Pushing a little bit the boundaries of my comfort zone, with this cake I practiced making a pattern on the sponge component, baking a mango-flavored meringue, and using a gelatin-based topping. The basic recipe was from the book Modern French Pastry. The cake, called Moulin Rouge, is a looker. I modified the recipe quite a bit, so I share my version with you. Make sure to read my comments, as I consider this cake still a work in preparation.

(adapted from Modern French Pastry)

for the side-decoration:
50 g butter
56 g powdered sugar
60 g egg whites (about 2 eggs)
56 g all-purpose flour
red food coloring

Mix the butter and sugar in a Kitchen Aid type mixer with the paddle attachment until creamy. Add the egg whites very slowly, a little at a time. Clean the sides of the bowl often. Add the flour and gently mix on very low-speed, then add the food dye.  Lay the stencil you intend to use on a Silpat, or if drawing a pattern free-hand, lay the design on parchment paper to make it easier to draw with the batter.  Brush the batter on the stencil, then scrape all excess off with a bench scraper. You will not use all the batter made, but it is easier to work with more than you need.  Gently pull the stencil up. See my composite photo under the recipe.

Freeze the design for an hour or so. You can do this step the day before.  Do not remove from the freezer until you are ready to bake the cake layer.

Joconde Cake Layer
65 g powdered sugar, sifted
36 g pastry flour
65 g almond flour
100 g eggs  (whole eggs, at room temperature)
120 g egg whites (from about 4 eggs)
30 g granulated sugar
75 g unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Heat the oven to 400 F. Add powdered sugar, flour and almond meal to the bowl of a mixer. Mix gently to incorporate them.  Add the eggs and beat on high-speed for about 5 minutes, until very fluffy. Reserve.

Make a meringue with the egg whites and sugar, bringing it to soft peaks. Start with the egg whites in the mixer on low-speed, increase to medium, once you see a trail forming as the mixer is going, start adding the sugar slowly.  Once you get to soft peaks, stop. Over-beating the meringue will make it hard to incorporate it in the cake batter.  Gently fold the meringue on the egg-flour mixture that you reserved.  Add a bit of the mixture to the bowl with melted butter, mix gently. Pour that into the cake batter and gently fold.

Remove the stencil design from the freezer, pour the batter over it, trying to level it as best as you can with an off-set spatula. You want to keep the air incorporated in the batter, so be gentle. Run the spatula just over the surface, you don’t want to risk disturbing the pattern underneath it.

Bake for 12 to 14 minutes. You need to start noticing a little browning on the surface, but not much. If you notice the edges getting crunchy, remove from the oven. Let it cool before proceeding.

Mango-Flavored Meringue
30 g powdered sugar, sifted
30 g pulverized freeze-dried mangos (use a food processor)
80 g egg whites
80 g granulated sugar

Heat the oven to 350 F. Trace two 8 inch circles on parchment paper, and place it over Silpat. Prepare a large piping bag fitted with either a large (1/2 inch) piping tip, or just cut the bag with that dimension.

Mix the powdered sugar with the pulverized mango and reserve.  Make a meringue with the egg whites and sugar as described for the Joconde layer. There is a lot of sugar in this version, so you don’t have to worry about over-beating.  Once you get to stiff peaks, mix the mango-sugar mixture, folding it delicately. 

Spoon the mixture in the prepared piping bag, and pipe it on the Silpat, in each of the circles, starting from the center.  Leave a little border empty, as you want the meringue to be smaller than the diameter of the cake. You can see in the central picture of the meringue composite that the pencil drawing is about 0.5 inch larger. You could conceivably draw a smaller circle, but it is easier to see where you are and stop short, then risk going too much over it. Still, do whatever feels better for you.

Bake for 20  to 22 minutes. Meringue should feel dry to the touch and just be starting to brown.

Strawberry Mousse
12 g powdered gelatin
60 g cold water to boom gelatin
350 g strawberry puree (use the food processor)
175 g powdered sugar
350 g heavy cream

Combine gelatin with cold water and allow it to bloom for a few minutes. Place the strawberry puree in a saucepan, add the powdered sugar and mix gently over low-heat until warm.

Whisk the cream in a Kitchen Aid type mixer to soft peaks. Do not over-beat.  Reserve.

Melt the gelatin in a microwave, in very short bursts, keeping a close eye, as you don’t want it to boil, just melt smoothly.  Add some of the strawberry puree to the gelatin to incorporate it in, then pour the mixture into the rest of the puree. Mix gently, but well, you want the gelatin to be fully distributed throughout the fruit.  Add 1/3 of the puree to the whipped cream, fold. Add the remaining of the puree, fold gently. The mousse is now ready to use.

Strawberry Gelatin Topping
5 g powdered gelatin
25 g cold water
75 g soaking syrup (water and sugar in equal weights, dissolved by heating)
75 g strawberry puree (passed through a sieve to remove seeds)
red food dye, just a tiny drop (optional)

Combine the gelatin with water to bloom for a few minutes. Heat the soaking syrup, add the gelatin and stir until fully melted. Slowly stir the strawberry puree, and the food coloring, if using. Refrigerate until needed. When ready to finish the cake, warm it in a microwave in very short bursts of heat, until it’s about 90 F.

Dust the cold Joconde cake with granulated sugar. Place a parchment paper on top, and flip it. Remove the silicone sheet slowly, and marvel at the pattern that you see! Now you need to decide the dimension of the cake strips. In the book he recommends 1.75 inches, but I did about 2 inches. You need two strips of cake with the exact same dimension, and they will go around the perimeter of an 8-inch diameter cake ring.  With what is left of the cake, cut one circle a little smaller than 8-inches in diameter, as it will sit inside the perimeter laid by the cake strips.

Place an acetate strip inside the cake ring. Lay the cake strips with the design facing out, they should fit very snuggly, so it is best to allow them to overlap slightly, then force them into place. Now place one meringue ring at the bottom. Add one-third of the mousse over it. Top the mousse with the cake circle, the design can be facing up or down, it does not matter as you won’t see it.  Add another third of the mousse.  Place the second meringue ring on top, add the rest of the mousse, and spread as flat as you can, trying to make it almost leveled with the top of the cake strips.  Freeze overnight. If needed, you can trim the top of the cake layer with scissors before finishing the cake.

