It has been too long since I’ve been in France- and so our recipe test for today was themed straight out of a Parisian cafe. The smells in the kitchen took me right back there. We made Roast Chicken with Tarragon Sauce (Creme a l’estragon), Autumn Baked Apples in a Bechamel Sauce (Pommes rôties au four avec une sauce Béchamel sucrée et épicée), and Chouquettes. Yum.
The Roast Chicken with Creme a l’estragon (Tarragon Sauce):
Pommes rôties au four avec une sauce Béchamel sucrée et épicée (Autumn Baked Apples in a Bechamel Sauce):
– 6 dessert apples
– 6 cinnamon sticks
For the sweet béchamel sauce:
– 30 grams (1/4 cup) plain flour
– 30 grams (1 oz) of butter
– 500 ml (2 cups) milk, lukewarm
– 1/2 vanilla pod, cut widthways
– 4 tablespoons sugar
– Finely grated zest of 1/4 unwaxed orange
– 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
– 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
– A pinch of nutmeg
– 1 clove
Preheat the oven to 150C (300F). Core each apple and place the cinnamon stick in each core. Wrap each apple tightly with baking paper and tie with kitchen string. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the apples are soft but not collapsing.
Meanwhile, make the sauce. Melt the butter in a small pot over a medium heat. Next add the flour and mix it till you have a smooth paste. Take off the heat and let it cool for about 2 minutes before gradually adding the milk while whisking constantly. Split the vanilla pod and scrape out the grains. Place the pan back over a medium heat and add the pod, the grains, the sugar, the orange zest and the spices. Simmer for about 10 minutes while whisking to make sure the sauce doesn’t burn on the bottom of the pan. If the sauce becomes too thick, whisk in a little more milk. When the sauce is ready, remove the vanilla pod and the clove before pouring the sauce into a jug.
To serve, unwrap the apples and stand them on individual plates. Let each person take out their cinnamon stick before pouring a generous helping of sauce over and inside the apple. Ta dah!
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces, plus more for coating the baking sheets
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the baking sheets
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup water
- 4 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature, cracked into a medium bowl
- 1 large egg white, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup pearl sugar
- Heat the oven to 400°F and arrange a rack in the middle.
- Coat two baking sheets with butter, dust each with flour, then flip and tap to remove any excess flour; set aside. Fit a pastry bag with a 1/2-inch round tip; set aside.
- Place measured butter, milk, water, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan and set over medium heat, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon until the butter has melted. Increase heat to high, bring mixture to a rolling boil, then remove from heat. Add measured flour all at once and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until a dough forms, about 30 seconds. Return the saucepan to medium heat and stir constantly to remove excess moisture and cook the raw flour, about 3 minutes. (A film should form on the bottom of the saucepan.)
- Transfer the dough to a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Let sit, stirring the dough with the mixer on low speed for a few turns about every 30 seconds to release steam until the dough is slightly cooled, about 3 minutes. (This can also be done by hand, but be prepared to put in some muscle!)
- Increase the mixer speed to medium low and add the eggs one at a time, making sure each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next. (The dough will separate each time you add an egg but will come back together). Mix in the egg white. Transfer the dough to the pastry bag.
- Pipe the dough into 1-1/4-inch round mounds (about the size of a ping-pong ball), lifting the bag as you form them and setting them 1 inch apart on one of the baking sheets (about 24 per sheet). (You can do this with a spoon also), then sprinkle the chouquettes with half of the pearl sugar, or powdered sugar. Bake 15 minutes without opening the oven door. Reduce the heat to 350°F and continue baking until the chouquettes are golden brown all over, about 10 minutes.
- Place the baking sheet on a wire rack and immediately pierce each chouquette’s side with a paring knife to release steam. Let cool completely on the baking sheet.
- Return the oven to 400°F and repeat steps 6 and 7 with the remaining dough, baking sheet, and pearl sugar or powdered sugar. You can also use chocolate chips for a sugary but non-french version. The chouquettes are best eaten warm but are also delicious several hours after baking. Once cool, they can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature or in the freezer. Before eating, thaw frozen chouquettes and reheat in a 300°F oven until crisp again, about 5 minutes.
It’s like being back in Paris!
Missing the City of Love:
To see the blog/video from my last trip to Paris click on the following: