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Chocolate Coconut Granola (Vegan)

There’s nothing more cereal-ously satisfying to know that many of you still enjoy making this maple granola for your breakfasts.  For chocolate and coconut lovers, I’ve now taken it to a nutty, new level. Make way for a bowl of healthy dark Chocolate Coconut Granola with juicy dried cranberries, toasted brazil nuts and seeds. What’s more, it just so happens to be vegan.

chocolate coconut vegan granola

Healthy Chocolate Coconut Granola

No Added Sugar

You may know I have a sweet tooth – but not THAT sweet. Too much sugar can totally kill a dessert or a macaron filling overloaded with it. Likewise, for breakfast, I prefer sugar kept to the minimum.

When it comes to granola, the beauty of making homemade is you can control this.  By adding natural sugars via healthy, dried fruits and maple syrup, there is NO ADDED SUGAR. Add the dried fruits after baking so that the juicy fruit retains all of its healthy nutrients.

chocolate coconut granola vegan

Gluten Free

If necessary, please do ensure your oats are specifically labelled as being GLUTEN FREE if you follow a strict diet or you are Celiac.

Vegan

If you are following a strict vegan diet, use vegan dark chocolate for the recipe. Good quality chocolate chips are good, as are dark chocolate chips. If you’re not following a vegan diet, however, you may prefer to use milk chocolate which will work well.

Good Quality Chocolate

The secret is adding the chocolate after baking – so that it melts into the hot cereal.  As soon as the chocolate melts, stir the granola around again to mix it well together.

Nuts & Seeds

Brazil nuts are particularly good for selenium (great for memory). Just 2 brazil nuts a day will have you covered – just don’t forget to buy them!  Sesame seeds (and poppy seeds if you’d like to add these too) are good natural sources of calcium. All this makes for a HEALTHY THYROID too – and, if you’re like me without one, great for staying healthy.

 

Dark chocolate coconut granola

 

Chocolate Coconut Granola (Vegan)

5 from 4 votes
chocolate coconut granola vegan
Chocolate Coconut Granola
Prep Time
25 mins
Cook Time
50 mins
Total Time
1 hr 15 mins
 

Homemade dark chocolate Granola with coconut, brazil nuts, cranberries and sesame seeds make this one of the best ways to go vegan

Course: Breakfast, Brunch, Snack
Cuisine: French
Keyword: chocolate granola, granola, vegan granola
Servings: 12 servings
Calories: 280 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 300 g (10.5oz) jumbo oats (if on a strict GF diet, ensure they're labelled gluten free)
  • 100 g (3.5oz) brazil nuts roughly chopped
  • 50 g (2oz) sunflower seeds
  • 25 g (1oz) sesame seeds
  • 50 g (2oz) dessicated coconut
  • 1 tsp vanilla powder (or a few drops vanilla extract)
  • pinch salt
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Van Houten)
  • 75 g (3oz) coconut oil melted if in a block
  • 125 g (4.5oz) maple syrup
To add after baking:
  • 100 g (3.5oz) dried cranberries
  • 140 g (5oz) dark chocolate chips or drops (Vegan if necessary)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan)/350°F (Gas 4).

  2. Using a digital scale, measure all the ingredients (except the chocolate and dried fruits) in a large bowl and stir to mix them all well together.

  3. Cover a baking tray with baking paper (or a silicone mat). Spread out the oat mixture evenly. Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes, turn over the mixture and return to the oven for a further 20-25 minutes.

  4. Immediately sprinkle over the chocolate chips/drops and the dried fruits. After about 10 minutes, turn over the granola to mix in the partially melted chocolate and juicy dried fruits. Leave to cool and for the chocolate to set.

Recipe Notes

Store in an airtight container at room temperature. Enjoy at its best within 10 days.

Serve with almond milk, fresh berries or with homemade rhubarb compote for a vegan breakfast or any of your favourite vegan accompaniments.
Otherwise enjoy with yoghurt, milk or Skyr (we're seeing this appearing from Iceland in French supermarkets all of a sudden - it's great!)

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

Chocolate coconut granola vegan

Roasted Tomato Mozzarella Bites

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

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

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

Roasted Tomato Mozzarella Bites

Roasted Tomato Mozzarella Bites

Quick Roasting Tomatoes Concentrates Flavour

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

Torino Tomatoes at the French market

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

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

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

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

Roasted Tomato Mozzarella Bites

Bland Tomatoes? Roast them!

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

Roasted Tomato Mozzarella Bites

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

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

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

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

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

Recipe Notes

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

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

 

Béarnaise Sauce – Recipe & Origins Near Paris

How many times have you seen the French classic Béarnaise Sauce on a menu and thought it was perhaps too difficult to make? Well, let me show you how easy it is to whip up the real McCoy at home. It also tastes 100 times better than the jarred stuff in supermarkets!

Moreover, did you know that there’s at least another herb in it, apart from tarragon? Read on from the birthplace of the Sauce Béarnaise itself in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, just outside Paris and discover the “simple Béarn-ecessities of life” (groan!).

Sauce Béarnaise

Difference Between Hollandaise & Béarnaise Sauce

In the 1800s, Chef Antonin Carême noted that in French cuisine, there were four basic sauces – each called a “Mother Sauce”. Later, Auguste Escoffier took Câreme’s rules of Haute Cuisine a step further by adding a basic fifth sauce, the Hollandaise sauce, an emulsion of egg yolks, white vinegar and wine (or lemon juice) plus melted butter.

The Hollandaise’s most famous offspring, the Béarnaise sauce, has the fragrant addition of shallots, tarragon and chervil – yet had nothing much to do with the French Province of Béarn. The Béarnaise Sauce was born in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, just west of Paris.

Béarnaise Sauce

The Origins of Béarnaise Sauce, near Paris

It took place at Le Pavillon Henri IV, a hotel in Saint-Germain-en-Laye which was built over the original spot of the Château Neuf, where Louis XIV was born in 1638 – for more on this part, see my post here.

In the 1830’s, Head Chef Jean-Louis Françoise-Collinet experimented with a shallot reduction then, taking the basic recipe for Sauce Hollandaise, replaced the lemon juice with white wine vinegar, shallots, chervil and tarragon and the Sauce Béarnaise was born. It’s the tarragon and white wine vinegar that makes that fragrantly addictive acidity that we associate with the star of sauces with serious steaks.

Why did Collinet call it Béarnaise? Inspired by the name of the hotel, Henri IV, it was the King’s previous home at the Château Neuf before it was a restaurant and he came from the province of Béarn. Shortly after, the chef also accidentally invented the soufflée potato and served both of his creations at the opening of the hotel in 1836.

Béarnaise sauce

Le Pavillon Henri IV, SaintGermain-en-Laye, the birthplace of Béarnaise Sauce

Béarnaise Sauce – Tarragon, Chervil and Parsley

Today, the hotel’s chef, Patrick Käppler, has posted the Béarnaise Sauce recipe in French, published by the Hotel Pavillon Henri IV here, without the actual quantities. As you can see, to continue the sauce’s tradition, he doesn’t just use the classic tarragon (estragon) – but also chervil (cerfeuil), another essential ingredient, and parsley (persil) too.

Following my challenge from L’Office de Tourisme in les Yvelines, this Béarnaise Sauce recipe was also cited by the novelist, Alexandre Dumas.  More known for his Three Muskateers and The Count of Monte Cristo, as a serious gourmet and cook, he also published his Grand Culinary Dictionary (only in French).  He cites using a good vinegar from Orléans, uses oil instead of butter and parsley or tarragon:

Alexandre Dumas: Le Grand Dictionnaire de Cuisine (1873), under “Sauce”,

Sauce échalote à la béarnaise.
Mettez dans une petite casserole deux cuillerées à bouche d’échalote hachée et quatre cuillerées de bon vinaigre d’Orléans ; la poser sur le feu et cuire les échalotes jusqu’à ce que le vinaigre soit réduit de moitié ; retirez alors la casserole, et quand l’appareil est à peu près refroidi, mêlez-lui quatorze jaunes d’oeufs, broyez-les à la cuiller et joignez-leur quatre cuillerées à bouche de bonne huile. Posez alors la casserole sur un feu doux ; liez la sauce en la tournant, retirez-la aussitôt qu’elle est à point, et lui incorporez encore un demi-verre d’huile, mais en l’alternant avec le jus d’un citron ; finir la sauce avec un peu d’estragon ou de persil haché et un peu de glace de viande.

Béarnaise Sauce

What Goes with Béarnaise Sauce?

