It’s nice to be able to impress your friends and family with a dessert that looks like it was made by a pastry chef, but I often feel those fancy French pastries are beyond my ability or available time. I had heard that chocolate pastry was really difficult to work with and ganache seems like a tricky thing to make, however nothing could be further from the truth as you can see from these Double Chocolate Tartlets.
It’s all thanks to Jill Colonna, author of Mad about Macarons, the book where she debunked the myth that macarons are difficult to make, (see The Great Macaron Challenge) this time she has taken on the challenge of making French Patisserie recipes accessible to all in her new book Teatime in Paris.
The book begins with some introductory chapters demystifying Parisian pastry, “How the French eat pastry and yet can stay slim” and a very useful chapter entitled “French Pastry a step at a time”. Jill then goes on to provide some notes on ingredients to help you make a success of your bakes. Then we get into the recipe chapters, each has a story sometimes a little history all of which makes this an entertaining read as well as a practical cook book.
Here are a few of the recipes that stood out for me by chapter:
Something for Teatime: Honey, Rose and Green Tea Madeleines; Almond Tuiles and Speculoos Ice Cream.
Choux Time: A step by step guide to making choux pastry; Cream Puffs; Lemon and Verbena mini-Eclairs and Coffee Eclairs (omg)
French Tartlets: Caramel, Walnut and Maple Tartlets, Double Chocolate Tartlets (see below) and Fast Fig, Almond and Lavender Tart.
Millefeuilles; Mint and Strawberry Millefeuille and Wild Blackberry Millefeuille.
Parisian Macarons: Step by Step guide to making macarons; Salted Caramel Macarons; Raspberry, Lime and Tarragon “Maclairs” and Rhubarb and Poppy Macarons.
A French Tea Party: Paris-Brest-Edinburgh Choux-Nut, Lime and Bitter Chocolate ‘Maclair’ Tartlets and St Honore with Violet.
Towards the end of the book a chapter called Favourite Sweet Walks in Paris takes you on a guided walk around the “City of Light” pointing out some of the famous and best patisseries in Paris.
Finally there are a few suggestions for essential and luxury baking equipment.
Who is it for? Anyone who likes to bake and is looking for a little bit of a challenge, but likes the idea of a helping hand and simple instructions written not by a pastry chef but by a home baker like themselves.
Pros: A wide range of fancy pattiserie, cakes and dessert recipes are provided. The step by step instructions with pictures are really clear and there are lots of extra tips from Jill. I also like that you have the basis for creating your own variations on the recipe.
Cons: If you already have Mad about Macarons, then you already have the instructions on macaron making, although there are some new flavours to entice your palate.
The Verdict: Programmes like the Great British Bake off have brought pastries like Paris Brest, macarons and all manner of fancy tartlets into the British consciousness as something that can be made at home. This book gives you the tools to create these yourself and, if my experience is anything to go by, Jill’s recipes make them much easier than you would think.
Here is Jill’s recipe for Tartelettes au Chocolat, and the story that goes with it:
Having visited Sacré-Coeur and dodged past the giant rolls of colourful fabrics at the bottom of Montmartre’s bustling hill, head to Rue des Martyrs to escape the summer crowds. The further south of Pigalle (SoPi) you walk towards the 9th district, the more tempting pastry and chocolate boutiques appear. One of my favourites is Sébastian Gaudard and just across the road is a little chocolate shop and yet more pastries at Arnaud Delmontel. The beauty of these chocolate tartlets is that the variations are endless. Serve them plain with a simple dusting of unsweetened Belgian cocoa powder, or spoon a tablespoon of jam on the bases before pouring on the ganache and topping with fruits.
Tartlettes au Chocolat/Double Chocolate Tartlets
Makes 8 tartlets
Preparation time: 25 minutes, Cooking time: 30 minutes, Chilling time: 1 hour 30 minutes, Temperature: 160°C/320°F fan (Gas 4)
Chocolate pastry cases:
125g butter, at room temperature
75g icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar)
½ tsp salt
½ tsp vanilla extract (optional)
240g plain flour all-purpose), sifted
20g unsweetened cocoa powder
160g dark chocolate (at least 60% solids)
80g milk chocolate
230g single cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
- Using a stand mixer with a paddle beater, slowly mix the butter, sugar and salt until pale and creamy. Just for a few seconds, gradually add the other ingredients until the dough is well mixed, then stop. Form a ball, wrap in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for at least an hour. Cut out eight tartlets.
- Bake the tartlets for 10–15 minutes at
160°C/320°F fan (Gas 4). Allow to cool, and remove from their moulds.
- To make the ganache filling, break the chocolate into chunks in a bowl.
Heat the cream with the vanilla extract in a saucepan until nearly boiling.
Pour over half of the hot cream directly into the bowl of chocolate.
- Stir using a wooden spoon and combine until the ganache is smooth. Top
with the rest of the hot cream and stir until completely melted and silky.
- Pour the hot ganache into each tartlet and top with a cherry, berries or
keep plain. Leave to chill in the fridge for at least an hour to set. Take the
tartlets out of the fridge 30 minutes before eating.
- Infuse the seeds of 12 cardamom pods and a teaspoon of
grated ginger in the cream while making the ganache and
serve with a mango and passion fruit salad.
- Why not spread the bases with thick cut marmalade and top
with Cape gooseberries?
Teatime in Paris! A Walk Through Easy French Patisserie Recipes
Author: Jill Colonna
Published by Waverley Books, 7th May 2015
For recipes and more information about Jill Colonna’s books visit the Mad about Macarons website
I’m entering the Double Chocolate Tartlets for three different challenges.
- A new blogging challenge, Perfecting Patisserie is just perfect for this recipe, it’s being hosted by Lucy at Baking Queen 74 and Kevin at The Crafty Larder
- Treat Petite is featuring Eurovision treats this month and as this is French patisserie, it qualifies (douze points s’il vous plait). Treat Petite is the brain child of Stuart at Cakey Boi and Kat at The Baking Explorer.
- And finally, one of the first ever blogging challenges We Should Cocoa, the theme is always chocolate but this time with Vanilla, which this recipe contains. The ‘We Should Cocoa’ Linky’s home is at Tin and Thyme, the blog of Choclette Cacao, but it’s being hosted this month by Karen at Lavender and Lovage.