Just in time for Valentine’s Day! I had a little rendevous at my friend Cara’s place from le 5eme Etage. The goal was to A. make a heart shaped tomato tarte tatin that I’d had milling around in my brain for the last couple of weeks. It’s terribly easy and I was curious to see if the tomatoes would work in a fun and festive heart shape. B. was to FINALLY master these silly little cakes that looked extra tasty in my Bouchon cookbook.
For Christmas my mom had given me the special mold that was made specifically for these cakes so I really wanted them to work out, but after two attempts with the recipe that came on the back of the package, I was just about ready to give up and use the mold for something completely different, and perhaps a bit more satisfying.
Luckily enough Cara had the Bouchon cookbook! woo! It’s fabulous, but a bit heavy, so I’d left my copy in the US. I puzzled at the recipes for a bit and oddly they were quite different. Flour ratios, sugar, chocolate, all different. So in my last attempt (the very last.. three times is completely enough times for me to try a recipe.. maybe 2 too many times haha) we decided to go with the cookbook recipe and see how it went.
But.. I was a bit tired haha so even though the ingredient amounts were the same, I switched up the method (without realizing until it was far too late to go back) and added little frills for Valentine’s day. :-)
To start, half of the butter (70g) and all of the chocolate, to melt over a bain marie. We used two different types of bittersweet chocolate.
Once melted, take off the heat and slowly whisk or stir in the remaining butter.
Set aside and combine flour, cocoa powder, salt, and dry vanilla powder (if using) in a separate bowl. Whisk together.
In another bowl (you should have 3 now), whisk together the eggs and sugar until a little lighter in color and foamy. Grab a helper and pour in the still hot melted chocolate/butter while whisking. Add the dry ingredients and stir together. The batter will be pretty thick. Allow to rest in a cool place for about 30 minutes.
Fill the molds to the top. There is no need to butter the molds because we’re using silicone and there’s a high butter content in the cakes which will help them not stick! Bake at 160C or 350F for 20 minutes. Take out and press a fresh raspberry in the top and return to the oven for another 10 minutes until fully cooked.
Bouchon in French means “cork” like a wine bottle cork. The mold that was made for this recipe was specifically designed to make them in this cork-like shape! Do try them in a mini cupcake pan though! Just keep an eye on the baking time, because it will probably be a bit less. I would also lightly spray the cupcake pan just in case.
Now the hard part, wait about 10 minutes, then carefully flip by placing a flat baking sheet lined with parchment on top, then gingerly grabbing the mold and flipping the whole thing over. You might need to give a little push on the top of the cakes to help them come out, but otherwise they should pop out pretty easily.
Take a square of parchment and fold in half then cut out a fun little heart or other design. Place on top of the cake and dust with powdered sugar.
Bite sized and ridiculously chocolaty with a little raspberry to cut through the decadentness! Happy Valentine’s Day to You & Yours!
Mini Chocolate Cakes (Bouchons)
Recipe amounts from Bouchon. Method and a couple twists by moi! Try baking them in a mini cupcake pan if you do not have the special Bouchon mold. Reduce the time by about 5 mins though and keep an eye on them, touching the sides to determine how cooked they are. The Bouchon mold can be bought at William’s Sonoma.
140g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
50g All Purpose flour
50g unsweetened alkalized cocoa powder (Dutch processed)
pinch of salt
75g eggs (about an egg an a half, whisk two together then weigh)
160g granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla paste, or pinch of vanilla powder
110g bittersweet chocolate (60-70%)
Over a bain marie, melt half of the butter and all of the chocolate. Off the heat, stir in the remaining butter.
In another bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, and if using the vanilla powder.
In a third bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until a little lighter in color and foamy. Grab a helper and pour in the hot chocolate mixture quickly, whisking as you add it. Stir in the dry ingredients and let sit for about 30 minutes in a cool area.
Preheat your oven to 160C or 180F and fill the Bouchon molds to the top. If using a mini cupcake pan, lightly spray with kitchen spray before filling, just in case! Fill just about to the top as well, a little more than 3/4ths full.
Bake 20 minutes then remove from the oven and press in a fresh raspberry and bake an additional 10 minutes.
Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes (I set a timer). Then place something flat on top that’s lined with parchment and flip!
Dust with powdered sugar and Enjoy!
