashtag it #MadAboutMacarons on Instagram and Facebook – or simply tell family and friends about le blog! Thanks so much for sharing.

4 from 4 votes
French Crème Caramel
French Crème Caramel
Prep Time
25 mins
Cook Time
45 mins
Total Time
1 hr 10 mins
 

An easy, step by step recipe for the classic French Crème Caramel. No cream but made with egg yolks for a light, melt-in-the-mouth perfect end to any meal.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: French
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 306 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
Caramel:
  • 100 g / 3.5oz granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp water
Custard Cream:
  • 500 ml / 17 fl oz milk (whole milk)
  • pinch vanilla powder (or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 2 medium eggs (organic)
  • 3 egg yolks (organic)
  • 70 g / 2.5oz sugar
Instructions
Make the caramel:
  1. Put the granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan. Over a low heat, stir using a wooden spoon until the sugar has completely disappeared or dissolved. Turn up to a low-medium heat and leave the caramel to form without stirring. This should take about 10 minutes (PLEASE don't multitask and leave the pan - keep your eye on it). Wait until the caramel is medium to dark brown - not light otherwise it will just be too sweet. (Don't leave it to go too dark, either, otherwise it will be bitter!)

  2. Pour the caramel into 4 ramekin dishes, ensuring that it coats completely the base.  Set aside to cool so that the caramel sets and immediately put the saucepan in the sink and soak in water, making it easier to clean later.

Make the custard cream:
  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C/340°F/150°C fan/Gas 3.  Pour the milk into a medium saucepan, adding the vanilla and just allow the milk to heat to simmering point (not boiling). Take off the heat.

  2. Whisk the eggs, yolks and sugar in a large bowl. Pour in the hot milk and whisk constantly. Put the ramekins into a roasting tin and pour in the custard mix over the caramel. Place in the oven and pour in warm water into the roasting tin so that it comes to about 2/3 of the way up the ramekins.

  3. Bake for about 40 minutes or until set (they're not cooked properly if there's a dip in the middle). Remove from the oven carefully, and gradually remove the ramekins onto a cooling rack. When cool, transfer to the fridge and chill for at least 2 hours - or overnight.

  4. To serve, slice through a cross in the middle of each ramekin with a thin sharp knife and loosen the creams by running the knife also around the sides.  Turn upside down directly on to the serving plates.  Or just serve them directly in their ramekins, as many Parisian brasseries do! Best served at room temperature.

Recipe Notes

Serve with fresh berries or slices of exotic fruits, depending on the season.

Tip: To release the crème caramels from their ramekins, my Dad explained "as an engineer" that it was easier to slice a cross through the middle.  Since then, I've always used this method, and find there's no need to grease the ramekins. However, if you prefer to grease them with butter, do so just before pouring in the custard.

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

 

 

Salted Toffee Cherry Tomatoes

Liven up your summer drinks with this salty & sweet apéritif – adds fun to a centre-piece too!

Roasted Nectarines & Lemon Verbena Ice Cream

A perfectly light summer dessert that celebrates the French’s favourite lemon verbena. It’s not just for drinking!

Monkfish French Brittany Stew – Lotte à l’armoricaine

A deliciously easy French classic that’s perfect if you have a lotte … of entertaining – or just good, meaty fish! Works well with cod too.