chocolate

Mendiants à la fleur de sel..et l’ atelier chocolat.

Mendiants are so quick to make and over the festive times coming soon, are a handy snack to serve with coffee. IN France the habit in a bar, mostly, not everywhere, is to serve a petit biscuit or chocolat along with the coffee. Towards the end of the year it changes to something special, like a petit meringue, or une truffe au chocolat. Why not a mendiant, topped with dried fruit and nuts of your choice?

mendiants aux fleur de sel 15-10-2013 12-19-56 2801x2795

Wikipedia says:  “A mendiant is a traditional French confection composed of a chocolate disk studded with nuts and dried fruits representing the four mendicant or monastic orders of the Dominicans, Augustinians, Franciscans and Carmelites. Each of the nuts and dried fruits used refer to the color of monastic robes with tradition dictating raisins for the Dominicans, hazelnuts for the Augustins, dried figs for Franciscans and almonds for Carmelites. Usually found during Christmas, recipes for this confection have veered away from the traditional combination of nuts and fruits to other combinations incorporating seeds, fruit peels and other items.”

Larousse says: The mendiant order imposed poverty on the the mendiants(beggars) and they were dependent on donations for their upkeep. They were allowed to get some kind of income as long as they abstained from any benefits from the church.

..mendiants à la fleur de sel..

atelier chocolat 15-10-2013 11-21-55 4034x2820

La recette:

  1. Break 400 g dark chocolate in pieces. Add to a bowl(or top part of double boiler) on a pot of hot water.
  2. Temper the chocolate ( see below under Tempering chocolate).
  3. Keeping the chocolate at 32° C, drop spoonfuls of chocolate onto a baking sheet covered with bakewell paper. Sprinkle very sparsely with some fleur de sel and leave aside for about 10 minutes for the chocolate to settle.
  4. Use dried fruit and nuts of your choice and top by gently pressing it onto the mendiants. (I used dried strawberries, almonds, pistachio nuts, dried papaya strips and hazelnuts).

..my all favorite eating chocolate is dark Lindt chocolate à fleur de sel(left) and in the kitchen I use Lindt dark cooking chocolate 70% cacao and mix it with a cheaper Lindt cooking chocolate(ratio 3/4 – 1/4)..

mendiants

1. Tempering chocolate:

Tempering chocolate gives you chocolate which is beautifully smooth with a gloss and is used when you are “decorating” with chocolate or florentines, or mendiants or making filled cups. When making truffles, it isn’t necessary, because truffles mostly get rolled in cacao afterwards.

  • Using a thermometer, melt the chocolate until  50 – 55°C, while stirring all the while with a spatula.
  • Remove from the heat and cool the chocolate to 28 – 29°C, stirring all the while.
  • Reheat again to 30-32°C and remove from the heat, taking care, because it heats very quick. If it heats above this temperature, it will make white streaks and you will have to start from the beginning.
  • Keep the temperature at 30 -32°C while working.
  • The left over chocolate can be stored and at a later time tempered again and reused.
  • The chocolate chips don’t give such a good result.

..tempered chocolate..

atelier chocolat 15-10-2013 12-42-06 3380x2804

In the top photograph,  the chocolate is tempered which shows the rich gloss and smoothness. The bottom photograph clearly shows the white, dull and milky appearance of untempered chocolate.

..untempered chocolate, simply melted..

atelier chocolat 25-10-2012 11-59-23 2397x2026 

Whip some cream and serve it in the little cup along with a strawberry or raspberry or a fruit mousse or light chocolate mousse. Place it with your main dessert  on a dessert plate for some added interest. Or why not serve it with a late afternoon coffee as a “goutêr“? If it has a quaint rose pattern like in the photo, it can be turned over and your guests break through the chocolate to get to the surprise filling.

2. Chocolate decoration.

  • Use a home made cone – Place a piece of bakewell paper on a tray and draw your design on the paper. Fold a rectangle of bakewell paper into a cone, fill with melted chocolate and draw onto your design. Leave aside to cool completely of place in the fridge in warm weather. When the chocolate designs have settled, remove gently and store in an airtight container with bakewell paper between the chocolate decorations. Use of ice cream or whipped cream or serve on a hot chocolate topped with a thick layer of froth.
  • Making chocolate moulds/cups – use the brush shown below  and paint one layer of chocolate inside the moulds. Refrigerate and paint another. Continue until you have painted 3 coats. Remove gently and store in an airtight container.