Béarnaise Sauce can transform a simple grill and is the perfect accompaniment with salmon, chargrilled steaks, chicken and asparagus. If you love Eggs Benedict, you’ll know that poached eggs marry well with Hollandaise sauce – but try it with Béarnaise sauce, with its added herbs, and it is sheer luxury.

Béarnaise Sauce

Can Béarnaise Sauce Keep?

Béarnaise sauce is best when made as close as possible to serving.  Ideally I’m not a chef serving this in a restaurant so I don’t have these kind of worries at home but I hear the best way to keep Béarnaise sauce without it splitting is by keeping it in a thermos.

Ideally, serve within an hour (no more than 2 hours max.), keeping the sauce slightly warm (not hot!) over a pan of simmering water. If the sauce gets too hot and starts to split, add a little warm water.  Frankly, I’ve not had problems with the latter, as the recipe is so easy and as long as it’s served reasonably quickly, the results are light and fluffy.

The sauce also freezes well.

Sauce Béarnaise

Béarnaise Sauce Recipe

Many chefs make this straight in the pan using the same quantities in the recipe, just like Dumas describes above.  I prefer making it over a bain-marie (bowl over simmering water) and, although this method sounds more hassle, it’s actually much less easy to curdle the sauce and the result is light and sabayon or mousse-like. However, if you prefer to make the sauce in the same pan, then carefully ensure that the temperature doesn’t get too high.

 

Béarnaise Sauce
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
25 mins
 

An easy recipe for the classic French Sauce Béarnaise, inspired by the creator in the 1830s near Paris, in Saint-Germain-en-Laye.

Course: Condiments
Cuisine: French
Keyword: Bearnaise, Bearnaise history, French cuisine, French sauces, Hollandaise, Parisian cuisine
Servings: 6
Calories: 280 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 50 g (2oz) white wine vinegar
  • 90 g (3.5oz) white wine
  • 2 small shallots chopped finely
  • 3 branches fresh tarragon branches separated from finely chopped up leaves
  • 3 grinds black pepper
  • 3 egg yolks organic
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 125 g (4.5oz) unsalted butter gently melted
  • 1 tbsp fresh chervil finely chopped
  • pinch salt fleur de sel
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh parsley (flat-leaf) optional
Instructions
  1. Bring the white vinegar, wine, shallots, tarragon branches and pepper to a boil in a small saucepan. As soon as it boils, reduce the heat and leave to reduce for about 5 minutes until there's about a couple of tablespoons. Pour into another bowl and set aside to cool then filter out the shallots and herbs using a sieve.

  2. Fill the saucepan with 1/4 of water and bring to a simmer.  Place over it a large bowl with the cooled vinegar reduction, yolks and water then whisk constantly until the sabayon becomes mousse-like.

  3. After about 5 minutes, as soon as the sauce starts to thicken, take the bowl off the heat and, continuing to whisk, incorporate the warm, melted butter. Add the chopped tarragon, chervil and parsley, if using.  Season with a little salt and it's ready to serve.

Recipe Notes

If not serving straight away, keep at room temperature and return the bowl over the simmering water before ready to serve to re-heat, adding a little hot water if necessary.

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

The Béarn-ecessities of life
They’ll come to you …

Béarnaise Sauce

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10 Reasons to Visit Honfleur, Normandy

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

Ten reasons to visit Honfleur

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

10 Reasons to Visit Honfleur

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

10 reasons to visit Honfleur

Honfleur’s Old Harbour (Vieux Bassin)