Happy Valentine’s Day!
I’m not a major fan of Valentine’s day, it’s just so cheesy. I think love should be celebrated every day. :-) BUT I do love making themed things to eat for it (oh I know that’s super cheesy too, eh, who cares!)! Like this Tomato Tart Tatin for Two! Perfect to share with good friends or your amour, as you can size it to be as big or small as you like! I made a version of it over the summer at Chateau de Gudanes and have thought about it ever sense because it is beyond easy to make and so delicious!! The only thing that takes a bit of time is cutting the tomatoes into heart shapes, but that’s fun, so no big deal. ;-)
A huge thank you to Cara at le 5eme Etage for being photographer!
Just a note: This recipe would be a good one to hold on too for the summer months when tomatoes are in season. I just loved the idea of red for a savory tart so I used the best ones I could find!
Start by cutting in half and roughly scooping out as many tomatoes as needed to completely fill, when placed side by side, a tart pan. Save these in a bowl to conserve some of the liquid to make a sauce later. Roma tomatoes are best for theme-ing the tart because they already have an oblong shape, but when doing this at another time any in season tomatoes will work!
I cut a V-shape at the top while cutting out the core, and then a bit off the sides to fully commit to the heart shape.
Melt about a tablespoon of butter and a good glug of olive oil in a saute pan and then place the tomatoes in the pan skin side down to soften over medium-low heat.
In the pan add about a 1/2 tablespoon of brown sugar, a teaspoon of red wine vinegar, and two tablespoons or so of the reserved tomato juices from scooping out the tomatoes earlier. (If you’re making a larger tart, double this amount to end up with more syrup goodness) Reduce until syrupy and pour over the tomatoes in the tart dish and top with basil, oregano, thyme or a mixture of herbs.
Top with puff pastry that has been cut with about a centimeter overhang. Tuck in around the tomatoes or fold like in the photo below, pressing in around the sides.
Prick with a fork to release the steam then bake at 350F or 180C for 25 to 30 minutes depending on the size of your tart. Allow to rest about 10 minutes, place a flat plate on top and flip!
Tomato Tart Tatin
tomatoes (enough to fill your tart dish when cut in half)
herbs (basil, oregano, thyme or a mixture)
1 tablespoon butter, unsalted
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
frozen puff pastry, thawed
Preheat oven to 180C or 350F. Cut the tomatoes in half and roughly scoop out the inside. Reserve the scooped out portion in a small bowl. Cut the tomatoes to look like hearts. In a saute pan, heat up the olive oil and butter. Place the tomatoes in the pan, skin side down and cook over low to medium heat until soft.
Remove from pan and place in a tart dish skin side down as closely together as possible.
In the pan, add the red wine vinegar, brown sugar, and about 2 tablespoons of the reserved tomato juice. Reduce stirring until a syrup forms. Pour over the tomatoes and sprinkle herbs on top.
Cut the puff pastry to fit with about a centimeter overhang. Place over the tomatoes and press into the sides. Prick with a fork and bake for 25 to 30 minutes until the puff pastry is cooked.
Let cool about 10 minutes. Then place a flat plate on top and flip! Top with more chopped herbs for a pop of color and enjoy!
Happy Valentine’s Day!!
The address simply says Chateau de Gudanes and the tiny 49 person town it’s located in. No number, just an assumption that the mailman knows the way.
The trip to the Chateau started with a 6 hour train ride from Paris to Toulouse. I was gazing out the window almost the entire time as the terrain changed from flat to hilly to mountains in the Midi Pyrennes with little villages dispersed along the way.
My first look of the Chateau was pure excitement. After months of planning and waiting, I was finally there. A field of yellow flowers stretched in front of the Chateau. It stands at the high point in the valley where it’s located, surrounded by mountains and keeping a protective eye on the two villages below. I’d caught quick looks of it through the trees as we were driving up but it was nothing you could have imagined. Smaller at first, but as you walk up larger and more imposing with an aura of mystery.
My stay started with exploring the Chateau (I went up almost every day to do a little wander and see what work was being done), preparing for a workshop on renovation techniques, visiting brocantes, and entertaining several guests that popped by with sweet treats.