..to make chocolate decorations, I use the home made paper cone(left,  line 1),  the little brown container is useless, for it sucks air and make spurts of chocolate as you can see (line 2), the spoons are very handy and make nice linework(3 & 4),  the only drawback is that they don’t take too much chocolate at a time so your designs have to be small, but they are excellent in making swoops of chocolate on the dessert plate.

atelier chocolat 15-10-2013 11-31-21 3195x3124

..This is a perfect brush to paint the cup moulds inside with chocolate…

atelier chocolat 15-10-2013 11-32-03 2956x2216

..To end this short atelier chocolat(to know more you’ll have to come to my cooking classes), voici la Tour Eiffel, all in tempered chocolate…will I eat it? Definitely not today!..

atelier chocolat 15-10-2013 12-54-39 2339x2940

I bought this cute little book in Paris called, Retour à Paris: les mêmes lieux photographiés d’un siècle à l’autre, by Daniél Quesney. So until next time I’m leaving you with this view of the Eiffel over the Seine, a 100 years apart. Isn’t it wonderful…how I would love to be able travel back to “La belle époque!

..”voies George Pompidou, 16eme arrondissement. On quai du Pont du Jour, the Eiffel tower still carves out its slice of the sky, but the riverboat concertzs of old have have now given way to expressway automobile traffic”..

2013-10-161..à la prochaine..

Ronelle


Chocolat mendiant tart..and brown to cream inspiration.

I am very rarely inspired by a recipe. It almost never happens happens that I eat something great and I want the recipe. Of course I enjoy it, but my true inspiration to create a recipe  comes from “things” of everyday life. At the moment I am inspired by colour. Every day as  I watch nature, I witness colours deepen and darken, fade and disappear. I am mesmerized by the dark of wet wood.. the doors, the windows, the wood piles along the country roads ready for winter fires, the deep beiges of dry fields, the soft creams of the sheep grazing the green hills..and then I remember that recipe  saw in a magazine, or the one I tasted at a friends home, and I’m inspired to create the same. This time -  A chocolate mendiant tart I saw in a magazine at the hairdresser. I can’t remember the magazine, or theexact ingredients, except for the addition of the Nutella and the icing sugar roasted nuts. And yes, the chocolate colour perfect to accompany the browns I see around me. And the taste..perfect for the cold rainy days..or any other day!

Une Pincée de fleur de sel:

  • I used orangettes(candied orange strips). See crystallized orange strips how to make them. It is worth making them yourself to buying those tasteless ones in the supermarket.
  • Other dried fruits I used: Dried figs cut in slices and dried cranberries.
  • Nuts I used: Freshly shelled walnuts and pistachios.
  • I didn’t use a sweet pastry, because the chocolate is sweet enough.
  • This dough is enough for 2 tarts. I always make a double quantity so I have a spare pastry ready to roll out in the freezer.
  • Consider using this pastry recipe..Omit the cheese, thyme and peppercorns in the recipe. It is much more buttery, delicious of course, but also  richer.
  • Leave the tart/tartlets to stand for a day to develop flavor.
  • It is important to leave the dough to rest. I always leave my dough overnight, it prevents shrinking. This time I was too hurried and in the photo you can see the result..shrinkage!

..an old dilapidated, but charming door contrast beautifully with white stone walls..

..typical Corréze country-with light cream stone houses and dark roofs, dark shutters, rusted barn equipment, nestling in the green hills..

green Corréze hills with brown soil prepared for new fields, dry cornfields of the past season and stark, late autumn trees..

..happy, creamy white sheep roaming the green hills..

..two friends, a familiar Corrézien sight..

 ..this is a time of year I love to sketch. At the moment, I am truly inspired by the browns and the shapes, especially those of leaves, branches and everything else I find on my walks..

..the stacks of wood ready for the fast approaching winter..


Joyeuses Paques from Coin Perdu!

Joyeuses Paques, happy Easter, gesëende Pase, buona Pasqua, felices Pascuas…!!!

..à bientôt..

Ronelle


Chocolate mousse..and memories of christmas dinners.

Christmas time is chocolat time. A feather light chocolate mousse. The perfect ending to a magical christmas dinner. And in January we’ll go on a diet.


