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Deliciously imperfect moments – Charlotte aux framboises et au fromage blanc

charlotte framboises

Whenever I’m stuck in a kitchen, where all I have on hands are a couple of Pyrex bowls, a hand-held mixer, and an oven; well, I must admit I feel a bit lost.

Now, this might be a common statement, but I haven’t spent much time in a home kitchen – let alone made pastries in a home kitchen – for the past eleven months.

It’s not that I don’t like pâtisserie anymore.

In fact, I’ve never been so smitten with it as I am right now. It’s just that I get to have my daily fix every day, at the pâtisserie Lac.

fouras

But when – the much needed – holidays came I, all of sudden, started to make things. Over and over. At home, or to be more accurate, at my grand-parents’ house.

Read: I cut out the bottoms of metal cans to make cercles. I used baking paper instead of rhodoid. I whipped cream with a hand-held mixer. And I probably did many more unusual – at least for the pâtissière I’ve become – things I couldn’t even describe.

By the end of the week, I had a nice collection of homemade pastries: a fondant au chocolat, strawberry meringues, a tiramisu, fruit focaccias, and a raspberry charlotte.

Charlottes are one of those desserts I will never get tired of.

Think of it. Their endless customisation make them the most versatile entremets you could dream of.

charlotte framboises slice

The one I made during my off-time certainly don’t look perfect. Store-bought biscuits cuillère, and visible mousse. There, I’ve said enough.

FAIL.

In fact, a proper berry charlotte should: 1. use homemade biscuits, and 2. have plenty of fruits piled on top.

biscuits cuillere

A little like the charlotte below that I made a couple of weeks ago, on the same day my camera decided to fall in love with error 99, and thus, let me down.

Hence the nasty pictures. Oh, I did cry on that day.

berry charlotte

And then, I escaped to Fouras.

With its many flowers, endless bike promenades and a garden office (more appropriately, a table, a chair and a huge umbrella, right at the end of the garden = the only place I could access the internet from).

fouras two

There, the neighbour was sweet enough to let my sister and I pick raspberries from the bushes she grows.

raspberries

As soon as I graced ny lips with one of those plump berries, I felt like I had never tasted a real raspberry before.

Juicy. Sweet. Flavoursome.

And made a charlotte aux framboises with them. 

charlottes framboises int

So simple it hurts. So good it hurts too. I have to confess that it’s sometimes nice to feel hurt, doesn’t it?

charlotte framboises spoonful

Charlotte aux framboises et au fromage blanc
This is a slightly more elaborate version of the charlotte that is part of one of my earliest food memories. I love to make this during summer while plenty of berries are available, but it also make a good winter dessert. Think pears.

If fromage blanc isn’t available where you live, just use plain live yoghurt instead.

Charlotte aux framboises et au fromage blanc

serves 8

for the biscuits
two dozens of biscuits cuillère, either homemade or bought
300g water
210g caster sugar

for the mousse
6 gelatin sheets
500g fromage blanc
120g caster sugar
330g double cream, whipped

a couple handfuls of raspberries

Make a simple soaking syrup by combining the water and caster sugar in a saucepan. Bring to the boil, then pour into a wide container, and allow to cool down to a handleable temperature.

While the syrup is cooling down, soak the gelatine leaves into cold water for at least ten minutes. Divide the fromage blanc into two heatproof bowls.
In one of the bowls, mix in the sugar until dissolved. Heat the other bowl containing half of the fromage blanc in the microwave until it reaches around 40°C. Then quickly drain the gelatin leaves, and incoporate to the warm fromage blanc. Mix until fully melted. Then, fold this into the sweetened fromage blanc. And finally, gently fold in the whipped cream in a couple of batches.

When the syrup is cool enough, soak the biscuits into it and arrange in a shallow charlotte mould.

Pipe half of the mousse into the biscuit-lined tin, then cover with a handful of raspberries and more soaked biscuits. Top with the remaining mousse.

Chill for a couple of hours, preferably overnight. Unmould and serve.

En attendant l’automne – Que faire avec les premières figues?

[Looking forward Autumn – What to make with the very first figs?]

figs

There are some things that you never forget. A kiss. A delicious cake. A fresh wind. A secret place where a couple of fig trees grow.

Today, I decided to take a break from my vacances routine – read: sleep, eat, swim, take pictures, drink cranberry juice, sleep – and go for a walk with my shiny new film camera. On the way back home, I thought I could go and check on the figs trees.

