Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Saint Emilion Au Chocolate Part 1

Macaroons - chewy on the outside, moist on the inside.
Part of the OM diner that I posted about the other day was a two tiered desert.  My idea was to offer people a choice:  homemade cinnamon ice cream with candied pecans and roasted plums or Saint Emilion Au Chocolate.  Instead, what happened was I overloaded everyone by giving them a sampler plate, not exactly a light way to end a heavy meal of Indian food!

In their own way both the desserst worked fine, but both, in retrospect, could be improved.  The cinnamon ice cream by itself was good, but on the simple side; the candied pecans were very hard to stop eating; the plums seemed out of place.  Then it occurred to me that the candied pecans and the plums needed to be roughly chopped up and stirred into the ice cream!  So each mouthful was a multi-layered experience instead of the randomness of serving like a sundae.  But then I read a recipe for a pumpkin souffle and it made me think that cinnamon ice cream would be the perfect foil for it...

The bigger issue for me was the fascinating yet perplexing Saint Emilion Au Chocolate which I came across in Simon Hopkinson's classic cookbook Roast Chicken and Other Stories.   He credits the recipe as being originally from Elizabeth David's French Country Cooking and was a big hit in the sixties.  Basically as he explains it you put a bunch of macaroons in a souffle dish with alternating layers of chocolate mouse (recipe below), chill in the fridge overnight and there you have it.  My issue is the vagueness of the recipe (or at least my reading of the recipe) and how it is to be served.  He also suggests that you can use amaretti cookies instead of macaroons.

Let's start with the cookies.

You have several options here.  You could use the Coconut Cookie recipe I posted last week, but because one of the guests was gluten free I made a  flour-less macaroon (recipe below).  In part, I wanted to try it out as a standby for the ever increasing amount of people who are not eating wheat these days.  A side benefit is that these macaroons are also perfect for Passover - and so much better then anything you can buy in a tin at passover.

Here is my adaptation of Kate Zuckerman's macaroons from her great book The Sweet Life


In bowl of a standing mixer add 2 ounces of almond paste, 1 cup of sugar, 1 large egg white and 1/4 teaspoon of salt.  With the paddle attachment turn on medium process until the paste has come together.  Then add 3 more large egg whites and 3 cups finely shredded unsweetened coconut and mix briefly, add 6 Tablespoons or room temperature unsalted butter and mix until well incorporated then add 2 Tablespoons of potato starch or flour (or in a pinch organic corn starch) and 1 teaspoon of rum or vanilla.  Fold together with a wooden spoon or spatula, the mixture will be sticky, spoon it into a recycled plastic bag or a covered container and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper or butter well.

I use a teaspoon and scoop out heaping spoonfuls of the chilled dough and roll them into rounds, then use a fork to flatten.  You could use a piping bag or just leave them round.  Play around and see what works best for you.  Also you can add a 1/2 cup or so of dark chocolate chips to these if you are planning to just eat them as a cookie and not use them in the Saint Emilion Au Chocolate.

Bake for 20 or so minutes until nicely golden.  Cool on a rack until room temperature.

 Saint Emilion Au Chocolate

Once you have the macaroons made this recipe is a breeze. Well, sort of, and here lies the rub:  if you make it in a souffle dish or a Charlotte mold I'm not sure how easy it will be to get it out in one piece.  Mr. Hopkins just says:

Arrange some of the macaroons in a souffle dish or individual ramekins, using just enough to cover the base. 

But of course they don't cover the base because there is inevitable going to be space where the cookies don't cover....anyway....he goes on:

Sprinkle some rum or brandy over the cookies.  Cover with a layer of chocolate mixture, add a further layer of cookies, more rum or brandy , and another layer of chocolate.

OK so one layer of cookies and some of this intensely rich chocolate mixture is enough for anybody since it is super rich.  Add some whip cream and the entire room will be in diabetic coma in 10 minutes. Happily mind you, but you get the idea....

And I still wasn't sure how it was supposed to look and how it was supposed to be un-molded or was it supposed to be scooped out of the dish or was it really better to just make small individual servings?

Here is what I did.  I took an 8" spring form pan, buttered it and then covered it in parchment paper.

Then I crammed in as many macaroons as I could, breaking them up to fill in holes
 Poured on the chocolate then added more cookies. 
Covered the entire thing and put it int he fridge for 24 hours. I only did a top and bottom layer. When it came time to turn it out onto a plate it didn't give me too much trouble.  It's kind of weird looking kind and somehow way to much fuss for what it is.  Of course it's very rich and delicious and boozy and a wonderful combination of flavors.  I'm just not sure this is the way to put it together.

Here's the chocolate recipe:
In a saucepan bring to just a boil 3/4 cups plus 2 Tablespoons of whole milk. Take off heat and pour in 8 ounces of 70 percent of darker finely chopped chocolate and mix until melted.   While it is cooling...

Cream 8 tablespoons room temperature unsalted butter with 1/3 cup of sugar until light and fluffy, then add 1 egg yolk and combine.
When the chocolate mixed is well cooled add to the creamed butter and sugar mixture and you are ready to go.

I think the idea of just using this chocolate mixture in small cups or ramekins as a pot au chocolate (maybe add some rum or brandy to it ) and serving the macaroons on the side would be a perfectly fine option, but it seems that the point is the marrying in one dish of these two flavors and textures.
So the reason I called this post Part 1 is because I'm not finished with this thing called Saint Emilion Au Chocolate.  I think there has to be a better way.  My idea is to make the macaroon as a tart shell in a well greased tart pan, soaking it in rum and then filling it with the chocolate.  That's what I'm going to try but I really want to hear your ideas.  Leave comments and inspiration!  Otherwise here are two very useful recipes that you can use together or apart in any number of ways.


Indian Restaurant Fan said...

How on earth people come up with these new recipes, Truly stunning by the looks of it.

Anonymous said...

It looks as amazing as it tasted - I was one of the lucky recipients of this amazing dinner and dessert. The best dinner I've had in months and months and months....Thank you Mark! - Markus

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