Going through my pictures of the Chateau was like saying hello to an old friend. So much has changed and happened within those walls over the years and even since I took my first pictures. The front rooms cleared out to make space for the restoration workshop, a new table brought in that had been built from wind-felled trees on the Chateau grounds, the temporary kitchen came together, and electricity and plumbing were brought to the Chateau for the first time in years. I took most of my pictures in the first couple of days that I was there when everything was new and discoveries kept popping up. The Chateau is surprising in that way though, there’s always something new to be found even after you’ve walked the rooms a number of times.
Since starting to post about living in Paris, one of the most frequent questions (besides the language) that I’ve gotten is about renting an apartment. I can honestly say it was the hardest part of living abroad for me. I ended up moving 4 times in one year and looked at a ridiculous amount of places with little to no success.
Now that I’m moving back for another year it’s allllll coming back. The stress. The small panic attacks. Not knowing where I’ll be in a month. Here are my best tips (hopefully I can take my own advice and find something):
– If you are going to school in Paris, check with the school on lodging options. I found out that Le Cordon Bleu had a person whose job it was to help find apartments for the students. There was even a list of different people you could contact who rented out their places to LCB students.
– Stick with agencies. The agency fee stinks. yup I know. But especially when you are searching from abroad the safest way to guarantee that you will have a place to stay when you arrive is to go through all the necessary paperwork. Agencies that are used to working with non-Frenchies are: Lodgis, ParisAttitude, and Paristay. If you feel like your French is up to par sign up on Seloger. This is an online site where agencies will post new apartments. (This is what I’ve been using but since I’m not in Paris physically and able to run into the agency as soon as one I like posts, I haven’t had any success so far.)
– Prepare your dossier. This will be a little different depending on your situation. Check with the agency for the exact specifics but it will probably be something like this:
- Piece of identity (passport)
- Document justifying your stay (school acceptance, work engagement form).
- Proof of income: To prove you can pay for the apartment by yourself…work contract or letter from employer, last three pay stubs, last income tax. If you can not show proof of 3x the rent in income, a guarantor (preferably French) who would provide the same items, or a bank guarantee (not preferable but essentially a certain amount of rent is “frozen” in your French bank account for a certain amount of time. The owner can access these funds if you are unable to pay rent).
– Look in more unconventional places. Sabbaticalhomes rents and house swaps with students but also professionals. The American Church in Paris lists daily new apartment and employment offers.
– The best/easiest way to find a place: know someone who is moving out of theirs, and snag it! The landlord usually asks the person who is leaving if they know someone that they would recommend to take the apartment. (This is all good and well, but it’s all about luck and timing.)
– Consider booking a short term stay through AirBnb and looking when you arrive. This will allow you to walk around the area where the potential apartment is, hopefully see the inside, and maybe even talk with the owner.
My sincerest best of luck wishes are being sent your way. It’s certainly a jungle out there…
To read up on my previous apartment posts, check out the below:
Have any tips for finding a place in Paris? List them below in the comments. :-)
I came back from a rainy walk around the nearby villages one day and bumped into my now good friend Lucien- a French man of a distinguished age who told me one day that he was going to chainsaw some lumber later that afternoon and another day that he was painting a house. yup.
Him, his German friend and the Australians from the Chateau had just finished a heart stopping, grueling match of tennis and were about to celebrate over a bottle of champagne. I got pulled into the mix and we were soon sitting around a table which about halfway into the bottle of champagne turned into Lucien and his friend telling a myriad of different tales- the ones where you just wait for the ridiculous twist at the end. Somehow we decided that this was going to be a French lesson so my job became translating the stories to English or retelling them again in French. Unfortunately my translations would always fall short at the endings leading to mass confusion, hilarity, or just blank stares and desperate explanations. :-D
Here’s one of my favorites:
There were two brothers. When one brother got something, the other brother had to have it as well. For example, they both had homes and each had a blond wife. One day one of the brothers decided he was going to buy a horse so of course the other brother decided he would too. So two horses were bought. As they were bringing them home they started discussing how they would tell them apart. One brother suggested cutting off an ear. No no the other brother said – we should cut off one of the horse’s tails. After much thinking one of the brothers said- how about you take the white one and I’ll take the black one.
hardy har har! groan.
I won’t recount the others because they were just as bad or worse than then one above, like the one about a gorilla at a zoo.
Lucien and I at the village market.