rustic organic breads
ripe cheeses of all kinds
and fresh, very lightly cured olives at the olive stand
We all walked the few blocks to the cooking school together, with our bounty in hand, then after a lovely stop for coffee, we headed up to the kitchens to start cooking. Diane kept us all hopping to complete the many different dishes we prepared. It was a busy and fun morning of learning. The time flew by.
She showed us how to cut the cod fillets and how to dice the vegetables.
She had us put chorizo slices on the cod before we slid the skillet in the oven to finish baking it. We got to use a cool gadget to fill the ramekins with the clafoutis batter. Then Diane showed us how to plate our food fancy-schmancy – ooh-la-la. And then we sat down with glasses of wine, great conversation and all that wonderful food for the best meal made with all those fresh ingredients.
Our menu was:
lightly cured olives, fresh tiny grey shrimp with baguette and butter,
medley of sauteed fennel, zucchini and peppers,
oven roasted carrots glazed with honey and cumin, and roasted cherry tomatoes,
shelled and lightly steamed fresh peas,
potato puree with freshly-made pesto,
cod fillets sauteed and baked with chorizo,
salad of fresh greens with French vinaigrette,
fresh melons,a cheese course, fresh bread,
and for dessert a sweet cherry clafoutis and this wonderful mouelleux au chocolat with praline whipped cream and fresh raspberries.
All prepared with the freshest ingredients and lots of olive oil, butter, simple herbs and spices, love, and laughter.
An absolutely heavenly meal shared with a whole table full of wonderful new food-loving friends. I love Paris.
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Kitchen Frau Notes: Moelleux means ‘fluffy’ in French, and that’s what this dessert is – light and fluffy and creamy – very decadent. The crunchy praline that Diane taught us to make is just gilding the lily, but what the heck? This is a special occasion dessert, so why not go all out?
When baking this moelleux au chocolat, it needs only a short time in the oven and will still seem very underdone, but it is meant to be very soft and almost custardy in the middle. Diane said to cook it until it ‘jiggles like your old Auntie’s backside’ and it will be perfect.
Moelleux au Chocolat with Praline Whipped Cream
recipe courtesy of La Cuisine Paris cours culinaires
- 5 large eggs
- 250 grams sugar (I used 1 cup/about 210gms)
- 200 grams butter (¾ cup + 2 tablespoons)
- 200 grams (7oz) dark chocolate (70%)
- 1 tablespoon ground almonds or plain flour (I used ground almonds)
- optional: coffee, rum, Grand Marnier . . .
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a 9 inch (24cm) springform or cake pan with a circle of parchment paper. (Diane showed us how to fold a square of parchment into quarters, then eighths then sixteenths, then lay the point into the center of the pan to measure, cutting it a little longer than the radius and up the sides, to make a circle slightly larger than the pan.)
Melt the butter and chocolate over a double boiler (place a glass or metal bowl over a pot of simmering water – make sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water). Let cool.
By hand or in a mixer, whisk the sugar and eggs together until they are white and foamy. Drizzle in the cooled melted chocolate and beat till incorporated. Add the ground almond or flour and flavouring, if using. Mix until smooth. Pour the batter into the lined pan, or into greased muffin cups or mini muffin cups.
Bake for 19 minutes (large pan), 12 minutes (muffin tins), 9 minutes (mini muffin tins). *I baked my large pan for 25 minutes, and it was still very jiggly in the center, but it set up beautifully when it was chilled.
Chill, and slice into wedges, using a clean wet cloth to wipe the knife clean between each cut.
Serve with softly whipped cream, or fold chopped praline into it to make Praline-whipped cream (below) and fresh cherries or raspberries or strawberries, if you wish.
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How to Make Praline
- 1 cup(120gms) sugar
- 1 cup (100gms) sliced almonds
*optional – Toast the almonds in a 350°F oven for 8-10 minutes, stirring once, until golden brown. (We didn’t do this in our cooking class, but I think it intensifies the almond flavour.) Praline is very simple to make. Have all your ingredients and tools laid out and ready before you begin, because once you start caramelizing the sugar, things happen quickly and you don’t want to take your eyes off it. Once it caramelizes, you only have seconds to stir it all together before it hardens. Prepare a baking sheet by buttering it generously or lining it with parchment paper. Lay out a silicone or rubber spatula and a butter knife nearby. Measure out your sliced almonds and have them ready to add to the praline.
Pour the sugar into a non-stick or heavy bottomed skillet set over medium-high heat.
Do not stir the sugar, as this can make it go grainy. Only swirl the pan over the burner to move the sugar around. Nothing will seem to be happening for the first minute or two, but don’t leave the pan unattended, because it will happen quickly after that. The sugar will start to melt first, then caramelize.
Keep swirling the pan often, until most of the sugar is a deep golden-brown colour.
Remove from the heat and quickly stir in the almonds.
Dump the praline onto the prepared pan and with the spatula and butter knife try to spread it out into as thin a layer as possible. It will still be uneven and clumpy.
Let cool, then break into chunks, and chop it finely.
thanks to Andreas for being my hand model
This works best with a large knife. Using one hand to hold down the tip of the knife as a pivot point, keep lifting the handle and chopping slowly to avoid bits of praline scattering everywhere.
Fold a few spoonfuls of the chopped praline into softly whipped cream and scatter some over the dessert for added crunch. Makes more than you need so you can use it for other desserts, or to fancy-up a bowl of ice cream, or your morning yogurt.
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And the best part of the cooking class was – I didn’t have to clean up the kitchen afterwards