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

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

10 reasons to visit Honfleur

Honfleur’s Fresh Fish and Seafood

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

10 reasons to visit Honfleur, Normandy

Old Town

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

10 reasons to visit Honfleur

10 reasons to visit Honfleur, Normandy

Honfleur’s Beautiful Churches

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

10 reasons to visit Honfleur

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

10 reasons to visit Honfleur

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

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

10 reasons to visit Honfleur

Pont de Normandie

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

10 reasons to visit Honfleur

10 reasons to visit Honfleur

Honfleur’s Museums

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

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

10 reasons to visit Honfleur Normandy

Honfleur’s Markets

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

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

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

10 reasons to visit Honfleur

Honfleur’s Restaurants

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

  • La Fleur de Sel – Chef Vincent Guyon sets the bar high with gastronomic dishes at great value. Ensure to book, as this small gem has already been discovered. Perhaps my favourite.
  • SaQuaNa – Chef Alexandre Bourdas shows just why he received 2 Michelin Stars. Just watch opening times, as when we were there previously, they were shut for their annual holiday. Ensure to book.
  • Le Bréard – I mention this, as it serves great food but, from our experience, the service needs work: not in speed but in politesse.  It’s up to you if you don’t mind and just concentrate on the dishes, although it’s the first time I’ve been served bread and told not to eat it yet. There were more issues, but I’m far too polite…
  • Entre Terre et Mer – although also a super restaurant, just across the road we love their oyster bar where a simple, fresh plate of oysters or mussels are great value.
  • La Chaumière – slightly out of town, this characteristic thatched hotel-restaurant has a homely feel.  Outside eating in summer with views over to Le Havre, and cosy nooks by the roaring fire, friendly service and super menus. Great for celebrating a birthday, too.
  • Le Manoir des Impressionnistes – Also slightly out of town, this is an ideal quiet haven away from it all with good, simple yet beautifully presented food. We just found the wine list a bit pricey but the list is excellent. If you’re looking to speak English, the British owner, Brigitte, usually comes around the tables to say hello.
  • La Crêperie des Arts –  We’ve tried many crêperies in Honfleur and this one gets our top vote each time as the buckwheat galettes (savoury crêpes) are beautifully lacy thin and all fillings use fresh ingredients (alas, more establishments serve the likes of tinned fruit with the local cheesy galettes or on sweet crêpes). Great friendly service.
  • Laurence – At first glance, you’d think this was an antique shop but it’s the cutest restaurant with curious nick-nacks on rue des Lingots. Laurence herself, like the ambience, is charming. Enjoy French traditional family dishes such as the blanquette de veau (see my recipe here) and a particularity is that no phones are permitted. Lovely!
10 reasons to visit Honfleur

10 reasons to visit Honfleur, Normandy

2 Hours Drive from Paris

With only 2 hours drive north of Paris, Honfleur is particularly accessible. It’s pretty much a straight drive up the Autoroute (A13), passing Giverny. So, if you have time en route, visit Monet’s house and garden. However, if you’re looking to spend time between Paris and Honfleur, it’s a “straight” sail on the buckling River Seine all the way up to the Estuary.

Good Base for Visiting Normandy

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

10 reasons to visit Honfleur

Top Tips for Visiting Honfleur

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

10 reasons to Visit Honfleur

Cranachan Parfait – An Iced Scottish Dessert on Shortbread

Feeling Scottish? Cranachan, the classic Scottish dessert, is so easy to put together and is made with simple ingredients: cream, honey, oatmeal and Whisky and layered with fresh Scottish raspberries. However, here I’ve revisited the Scottish dessert with a French twist by turning it into a Cranachan Parfait.

I’m sure Claire Beauchamp would have loved to know of this recipe – as it may have helped her case in Outlander!

Cranachan parfait

The Cranachan parfaits are soft honeycomb ice creams (no-churn) with a touch of Malt Whisky, topped with an oat praline crumble and served on a disk of Scottish shortbread then topped with raspberries.

The Scottish Cranachan dessert was originally served to celebrate the summer harvest festival. No matter how much people say their raspberries are better, there’s nothing to beat fresh Scottish berries! Even the best French ones don’t match up to them, in my humble opinion.

Cranachan parfait

However, when it comes to the major Scottish celebration dinners such as Burn’s Night on 25th January and Saint Andrew’s Night on 30th November, we’re always short for fresh, seasonal raspberries.

Luckily at our local Farmers’ market yesterday, I found some delicious raspberries – from Morocco! Surprisingly, they were full of flavour but as I prefer to buy local and seasonal, the berries are just for show here. Without fresh berries, thinly spread some good quality raspberry jam on the shortbread rounds before placing the Cranachan parfaits on top.

Cranachan parfait recipe method

Cranachan Parfait: Developing the Recipe

For the parfaits, I took inspiration from chef, Anne-Sophie Pic, who makes a vanilla parfait by making a hot syrup and pouring it directly onto egg yolks and whisks until frothy. She then adds whipped cream and turns it into spherical moulds. Here, I replaced the syrup with runny floral honey (ideally in Scotland, use heather honey) and since I was adding Whisky to the cream, doubled the portion of egg yolks in order for it to solidify more in the freezer, even although they will still be beautifully soft.