Remove from the freezer, and pour the warmed up strawberry topping. Do it quickly, as it will solidify. Remove the cake from the ring, pushing it from the bottom, gently but with authority… Place it on a serving platter, and decorate with freshly cut strawberries.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: You know that thrill of opening the lid of the Dutch oven and getting the first glimpse of the sourdough loaf inside? That is quite similar to the thrill of inverting the cake after baking, and peeling that Silpat to – hopefully – reveal the design. My heart was going at 100 bpm… The stencil I have is really big. I wish they made it in half-sheet size. I’ve been flirting with the idea of cutting it, as I will never need to lay such a huge pattern during my lifetime. Since it is so huge, I had to lay it over the Silpat on my countertop, with the stencil extending way beyond it, and making quite a mess on the granite. No way to avoid it, actually. But the process went more or less smoothly. I had to do it twice because on the first time I lifted the stencil too quickly and messed up the pattern on one of the sides. Live and learn.  Once the pattern is laid and frozen, the rest should go smoothly. The cake batter is poured right over the frozen design before it goes into the oven.

The meringue component was a bit challenging for me, particularly judging when the disk was properly baked. You do not want to have it too dark, because it gets brittle and breaks when moving it around. But under-baking is not a good idea. Mine was slightly over-baked in parts, but not fully baked in the center. I need to get a better “feel” for it, and also practice the piping to get a more uniform surface. Still, since the disk is hidden in the final dessert, any catastrophic events becomes a secret between the baker and the cake. What happens in The Bewitching Kitchen, stays in The Bewitching Kitchen.

I had to modify quite a few details in the recipe, mostly because the texture of my meringue was far from perfect. I strongly advise you to get the book if you enjoy this type of baking challenge, and try their version. Their meringue is flavored with coconut and black pepper (yes, you read that correctly). And they also add another layer of complexity with some jam. I say no more. You must get the book. Which, by the way, has one amazing recipe after another.  Like the one in the cover, yin and yang of mousse and fruits. Can you imagine bringing that to the table after a dinner party?

When I make this cake again, I will substitute the meringue layer for something else. Maybe a genoise with praline on top for texture. I have to agree with my friend Jennifer, that the meringue does not freeze as well as a sponge cake. For this type of entremet that needs to spend hours in the freezer, I think sponge layers work better. I cannot believe I am considering modifying a pretty complex cake recipe but… strange things happen in the universe. We are living in a twilight zone in ways that go beyond politics (wink, wink).

The topping reminded me of a mirror glaze, because you need to exercise patience and wait for it to cool to below body temperature. I actually find it easier to make it the day before, and warm it up for a few seconds at a time in the microwave, with super gently mixing (no whisking!), to avoid bubbles. Then it will be just a matter of minutes until you are done. Well, not actually you, but the cake.

The edges of my cake did not look as perfect as the picture in the book, so I added some sparkling sugar. Nothing like a little sparkle to cover sins. The flavor was spectacularly strawberry-ish, and the mango in the meringue a subtle added tropical bonus. By the way, when I was processing the dried mango to add to the meringue something quite funny happened. As I opened the processor, a fine dust of mango powder hit my nose. I got a severe case of…. Hiccups. Pretty funny. It passed quickly, though, but just in case you process dried mangos, avoid getting a deep sniff of the powder. Or, go for a full sniff and tell me if you get the hiccups too.

I feel I’m getting a little more comfortable with entremet cakes. The layers in this cake were better defined than my previous attempts, and the cake cut very nicely. Still,  there is a lot of room for improvement. One cake at a time, I hope to get there.

ONE YEAR AGO: Hommage to the Sun

TWO YEARS AGO: Tomato and Cucumber Salad with Almond Vinaigrette

THREE YEARS AGO: Eggplant Tomato Stacks

FOUR YEARS AGO: The Couscous that Wasn’t

FIVE YEARS AGO: Apple-Cinnamon Bread

SIX YEARS AGO: Blueberry Galette

SEVEN YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, August 2011

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Journey to a New Home

NINE YEARS AGO: Friday Night Dinner


Have you heard of it? In plain English it means Bird’s Milk, a very traditional Russian delicacy, also common in Ukraine and Romania. The name originates from Greek, bird’s milk implying a delicacy very hard to obtain, a rare pleasure. My encounter with this dessert deserves further explanation.

I’ve been seriously bitten by the dangerous Silikomart bug. Silikomart is an Italian company specialized in silicone molds for cakes, mousses, chocolates, anything your mind dreams, they might just make it. They can be pricey, but I found out that ebay is a delightful source to make this type of obsession even harder to control. Oh, well. The bottom line is that somehow I found myself with a couple of amazing molds and not that many recipes adapted for them. A cart-before-the-horse situation. I put google to work and next thing I knew, I stumbled upon a blog that blew my little mind away. The blog is written in Russian and… wait for it… Portuguese!  I know, it was fate. The food blogger behind it, Ekaterina, is a fantastic professional patissière who trained with top chefs in Russia.  I still have a hard time believing that I found one of the best desserts blogs out there, and she writes it in my native language. Reading her blog (Verdade de Sabor) became my routine late at night, indulging in her gorgeous dessert posts before falling asleep. That’s how I became acquainted with Bird’s Milk. A cookie base. A milk souffle-ish on top. A thin chocolate layer wrapping it all.  And a big smile when you bring it to the table!

(very slightly modified from Verdade de Sabor)

for the cookie base:
80 g of softened butter
65 g powdered sugar
5 g sugar
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 egg yolks
90 g all purpose-flour
10 g almond flour
1/4 teaspoon of baking powder

for the milk filling:
100 g of egg whites
pinch of cream of tartar
180 g sugar
1/8 tsp vanilla extract
160 g water (divided in 60 and 100 g)
20 g gelatin powder
100 g of softened butter
100 g condensed milk

Chocolate cover:
400 g of chocolate 50-55%
100 g of oil (I used grapeseed)

Make the cookie base. Heat the oven to 350 F.  In a bowl beat the butter and the powdered sugar and the vanilla until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks, one by one, constantly beating. In another bowl sift the flour and baking powder and add to the previous mixture. Finally, add the almond flour. Stir very well. The dough does not get too thick or too liquid, the texture must be creamy.

