Chocolate Cake with Caramelized Hazelnuts

Gâteau Fondant au Chocolat et Noisettes Caramélisées

[Chocolate Cake with Caramelized Hazelnuts]

Last Sunday afternoon, my sister Céline and I organized a “Goûter de Cousins” at my place. We invited those of our cousins who live in Paris, which amounts to about a dozen. Most of them we only see once a year at family holiday parties – some a little more, some way less – and we thought it would be nice to start a little tradition of same-generation gathering.

The added bonus of this very friendly goûter party was, of course, that I had the perfect excuse for some serious baking : you have to feed all those guys, right?

One of the things I made was this luscious chocolate cake. I was trying to reproduce the Petit Gâteau Chocolat Noisette I had tasted and enjoyed so much back in December. Derrick had made his own attempt, had emailed me about it, and we had discussed what the best approach was.

I followed his advice and used his favorite brownie recipe from Cook’s Illustrated (if there’s one guy out there who knows what he’s talking about, it’s definitely Derrick, so I felt pretty confident about it). The only modifications I made were to use just one kind of chocolate instead of two, and to add a little amount of ground hazelnuts to the batter. Then I toasted and caramelized some hazelnuts, sprinkled them on top of the brownie before baking, and added some confectioner’s sugar after the cake had baked and cooled.

The result is very close to what I was looking for, and absolutely delicious. The cake has a rich chocolate taste with an excellent texture, dense and chewey – but not excessively so, and the topping of caramelized hazelnuts is perfect.

I think the main difference was that the Petit Gâteau, being Petit and individual, included slightly more cakey edges : mine was a big cake cut into squares, which necessarily changes the texture somewhat.

I’ll also have to remember that making caramelized hazelnuts is extremely easy, and they would make for a great food gift, golden and crunchy and tasty and sweet, packaged up in a pretty crystal bag.

Continue reading »

Pear and Candied Chestnut Crumble

Crumble Poire et Marron Confit

This is the very quick and yummy dessert I served our friends the other night, just before we got back to our scheduled program of activities – video games for Maxence and Marwane, and some serious chatting for Marion and myself.

This is in fact a cheater’s crumble, in which the fruit is cooked beforehand (in my case a large amount of delicious passe-crassane pears that had gotten nice and ripe all at the same time), and the crumble is a handful of your favorite granola cereal (I am an enthusiastic cereal buyer, and we have about 12 different kinds, among which 5 are granolas, and um… one is for Maxence).

The idea of adding marrons confits (a.k.a. marrons glacés or glazed chestnuts) to the pears was inspired by the delicious crumble they currently serve at l’Avant-Goût, to which I went back on a couple of happy occasions recently.

Unrelated yet joyous note : a very Happy Birthday to Nassim and Alex!

Continue reading »

Chicken Udon with Cabbage and Parsnip

Chicken Udon with Cabbage and Parsnip

The other night, we had two friends over for a casual dinner : Marion, a friend of mine from university, and Marwane, whom Maxence has known since junior high. Being on a Japanese food kick induced by Maxence’s recent successful forays, I decided to make some kind of udon dish topped with stuff. That seemed reasonably doable (I mean, how ambitious does that sound?) with the various ingredients we happened to have on hand.

In particular, I used one of these little packets of rice seasoning mix that they sell in Japanese grocery stores. They come in different flavors, but they all basically contain some kind of meat and vegetable extract, teeny shrimps for some, salt, sugar, sesame oil, onions and various spices. In fact the only actual difference the naked eye can see is in the color of the package and the Pokemon character depicted on it. The idea is to add them to cooked rice, and beat an egg in for a quick yummy meal. We bought tens of these back in California and they had gotten somewhat lost in oblivion in the back of our bulging kitchen cabinets. I recently unearthed them and have found them to be very convenient, instantly giving an interesting Japanese flavor to anything you add them to.

At first, I had reservations about just throwing together what was in the fridge and labelling it Japanese, especially the parsnip and the parsley which sounded to me all but traditional Japanese fare. But after a little research, it appears that our friends from the Empire of the Rising Sun do use parsnips (for tempura in particular) and parsley (lthough theirs seems to be flat-leaf when mine was curly). So all is right in the world, and the result was a very flavorful and satisfying dish, with a lot of different tastes and textures, that we all liked very much.

Continue reading »

Shallot Parsley Dip

Shallot Parsley Dip

Our first Campanier order included a small head of cauliflower. I felt like eating it raw, and came up with this easy-breazy dip to accompany it. I wanted to eat a quick snack before joining Maxence at the movies, and this took me all of five minutes to whip up. This fresh and tasty dip can be eaten with veggies, or spread on toasted bread.

Be warned though, that as you sit down to watch the movie, your boyfriend may look at you suspiciously in the semi-darkness and ask : “Did you, um… eat onions?”.

Nope. Shallots.

But thanks all the same.

Continue reading »

Ceci n’est pas un Macaron

Ceci n'est pas un Macaron

This is Pierre Hermé’s Marron et Thé Vert Matcha macaron.

This is a delicate confection of chestnut almond meringue and fresh chestnut cream and voluptuous green tea cream.

This is a true delight, to the eye and to the palate.

This is my Valentine’s Day gift to you.

Joyeuse St-Valentin!

Get the newsletter

Receive FREE email updates with all the latest recipes, plus exclusive inspiration and Paris tips. You can also choose to be notified when a new post is published.

View the latest edition of the newsletter.