This is a recipe from Chocolate desserts by Pierre Hermé. I’ve been making this mousse for many years and haven’t found a recipe that is so light and delicious as this one…it is a true winner !!

Suggestions:

  • This is a basic mousse recipe…add some flavor the your mousse by infusing the milk with grated orange zest, or a tsp of coffee, or a pinch of cardamom, cinnamon, any other Christmas spices.
  • Using milk makes for a lighter mousse, but if you want it richer and creamier, use cream instead of milk. I even go so far as tu use 2 percent milk.
  • The longer the mousse stands, the creamier and denser it becomes, but it is still good. I prefer to make my mousse nothing more than 12 hours in advance…having a beautiful feather light chocolat mousse.
  • It can be kept up to two days in the fridge.
  • Cover the mousse when chilling it in the firdge to prevent it from absorbing other flavors in the fridge.
  • Serve as individual portions in glasses, or scoop quenelles from a glass dish onto a plate.
  • See how to make quenelles.
  • Decorate with chocolate shavings or a touch of edible gold leaf.

…and memories of christmas dinners…

How can we dwell on our past, delight in experiences long ago and not remember past years spent around a christmas table. Always special, however small or simple. Each table has a story of its own…one year a daughter arrived long after midnight from a long and problematic journey, one year there was a last meal with an elegant and fragile neighbor, one year was spent in the company of a crazy crowd of friends , one year delivered an utterly chaotic and catastrophical dinner ..one year was sad with last goodbyes, one year was spent alone and tearful in a strange country…so many christmas dinners, so many stories, so many memories…

May you have great memories of past dinners…whether you were with family or friends, or whether you were alone, or whether they were sad times…whatever the case…they are yours, cherish them, becausethey give you a history. A past.

…à la prochaine fois..

Ronelle


A classic crêpe recipe and feasting the Mardi Gras way.

Today is Mardi gras. 16 Fevrier. According to Catholic tradition, it is the last day of indulging in the “fat of the land” before taking on the fasting of the 40 days to Pacques(Easter). It is celebrated by crazy feasting, carnivals…so, in the fun spirit of Mardi gras…let’s feast and carnival today, for tomorrow the world ends!

And the way to do it…crêpes of course. Every which way you want it. Stacked, rolled, folded in parcels, folded in triangles, aumoniéres, flambéed, caked, salty, sweet, natural…you name it.

My husband’s favourite crêpe is sprinkled with softly flavoured cinnamon sugar, drizzled with lemon juice and rolled. He folds it double and whops it into his mouth, crunching on the still crackling sugar, while he starts sprinkling and rolling the next one.

We have a good friend who spreads his crêpe with butter, sprinkles liberally with sugar, folds it into a little parcel to entrap the butter and there you go…warm, melted butter and sugar…. every bite.

Then there are those individuals more deliberate. I am one. Open up the crêpe on a plate, very warm, spread a loaded knife with nutella over one half, fold over and then again to form a triangle, pick it up ever so dainty with your hands and then with closed eyes, dig those teeth into the crêpe, all the while feeling the warm chocolate trickling down your fingers. Pure heaven.

Suggestions:

  • I always use 2 eggs for 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of water and 20g of butter. It makes it easy to multiply for big batches of crêpes.
  • I use water instead of milk for lighter crêpes, that way I can eat one extra!
  • The baking soda adds to a ligher crêpe.
  • Leave the batter to stand and “develop” a while…like a good relationship.
  • Don’t keep the crêpes warm over hot water or on astove, it dries out with heat. Keep the crêpes close by your baking process and turn the stack often to keep warm. If necessary they can be quickly reheated in small batches if too  cold.
  • Don’t sprinkle with sugar just after baking, unless you want syrupy crêpes. Sprinkle with lemon juice and sugar individually when eating for crunch.
  • DO make some oopsedaisies…and enjoy them while baking!!
  • When using Nutella, warm a little in the microwave to soften for easier spreading.

Of course there are many ways to indulge when feasting on a crêpe: drizzlings of canadian maple syrup and sprinkled with chopped nuts; mountain honey;  a scoop of vanilla ice cream with dark decadent chocolate sauce…

Or how about some caramelized fruit – crêpe Suzette with flambéed oranges; apples and currants  with a hint of cinnamon, lemon juice and oven roasted almonds, drizzled with a trickle of thick balsamic syrup, red berries with créme frâiche; tropical caramelized mango with passionfruit; banana with caramel sauce and fleur de sel… endless possibilities!