Spread the dough as a square, about 1/8 inch thick, smooth the surface with a spatula. Bake for about 15 minutes (depending on the oven) or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Then, cut circles just slightly smaller than the diameter of your silicone mold. You can also make the dessert as a single rectangle or square, using a ring to assemble it. Your choice. Allow to cool completely.

Make the milk souffle:  Hydrate the gelatin in 60 mL ice water. Then melt in a water bath (I placed it in the microwave for bursts of  seconds, watching it very carefully). Reserve. In a bowl, beat the butter well with the condensed milk until you get a fluffy cream. Reserve.

Add the sugar and vanilla in a small saucepan, pour 100 mL cold water. Put a culinary thermometer in the mixture and bring to medium heat. Meanwhile, in the mixer, beat the egg whites until foamy. When the syrup boils, add the cream of tartar. When the syrup reaches 240 F (116 ° C), remove from the heat, and add the hot syrup to the egg whites gradually. Continue beating the meringue for a few more minutes or until it forms firm peaks. Then slowly add the melted gelatin, and continue to beat. Reduce the speed of the mixer to the minimum and gradually add the cream of butter and condensed milk.

Pour the souffle into the silicone molds (I made 6 individual serving ones, but had leftover filling that I added to a smaller mold and saved in the freezer for later).  Place a cookie on top, and press it slightly into the mousse, but do not sink it in. Cover with plastic film and freeze. You can do that a couple of days in advance.

Make the chocolate coating: Melt the chocolate in a water bath or in the microwave. Add oil and stir well. Allow to cool at room temperature to 86 to 93 F (30-34 ° C). That is really pretty cold, below body temperature. You can also make that the day before and warm it up gently, without stirring with a whisk, as you don’t want bubbles to form.

Unmold the domes and cover with the glazing. Decorate with tempered chocolate if you desire. I used white chocolate drizzle.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I used this mold for assembly of our dessert. It is not a Silikomart, but I like the quality and they are quite a bit cheaper.  In Ekaterina’s blog, she used a different mold, in the “buche de Noel” shape, but you can assemble this dessert in a square format too. Whatever you do, the cookie base must be cut slightly smaller because the goal is to cover the dessert with chocolate and hide the base.  Alternatively, you could cut it exactly the same size, coat the frozen milky filling with chocolate, let it set and then place it over the naked cookie. But it would have a totally different look. I like the way she did it, so that the cookie becomes a nice crunchy surprise as you cut into the dessert.

To un-mold the domes, I advise you to get a hairdryer and heat the surface of the dome just for a few seconds – that releases them very nicely, as you can see below.  In fact, it’s amazing how often a hairdryer can come in handy when making more elaborate desserts. I rarely dry my hair, so it now lives in the kitchen… Go figure!

See the difference? I am so glad I thought about the hairdryer trick after un-molding the first one. In this type of dessert, any boo-boo makes the final product suffer. The trickiest part of the dessert is in fact the last one, the coating with the chocolate. It must be cold enough that it will settle right away instead of sliding down and not coating the surface. But that means you’ll have ONE SHOT at getting it right. I advise you to look at youtube videos to see how the pros do it, then cross your fingers and try it yourself.  Keep in mind that you won’t be able to fix the surface with an offset spatula, or go at it again a second time. Both options will result in a wavy, not-attractive coating. I opted for a drizzle of white chocolate in the end not only because of the contrast of color, but to hide some of the imperfections I left as I poured the chocolate over the dome. What can I say? I am still learning and making mistakes in the process… Speaking of the drizzle (and mistakes), my virtual teacher Gary gave me a nice tip to make them better. Go passed the dome as the chocolate drizzle falls on it, so that you get a straight line all the way across. It will be more elegant that way. Lesson (hopefully) learned.

The dessert is truly delicious and worth the effort of the preparation. In fact, it’s not that hard if you make the components in advance and take your time. You can definitely make the filling a couple of days earlier, bake the cookie in the morning, and assemble it all before a dinner party. Leave it in the fridge for a couple of hours, and remove to room temperature about 15 minutes before you want to enjoy it. Then you’ll have a perfect texture in the filling.

I know that her blog being written in Russian and Portuguese makes it a bit hard to fully enjoy it, but I urge you to go there and marvel at her posts. She is also a delightful person, very responsive and helpful. She reads and writes in English, so comments in English are not a problem.

ONE YEAR AGO: Cheesy Low-Carb Zucchini Tarts

TWO YEARS AGO: Blogging Hiatus

THREE YEARS AGO: Apricots, Three Ways

FOUR YEARS AGO: Up Close and Personal with Kale

FIVE YEARS AGOBlack Berry Cherry Sorbet

SIX YEARS AGO: Asparagus Pesto

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Chocolate and Chestnut Terrine

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Under the spell of lemongrass

NINE YEARS AGO: Greens + Grapefruit + Shrimp = Great Salad!




After so many years of blogging, I tend to quickly group food bloggers into two categories, those who have been doing it longer than me, and those who are “younger” (for lack of a better term). Clotilde is part of the first group, in fact Chocolate and Zucchini was one of the first food blogs I started to follow years and years ago. Not only she is still actively blogging, but she has written several cookbooks (I own them all, in case you are wondering), and – wait for it –  writes the blog in two languages, English and French. I tried to do that when I started, writing each post in English and Portuguese, but after a few months, I gave up. It is a lot of extra work, so I truly admire her for doing it. This is a long overdue post. I had Clotilde’s newest book pre-ordered, the moment I got it in the mail I asked her permission to publish a recipe. She is the most gracious person ever, quickly answered with an enthusiastic “bien sûr”, but it took me a couple of months to finally share it with you. In part because I had a pretty tough time deciding which recipe to feature.  But I am very happy with my choice, it is a real classic…

(published with permission from Clotilde’s Tasting Paris)

for pastry dough:
7 ounces (200 g) all-purpose flour (about 1½ cups)
3 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
7 tablespoons (100 g) cold unsalted butter, diced
1 large egg
Ice-cold water, if needed

for filling:
2½ cups (600 ml) whole milk
¾ cup (150 g) sugar
⅔ cup (70 g) cornstarch
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I used vanilla paste)
⅔ cup (160 ml) heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, for greasing tart pan

Make the crust, preferably the day before. Prepare the filling 5 to 8 hours before serving.

For the crust: In a food processor, combine the flour, salt, and butter. Process for 10 seconds, until you get a bread crumb–like consistency. Add the egg and process for a few more seconds, until the dough comes together into a ball. If the dough seems a little dry, mix in a little ice-cold water, 1 or 2 teaspoons at a time, until the dough does come together.

Tip the dough onto a clean work surface and knead lightly for a few seconds. Using a rolling-pin and working on a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out and transfer to a greased 10 inch round tart or quiche pan, pressing it up the sides to adhere. Prick the bottom with a fork. Freeze until needed.

Make the filling: In a medium saucepan, combine the milk and 6 tablespoons (75 g) of the sugar and bring to a simmer. In a large bowl, combine the cornstarch with the remaining 6 tablespoons (75 g) sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the cream and the simmering milk, little by little. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and return to medium heat. Bring to a simmer, whisking as the custard thickens, about 4 minutes. It is ready when the whisk leaves clear traces, and will continue to thicken as it cools.Pour the custard into a baking dish or other large vessel, cover, and cool to room temperature, about 2 hours.

Heat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Whisk the custard to break it up, pour into the frozen tart shell, and smooth the surface with a spatula. Bake for 25 minutes, then increase the temperature to 450°F (230°C) and bake another 10 minutes, watching closely, until the top of the flan has dark brown spots. If you find the exposed sides of the crust are browning too quickly, drape loosely with strips of foil. Cool the flan for 1 hour, then refrigerate until cold, about 1½ hours.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I really liked the way this tart is prepared, freezing the crust and adding the custard to it still frozen. It baked very nicely, absolutely no soggy bottom, perfect texture. I did not have to protect the edge with foil, but watched it closely as a hawk in the final minutes, those brown spot start to show up pretty quickly.

The flavor and texture improve a lot once you bring the tart to room temperature, but it is mandatory to cool it in the fridge for a few hours after baking. Just plan your schedule and you won’t have problems. I made the crust on a Saturday evening, made the filling next morning, and baked it mid-afternoon.

This flan really brought me memories of Paris. I cannot say it was something I enjoyed often while living there, but because every boulangerie proudly sells them, just the image was enough to transport me back. Creamy, sweet but not cloyingly so. A perfect dose of indulgence.

Now let me take you through Clotilde’s book for a virtual tour.

What I love the most about Clotilde’s book is how it covers not just your typical French cuisine, but the many flavors that surround people living in one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world. During times  in which prejudice, racism, general anti-foreign feelings are getting way too common – worse than that – way too accepted as the new normal, it is nice to see a book that embraces differences, that shows that if you live in Paris, one cool thing to do is to walk all the way to Faubourg-St Denis arrondisement, and dig into a juicy Lahmajoun. I had never heard of it, even though I did enjoy many of the “exotic” delicacies found in often small, almost hidden places in the city.  Food joins cultures, and in her book Clotilde does exactly that. I cannot praise it enough.

The book is organized in a pretty cute way. Chapters are linked to times of the day: Morning, Noon, Afternoon, Early Evening, Evening, Late Night.  How cool is that? Let me offer you my favorites of each chapter.

Morning (Le Matin)

Poached Eggs with Bread Crumbs and Pickled Onions... it makes the humble poached egg perfect. Bread crumbs for texture, the sharp bite of pickled onions (probably the only way I truly enjoy them, apart from slowly caramelized).

Chocolate Bread... I don’t think I need to say anything about this one.

Fruit Compote with Yogurt... I tell you, the French know how to pull this one like nobody’s business. I definitely intend to make it for a post-exercise treat, as I don’t eat breakfast.

Moroccan Crumpets... My heart missed a beat. That’s what I’m talking about when I tell you she embraces the many cultures around town. Crumpets, so British, and all of a sudden she introduces you a version that screams Middle East. They look gorgeous, and I cannot wait to make them.

Also in this chapter you’ll have recipes for Croissants, Deviled Avocados, and many more.

Noon (Le Midi)

That’s a chapter I would love to cook everything from, but one recipe that intrigued me is the very first one… Potato Chip and Chive Omelette…  Clotilde got her inspiration from a Michelin-starred restaurant, if you can believe it, and I bet it is amazing, the texture of a potato chip adding a lot to the humble omelette. What a clever idea!

Frisée with Bacon and Egg… I’ve had this so many times in Paris, it’s filling and light at the same time. Love it.

Croque Madame, another super classic, you simply cannot go to Paris and not have one.

Turkish Lamb Flatbreads… These are the Lahmajoun I mentioned in the beginning.  A flat bread made with yogurt in the dough, a bit like a naan, and topped with well-seasoned ground lamb. Seriously good, I am sure.

Buckwheat Crepes... These have been on my list to make for a long, long time. Not surprised she included them, they are sold everywhere in Paris, not only in bistrots, but also as street food.

Carrot Chickpea Crepes… a departure on the crepe subject, another Middle Eastern twist on a classic. I almost picked this one to feature in the blog, but the Parisian Flan won me over.

Chocolate Mousse, Raspberry Mille-Feuille, and Floating Islands with Caramel and Strawberries are three desserts from this chapter that made me dream.

Afternoon (L’Après Midi)

With this chapter, Clotilde explains the famous “Le Goûter“, that time in the end of the afternoon in which your light lunch has been used up, and dinner is still a bit far away. Keep in mind that in France no one has dinner before 8 or 9pm. Le Goûter is a small offering of goodies to keep you going, or to give the kids when they arrive from school. Fifteen recipes total in this chapter, including the Parisian Flan I featured.


Here is my shortlist of favorites:

Earl Grey Madeleines... Nantais Cake (a very moist almond cake)… Chocolate Ice Cream with Nuts and RaisinsChestnut Cream Meringue (this looks absolutely spectacular)… Simple Chocolate Macarons (nothing like finding my obsession waiting for me)… But I guess my all time favorite would be Salted Caramel Flaky Pie. It is so tempting I must show you a picture from the book…

Don’t you feel like going to the kitchen and making it right now?

