What’s cooking?

First of all….Happy New Year! I hope 2023 will bring joy, creativity, fulfilment and closure, positivity and openness among other things 🙂

It has been a challenging last 2 years for many of us, and I need a fresh start, fresh air and horizon. But let’ s see what this new year will bring.

Today, I would like to start with a recipe, which has been ending so many dinners, birthday parties or picnics. It is a typical French dessert, really easy to prepare and it’s always a success, for it is not so sweet, not too heavy and simply good. Yes, I mean the chocolate fondant cake served with a rich vanilla crème anglaise.

The mystery of the crème anglaise

Various sources, various opinions.

According to some, the crème anglaise (english cream) could have been invented in England as the Custard, which appeared in the 13th Century. However, the custard was salty and Vanilla was not known at the time in the kitchens (source hier).

It could have been imported by the French Chefs to the Court of England as early as in the 16th Century.

Others say Antonin Carême could have created this rich cream, but, a recipe existed already for “english cheese” 80 years before his birth : “half a pint of sweet cream, half a pint of milk, half a pound of sugar. Add 3 egg yolks and boil.” This recipe appeared in the book New instructions for jams, liquors and fruits published in 1704 (source hier).

The crème anglaise is typically served cold whereas the english custard is served warm. If some of you lived in England, as I did, you might remember having this warm, microwaved pudding with a warm custard? I loved it.

If making a chocolate cake is pretty easy, the preparation of the crème anglaise can be more tricky.
You learn at school to prepare it with a thermometer, the temperature should not go over 85c°, T° where the egg coagulate.
I have learn to make it without, also for large quantities of it when you actually use a whip. The trick is to feel it thicken, and observe the cream. Once you feel it’s going to start boiling, take away the pan and sieve the cream into a cold bowl.

Easy to make and delicious

Chocolate cake

Servings: 6

Baking tin 20cm, layered with baking paper

350gr Chocolate 70%
150gr Butter
Melt in a bowl in water bath

Add to the chocolate once melted
100gr sugar

Separate the yolks from the whites from
4 eggs

Add the yolks one by one to the chocolate mix

Whip the whites and add them in 3 times

Add the flour to the mix while sieving it over the bowl, so that it does not clump.
50gr flour

Pour the mix in a baking tin and bake 20 minutes on 150 °C (fan oven)

Crème anglaise

250gr cream 
250gr milk
1,5 to 2 Vanilla pods, scrape the vanilla pod halves with a knife to remove seeds

Bring to boil and let infuse for 1 Hour.
You can take out the pods of the cream, personally, I leave them in the cream so that I get the most out of the vanilla. Warm up the cream again until it starts boiling.

Then mix
100gr yolks
50gr sugar

Turn down the T° on low-medium heat.
Pour 1/2 of the hot cream onto the eggs and sugar mix, mix well, then pour everything back in the pan. Using a wooden spoon or a whip, stir until you feel it is thickening. Once it starts to thicken, either check the T° with a thermometer (85c°) or if the cream stays on the wooden spoon.. it’s ready.

I use a whip and observe the cream, when it’s about to come to a boil, take away the pot and sieve immediately into a bowl. Using a cling film, I place it directly on the cream and let it cool.

The cake tastes better when served at room temperature, it keeps its soft moist, fondant texture. However, you can keep it in the fridge if you like it more firm. You can cut it in small squares and serve it for coffee or have it in a glass with the crème anglaise. Enjoy!

Et voilà!

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