Don’t forget the salty fillings;  smoked salmon, drizzled with lemon juice and mixed with capers and some chopped spring onions or chioves, parsley or dill,  and served with a greek tzatziki made from fromage blanc, lemon juice and  cucumber and finshed off with a sprinkling of lump eggs.

Or my favourite…spinach sauteed with onion and thyme, sprinkled with freshly grated nutmeg, s touch of lemon juice and a generous helping of créme frâiche and lastly sprinkled with crumbled goats cheese…

But crépes are not only about the filling and eating. On days like Mardi gras, when the world is a little crazy, baking crêpes should be a little crazy too. A little flopping and flipping, whirling and twirling and of course, countless oopsedaisies!!

And so, as this day ends… and our tummies call to a halt… and the craziness turns to mellowness… only one thing remains…..

Trucs & astuces de nos grands-méres:

To remove a rust stain…rub the stain with the pulp of a lemon and iron afterwards with a hot iron.

May the following forty days be light and healthy and when we eat again at Easter, may it not be Mardi Gras crêpes…


Bring on the chocolate!

When you start getting all kinds of cravings, you must either be very pregnant OR very depressed OR very much on a road back to good health. I’ve been candidate in all three categories at some stages in my life, but thankfully I fall in the last one now!

I have been absent for some time, due to some health hiccups. Thank you for the caring support and encouragement I’ve received from friends out there. Slowly but surely I’m starting to dance to the rhythms of everyday living again and what better way than to tag along some indulgence. Chocolate. The cooler evenings ask for more drama at the end of a meal; something comforting, rich and lasting. Not that I have made that many meals these last few months! I have a wonderful husband who happily took over the role of chef. And he did such a great job that I probably would’ve assigned him permanently to this position, were I not quite stingy with sharing my reign as maestro in the kitchen! I think I can safely say I’ve claimed back my apron with this decadent, gooey chocolate dessert.

 

I’m sure everybody has his/her own unique recipe for this dessert and they’re all good. Some tips I could pass on for those who make it for the first time:

  • Be sure to keep the portions very small, because it is extremely rich and 5 spoon fulls of satisfaction can keep you going for the whole week.
  • Play around with presentation to suit your meal – something more elegant in an interesting ramekin, served with some whipped cream or créme fraiche on the side, decorated with a mint leaf or some red berries. Or finish off a light meal by the fireside in a rustic fashion, by serving your chocolate desserts in tiny “cocottes“(pots), directly from oven to plate, with some cold ice cream as accompaniment.
  • This dessert is best eaten warm. Not directly hot from the oven as you don’t want to scorch your palate into kingdom come, but certainly warmer than room temperature. Let it cool for about 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

…decadence in a “cocotte”…

Chocolate dessert.

  •  150g dark chocolate
  • 125g butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 100g castor sugar
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp natural vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.
  2. Butter 6-8 ramekins(depending on size) and sift lightly with flour.
  3. Break the chocolate into pieces and melt with butter over boiling water, or in the microwave(stir frequently).
  4. Add the eggs to the chocolate mixture, one at a time while continuing whisking.
  5. Add the sugar, pinch of salt and lastly stir in the flour.
  6. Fill the ramekins 3/4 with the chocolate mixture.
  7. Bake in the oven for about 12-15 minutes, until the top starts to crack and the pudding starts pulling away from the sides, but still feels soft when pressed down on the top. The core should be thick and runny….gooey is the right word. Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly.
  8. Serve warm with créme frâiche or cream or even a dollop of vanilla ice cream.

Serves 6-8 people

AND NOW:

A big THANK YOU! to TASTEmagazine in South Africa, who named Myfrenchkitchen in their August issue as the Best blogger from abroad. I feel very honoured. Read more about the magazine and its impressive list of awards here.

I was sharing company with four very accomplished artists in the kitchen who were mentioned for…Sophia  from Capetable for Best local living, Nina from My easy cooking for Best make-me-now-pics,  Jeanne from Cooksister for Best veteran site and Inge from Vanielje kitchen for Best leisurely read. A belated congratulations to you all!

…OK, let’s eat!…

 


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