Tag Archives: Dessert

Strawberry Jam

It starts with a promise…StrawberryFlower…Then slowly you watch them grow, get ready, blush a little….FreshStrawberries…then you say to yourself : maybe it’s time….StrawberriesEt voila!Strawberry Jam

Now from step three to step four, all you need to know is this :

Ingredients :

1000 grams of Strawberries (a little more than two pounds)

700 g sugar

juice of one lemon

a third of a lemon’s zest

Steps :

Clean and hull the strawberries; cut them in halves.

In a bowl, mix the strawberries, lemon juice, lemon zest and sugar and leave in the fridge for 24 hours.

The next day, separate the fruit from the syrup.

Bring the syrup to a boil and add the strawberries for 5 minutes. Remove the strawberries and let them drain.

Boil the syrup again for about 5 to 10 minutes. Add the strawberries for another 5 minutes and repeat the process one more time.

The fruit should have been in boiling syrup for 15 minutes.

At this point your jam is ready to be transferred to jars. You can use a hand blender (only a couple of pulses) to puree some of the jam. I like to leave some fruits intact.

Bon appétit !

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Sweet times and a chocolate dessert

Simple and intriguing. Sweet, bitter, solid, liquid, dark, light, brown and white. Earliest usage discovered so far : since 1100 BC in Honduras, only since the 16th century in Europe. It has been utilized as a medicine, a drink, solid food, and as a currency.

Surely you have guessed by now that I am writing about chocolate. Oh do I love chocolate in every form! Chocolate bars, chocolate cakes, chocolate mousse, chocolate fondant, chocolate souffle, hot chocolate drinks…what did I forget? If anything, my favorite restaurants are the ones where the chocolate dessert is at its best. By the way, if there is a chocolate dessert on the menu, I will order that first and make sure everything else is light enough not to spoil my appetite.

As most chocolate aficionados, I have tried dozens of recipes. If you are looking for sources of inspiration, you might like these two books : “The Essence of Chocolate” and “Chocolate desserts by Pierre Herme”. My favorite chocolate dessert recipes are those which mix crunchy and gooey textures and which are best eaten lukewarm.

Here is a “chocolate fondant” or “chocolate lava cake” recipe that I love to share because it is so easy to make and so rewarding. The most important thing here is timing. Once you know how much time it needs to be baked, at what temperature, and in what mold, your fondant will always be perfect.

I have tried two versions of it : just chocolate, or chocolate and a seasonal fruit. It worked really well with figs. What would be your choice of fruit?You can always change your mind and decide that half of the ramequins will have figs on them and half will be traditional chocolate lava cakes.If I was to ask myself how inspiration comes for a meal or a dish, nine times out of ten the response would be “memories”. For this chocolate dessert what first came to mind was an other type of lava formation and this Summer’s sweet moments spent with family.

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Chocolate Pear Cake

Tomorrow is C.’s birthday. Chocolate – we can’t go wrong, warmth, magnesium …a little sugar, but high cocoa percentage. Loulou is helping, “maman je peux t’aider?” (can I help you maman?) she says as soon as she sees the chocolate chip jar on the table? Of course you can taste some, we have to make sure we are using the proper ingredients. Approval. “Can I have some more please?” this time in English. That is the beauty of expatriation. Your children speak more languages than you, with a better accent. They can correct you even at two.

A couple of pears are sitting on the counter top. They remind me of my favorite pastry at the boulangerie across the street from my parent’s place. They sell the most exquisite chocolate-pear tart. Pear, chocolate, chocolate, pear. Feels like we are on the right track. As we are looking into one of my favorite pastry books, we come across the “delice de chocolat”, a moist chocolate cake, to eat lukewarm, to serve with an apricot sauce. Getting closer.

Instead of the apricot, why not pears, apricots are still a little sour these days? Also, we tried a gluten-free version of the recipe.

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Boysenberry Amandines

This morning and for the first time this year, Loulou and I saw Boysenberries at the market. I know only one boysenberry tree and it is in Macedonia, near the Prespa Lake. Memories, memories. Running around the tree, climbing, eating, eating, eating. This tree was sooo generous. So much to eat. It was the last village before Albania. Could not go further, perfect place to stop. So my cousins and I would climb there, seat for a while until all our clothes were stained and our cravings satisfied.

I haven’t eaten boysenberries that often. After moving to France, I could only go there every so often. So here they are, just in front of me in a basket at the market four blocks from home. Loulou saw me grabbing the first basket as if it was the last one available, and I would never see another one again. She was intrigued right away “I want one please…”. Then we took an other one, and an other one, and an other one…and it would not be reasonable to go for more.

It is fresh and crunchy, flavorful and colorful. What else can one wish for?

Boysenberries are fragile, so we treated them as little gems. Small portions of a “moelleux” dessert. We ate it lukewarm with some creme anglaise and tea. A little bit of Macedonia, France and England mixed together…

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