This month’s #ProgressiveEats event will require some Calgon Bath Salts. You definitely need to get yourself in the frame of reference to be ‘taken away’ and no, I don’t mean the loony bin! Our friend Jane Bonacci from the blog The Heritage Cook has chosen The Flavors of France for our feast this month and I don’t know about you…but I’m ready. To get to France. I would say it’s about time too.
I’ve had a bit of a love affair with all things French for a VERY long time. I thought the language romantic so I started taking lessons when I was only eleven and continue with French classes throughout high school and college. I was fluent; I was ready, my journey should have begun then…but alas, bet you know how this story goes. Too many years, not enough practice and today I would be hard pressed to have any conversation with a Francophile. I can understand the written language typically but have resorted to remembering only those phrases we were not allowed to say out loud. So, ‘Voulez Vous couchez avec moi ce soir?’ Now? That would mean having the kids up the street over for a slumber party. 🙂
Still, I had several exchange students stay with us while my kids were in high school and the best experience we had was having four girls from Paris spend time with us during World Youth Day. Two spoke good English, two did not and yet I knew their conversations. Pretty much boys, boys, boys and Levi’s jeans. Oh, and Hershey’s Chocolate Chips. All that wonderful chocolate in France and they wanted to make sure they took home chocolate chips! I’ll stick with French chocolates please (or actually to be honest for this dessert they were Belgian; close enough right?).
I’ve always loved making desserts that take a bit of time to prepare so it seemed prophetic when I saw Jane’s choice of theme that I choose a French dessert that was a bit over top; just a bit decadent. And this one truly is. It’s simple too. Really, it is! Eggs are beaten until fluffy, coconut is added and the mixture is baked and then cut into thirds. The layers are held together with chocolate ganache and the entire cake is covered in more chocolate, toasted coconut and chocolate curls (optional). I’ve had this recipe squirreled away for a special occasion as I’ve been dying to make it for some time. From the legendary French Pastry Chef François Payard, it brings together two of my favorite ingredients into one luxuriously divine treat. Born in Nice on July 16th, 1966, François Payard is a third generation French Pastry Chef. He cultivated his passion for the art of pastry as a child in his grandfather’s acclaimed shop on the Riviera, Au Nid des Friandises. François grew up surrounded by the delicious classic French pastry in the tradition carried on by his parents and grandparents for over fifty years.
After honing his skills in classic pastry by his family’s side, François moved to Paris where he learned the artistry and refinement of transforming traditional desserts into exquisite plated presentations. François’s desire to travel and discover new sights, smells, and flavors brought him to New York in 1990. In 1993, François Payard joined Chef Daniel Boulud for the opening of Restaurant Daniel, another restaurant given four stars by the New York Times, where he delighted guests with his chocolate and seasonal fruit menus. In 1995, The James Beard Foundation named François “Pastry Chef of the Year” in recognition of his accent on flavor combined with a unique sense of pastry design. Over the years Chef Payard has had restaurants come and go but now his flagship store is on New York’s Upper East Side. It is a Patisserie, Bar and Bistro, bringing back some of the great delights from the original Payard. A dream of mine to go there one day where I say at least a sentence or two in French and hope against hope someone hands me a fabulous dessert and doesn’t scoot me out the door thinking I needed directions to the loo.
I’ve made similar layer cakes with meringue layers or even cake layers but never with macaroon. I love the crispy/chewy component of this dessert with the macaroon interior and the completion of layers with a rich chocolate is just divine. Chef Payard did not instruct to cover the top with coconut; that was my choice. The macaroon layers are coated with a thin coating of ganache and I thought it needed either more chocolate to get a really beautiful top coat on or in lieu of that; a bit more coconut sprinkled on so that the presentation of the ganache did not have to be perfect. Besides I wanted to make some chocolate curls for decoration and I prefer the contrasting look. If you’ve not made chocolate curls, they’re easy too; the most difficult part is discerning just how long they need to be chilled before they are the right consistency to curl. For me 3 minutes wasn’t enough but 5 minutes was perfect so if you decide to make them, just keep testing until you have the perfect consistency for your chocolate to curl when scraped off a sheet pan. Instead of taking process photos I found that Ree, the Pioneerwoman has a post with enough information to help you get it done. It was perfect except for this one thing. SHORTENING? Um, no. Mix your chocolate with butter; I can not imagine spreading this fabulous cake with anything with shortening!
This was SO good; please come over and have a slice or I will be forced to eat it all by myself!
Join us for the Flavors of France!
- Tarte á l’Oignon – French Onion Tart from Spice Roots
- Gougeres filled with Bechamel aux Champignons from Pastry Chef Online
- Provencal Vegetable Soup Au Pistou from Mother Would Know
- Duck Breasts a l’Orange from The Heritage Cook
- Fig and Anise Bread from The Wimpy Vegetarian
- Zucchini Summer Squash Tomato Gratin from Jeanette’s Healthy Living
- Kir Royale from Miss in the Kitchen
- Madeleines from Barbara Bakes
- Triple-Layer Chocolate Macaroon Cake from François Payard from Creative Culinary
Welcome to Progressive Eats, our virtual version of a Progressive Dinner Party. This month’s theme is the Flavors of France and is hosted by Jane Bonacci who blogs at The Heritage Cook. Join us and make something unique and delicious!
If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, a progressive dinner involves going from house to house, enjoying a different course at each location. With Progressive Eats, a theme is chosen each month, members share recipes suitable for a delicious meal or party, and you can hop from blog to blog to check them out.
We have a core group of 12 bloggers, but we will always need substitutes and if there is enough interest would consider additional groups. To see our upcoming themes and how you can participate, please check out the schedule at Creative Culinary or contact Barb for more information.