Early Evening (L’Apéro)

Another French habit is to have a drink and light food before going out for dinner, a show, or a movie. In this chapter, Clotilde offers 11 recipes, including a few drinks.  Some of my favorites:

Armenian Byoreks…   Armenian food is found mostly in the 9th arrondisement of the city, the original neighborhood that received the first immigrants back in the 1915’s. Byoreks are delicious parcels of flaky dough, usually shaped as triangles, and filled with many different types of delicacies, from meat to veggies or cheese. Her version uses spinach, cheese, and pastrami.

Butternut Kibbeh with Spinach…  I adore kibbeh, and normally have a meat-loaded version (I have one in the blog from years ago), but this one is definitely calling my name. So unusual!

Oven-Puffed Pancake... Baked Camembert with Honey and Apple Cider... Olive and Goat Cheese Quick Bread... The quick bread brought me memories of a couple of friends we visited often for dinner. She always prepared one of these quick breads as an appetizer if we were having dinner with them or perhaps going out for a meal somewhere. You know, just as a warm up to the evening.  I actually blogged about one version with zucchini in the distant past.

Evening (Le Soir)

What could be more magical than spending a romantic evening in Paris? Tough question. In this chapter, Clotilde talks about special recipes that you can cook at home but will have the aura of a fancy restaurant.  I could happily cook (and eat) every single one, but here is my selected list:

Roasted Squash Soup with Curried Cheese Quenelle…  Quenelle makes any meal feel special. Just a simple technique to shape it is all you need, and Clotilde explains how to do it.

Rice and Ginger Soup... when simplicity meets elegance, I so want to make this one when the weather cools off (well, hopefully not anytime soon!)

Cauliflower Brioche. You have no idea how cool that looks. Get the book, then we can talk more about it (wink, wink)

Tfaya Chicken Couscous… have you heard of tfaya? It is a condiment made with caramelized onions and raisins, in this case used to perfume couscous. O.M.G.

Spice-Crusted Duck Maigret… how could she not include a duck dish, right? So Parisian…

Mushroom Bourguignon… a vegetarian take on one great classic French dish. Must make it!

Every single dish in this chapter seems fit for a special dinner, either for a romantic evening with just you and your favorite human, or a couple of very dear friends. Some sweets included are the classic Pears Poached in Spiced Red Wine,  Caramelized Arlette Cookies (a version of them was a technical challenge in the Great British Bake Off years ago), and the recipe from the book’s cover: Ice Cream Puffs with Chocolate Sauce (no additional remarks needed).

Late Night (Tard dans la Nuit)

One recipe in the chapter. French Onion Soup. I don’t even know how many times I’ve enjoyed it with the most perfectly broiled Gruyere cheese on top of a perfect crusty slice of bread, cut in the exact thickness to make it stand against the hot soup without dissolving into nothingness. Au Pied du Cochon is a restaurant that still serves this soup pretty much the whole night. I’ve had the experience once. Yes,  Tasting Paris brought me a ton of fond memories indeed!

Clotilde, thank you for allowing me to share the flan recipe in my blog… 

For those interested in the book, it’s available in I am not affiliated, and won’t get a single penny from your purchase. I only recommend books I fall in love with, and this was definitely one…

ONE YEAR AGO: Beef Goulash, Slow-Cooker Version

TWO YEARS AGO: Post-workout Chia Yogurt Bliss


FOUR YEARS AGO: Best Thing I Ever Made: Chocolate Chip Cookies

FIVE YEARS AGO: Farofa Brasileira

SIX YEARS AGO: Thai-Inspired Pork Tenderloin

SEVEN YEARS AGO: A yummy Brazilian cake: Bolo de Fuba’

EIGHT YEARS AGO:  Summer’s Tomatoes

NINE YEARS AGO: Leaving on a jet plane… 





If you want to make a dessert to impress, search no further. This one looks impossibly cute, it mixes different textures, and it comes in single portion size, which always makes a dessert more special. Made just for you! The recipe comes from a cookbook that you absolutely must have: Eric Lanlard’s Afternoon Tea. I fell in love with it without having any idea who Mr. Lanlard was, and it turns out he is quite the celebrity chef, having done several cooking shows on TV and written a fair number of cookbooks. Born in Bretagne, he’s been living in the UK since age 22, now the owner of a wonderful place in London called Cake Boy. Maybe one day I will be able to visit and enjoy one of his beautiful concoctions. With a perfect cup of tea, of course… But without further ado, here is my version of his adorable dome-shaped dessert.


(reprinted with permission from Eric Lanlard)

100g (3½oz) white chocolate, roughly chopped
10g (¼oz) golden caster sugar (or regular sugar)
1 egg yolk
10g (¼oz) cornstarch
50ml (2fl oz) milk
1 gelatine leaf (about 2.5 g)
250ml (9fl oz) whipping cream
30 raspberries
6 thin Palets Breton (recipe follows)
8 tbsp apricot jam
pink food coloring
tempered white chocolate for decoration

Melt the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, making sure the surface of the water does not touch the bowl. Leave to cool slightly. In a separate heatproof bowl, whisk the sugar and egg yolk until pale and fluffy, then fold in the cornstarch.

Heat the milk in a saucepan, then pour over the egg mixture and whisk until smooth. Pour the mixture back into the pan and cook over a medium heat for 2–3 minutes, stirring continuously, until it has thickened. Meanwhile, soak the gelatine in cold water until softened. Stir the custard into the melted white chocolate. Squeeze out the excess water from the gelatine and add to the warm chocolate mixture, then stir together until the gelatin has melted. Leave to cool.

Whip the cream to soft peaks, then fold into the cooled custard. Divide the mousse among 6 individual dome silicone molds, filling them half full. Arrange 5 raspberries over the mousse in each mold, then spoon over the remaining mousse. Place the molds in the freezer for at least 4 hours until set solid.

Melt the apricot jam in a small saucepan, then pass through a sieve until smooth. Return the glaze to the pan and stir in the food dye. Turn each mould out on to a cooling rack. Pour the glaze over the frozen domes to cover – the glaze should set within 30 seconds. Using a palette knife carefully lift each on to a Palet Breton biscuit. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

(slightly modified from Eric Lanlard’s recipe)

2 egg yolks
85g (3oz) golden caster sugar (or regular sugar)
85g (3oz) unsalted butter, softened
140g (5oz) plain flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp baking powder
2 generous pinches of Guérande salt

In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until pale and fluffy, then add the butter. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together, then add to the mixture and combine together to form a smooth dough. Turn out on to a lightly floured surface and shape as a flat disk. Cover with plastic film and chill in the refrigerator for one hour.

Roll the dough about 3/8 inch thick and bake in a 350F oven for about 20 minutes. While still warm from the oven, cut disks the same size as your dome mold for the mousse.  Leave to cool completely before assembling the dessert.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I am really over the moon with this dessert. It is deceptively simple to prepare, but  having made it twice, I can tell you that small details matter. If you look at the bottom right picture in the composite above, you’ll see that the raspberries are visible underneath the glaze. That happened because the berries were a little too big (hey, Kansas is not that far from Texas) and when I placed them inside the mold and filled it with mousse, some were pushed all the way to the edge. It is evident on the upper right photo. Ideally, the fruit should be totally surrounded by the white chocolate mousse. It is a small detail, but in such a lovely dessert, it is one to pay attention to next time. See? There I am again using the “next time” line. That is also the reason why I added the drizzle of white chocolate, to make the boo-boo less evident. Plus, it gave me a good excuse to try my hands at tempering white chocolate. It was quite a thrill, but one with a happy ending.

I used the seeding method, in which I melted very slowly 3/4 of diced white chocolate (to 105 F), then brought the temperature down to 80 F adding the remaining 1/4 diced bits with constant agitation (talking not only chocolate but my inner self). After that, I increased the temperature super gently with a hairdryer just to be able to drizzle and pipe the design over silpat, not allowing it to go over 85 F.

The cookie base can be whatever cookie you like. The most important thing is that the dimension match that of the domed mousse. Since some cookies shrink or change shape during baking,  I decided to roll the dough out, bake it and then cut the cookies exactly the size I needed. Worked pretty well. Sablès are sturdy but have that melt in your mouth feel of a shortbread. I had some cookies leftover, and they received a drizzle of tempered white chocolate. They turned out very good, simple and delicious. The small amount of salt in the Palets Breton’s dough is a must. Normally these cookies are pretty thick (google and you’ll see what I’m talking about), but of course to serve as a base for the dessert, it is best to bake thinner versions, they will be more delicate.

One more thing: avoid using apricot jam like Bonne Maman. Oddly enough, that delicious version does not have as much pectin as more mundane brands do, and it’s hard to get good coverage of the mousse. On my first attempt, I ended up resorting to a chocolate glaze. It was also very good, but I think I prefer the taste and color impact of the pink-red glaze.

For those interested, this is the dome mold I used. 

And now, allow me to offer you a small overview of my favorite cookbook of the moment…
Eric Lanlard’s Afternoon Tea

The book starts with a nice introduction about paring tea with food, something most people don’t bother thinking about. But, truth is, tea covers many complex flavors and will complement, enhance, or sometimes fight with the food you serve it with. One of the interesting combinations he suggests is a Lapsang Souchong tea with anything chocolate. Lapsang Souchong is a smoked tea with quite unique flavor (and smell). I’ve seen pastry chefs making chocolate mousses infused with it, but have not tried it yet. That too, shall happen in the Bewitching Kitchen. But, back to the book. The chapters are divided into sections that cover particular types of goodies. I will list the recipes that made my heart miss a beat or three from each chapter. And by the way, let me tell you the photos are spectacular (you can tell by the cover of the book).

Macarons and Choux. How could I not fall in love with a book that opens with Macarons??? I want to make pretty much every one of the 10 recipes in the chapter, but just to share the favorites: Lemon and Pepper Macarons with Smoked Salmon, Hazelnut Macarons with Pumpkin Puree, Blue Cheese Gougères, and Mini-Salmon Mousse and Nigella Seed Paris-Brest.

Savory Tarts. Pear, Roquefort and Walnut Tartlets, Tartes Flambées, Camembert and Apple Tarts with Walnut Drizzle, Spinach and Pine Nut Wholemeal Tartlets.

Sandwiches and Scones. Very creative chapter, let me tell you… Combinations of flavors that seem quite unusual but not over the top. Vanilla-Cured Salmon on Beetroot Caraway Bread, Paprika Chicken Ciabatta, Pistachio and Rose Scones (swoon!), Raw Cacao and Raspberry Scones.

Cakes and Sweet Tarts. Pistachio and Rose Financiers (gosh, I must make these), Strawberry Ombré Cake (from the cover of the book, gorgeous cake), Chocolate and Ginger Tart (a thing of beauty), Linzer Torte.

Patisserie. My favorite chapter, that includes the some recipes I made from the book. Red Velvet Cheesecake, White Chocolate and Raspberry Domes, Lemon Posset, Saffron Crême Pâtissière, Mango, and Mint Cups, Raspberry Choux Craquelin Buns.

Biscuits. I cannot pick favorites. I want to make them all, so here they are: Viennese Butter Biscuits, Palets Breton, Cardamom BiscuitsSoft Ginger Biscuits, Honey and Lemon Biscuits, Lavender Shortbread Hearts, Cranberry and Pistachio Biscotti, Peanut Butter and Banana Cookies, Coconut Macarons Rocher, Gluten-free Tahini Cookies, and Cinnamon Palmiers.  Are you in love yet?

Finally, a teaser for you… this is his Red Velvet Cheesecake Cake. I took it to our department and people went crazy for it. It is decadently delicious.

Get the book, bake from it. Have a cup of tea. Find your hygge

Mr. Lanlard, thank you for allowing me to publish your recipe, and thanks for the advice on the raspberry dome. I look forward to baking a lot more from your gorgeous cookbook.

ONE YEAR AGO: Blueberry Crumble Coffee Cake

TWO YEARS AGO: Pickled Red Onions

THREE YEARS AGO: Strawberry Chocolate Chip Cake

FOUR YEARS AGO: Mini-Chocolate Cheesecake Bites

FIVE YEARS AGO: Whole-Wheat Spaghetti with Grated Tomato Sauce

SIX YEARS AGO: A Taste of Yellow to Honor Barbara

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Gratin of Beefsteak Tomatoes

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Tour de France Final Stage: PARIS

NINE YEARS AGO: Snickerdoodles with a Twist
































This recipe can be super simple if you buy puff pastry at the store, or quite a bit more involved if you make it yourself. I don’t want to sound snobbish – although probably it will be the case – but homemade will be a lot better. It is hard to get as many flaky layers from a store-bought puff pastry, and the version made at home definitely feels lighter. But particularly during the summer, I see nothing wrong with opening that package and going at it with your rolling-pin. Working with all that butter, performing the foldings, is quite tricky when the weather is warm and humid. Once the pastry is done, the preparation of these raspberry squares is very simple and the end result… oh so very cute! I made my own puff pastry and a link to the recipe is included below. But for simplicity (it’s a very long recipe), I am sharing a simplified version using store-bought.

(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

1 package of puff pastry, defrosted
to make your own, follow this link
fresh raspberries and blackberries (5 per pastry square)
8-ounce block cream cheese
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat the oven to 400F.

In a medium bowl, mix cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until smooth.

Roll the puff pastry and cut into 3 to 3.5 inch squares. Using the packaged pastry, one sheet will be enough to make 4 squares. Leaving a thin border, make cuts along the edges of the square. Use either a small rolling pastry cutter or a very sharp knife, so that you don’t squish the layers of the puff pastry. Place a tablespoon of the cream cheese filling in the middle of the square, then top with 4 raspberries. Take one of the edge flaps and fold it towards the center, looping over the raspberry. Repeat with the other flaps. Place a raspberry in the center, on top of where all the flaps overlap. Repeat with the remaining pastry squares.

Bake for 20 minutes or until pastry is golden brown and puffed. Serve with a sprinkle of powdered sugar, if so desired.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  If you like, you can brush the top of the loops with a little egg wash for extra shine, but I did not do that this time. Blueberries could be fun to use too, although they tend to bleed a lot more during baking. Don’t  be afraid to bake them until the pastry is very dark, because the filling tends to make the pastry a big soggy. In retrospect, I think I should have baked mine longer. But, as I like to say often, there’s always next time… live and learn…

They do have similarity with a Danish pastry, and go perfectly with a nice steamy cappuccino. One of these babies will be more than enough to satisfy any cravings for sweetness. They are fun to make and delicious to savor…  I hope you give them a try, with homemade puff or not.

ONE YEAR AGO: Vietnamese-ish Chicken

TWO YEARS AGO: Rutabagas Anna

THREE YEARS AGO: The Ultimate Raspberry Sorbet

FOUR YEARS AGO: Crispy Cornmeal Sweet Potato Fries

FIVE YEARS AGO: Pan-grilled Tilapia with Smoked Paprika & Avocado Cream

SIX YEARS AGO: Golden Saffron and Fennel Loaf

SEVEN YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, July 2011

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Heavenly Homemade Fromage Blanc

NINE YEARS AGOA Perfect Sunday Dinner









Entremets seem to be the rage at the moment. Originally, entremets were small portions of sweet concoctions served in between savory items in a multi-course banquet type meal. We are talking royalty stuff, from the Middle Ages to the overindulgence that was happening in France before 1789 (wink, wink). Nowadays, the term is applied to cakes that involve multiple layers with different textures and flavors. Basically it is a layer cake with severe superiority complex. My version was closely based on a Craftsy class taught by Kathryn Gordon, Contemporary Layer Cakes.  I don’t have permission to publish the recipe but will share an overview.

Recipe Overview
(from Craftsy)

For the cake component, a Jaconde sponge is prepared using the following ingredients:
6 egg yolks beaten with 90g sugar
110g  almond flour sifted with 60g cake flour
a touch of vanilla and salt
60g melted butter
meringue made with 6 egg whites and 90g sugar

The cake batter will be enough to bake one round 8 inch cake and you will have leftover batter to spread as a thin rectangle for the sides (for lack of a better term) of the cake. The round cake will be halved crosswise so that you’ll have two layers for the entremet. To line the pan, make sure you will have 2 pieces that will cover its whole circumference. You can use the mathematical formula C = π x D or cut a piece of string that goes around the pan, and measure it. In any case, you will arrive at the need for two pieces of cake 13 inches long. The height depends on how tall your cake will be in the end. Make it around 6 inches so you have some flexibility. The top can be trimmed once assembled. I placed a Silpat on top of the paper and spread the cake batter on it, using the drawing underneath to guide me.

For the marble effect you have two options: paint some food color on the Silpat and pour the batter on top, or divide the batter in two portions, add orange food color to half, and pour the two batters together, spreading them gently so that the color is not fully distributed.  I prefer the second method because it gives a much more subtle effect.  But, if you are in a Pollock frame of mind, go wild with a brush.

In the center you see the full rectangle of very thin cake, that was split in half lengthwise and placed inside the ring. Those are technically called “sponge strips” and I thank Gary, patissier extraordinaire for enlightening me. Please keep in mind that the photos are not on the same scale. The cake is assembled inside an 8-inch ring. First the sides are set in place, with the swirl facing the outside. Then the bottom layer.

Filling components:
Blood Orange Cremeux:  cream made with 8 egg yolks tempered and cooked with 360mL heavy cream previously infused with the zest of two blood oranges and 3/4 cup of blood orange juice.  Once the mixture coats the back of a spoon, it is poured over 200g white chocolate and 6g sheet gelatin, softened in cold water.
Caramelized rice cereal: 1/4 cup sugar is heated in a heavy pan until amber. To that 1/2 cup popped rice cereal is added, quickly mixed and poured on a Silpat or parchment paper.
Caramelized blood orange segments: Make a syrup with 100g sugar and 4 tablespoons water. Heat until fully dissolved, then pour over the segments of one blood orange. Let the fruit sit in the syrup until cold, drain before using in the cake.

To the bottom cake layer, a little cremeux is added and spread. Then pieces of caramelized puffed rice. A bit more cremeux, caramelized orange segments, and more cremeux on top. The second piece of cake goes over it, pushing down to make sure it’s all well compacted.

The top of the cake is brushed with a bit of melted white chocolate and oil, to seal the layer. The whole thing is frozen for several hours, then the cake is covered with a very thin layer of white chocolate mirror glaze, made with sugar (50g dissolved in 2 T water), heavy cream (2 T), corn syrup (1 T) and white chocolate (150 g). Kathryn explains exactly how to do it in a way that the top will be very smooth.

The cake is then removed from the ring, the top edge is trimmed, if so desired, and the top is decorated with bits of caramelized rice cereal and blood orange zest.

Comments: First of all, my apologies for not posting the full recipe, but without permission to do so, I cannot do it. You can find the basic method of preparing a Jaconde sponge, as well as all other components online. In fact, many different cake formulas and fillings will work to produce a similar entremet cake. All you need to keep in mind is a contrast of textures and flavors.

The blood orange cremeux turned out very refreshing, so even considering this is a rich, indulgent dessert, it had a light and bright quality to it. Rice puffed cereal is a good alternative to the famous Gavottes cookies that were part of my recent Gateau Royal. You can definitely caramelize it and  use it to add crunch to any layer cake. Those things are sold in huge bags, and we don’t eat puffed rice as a cereal, so I see a few aventures with this caramelized version in my future.

This Craftsy class by Kathryn is really wonderful, because not only she explains every single step of the recipe in real-time, but she encourages you to plan and make your own version of this elaborate cake. Although it might seem a bit too involved, each component can be made in advance. I actually baked the cakes and made the cremeux on a Saturday, the other components Sunday morning, assembled the cake, froze it, and added the mirror glaze in the end of the day. Piece of cake! (Literally).

Just like macarons are my favorite cookies, I suspect entremets are quickly becoming my favorite type of cake. The possibilities of cake, fillings, textures, and icing are endless.

ONE YEAR AGO: Flourless Chocolate Pecan Cake

TWO YEARS AGO: A Tale of Two Macarons

THREE YEARS AGO: Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies

FOUR YEARS AGO: Chicken in Green Pipian Sauce, Sous-vide Style

FIVE YEARS AGO: Classic Shrimp Gobernador Tacos

SIX YEARS AGO: A Walk Towards the Sunset


EIGHT YEARS AGO:  Heavenly Home-made Fromage Blanc

NINE YEARS AGO:  A Perfect Sunday Dinner



















Do you know Anna Olson? I don’t remember how I got hooked into her shows, but I think it was one of those suggestions that pop in the amazon page. At any rate, she is big on Canadian Food TV. As far as I can tell, the Canadian food TV is far superior to our own. I watched every single episode I could find online. Basically a full season of “Sugar“, and a full season of “Baking with Anna Olson.”  They are organized by ingredient (chocolate, blueberries, pecans),  or basic component (say, pastry cream, or pie dough), and she usually shares three recipes with increasing level of difficulty.  I like her a lot. She is the type of baker who is clearly talented, but also down to Earth. Some professional bakers make you think that unless you can find the vanilla bean harvested on the Sava region of Madagascar under a moon 100% full, please don’t bother making the recipe. Not the case with Anna. You’ll feel less constrained and even encouraged to try something a little different. Sometimes she might even have a little powdered sugar flying moment in her KitchenAid, which in my mind just makes her even more special.  Of course, that type of moment is not a rare event in the Bewitching Kitchen, quite the opposite (sigh). When I watched her show on apricots, I knew I had to try her Linzer version. I am glad I did…

(from Anna Olson)

for filling:
2 cups fresh apricot, washed and pitted
⅔ cup apricot jam
¼ cup sugar
zest of one orange

for dough:
3 hard-boiled egg yolks
1 ¼ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup icing sugar
dash of vanilla extract
½ cup ground hazelnuts, lightly toasted
¾ tsp salt
¼ tsp baking powder
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 egg, mixed with 2 tbsp cold water

Cook all ingredients for the filling in a big saucepan until apricots are tender. Remove from heat, puree and cool completely before using.

Push cooked egg yolks through a sieve and set aside. Cream together butter and icing sugar until smooth. Stir in vanilla extract. Add hazelnuts and cooked egg yolks and blend in. Sift together salt, baking powder and flour and add to butter mixture. Blend until dough comes together (it will be quite soft). Divide dough into 2 discs, wrap and chill for at least one hour, until firm.

Heat oven to 350 F.

On a lightly floured surface, roll one disc of dough to 3/4- inch thick. Using the bottom of a 10-inch removable-bottom tart pan as your template, cut out a disc of pastry. Repeat this with the second disc of pastry.

Using the tart pan bottom as a lifter, transfer the first disc of pastry to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Spread the apricot filling over the entire surface of the dough. If the dough is very soft, I like to flash it in the freezer for 5 minutes, to make spreading the filling easier.

Using a 3/4 -inch round cutter cut decorative circles around the dough. Use a slightly smaller cutter to make a second series of smaller openings. While still on the cutting board, brush the top of the disc generously with egg wash. Place gently on top of apricot filling. Place ring of a springform pan around torte to help it hold shape while cooking.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, until a rich golden brown in colour. Allow to cool before cutting. If desired, sprinkle with a dusting of powdered sugar before serving.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: It was a lot of fun to make this recipe, it is a real soft though, and I decided to roll it out in between two sheets of parchment paper. Works much better for me that way. The filling is delicious, I had to hold myself back not to use it in macarons next day, it would be great added to some chocolate ganache, I think. Apricot and chocolate are a match made in heaven.

The dough is on the crumbly side as expected for a Linzer concoction. Her use of hazelnuts instead of almonds makes it quite unique and special. Everyone in the department loved this little treat, which brightened up one very summery Monday.

Make Sally happy, grab a pin!


ONE YEAR AGO: A Trio of Air-Fried Goodies

TWO YEARS AGO: Focaccia with Grapes, Roquefort and Truffled Honey

THREE YEARS AGO: Moroccan Carrot Dip Over Cucumber Slices 

FOUR YEARS AGO: White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

FIVE YEARS AGO: Cilantro-Jalapeno “Hummus”

SIX YEARS AGO: A Moving Odyssey

 Shrimp Moqueca