If you prefer a stronger-in-alcohol Scottish dessert, then try this non-churn Drambuie ice cream, delicious with chocolate ginger fondant cake!

Although made the night before, the parfaits can keep in the freezer for up to 10 days, so it’s parfait to prepare this dessert in advance.

cranachan-parfait-recipe

Making oat praline and shortbread rounds

I’ll post a separate recipe for Shortbread later – as my Granny’s Black Book of recipes contains several! Here I’ve used one of my favourites which uses more butter and, once the Shortbread is still warm and soft out of the oven, just cut out disks the same size of moulds.

Can I make this Scottish Dessert without the moulds?

No moulds? No worries. This Cranachan Parfait recipe doesn’t have to be made using moulds. Make it easier by placing the cream into a cake tin lined with parchment paper and freeze as a whole block, cutting off slices when ready to serve.

oat praline cranachan parfait

Oat Praline Crunchy Topping

Instead of oatmeal for the traditional dessert, soaked in Whisky overnight, I’ve made a simple praline with porridge oats to add some crunch for the texture. If you love crunchy praline on desserts, try this nutty nougatine recipe.

Want to go the Full Monty? Serve with Cranachan Macarons, the recipe of which is in my first book, Mad About Macarons.

Cranachan parfait Scottish dessert

Cranachan Parfait – A Chilled Scottish Dessert

Cranachan Parfait
Prep Time
40 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Freezing time
2 hrs
Total Time
1 hr 10 mins
 

Cranachan Parfait, a French twist to the traditional Scottish dessert of cream, honey, Whisky, oats, served with raspberries, buttery shortbread and topped with a crunchy oat praline.

Course: Dessert, teatime
Cuisine: French, Scottish
Keyword: cranachan, honeycomb ice cream, parfait recipe, raspberry dessert, scottish desserts, Whisky desserts
Calories: 455 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
Cranachan Parfaits
  • 4 egg yolks (organic, farm fresh)
  • 4 tbsp runny honey (Heather honey, if possible)
  • 1 tbsp Malt Whisky
  • 350 gr (12oz) Whipping Cream (30%) Crème fleurette
Oat Praline Crumble
  • 75 g (3oz) rolled oats
  • 75 g (3oz) granulated sugar
  • 10 g (0.5oz) unsalted butter
Shortbread
  • 200 g (7oz) unsalted butter (softened)
  • 75 g (3oz) caster sugar
  • 200 g (7oz) flour (all-purpose)
  • 75 g (3oz) rice flour (or cornflour)
  • pinch salt
  • fresh raspberries to serve
Instructions
Cranachan Parfaits
  1. Chill a large bowl in the fridge for the cream. Place the egg yolks in another large bowl, heat the honey without boiling it (I put it a few seconds in the microwave) and pour it over the yolks and beat with electric beaters (or a stand mixer) for about 10 minutes until thick and moussy. Add the Whisky and beat again until well mixed.

  2. In the chilled bowl, whisk the cream like a Crème Chantilly until soft peaks and the same consistency as the yolk-honey mixture. Gently fold the 2 mixtures together and spoon either into spherical silicone moulds (this used 10 spheres), greased muffin tins, or in a lined cake tin. Transfer to the freezer and leave overnight to set.

Oat Praline Crumble
  1. In a saucepan, heat the sugar with a few drops of water.  Just as it starts to change colour after about 5 minutes, stir using a wooden spoon until the sugar is completely dissolved and the caramel is medium golden. Add the butter and stir to mix well then pour in the oats. Stir until the oats are well covered then immediately transfer to a baking tray.

  2. Once cool, break the praline into small pieces and reserve in a jam jar.  (This can keep for about 10 days)

Shortbread
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/360°F/Gas 4.
    Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until pale and creamy (either by hand or in a stand mixer).  Gradually add the flour, rice flour and salt until the mixture comes together into a dough that's easy to work with. 

  2. Spread the mixture into a greased non-stick baking tin and thinly even it out using a palette knife. Alternatively roll the dough out with a rolling-pin until about 1cm thick and bake in the oven for about 25 minutes until golden brown. 

  3. When the mixture is still soft and warm, cut out disks with a cookie cutter (the same size as the moulds). Leave to cool on a wire tray.

