There were perhaps three holidays to France when I was young. I remember camping in a pine forest (ugh, who camps?), swimming in lakes, sun, Nutella and baguettes. But something happened during that time. Was it the sweet smell of the boulangérie where the air was heavy with the promise of flaky pastry, butter and soft, white bread? Or was it the strange language with its guttural rasping and hand-waving?
Whatever the reason, France got under my skin. I mastered the language and took every opportunity to get back there. A French exchange to Paris at 13, a three week archaeological dig in Lille at 17, six months near Besançon during my degree, until finally I was living and working in Nantes at 22.
Somewhere along the line I decided I didn’t really want to marry a long-haired Frenchman with a roving eye, a pink sweater slung over his shoulders and garlic breath. My blind love for all things French waned a little, but I still love la belle France.
Can this sort of love be transmitted through the umbilical cord? Because my eldest daughter is in love with France. And horse-riding.
Somehow the two have become intertwined and she cannot wait to spend week after week in the summer, rolling in horse manure (by the look of her jodhpurs) and gabbling away in French. In fact she knows words in French that I have never learnt. Of course the obscure horse vocabulary doesn’t count, but how did she know the word for splinter and I didn’t?
I watched the other week as she and a French friend baked cakes in our kitchen. The air was heavy with the promise of sweet delicacies and there was lots of guttural rasping and hand-waving. My daughter did the ‘bah ouah’ thing perfectly, she shrugged in a Gallic manner and may even have said ‘Bof!’
It’s weird to think that in a convoluted way my childhood experiences may have led to my daughter falling in love with France. Just goes to show that we can never know the consequences of our actions when our children are young.
And here’s a thought. What if she decides to marry a long-haired Frenchman with a roving eye, a pink sweater slung over his shoulders and garlic breath? It’s probably a good thing that we’re moving back to England.
Anyway, while the girls were bustling around the kitchen waving their arms around and saying ‘Ooh là là’, I was poring over the French recipe book that the friend had bought. I found a recipe that I’ve been trying to make allergy-friendly for years. It was simple, elegant (très French) and could easily be adapted.
Donc voilà! Grâce à la recette de Manon, je vous présente mes ‘Chocolate Pots’! Régalez-vous!
Chocolate Pots (makes 9 small espresso cups)
I served these to my fab (French) friends Sam and Katia recently. They hummed and harred (with slight guttural rasping) and declared that they are more of a ‘crème’ than an ‘entremet’. As we don’t have a word for either in English, I’ve gone for the less-sexy ‘chocolate pot’. But you get the gist, right?
125g dark chocolate
400ml rice milk / cow's milk
25g cornflour (corn starch)
For the egg/egg replacer:
1 egg OR
1 tbsp custard powder
1 heaped tsp Orgran ‘no egg’ egg replacer
4 tbsps rice milk
30g dairy free margarine / butter
1 tsp vanilla essence
- If using the egg replacing mix, put the custard powder, Orgran egg replacer and 4 tbsps rice milk into a small bowl and whisk together until smooth. Set aside
- Put the honey and cornflour / corn starch into a large mixing bowl and whisk together (might be a bit tricky if using thick honey, but persevere, you'll get there)
- Add the egg or egg replacer to the mixing bowl and whisk together
- Slightly heat the 400ml of rice milk
- Melt the chocolate in a bain marie (a glass bowl on top of a saucepan full of bubbling water) and add to the rice milk, whisking well
- Add the chocolate rice milk to the mixing bowl and whisk until all ingredients are incorporated
- Pour the chocolate liquid into a saucepan and heat very gently whisking continuously. When the mixture thickens and is looking deliciously smooth and glossy (don’t let it boil), remove from the heat and add the margarine/butter and vanilla essence. Whisk until the marg/butter has melted
- Pour into individual ramekins or cute coffee cups and leave in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight
- Enjoy at your leisure, en français if you wish
And here’s my verdict: