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Quick French Apple Tart with Calvados Cream

I wish I could write a blog post as quick as it takes to make this Quick French Apple Tart.  Seriously, taking photos and posting them here takes me forever. There are times I’d rather pop into the kitchen and rustle up a family treat than slave over a hot computer!

Quick French Apple Tart

Jump to Recipe

50 Shades of French Apples for Dessert

Rant over – blame a bad back, the downside of being tall and so grocery shopping has been kept to a minimum lately. The other evening, I was craving dessert. Instead, even a gorgeous assiette de fromage wasn’t going to happen: the cheese plate was beautiful, ready and waiting but we didn’t even have cheese to put on it. I fancied another apple dessert, especially after this Apple Crumble Cake, a recipe that’s perfectly easy for entertaining but needs 24 hours in the fridge to set.

With our Autumnal surroundings suggesting 50 Shades of Apples all around Paris (and chestnuts too) and dropping temperatures, we want pomme-pommes. (Chapeau to you if you can smile at that dreadful pun!)

Even our garden mole is going mad about apples – albeit for fake Granny Smiths from our garden centre.

If you haven’t yet met la taupe du jardin, she’s quite a local celebrity with the passing French kids that go to the pre-school maternelle en route. They peer over the garden wall to see the latest message, if I’ve remembered her the night before – and sometimes post on Instagram/FaceBook stories. Do you think I’m teaching her wee fans to become a teacher’s pet?

Back to this Quick French Apple Tart. The patisseries/bakeries by this time were closed, there wasn’t much in the fridge and so I had 15 minutes to prepare dessert before dinner was ready.

Does this sound familiar?

Can You Make a Quick Dessert with 2 Granny Smith Apples?

With only 2 Granny Smith apples left in the fridge and a ready-made (rolled) puff pastry (pâte feuillétée ‘pur beurre’), I found this so quick to make. Two apples are not enough for a classic Tarte Tatin and although fine for a French Apple Custard Tart, there wasn’t enough time.

Then I had this flash of preparing a quick – almost cheat – recipe based on the one I use for my Fast Fig Tart in ‘Teatime in Paris‘. Et voilà. Not exactly ground-breaking stuff: an apple tart is an apple tart, right?
However, see how far only 2 Granny Smith apples can go with thin slices?

Quick French Apple Tart Recipe

The beauty with preparing this kind of speedy tart with Granny Smiths is that by working quickly and slicing them up finely (use a sharp knife), there’s no need to pre-soak the apples in lemon juice.  They don’t have time to go brown!

Instead, I melted a little butter in the microwave, mixed it with muscovado sugar and brushed it over the apples before slamming it in the oven with some slivered almonds scattered on top to echo the thin, almond-pasted base. But that’s entirely up to you.  That thin, buttery sugar topping isn’t even necessary. Serve either warm or at room temperature with a dusting of icing sugar.

Quick French Apple Tart Dessert

French Fall Apple Tart

I saved you a slice for next day to take a better photo and this time with a dollop of Calvados Cream.

Except, I snapped mine so quickly to join the others for teatime that I knocked over the plate. Not at all the same kind of ‘accident’ like the upside-down apple tart invented by the Tatin sisters! Have you ever tried Calvados Cream with pine needles? I didn’t eat that part but I still enjoyed it as a French Fall Apple Tart!

Quick French Apple Tart

Quick French Apple Tart with Calvados Cream

5 from 10 votes
Quick French Apple Tart
Quick French Apple Tart with Calvados Cream
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
40 mins
 

A fast and easy apple dessert to prepare at the last minute with ready-made puff pastry, 2 Granny Smith apples, honey, butter, almonds and Calvados. Add the extra Calvados cream for special occasions.

Course: Breakfast, Brunch, Dessert
Cuisine: French
Keyword: apple tart
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 402 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
French Apple Tart
  • 1 packet ready-made all-butter puff pastry ready-rolled, if possible (250g)
  • 2 Granny Smith apples organic
  • 85 g (3oz) ground almonds
  • 1 tbsp runny honey (e.g. Accacia)
  • 60 g (2oz) butter softened (unsalted)
  • 1 tbsp Calvados (or Pommeau)*
  • 1 tbsp muscovado sugar or organic coconut flower sugar
  • 1 tbsp slivered almonds optional (for decor)
  • icing (confectioner's) sugar optional (for decor)
Calvados Cream
  • 140 ml (5oz) whipping cream no less than 30% fat
  • 60 ml (2oz) mascarpone cream
  • 2 tbsp Calvados (or Pommeau de Normandie)*
Instructions
For the Apple Tart:
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/180°C fan/Gas 6

  2. If the puff pastry isn't already rolled, roll out the pastry to about 5mm (1/4") thickness in either a rectangular or round shape. Place on a baking sheet covered with baking paper.

  3. Prepare the almond paste: in a bowl, stir together the ground almonds, honey, 15g of the softened butter and Calvados (or Pommeau). Spread evenly over the pastry, leaving a small space (1cm) in from the edge.

  4. Peel and core the Granny Smith apples and slice them as thinly as possible using a good, sharp knife. Quickly arrange them in rows on the pastry.

  5. Melt the remaining butter, stir in the muscovado sugar and brush on top of the apples. Scatter with slivered almonds, if using and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes.

Calvados Cream:
  1. In a chilled bowl, whisk the whipping cream with the mascarpone and add the Calvados or Pommeau towards the end, just as the cream thickens.

Recipe Notes

* Pommeau is a lighter apple wine from Normandy made with 1/3 Calvados and 2/3 non-fermented apple juice.  If you can find this easily, this is fabulous to replace Calvados.

Serve with a dollop of the Calvados or Pommeau cream - or, if you prefer ice cream, replace the Drambuie to make this no-churn Calvados or Pommeau Ice Cream.

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

Montmartre Chocolate Pastry Walk

Lately I’ve had visitors to Paris asking if I still lead my mad chocolate and pastry food tours in Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Alas I don’t but, to make up for it, I have created this self-guided walk around my favourite less-touristy parts of Paris’s artistic hilltop village. Welcome to this Montmartre Chocolate Pastry Walk!

Montmartre chocolate pastry walk kisses

This walk came about when my French girlfriends came up north for our annual girls’ weekend and, as we had so much fun previously exploring chocolate and pastries in Saint-Germain, I surprised them by preparing my new Montmartre chocolate pastry walk – around the more hidden side of Paris’s most famous village.

It wasn’t completely a chocolate and pastry ‘tour’ as such, but more of a day-long, meandering walk while munching on chocolate, pastries and macarons along the way. We added a simple Amélie-style lunch, drinks then a historic dinner – where we could feel Toulouse-Lautrec keeping a more low-profiled, spectacled eye on us, as we checked out the absinthe being poured at the next table, comme à l’époque.

Montmartre café autumn

As you can imagine, I can’t possibly mention everything to do here, but it hopefully gives you an idea that there is more to Montmartre than Sacré Coeur and Place de Tertre, much as they’re special.

Are you ready? Take a seat and on y va!

Montmartre Chocolate Pastry Walk

Montmartre walk from metro Blanche

My self-guided Montmartre chocolate pastry walk starts at Metro Blanche, with Hector Guimard’s familiar Art Nouveau entrance. As Montmartre’s hill (‘la butte’) is 130m and boasts 38 staircases, we want a minimum to climb so this is a good starting point.

Chocolate Haven in Pigalle

For an immediate dose of chocolate endorphins, head to 30 rue Fontaine, a bit south of Place Pigalle, À l’Etoile d’Or. See my separate post on a visit to the pigtailed chocolate goddess, Denise Acabo’s boutique.

Did you know that just above the shop was one of 3 apartments where Toulouse-Lautrec lived on the same street? He also lived at N°19bis, where Degas had his workshop – although didn’t get the chance to exchange with the more illustrious artist at the time. Can you imagine being une mouche on the wall, witnessing them crossing on the staircase?

LEtoile D'or Denise Acabo Paris

Calling Henri to come down for a chocolate break?

Stock up on a bag of chocolate Sauternes-soaked raisins, and head to the Cemetery of Montmartre, passing the iconic cabaret, Le Moulin Rouge, which celebrated its 130th birthday (1889) this year.

Montmartre cemetery entrance on avenue Rachel

Entrance to the beautiful Montmartre Cemetery is via avenue Rachel. Grab a reference map by the door on the left, as there are many avenues to negotiate to find your favourite personalities. Ours included Michel Berger & France Gall, Emile Zola, Offenbach, Berlioz, Degas, Dalida, Sacha Guitry (he’s right there at the entrance with a funny greeting) and Louise Weber, known as La Goulue, creator of the French Cancan.

Montmartre cemetery fall

Rue Lepic: Music, Film and FOOD!

The 18th arrondissement of Montmartre beckons with a walk up Rue Lepic. Queue many film soundtracks from here, one of my favourites being ‘Les Ripoux’ (1984) starring Philippe Noiret and Thierry Lhermitte. Spellbinding accordian waltzes from Yann Tiersen came in 2001 with Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s film, ‘Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amelie Poulain‘ (aka Amelie, played by Audrey Tautou).

For a treat, I sometimes book lunch at Amelie’s Café des 2 Moulins (referring to the 2 remaining windmills). Normally during the day it’s bustling, with 2CV cars stopping by so I managed to snap it later during a rare, tranquil moment!

Montmartre chocolate pastry walk Amelie brasserie

Stopping for a drink here can be pricey but a no-fuss brasserie-style lunch is great, soaking in the ambience by the familiar zinc bar. We could have gone for Amélie’s favourite crème brûlée, cracking into the caramel layer with the back of a spoon. However, with so many places still to see and treats to try, we kept space for the rest like good French girls. Although they also make a savoury foie gras crème brûlée – for next time!

Montmartre Amelie Poulain

Montmartre’s Tempting Tarts

You’ll find many people at both windows – à faire du lèche-vitrine – literal window-licking at Les Petits Mitrons, also on rue Lepic. This family-run artisanal bakery is The Montmartre address for les tartes, churning out the most delicious seasonal vegetable or thinly caramel-crusted fresh fruit tarts.

Montmartre chocolate pastry walk

My ‘radishing’ girlfriends couldn’t decide the best and I’m still tasting to find out – although the plum and apple tarts are rather exquisite in Autumn.

That wasn’t me holding radishes for a wee snack: there’s a small market by the side of the street, just in case there’s not enough food already from the boucher, poissonier and fromagerie to choose from here!

French Family Chocolate & Confectionary

Montmartre chocolate pastry walk Mere de Famille

Across the street is À la Mère de Famille, is known as Paris’ oldest chocolate shop. The first green and gold-facade shop opened as a grocery in rue du Faubourg-Montmartre in 1761 (I strongly recommend you visit the original, which is classed a historical monument with wooden counter and rows of confectionary jars).

Today the family has an impressive chain of a dozen more chocolate-confectionary boutiques around Paris, all reminiscent of la Belle Epoque. Fans of chocolate orange will love their different orangettes plus calissons: losange-shaped, mouth-sized iced marzipans from Provence.

Where Korea Meets French Savoir-Faire

Turn right onto rue des Abbesses then first left on rue Tholozé for Chocolat Illèné.
Since 2015, Koreans Hyunsoo Ahn and Hyejin Cho both set up shop here after a star-studded chocolate-pastry career in Paris. While Hyunsoo was being trained by chocolatiers Michel Chaudun and Patrice Chapon, Hyejin was learning from pastry chefs Christophe Adam at Fauchon and Camille Lesecq at le Meurice.

Montmartre chocolate pastry walk macaron tower

Don’t be shocked by this macaron tower. It’s a mix of the smooth Parisian gerbet macarons and deliberately cracked, old-fashioned macarons à l’ancienne which are simply melt-in-the-mouth gluten-free almond deliciousness. (I’ve written an article for more on the different kinds of French macarons.)

Montmartre chocolate pastry walk illené

Choose from seasonal flavours or the favourites at all times of year: pistachio, caramel, sesame, black sesame and soya milk. I was most intrigued by l’Armoise. Yes, you can even taste a MUGWORT herbal macaron, which I believe should have a more scrumptious name in English, don’t you?

Their signature chocolate, l’Illené, with timut pepper ganache and Korean candied plum demonstrates their art of blending Korean culture with French savoir-faire.

Montmartrois Humour

Although we could continue and see the many interesting cafés, bars, brasseries, boulangeries (Grenier à Pain) cheese shops, ice cream shops (Une Glace à Paris, Emmanuel Ryon MOF is a must), etc. on rue des Abbesses, turn back towards rue Lepic, as we’re going to follow it around uphill, now that we need to a break from eating and discover the rest of Montmartre’s ‘butte’!

Montmartre chocolate pastry macaron walk

First, some typical Montmartrois’ quirky humour. You’ll spot artistic graffiti with their play on words on many corners and alleys (I loved ‘Gilles est jaune’, sounds like my name Jill in French, Cheeeele, Giles is yellow – referring to the Gilets Jaunes yellow vests) but this one is a cracker, referring to the difference between Macaron vs Macaroon.

The Hunchback of Montmartre

Montmartre chocolate pastry walk teacakes

While we’re here, La Bossue is a cosy address on the corner of rue Lepic for weekend brunch (reservations essential), also lunches or for tea and cake. Thanks to my bubbly local friend, Lily Heise, we nibbled on the most delectable homemade gluten-free financiers and I immediately added this gem to my on-growing list of favourite Parisian tearooms. Lily is the author of 2 Parisian romance novels and her blog includes the most romantic places to visit in Paris.

Montmartre Van Gogh appartment

Just opposite, continuing on Rue Lepic at N°54 is a blue door that, paradoxically, always looks like it needs a paint! It’s where Vincent Van Gogh stayed with his brother, Theo (1886-88) before he moved south.

Bold, Buttery Boulangerie

Continue gently up the hill here by just one block, turn left on rue Tourleque and check out the bold and buttery viennoiseries (croissants, pains au chocolat, pain aux raisins…) from artisan boulanger, Gontran Cherrier.

Montmartre chocolate pastry walk Cherrier
Try his naughty Kouign Amann: Breton for butter cake (if you love these, try also Georges Larnicol‘s ‘Kouignettes’ on rue Steinkerque, which earned him Meilleur Ouvrier de France, MOF). Gontran Cherrier also makes curry and squid ink baguettes and buns, if you fancy something that bit deliciously different. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s workshop is just across the road (corner of rue Tourleque/rue Caulinacourt).

Incidentally, further up rue Caulinacourt, is another MOF, Arnaud Lahrer. Try his macarons or his speciality, Le Pavé de Montmartre, a sumptuous, moist biscuit of almonds and marzipan. For the sake of this walk, however, let’s stick to our path.

Montmartre’s Windmills

Montmartre madeleines

Returning up the winding hill of rue Lepic, follow it around until it stops at the Moulin Radet (built in 1717), now the restaurant of Le Moulin de la Galette. A windmill site for centuries, this one turned into a dancing club which inspired Renoir’s Le Bal du Moulin de la Galette (Musée d’Orsay), also immortilised by Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec and Utrillo. The other remaining windmill, Le Blute Fin (1622), is behind this but now private.
Where did I get this lemon madeleine? Patience – it’s coming.

Montmartre man in wall sculpture

Turn left onto rue Girardon and then right on rue Norvins passing Place Marcel Aymé, dedicated to the local writer who lived here and wrote The Passer Through Walls (Le Passe-Muraille). Actor Jean Marais immortalised the sad tale with this sculpture (1989).

If you plan on seeing Place du Tertre, continue along the busier half of rue Norvins. While there, pop into the Biscuiterie de Montmartre – otherwise I recommend taking the other oldest parallel street in Montmartre, rue Saint Rustique.

Oldest Streets in Montmartre

Montmartre restaurant la Bonne Franquette

La Bonne Franquette (playing on a French expression meaning unfussy, simple food) has been a legendary restaurant with the Montmartrois. Regulars such as Degas, Renoir, Sisley and Toulouse-Lautrec all loved to love, eat, drink and sing here.

Montmartre chocolate pastry walk cabaret

Turn left onto rue du Mont Cenis. At N°13 stood the Cabaret Patachou, now an art gallery. Go in to the foyer and feel the echos of Edith Piaf’s last public performance. It’s also where Brassens, Brel and Charles Aznavour started out.

Montmartre’s Oldest House

Turn left onto Rue Cortot, looking right to N°6 where composer Erik Satie (known for his piano Gymnopédies) lived for 8 years. As I discovered at the Satie Museum in Honfleur, he had an oh-là-là wee affair with painter Suzanne Valadon a couple of doors down at 17th century La Maison du Bel Air, the oldest house in Montmartre – now the Montmartre Museum.Montmartre chocolate pastry walk rue Cortot

If you have time, I thoroughly recommend a visit to the Montmartre Museum plus a drink in the Renoir Gardens (see my article on the Café Renoir), where you can see the famous swing immortalised by the painter, who also lived there.

On the crossroads of rue de l’Abrevoir and rue des Saules is La Maison Rose. It’s a restaurant-café made famous by Utrillo’s paintings (son of Suzanne Valadon) and where Charles Aznavour enjoyed many after-song drinks on la Butte. Lucky for us it was renovated in 2017.

Montmartre’s Vineyard

It’s hard to believe you’re in Montmartre at this point: right on rue des Saules, discover the last vineyard in Paris, le Clos de Montmartre, at the back of the Musée de Montmartre.

The annual Fête des Vendanges is quite an event since 1934 every second Saturday of October – see my wine harvest festival article for a wee online taste.

Montmartre chocolate pastry walk vineyards

Gill’s Red-Scarfed French Rabbit

I’m aware we’re further away from the chocolate and pastries in Montmartre, but you can’t come here without seeing just the next corner – and the next. The Cabaret, Au Lapin Agile was frequented by many artists and authors. In the 1880s the owner of the former “Assassins’ Cabaret” asked the caricaturist, André Gill (pronounce that ‘cheel’ again), to paint a logo. He produced a rabbit wearing a red scarf and green hat, avoiding being cooked in a pan while balancing a wine bottle on his paw. The locals called it ‘Le Lapin de Gill‘ and the name transformed – just-like-that!

The story goes that Picasso lunched regularly here and paid with his unsigned drawings. When the owner asked why they were never signed, Picasso wasn’t popular afterwards when he retorted, “I just want to buy lunch, not the restaurant!”

Montmartre chocolate pastry walk Lapin Agile

Fall for Autumn in Montmartre

Turn left onto rue Saint-Vincent, especially in Autumn. It’s also where the last scene of Amélie is filmed.

Montmartre chocolate pastry macaron walk

Then a macaron comes into view and the eyes go blurry.

That’s a sign of a true macaron-ivore. For the macaron recipe, tips and how to control Parisian macaronivore symptoms, see my book Mad About Macarons.

Montmartre chocolate pastry walk macaron

Macarons? Jings, we’ve walked so much it’s time to head back down la Butte de Montmartre for more chocolate, cakes and macarons. This is Christophe Roussel’s melt-in-the-mouth cheesecake macaron.

Moreover, just for the raspberry-coloured autumnal ivy treat, we’ll have to walk UP a flight of steps on the left – the only one going up on this walk (not bad). I’ve saved you a Petite Butte de Montmartre pistachio chocolate – finally coming below at Christophe Roussel, our last stop on this Montmartre chocolate pastry walk.

Montmartre chocolate pastry walk Butte

A post-chocolate sprint up the steps and Place Dalida awaits with a statue in memory of the famous French-Egyptian singer. I’ll leave you with the surprise to see what the locals do – to either keep their hands warm or carry on a warming tradition!

Look up at rue l’Abrevoir. We’re nearly there and it’s all downhill now. Next stop: the French’s favourite hunchbacked cake, baked by Gilles Marchal.

Montmartre chocolate pastry tour madeleine

Ahead in Montmartre with Saint-Denis

Montmartre walk autumn fall

Walking straight on rue Girardon is the entrance to Square Suzanne Buisson. Come here in November and this tranquil public garden is alive with chrysanthemums, symbol of immortality following Toussaint’s 1 November French tradition.

Montmartre chocolate pastry walk St Denis

Here the statue of the first bishop of Paris, Saint Denis, is holding his own head. Decapitated in Montmartre in 250AD, legend has it that when he dropped dead, his head rolled down the hill to the spot that became the famous royal Abbey and Basilica of Saint-Denis.

Exiting onto Avenue Junot with a view of the second Blute Fin windmill, rows of stunning private villas continue down to the cul-de-sac of Villa Léandre. Here is home to celebrities, fluffy watchful cats and a pianist who often practises if you’re lucky to catch the sounds with a window open. Back DOWN rue Girardon, walk past singer Dalida’s mansion house on rue d’Orchampt until Le Bateau Lavoir on Place Emile Goudeais, which was home to Picasso and Modigliani and the birth of cubism.

Montmartre Madeleine Moments

Montmartre chocolate pastry tour Gilles Marchal

On the corner of rue Ravignan, you’ll find the delights of Pastry chef, Gilles Marchal. Also from Lorraine, like the scalloped madeleine cake made famous by Marcel Proust, try his speciality: fresh madeleines. Choose from his classic salted caramel, chocolate, orange, Sicilian pistachio – or even nature.

For Autumn, Monsieur l’écureuil‘s (squirrel) praline is a cracker and I personally love the glazed lemon madeleine. If you’re lucky, he may have some truffle madeleines warm from the oven. His pastries are also divine – try the pear and almond tart (like the Bourdaloue tart), les mille-feuilles and éclairs.

Metro Abbesses, the Deepest in Paris

Montmartre chocolate pastry walk abbesses chestnuts

Continue downhill on rue Ravignan and turn left onto Place des Abbesses. Wafts of roasted chestnuts are at the famous Art Nouveau metro entrance, signalling Autumn and Winter in Paris. Pick this metro as your Montmartre starting point and either take the lift or be prepared to climb 181 steps. It’s the deepest metro station in Paris (36m underground). Mind you, the climb is interesting, as 7 artworks of Montmartre were added after its renovation in 2007.

Behind in Place Jean Rictus is wall fresco by Frédéric Baron saying “I love you” in 311 languages. Queue these chocolate kisses from our next and last stop! Walk down rue des Trois Frères, stopping en route at N°56 to see ‘Collignon’s’ grocery from Amelie, then turn left on rue Tardieu.

Montmartre’s Exclusive ‘Butte’ Chocolates

Location is spot on here. Imagine tantalising us with a chocolate and macaron boutique right in front of a flight of 222 steps, next to the Funiculaire (price of a metro ticket) up to Sacré Coeur? If you prefer to start your walk here from Anvers or Abbesses metro, then ensure that you stop for a chocolat chaud and stock up your goodie bag first from Christophe Roussel Duo Avec Julie in Rue Tardieu.

Montmartre chocolate pastry walk Christophe Roussel

Christophe Roussel is The veritable chocolate and pastry star from La Baule and along France’s north-west coast. Thankfully for us chocolate and macaron fans, he recently opened this Paris boutique with his wife, Julie (read my introduction here).

Sensitive to environmental and social practices, Christophe has chosen his exclusive, signature chocolate as pure origin Bahiana® from Brazil. All dark chocolates and pralines are rich and intense, with 65% cacao – my personal favourites? Taste his crispy raspberry ‘Kisses From’, Tokyo Sésame Pralines, petites buttes de Montmartre range and chunky Electro’chocs – all Oh-là-là divine.

As I say in my recipe book, Teatime in Paris – Christophe is one of the most genuine, talented yet fun-loving pastry chefs I know. I’m also extremely proud and flattered to have been twice (they even asked the clown-girl back?) on such a prestigious French jury for his annual Amateur Pastry Competition in la Baule – the latest challenge was end June 2019. Pop in for a taste of this high-end yet convivial French pastry-making Roussel challenge. Who knows, perhaps you could give it a go next year?

Montmartre chocolate pastry tour buttes chocolates

Don’t leave without trying Christophe Roussel’s ‘Petites Buttes de Montmartre’. These little chocolate hills of heaven are produced ONLY for the boutique in Montmartre. One of my favourites is a milk chocolate coconut praline with sparkling candy (sucre pétillant). Your mouth is guaranteed to fizz and turn like the carrousel with Sacré Coeur looking on.

For me, it’s the final flurry of fireworks to end this Montmartre Chocolate Pastry Walk.

montmartre bars

Absinthe-Minded in Montmartre

If you’re looking for some authenticity for dinner, Montmartre’s oldest restaurant, Le Bon Bock on rue Dancourt still has original decor from 1879. If it wasn’t for clients’ clothes and mobile ‘phones, one could really imagine being transported to la Belle Époque, even if it’s not even Midnight in Paris!

This is one of the rare establishments left that still serves Absinthe as it was done during the time of Toulouse-Lautrec. Here is information donated types of games like apps and see online friv games, which are played on devices and gadgets, such as laptops, mobile phones and others. Many of these games can be found on various websites and some of them are free. Call me a wimp but I prefer to look on others trying it out. Instead, I stuck with bubbling Mamie’s Gratinée à l’oignon and poulet fermier with Camembert. Somehow, after all the treats we had, I just couldn’t manage dessert.

I wonder why?

Montmartre traditional Absinthe bottles

Montmartre Guided Walking Tours

This is a whirlwind online walk and I can’t possibly mention everything I’d normally ramble on about in person. The best way to really do Montmartre is with a guided tour. See my list of recommended Paris Food Tours.
For more information, consult the Official Tourism Office of Montmartre.
They also have a wonderful “Discover Montmartre” map and fliers on the village’s history and what’s on.

Montmartre Chocolate Pastry Walk Tips

  • Even off-season, Montmartre is busy – especially around Sacré-Coeur, Place de Tertre and the metro stations. PLEASE be careful of pickpockets.
  • Montmartre is on a rather steep hill, so wear comfortable shoes and be prepared to walk a lot;
  • Bring water with you, especially if you plan to enjoy a lot of chocolate – regardless of the weather;
  • I recommend these addresses and specialities for this Montmartre chocolate pastry walk – don’t forget to pace yourself and do try to keep some aside for later;
  • To really enjoy Montmartre to its fullest, please allow a whole day – or at least an afternoon – for the walk.

Montmartre chocolate pastry walk kisses

 

Disclaimer: None of the addresses or recommendations in this post are sponsored. All opinions, as always, are entirely my own.

Healthy Banana Oat Muffins (no added sugar)

With the French rentrée back-to-school this month, university applications underway and September being Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month, I’m (enfin!) posting these Healthy Banana Oat Muffins to give us a naturally sweet and nutty morning boost this Autumn.

What’s the big deal about these muffins? Mon Dieu, they’re not even French.

Unlike our just-as-healthy Breakfast Oat Bran Muffins or Breakfast Oat Cookies, these have absolutely NO ADDED SUGAR in them.  Instead they rely heavily on the natural fruit sugars using just an overripe banana and moist, dried fruits with a surprise brazil nut to add le crunch.

Why No Added Sugar Oat Muffins?

Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month

You could say I’ve been even more of a ‘Health Nut’ recently, ever since I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in February. It all happened quite by accident: no visible lumps on the neck, no symptoms (no strange change in voice, coughing or trouble swallowing).  Instead I saw a new GP last summer for something different since my usual doc was on holiday.  He asked questions, then felt my neck and asked me to get a deep lump scanned. Two biopsies later, I was told I had cancer.

The following month saw a dizzying thyroidectomy, parathyroidectomy and 3 tumours removed. Recovery time is fast and my scar is hardly even noticeable. Even after radioactive iodine treatment with a few days of surreal quarantine this summer, it’s all good and, luckily, a cancer that’s easiest to treat with follow-up scans and blood tests every 6 months from now on.

So my unasked-for advice? SEE YOUR DOC if you suspect anything on your neck or just get a contrôle technique once in a while (an MOT is not just for the car). CHECK YOUR NECK!

Keeping Healthy with Not Too Much Sugar

If you’re like me and have a sweet tooth at breakfast, then I urge you to try these. As you know, I’m already extremely sensitive to too much sugar in cakes and French patisserie (too much sugar kills flavour) – and muffins are no exception.  In this case, however, I wanted to try making them without any added sugar at all.  Instead, they rely heavily on good quality dried fruits and a banana, making them moist and pleasantly naturally sweet.

As I mentioned in my previous post for sesame tuiles, adding some sesame seeds before baking adds a touch of calcium, if you’re looking for that extra boost (we all need calcium but particularly if you have problems or have lost your parathyroid glands).

Healthy Banana Oat Muffins Recipe (No Added Sugar)

5 from 4 votes
Healthy Banana Oat Muffins (no added sugar)
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
35 mins
 

Healthy breakfast muffins with no added sugar: just naturally sweetened with banana, moist dried fruits and brazil nuts.

Course: Breakfast, Brunch, Snack
Cuisine: British, French
Keyword: baking with oats, healthy muffins, no sugar muffins
Servings: 9 muffins
Calories: 206 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 1 very ripe banana large
  • 100 g (3.5oz) porridge oats medium oats (or oatmeal)
  • 100 g (3.5oz) wholemeal flour or mix with plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (or pumpkin spice)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
  • 75 g (3oz) dried apricots finely chopped (or prunes)
  • 75 g (3oz) sultanas
  • 75 ml (3 floz) sunflower oil (or other neutral oil)
  • 1 organic egg large
  • 100 ml (3.5 floz) whole milk
  • 9 brazil nuts (if extra large, cut in half)
  • 1 tbsp oats for sprinkling on top
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/400°F; Gas 6. Either grease a muffin tin or line with 9 paper muffin cases.

  2. In a large bowl, mash the banana and gradually stir in the oats, flour, cinnamon, baking powder and soda. Add the apricots and sultanas, coating in the flour mix. Mix in the oil, egg, and milk until the batter is smooth.

  3. Spoon the mixture into the muffin tin (or directly into silicone muffin moulds). Fill ¾ of the way up and push in a brazil nut into each muffin centre.

  4. Sprinkle each top with a few porridge oats and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden and a skewer inserted comes out clean.

  5. Leave to cool completely for about 10 minutes before taking out of the tin.

Recipe Notes

Delicious served fresh and still warm from the oven, although once cool can be frozen in sealed packs to enjoy defrosted at any time in the next month.

As no sugar at all is added (not even honey or maple syrup), this recipe relies heavily on the banana and DRIED fruits to give it the natural sweetness for breakfast. If you substitute ingredients, ensure that it is just the dried fruits, such as dates, prunes, currants, dried cranberries or blueberries in place of the apricots.

I like to sprinkle sesame seeds on top with the oats before baking, for added calcium.

 

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

healthy oat banana sugar-free muffins

 

Chocolate Banana Marble Cake

Lucie squealed when she saw this chocolate banana marble cake peeking out from the aluminium foil in the kitchen. I squealed since that bottom layer wasn’t very marbled and the top was a bit too browned – but hey, nobody’s perfect.

Chocolate Banana Marble Cake

To see the marble effect, of course, someone had already cut a few slices before the ‘official opening’. By the opening, you’ll understand what I mean if you want to photograph a whole cake for a blog or book before it’s attacked.

Really, the girls think I’m some kind of expert French police detective but it doesn’t take much to notice when a squirrel has sneaked off with the hidden edibles in the kitchen, does it?

Chocolate Banana Marble Cake

Marble Cake

To create a marble or swirl effect like a tiger (hence its other names) divide up the batter towards the end, layer each ten make zig-zags with a fork from one end to the other – or swirl a couple of times in a figure 8 with a skewer.

Although, in this case, you could say it’s a chocolate banana cake that’s lost its marble!

Chocolate Banana Marble Cake

Normally we enjoy this for breakfast with a typical large French bowl of coffee to accompany it and take our time. However, this chocolate banana marble cake is also delicious coated in a fudgy dark chocolate glaze for teatime.

Chocolate Banana Marble Cake

Chocolate Cake Glaze Festive Decor

If you have any chocolate macaron shells handy, then stick them on top for a soft yet almond crunch. To create an instant holiday decor, sprinkle on some edible glitter (I use edible metallic lustre powder to brush on macarons from DecoRelief in Paris – see stockists on the FAQ page) for a quick golden effect.

Chocolate Banana Marble Cake

Have you made any of the recipes from le blog or fancy making this Chocolate Banana Marble Cake?  Please leave a comment below – I love it when you make and share the recipes here.

Chocolate Banana Swirl Cake

Chocolate Banana Marble Cake

5 from 1 vote
chocolate banana marble cake
Chocolate Banana Marble Cake
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
50 mins
Total Time
1 hr 5 mins
 

A reduced sugar chocolate banana marble cake (or banana bread) perfect for breakfast or brunch, either topped with roasted banana or served at teatime with a fudgy dark chocolate ganache.

Course: Breakfast, Brunch, teatime
Cuisine: British, French
Keyword: bananabread, chocolate banana swirl, Chocolate Banana,, Chocolate Marble,, Marble Cake,
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 330 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 100 g (3.5oz) butter (unsalted) softened
  • 75 g (2.75oz) cane sugar
  • 3 eggs (organic) at room temperature
  • 170 g (6oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 (approx.225g/8oz) very ripe bananas + 1 for decor (optional)
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 100 g (3.5oz) dark chocolate chips good quality (bittersweet)
Teatime Chocolate Glaze (optional):
  • 50 g (2oz) dark (bittersweet) cooking chocolate good quality (64-74% cacao)
  • 50 g (2oz) icing (confectioner's) sugar sifted
  • 50 g (2oz) butter (unsalted)
  • 50 g (2oz) single or whipping cream at least 30% fat
Instructions
  1. Grease and flour a loaf tin, otherwise if you’re using a silicone mould there’s no need. Preheat the oven to 180°C/360°F/Mark 4/160°C fan.

  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until soft, light and creamy (this is even easier if you beat together in a stand mixer). Gradually add the eggs, one by one until well mixed. Incorporate the flour and baking powder until the batter is smooth.

  3. In another bowl, mash the banana with a fork and transfer half of it to the other bowl. In one of them, add the chocolate powder and chocolate chips and mix well.

  4. Pour the chocolate mix into the bottom of the tin, then pour in the banana batter, then the chocolate again then banana.
  5. Marble the cake by making zig-zags with a fork from one end to the other - or swirl a couple of times in a figure 8 with a skewer. If making this without the teatime glaze, cut the extra banana horizontally (if using) and place on top of the batter. Transfer to the oven and bake for 45-50 minutes. 

    The cake is ready when a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. If not, bake for another 5 minutes. Leave the cake to cool then remove from the mould to a wire rack to cool.

For the Teatime Glaze (optional):
  1. Melt the chocolate, icing sugar and butter in a bowl placed over a pan of simmering water (bain-marie). When melted, stir in the cream until the glaze is well blended.  Leave to cool for about 5 minutes then pour over the cake, evening the glaze with a knife and decorate whatever takes your fancy. I added some mini macaron shells and finally dusted it with gold food powder, just tapping it over with a couple of fingers.

Recipe Notes

Please resist temptation to eat this straight away, as the marble cake tastes even better the next day.  Can keep for 3 days in a cool place stored in an airtight tin or in aluminium foil (although not in the fridge) - if you're lucky not to have tigers around!

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

chocolate banana swirl loaf

Goat Cheese & Walnut Pasta Sauce

This Goat Cheese & Walnut Pasta Sauce has just evolved over the last few years.

I never even thought to write up the recipe, it’s so simple. In 2011, I originally posted our favourite French summer classic, Warm Goat Cheese Salad (Salade de Chèvre Chaud). It’s more of an assembly job of good ingredients than a recipe but there are a few tips I picked up when I first moved to France in 1992 that I talk about here. So, how did it turn into a deliciously clingy pasta sauce?

Goat Cheese & Walnut Pasta Sauce

Goat Cheese & Walnut Pasta Sauce

A French Salad without the Salad!

We love the salad version, but we often find salads difficult to digest in the evening (I also have IBS, so huge salads are not ideal). Outside the summer months, we also don’t feel like salad. Enough said.

It’s a Salade de Chèvre Chaud without the salad – although place some small spinach leaves on the bottom of each plate if you still want your greens. The heat of the pasta slightly wilts them.

French goat cheese - crottin de Chavignol

From the fromagerie at our local market in Saint-Germain-en-Laye

Best Goat Cheese to Use

Like the salad version, don’t skimp on using good quality goat cheese. The best kind of goat cheese to use is Crottin de Chavignol (from the charming little Loire village that also boasts some remarkable Sancerre wines from the famous town up the road) made with raw goat’s milk (lait cru).

In some of the touristy brasseries in Paris, watch out for the cheap’n’nasty stuff; the other day I was served a sickly sweet version with a thick layer of fig jam spread on Poilâne bread, then topped with the cheapest supermarket goat cheese that was bitter and didn’t like being melted (incidentally, fig jam is best served separately with a cheese board – just saying. So if you see fig jam included – AVOID IT!). Sitting on top of a ridiculous amount of green salad without much dressing, this seriously gives our visitors to France the wrong idea of the classic dish.

Needless to say, it gets my goat. Stick to garlic, olive oil, good cheese, herbs and walnuts.

Goat Cheese & walnut pasta sauce

The best, fresh quality ingredients is all that’s needed

The Extra Tips that Make the Perfect French Goat’s Cheese Dish

As with the salad version, I gently fry garlic in olive oil, add chopped fresh rosemary from the garden,  melt in the cheese, toast some walnuts either in another frying pan (dry fry) or quickly under the grill to toss on top. Add some chopped sun-dried tomatoes or fried bacon bits (lardons) for the full monty!

By the time I cook the fresh pasta for a couple of minutes and toss it in the sauce with a bit of cream, dinner is ready as soon as we’ve opened the wine!

If you love goat cheese and are not keen on salads, then make this sauce with pasta next time. It’s the taste of French summer on a plate that can be enjoyed at any time of year.

Goat Cheese & Walnut Pasta Sauce

Goat Cheese & Walnut Pasta Sauce

5 from 4 votes
French Goat Cheese Walnut Pasta Sauce
Goat Cheese & Walnut Pasta Sauce
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
30 mins
 

My saucy take on the French classic, Salade de Chèvre Chaud, with toasted walnuts and rosemary to create a delicious creamy goat cheese pasta sauce. Serve with fresh tagliatelle, spaghetti or fusilli - and add some chopped sun-dried tomatoes or fried bacon bits to go the full monty.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: French
Servings: 2 people
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp walnuts
  • 3 cloves garlic peeled, core removed & chopped finely
  • 4 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
  • 2 (60g small cheeses) Crottins de Chavignol or good quality matured goat cheese
  • 1 tbsp fresh rosemary (or thyme) finely chopped (or herbes de Provence)
  • 115 g (4oz) half fat cream (crème fleurette)
  • 100 g (3.5oz) lardons/bacon bits OPTIONAL
  • 250 g (9oz) fresh pasta
  • handful fresh spinach leaves optional
Instructions
  1. Toast the walnuts under the grill for a couple of minutes (keep an eye on them, as you don't want them to burn) or dry-fry in a non-stick frying pan. Set aside.

  2. Gently fry the chopped garlic in the olive oil for a minute but don't brown (it will otherwise turn bitter).  Add the fresh herbs then chopped goat cheese and leave it to melt then add the cream, plus salt and ground pepper to taste.

  3. Meanwhile, prepare the pasta according to packet instructions. I prefer using fresh pasta which only takes a couple of minutes but if you use dried pasta, prepare the pasta more in advance or take the sauce off the heat so as not to overcook.

  4. Drain the pasta and toss into the pan with the sauce, sprinkling over the toasted walnuts.

Recipe Notes

Good matching wines: Sauvignon Blanc or fruitier Chenin Blanc, ideally from the Loire (the goat cheese is from the same region). The result is a creamy, almost honey-like taste that marries to well together.

 

 

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

Have you made any of the recipes from le blog or fancy making this French Goat Cheese & Walnut pasta sauce? Please don’t be shy; leave a comment below or take a picture and hashtag it #MadAboutMacarons on Instagram and Facebook – I love to see you making the recipes!

French Goat Cheese Walnut Herb Pasta

French Berry Gratin with Elderflower

After a bubbly afternoon of Champagne tasting in Paris last week, I promised to make this French Berry Gratin recipe with thoughts of that 100% Pinot Noir evoking grilled fruits. Isn’t it incredible how wine tastings can leave you dreaming about accompanying foods?

Berry Gratin

A fruit gratin is popular in France – probably because it not only showcases the sweetest of seasonal fruits, but it’s also such a quick yet elegant French dessert to whip up in under 30 minutes.

A Perfect Summer Heatwave Dessert

This kind of gratin isn’t to be confused with a Crème Brûlée, where the top has a thick layer of sugar and is burned to form a hard cracking layer on top. I have a classic recipe in Mad About Macarons, but try this Milk Chocolate and Passion Fruit Crème Brûlée – it’s from another planet!

Instead, this gratin dessert highlights the fruits; it’s lightly grilled without the crunch and it has a more liquid form of custard, rather similar to a Crème Anglaise rather than set.  That’s why it’s a handy summer recipe to have if you don’t want the oven on too much during a heatwave.

berry gratin recipe method

Although I say ‘sweet’, this berry gratin has just enough sugar added but not too much to overpower the natural sugars in the fruits.

It’s on the same lines as this Rhubarb and Strawberry Gratin – have you tried it yet?

Berry Gratin dessert

I’d normally make this using a vanilla pod/bean but this time I felt like some elderflower to highlight the strawberries.  If you’ve tried my Strawberry Eclairs with Elderflower Cream recipe in Teatime in Paris, you’ll know what I’m talking about!

As I’m not lucky enough to have elderflowers around, I cheat with a little cordial (Ikea have one) or syrup (Monin’s is good). However, if you have Elderflower liqueur such as Saint Germain, then that’s great too!

If you’re not into elderflower, then infuse this cream with some lemon verbena – so many variations are easy to dream up for this berry gratin recipe.

Berry Gratin recipe

Berry Gratin

Have you made any of the recipes from le blog or fancy making this Berry Gratin recipe?  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! Just to let you know I’ll be rather disconnected on my annual travels (as ever, like the French, we leave Paris at this time!) over the next 3 weeks but will try to pop in when I can.  Have a lovely summer, wherever you are! Speaking of French Berries, don’t forget to wear a hat!

Berry Gratin Recipe

5 from 2 votes
Berry Gratin Recipe
Berry Gratin with Elderflower
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
2 mins
Total Time
22 mins
 

Summer red fruit berry gratin, a quick yet elegant French dessert with fresh berries topped with an elderflower cream and toasted under the grill for a couple of minutes.

Servings: 4 people
Calories: 215 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 400 g (14oz) mixed fresh berries organic
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 50 g (1.75oz) sugar
  • good pinch vanilla powder (or 1/2 tsp extract)
  • 2 tbsp elderflower cordial or syrup (or Saint Germain liqueur)
  • 100 g (3.5oz) whipping cream
Instructions
  1. Divide the mixed berries between 4 ovenproof dishes and spread them out in a single layer.

  2. In a bowl, whisk together the yolks, sugar and vanilla until light and creamy (about 5 minutes). Continue to whisk, adding the cordial/syrup and the cream until well mixed.

  3. Pour over the fruits and place under a hot grill for just 2 minutes until the cream is toasted but not burned.  You could also use a blowtorch instead.
    Serve immediately -  or prepare a couple of hours in advance, chill then reheat in a warm oven at 140°C for about 5 minutes.

Recipe Notes

There are countless floral variations to this recipe: replace elderflower cordial/syrup with violet or rose syrup. Or replace the syrup with 25g more cream and infuse with lavender or lemon verbena.

 

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

 

 

French Berry Gratin