To Serve
  1. When ready to serve, place the shortbread disk on each plate (spread each with raspberry jam if no fresh raspberries), turn out the frozen parfaits at the last minute and place on top.  Sprinkle with the oat praline and, if using, serve with fresh raspberries.

Recipe Notes

This recipe can be made even easier without the moulds or shortbread. Simply freeze the honey and Whisky cream in a lined cake tin overnight and slice before serving. Serve with the oat praline and fresh raspberries.

Store the egg whites in the fridge for 3-4 days and make macarons or financiers with them (recipes in my books) or these French Tuiles. Otherwise freeze the whites until later!

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

If you would like to try the classic, more traditional recipes for Cranachan, see my Scottish friends’ recipes, from both Christina’s Cucina and Janice’s Farmhouse Kitchen version, based on a Whisky Mac.

Cranachan parfait

Cranachan Parfait, a French twist to the Classic Scottish dessert

If you prefer to make this a gluten-free dessert then replace the shortbread with a giant pink macaron. There’s a whole chapter about giant macaron desserts, also in my book, Mad About Macarons!

Enjoy this for any Scottish occasion, or at any time of the year and ideally serve with a good single Malt Whisky.
Incidentally, the Gaelic word for cheers translates as Health, just like the French.

Cheers, Santé, Sláinte !

P.S. This is part of the egg yolk recipe database, as it uses 4 yolks.  Keep the egg whites for 3-4 days in a clean jam jar in the fridge (or freeze until ready to bake) to make macarons, financiers, tuiles or meringues from my books and le blog!

Teatime in Japan

How many of you read the desserts on the menu before savoury? In many Japanese restaurants, we were surprised to find that dessert was often not even mentioned, with savoury ruling; at best, Purin (Japanese crème caramel) was the only dessert listed. To satisfy our sweet tooth, it was best to seek out speciality confectionary boutiques or stop in a café or teahouse. So, welcome to my version of Teatime in Japan – from Osaka, Kinosaki Onsen, Kyoto, Shirikawago, and Kanazawa to Tokyo.

Here is just a selection of some of the sweet treats we discovered during our (personal, not sponsored) trip.  Far from being an exhaustive list, I don’t claim to be an expert on Japanese tea and confectionary; this post reflects our own personal first experiences of Japan, sharing interesting features learned along the way.

Teatime in Japan

Teatime in Japan

One of the family’s all-time favourite trip highlights was our first experience of a most tranquil Japanese tea ceremony in the Nishida Family Garden (part of Gyokusen-Immaru garden) in Kanazawa, next to the world-famous Kenrokuen garden, home to the oldest fountain in Japan.

Held in the Saisetsu-tei Roji tea house, it’s one of Japan’s oldest at 350 years old, yet the tradition continues. However, today apparently, it’s so different in that 80% are women who enjoy the traditional tea ceremony, compared to the previously more male-dominated custom. Saisetsu-tei takes its name from “snow flutters”, part of a Haiku poem (by Junan Kinoshita, a Confucian scholar) that hangs on the wall.

Teatime in Japan

Our gracious tea hosts made the tea and explained the philosophy behind the tea ceremony.

As you walk through the Zen gardens to the tea house – only on the stepping stones – all thoughts of everyday life should vanish, as if in a meditative state of HARMONY (wa). As before entering a temple, we purify our hands with water (and mouth for the real tradition, although thankfully we were spared going the full monty) before entering. This purifying ritual permeates the soul.

Inside the tea house there is no hierarchy; lords, peasants? Everyone is on the same level to appreciate the tea, the ambience. A Samurai would leave his sword outside – in fact, this TRANQUIL (jaku) meditation was particularly important to the Samurai in order to focus on being the best of warriors. When we visited the Samurai family of Nomura house in Kanazawa’s Samurai district (Nagamachi Bukeyshiki area with pretty little canals and bridges), a small open-air garden was designed in the building purely for tea ceremonies.

Teatime in Japan

Teatime in Japan with a traditional tea ceremony

The hostess cleans all her tea-making implements with precision, ensuring PURITY (sei), as she heats up the water using the firepit (known as the furo – as it was during the record 2018 summer heatwave she used a different traditional stove not built in to the flooring, as it heats up the room), pours in the Matcha green tea powder, pours over the pure water then whisks vigorously back and forth with a bamboo whisk (the Chasen) to create its characteristic creamy foam.

As a sign of RESPECT (kei, evidently a particularly intrinsic value in Japan), each person thanks the hostess for taking the time to make the tea (Oshôban Itashimasu) then each person in turn asks politely to join in (Otemae Chôdai Itashimasu). The bowl’s prettiest pattern always faces outwards to the others and as the bowl is inspected, is turned around clockwise a couple of times then enjoyed.

Teatime in Japan

Teatime in Japan with some creamy, frothy Matcha green tea

Following the ritual lesson, we were encouraged to try our hand at preparing our own tea. As the hot water (not boiling) was poured gently on top of the Matcha powder, our wrists were given the exercise by whisking the green tea with the Chasen. It tasted different; reassured it was the same Matcha tea, it must have been the water as it was heated using a different kettle/stove.

As with the previous bowl of tea, small ceremonial wagashi were served and we were invited to eat them before sipping. Wagashi are sweet confections traditionally enjoyed with tea and have been such since the Edo period, when tea was imported to Japan from China. I say sweet wagashi, but they’re not as sweet as I was expecting, which was a pleasant surprise. This time we had soft, sugary melt-in-the-mouth Rakugan, made from glutinous rice and sugar. Each small rakugan were in pretty cute (kawaii) summer floral designs, shaped using a wooden mould.

What a most harmonious and tranquil experience, learning the most fascinating virtues of tea culture (Harmony, Respect, Purify, Tranquility) along the way. Just before we left our delightful hosts added to our vocabularly, Ichigo Ichie (literally ‘one time one meeting’) meaning LIVE THE MOMENT – something we certainly did throughout our trip as a result.

Doriyaki

Teatime in Japan

For the best Dorayaki, I’d recommend our experience in Tokyo, just 5 minutes from Monzen-Nakacho metro station (plus an incredible temple that I’ll leave you to discover for yourself, including Taiko drums and fire).

Established in 1850, this store is apparently where the dorayaki was invented. Normally made with two sponge-like pancakes and stuffed with slightly sweet Azuki red bean paste (Anko), this is a surprising version with only one pancake that’s not that sweet, beautifully soft and moist, filled with a generous amount of Anko. They also had a green bean paste but frankly, it was like eating a mushy peas pancake. Vive the doriyaki with traditional handmade Anko.

I’ve had a few in Paris before but nothing I’ve tasted to date equates to this gourmet version.

MOCHI

Teatime in Japan

Mochi are everwhere: on the street, in cafés, tea rooms and traditionally served with green tea. It’s a soft, small glutinous rice cake shaped into a ball and comes in all varieties of flavours. This popular store in Kyoto had such a big queue that we didn’t have time to stop (and with temperatures around 38°C with high humidity around midday, we thought we’d return later). So, if you get there for us, let us know how they are!  Alas, I took photos but put them up on Instagram stories and now I can’t find them. Guess I can blame the heat…

That’s a Wrap!

A few mochi are wrapped in different leaves, such as Sakura-mochi, filled with azuki bean paste (making it beautifully pink) and wrapped in a sakura leaf. Kashiwa-mochi are wrapped in oak tree leaves.

Teatime in Japan

Warabi Mochi

As we were in the Kansai region, Warabimochi were particularly popular.  Extremely chewy, they’re jelly-like treats made from bracken starch and either dipped in Matcha green tea or Kinako, roasted soybean flour.  By the end of the trip, I was addicted to the Kinako versions, probably due to their fascinating roasted flavour. They remind me of a less sweet Turkish Delight (Loukoums) with Japanese flavours.

Fukusa Mochi

Teatime in Japan

One of the delicious specialities of Kanazawa: Fukusa mochi, a Japanese baked roll cake (glutinous Gyuhi roll cake, a bit like a hole-packed pancake that looks remarkably like a huge bath sponge) with Azuki red bean jam. The outer layer is made from either baked brown sugar or Matcha green tea.

I could have eaten this whole tasting plate but remembered my manners. Instead bought them as a gift, as meeting up with Japanese friends in Tokyo; I hear it’s tradition to offer typical gifts from your travels.

Another speciality of Kanazawa is gold leaf – appropriate, as Kanazawa literally means ‘Marsh of Gold’. We particularly loved seeing gold leaf conveniently sold in tubes (not to be confused with lipstick in my handbag!) to sprinkle on top of coffee, ice cream … you name it and it turns everything to gold!

Teatime in Japan

More Wagashi Sweet Confectionary

Tai-yaki: a fish-moulded pancake-like batter or waffle filled with red bean paste, although we saw other varieties on sale such as vanilla custard cream and chocolate (unusually we didn’t see much chocolate in general on our trip). They also appeared in biscuit or cookie form too.

Daifuku: a form of mochi filled with sweet bean paste or other fillings (e.g. strawberry) and dusted in potato starch to prevent them from sticking.

Teatime in Japan

Mizu Yokan: a jelly-like sweet made with mashed azuki beans mixed with gelatin. I forgot to take a photo of it, but to see the whole picture, including a recipe, check out my friend Nami’s post how to make Yokan on Just One Cookbook.

Oshiruko: a type of dessert soup that consists of hot, sweet bean soup with grilled rice cakes (mochi) or rice flour dumplings. The red bean soup may be either smooth or chunky. We enjoyed a variation of this at the Zen Café in Kyoto’s Gion district, where the soup was chilled with almond pudding and fresh figs – sheer bliss during such a heatwave!
The list is apparently endless and if only we had more time to try and discover them all!

Bake Cheese Tart

Teatime in Japan

Although more French in spirit, this Matcha baked cheese tart is worth a mention from the Japanese chain, Bake Cheese Tart. The pastry base is spot on: a crispy, perfect quantity to matcha the filling, which is more liquid than I expected but not too much that it falls out of the base. There’s a real tease between sugar vs salt – even on the aftertaste.

There’s also a plain version, not unlike a Portuguese tart (see recipe for Pastéis de Nata) but less sweet and yet there’s definitely a cheesecake taste to it – yet it’s a tartlet. Frankly this is heaven! So glad we saw the enticing advert for this in the Kyoto metro. That’s all the shop makes but boy, they do it well.

Macarons

Teatime in Japan

We were delighted to see macarons in many boutiques and in Osaka, they were even served at the breakfast buffet in our hotel (mango-passionfruit). The most beautiful ones I saw (sorry, the image was on Instagram stories and I can’t recuperate it) were from the Matsuya department store in Asakusa, all individually wrapped.  There are also many French pastry chefs who have stores in Japan, and so the more western specialities of Parisian macarons, patisserie and/or chocolate can be found at Jean-Paul Hévin, Pierre Hermé, Foucher, Christophe Roussel, Sebastien Bouillet, Laurent Dûchene, just to name a few. Many are found in larger department stores and it’s a real treat to discover a gastronomic world always in their basements.

Alas, the only image I had was the surprising green tea pointy-looking macs I saw in a most touristy boutique near the Senso-ji temple in Anakusa, Tokyo. We were wondering if they were called nipples (sorry, couldn’t resist).

Green Tea Ice Cream

Teatime in Japan

Speaking of the Anakusa area, here we discovered the strongest Matcha Green Tea ice cream in the world from Suzukien in Tokyo. The strongest gelato came in at number 7 and it was indeed incredibly intense with little sugar, like the majority of the sweets in Japan.

Teatime in Japan

Our unanimous favourites throughout the trip were Anko (sweetened red bean paste) ice cream in Kinosaki Onsen, Hojicha (roasted tea) ice cream in the Japanese Alps in Shirikiwa-go, and here in Anakusa, including Black Sesame ice cream (I’ve since made this on return to Paris and will be sharing the recipe with you in the coming days).

Japanese Canelé

Teatime in Japan canele

Teatime in Japan with sweet potato canelés?

You heard me right: we discovered these remarkably French-looking canelés in Osaka at Canelé du Japon where they came in all sorts of surprising flavours such as yuzu, sweet potato, apple-caramel, or  flower salt (fleur de sel) from the Guérande. This may be for Teatime in Japan but they were served mini canelés at breakfast at our hotel in Osaka – more like the original ones we find originating from Bordeaux with their typical vanilla and rum soft centre with a caramelised exterior.  Also seen at breakfast were French pains au chocolat, spelled Pan’ochokora – how adorable is that?

If you’d like to make Canelés, my easy recipe is in my book, Teatime in Paris, along with the story that goes behind them and where to find the best in Paris.

Teatime in Japan

For a taste of Japan in Paris, see my personal listing of best Parisian tea salons, particularly around the rue Sainte-Anne area in Paris’s 2nd arrondissement.

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