Just in case.

And there they were. Plump little dark guys. Juicy and perfectly sweet. Now I have plenty of them and need your help.

What’s your favourite fig recipe? Please, please do tell me, and I might give you the absolute location of the abandoned backyard where the trees grow. Oh pretty please.

And in case you’re just like me, here is some figish inspiration from blogs I’m in love with:
fig and sesame tarts with orange blossom whipped cream, on Sunday Suppers.
figs and red currants slices, on fresh365
ginger fig streusel tarts with lavender honey ice cream, on Tartelette.
roasted figs frozen mousse, on Cannelle et Vanille.

Oh, just one last question. Are you also looking forward Autumn and its rainy days? I am. Positively.

pinecone

See you soon my lovelies, with a delicious berry recipe, and hopefully a gorgeous fig something.

Tellement simple, mais terriblement bon – Le fondant au chocolat

[So easy, yet terribly good – The ultimate chocolate fondant cake]

Apparently, I told you I was going to come back with something glamourous. Pardon me if I’m mistaken, but in my world, a light cake topped with a delicate mousse feels glamourous.

A fondant au chocolat just doesn’t. It’s plain. It’s dark. And it’s damn good.

So good in fact, I had to write about it right away. Just a couple of hours after I hade made it, as a matter of fact.
If this doesn’t convince you to rush to your kitchen and make this fondant, please do listen carefully.

I made a cake. Took pictures. And blogged about it. In less than twenty-four hours.

Since I’m now alone I could let my creativity craziness flow, and ramble about how wonderful it is to blog from a garden table, or how I wish I had the time to change foodbeam’s look, or how I should make a decent portfolio. Oh yes, I could.

But I won’t because I know it’s just going to be a matter of seconds before you realise you left for the kitchen without taking the time to write the recipe down.

Anyway, I think you might have caught something important here: I am a mess. There are so many things I want to do/make/write about, that I just don’t know where to start. So I thought the simpler the better.

I made this cake yesterday with my eight-year old cousin, Sindri, who’s the most adorable little boy ever to be seen. That how simple it gets.
Oh and in case I haven’t mentioned it enough. I am on holidays. In Fouras, my grandparents’ town. And I love it here, so well, I’ll possibly be writing a little more around here during the upcoming weeks.

Fondant au chocolat
adapted from Pascal Lac

As I mentioned above this is a simple recipe. As in many cases, simple does not means average. In fact, this cake is a French classic, and a staple in my house.
It only requires widely available ingredients: chocolate, butter, eggs, sugar and flour; and its confection only needs a dozen of minutes.

The chocolate and butter are melted together. I generally use a microwave (500W for approximately a minute or two) since it’s so convenient, but a water bath would be just as fine.
Then comes the most delicate step: the eggs and sugar are mixed in a heat-resistent bowl over direct heat just so they come back to room temperature. If you don’t feel to work over a flame or simply don’t have gas (electric stoves so remind me of my good old student kitchen), just bring a pan of water to the boil and place the eggs/sugar bowl over it (= water bath again). Mix until just tempered.Finally the two masses are united, and flour is sprinkled over.

Since you know me quite well now, you’ll understand that I forgot to write down the baking time, but I’d say anywhere between 30 and 40 minutes.

If you’re going for the fancy (read individual sized cakes) bakes them at the same temperature, but only for 9 minutes.
In both cases, a knife inserted into the centre of the cake should come out slightly wet with batter, in opposite with the cake edges where the knife would come out clean.
Enough digressing, time for the recipe.

Fondant au chocolat

for a 24cm-wide cake pan or sixteen 6cm-wide cercles

200g dark chocolate, slightly bitter works well (I love Valrhona’s Guanaja here)
240g butter
8 eggs
(400g if, unlike me, you’re super accurate)
400g sugar
130g flour

Preheat the oven to 170°C, and generously butter a 24cm-wide cake pan.

In a bowl, melt the chocolate and butter.

In a heatproof bowl, mix the eggs and sugar, and place over medium heat (or as said above, on a water bath). Keep on mixing until not cold anymore. It shouldn’t be hot either. Just at room temperature. This step is done, as we say in French, to casser le froid [break the coldness].
Pour the chocolate over the egg mixture, and homogenise. Sprinkle the flour over and using a rubber spatula, gently incoporate it iuntil just smooth.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes until just set.