Chocolate pan cake… and a 30th birthday.

Turning 30 is a big occasion. Our eldest turned 30 this month and she had her friends from Toulouse come to Coin Perdu to celebrate. She wanted this chocolate cake which we have been baking for years in our home. Really a deliciously decadent cake and so easy and quick. I found it years ago in Annette Human’s Winning recipes 3. It is from Renie Conradie who got it from her husbands stepmother, grandma Polly. Well,  there you go.. a recipe that withstood generations of baking and is still going strong.

chocolate pan cake 25-02-2014 20-36-10chocolate pan cake 25-02-2014 20-56-57chocolate pancake recipe

Pincée de fleur de sel:

  • Baking the cake at 170 °C will prevent the cake from cracking and rising to a point in the middle.
  • Gently hit the the bottom of the cake pan on the table surface to get rid of air bubbles.
  • Add 1 tsp extra cacao to the cake mixture for a darker cake.
  • Serve with whipped cream or ice cream or créme fraìche.
  • The cake becomes tastier the longer it stands.

In his speech mon chéri said he remembered the day he turned 30 years ago.. He thought he was old then. With our first daughter turning 30, he wondered how he should feel now. the nice thing about having children turning 30, is that we felt 30 again too, being in the company of all the “20’s-going-on-30’s” and all the “30-something’s” for a whole weekend,

Marinell 30 ans 23-02-2014 05-07-002

Preparations were done on Saturday by everyone for a rustic-shabby-chic evening, which lasted until Sunday morning at 4. I was just about to call the police to complain about the “kids” keeping me awake, when the last one crawled into the barn and a faintly familiar silence fell over Coin Perdu. It lasted only few hours before the first morning coffee announced the next chapter of busyness

Marinell 30 and, Dimanche 23-02-2014 23-02-41

..preparing gazpacho.. Marinell 30 ans 23-02-2014 00-24-41

..Some British Pimms..

Marinell 30 ans 23-02-2014 02-58-58

..the apero table..

Marinell 30 ans 23-02-2014 02-59-58..Serrano ham from Spain o,narustic shabby chic ham board..

Marinell 30 ans 23-02-2014 03-14-34..chilling..

Marinell 30 ans 23-02-2014 03-09-03

..friends starting arriving..

Marinell 30 ans 23-02-2014 03-17-44..I want to sabre my own champagne!..

Marinell 30 ans 23-02-2014 05-11-38

..1, 2, 3 et voilà!..

Marinell 30 ans 23-02-2014 05-11-41

..oh dear…a little too much muscle!..

Marinell 30 ans 23-02-2014 05-11-56

..joghurt marinated legs of lamb..

Marinell 30 ans 23-02-2014 05-35-50.. chickens basted with apricot puree..Marinell 30 ans 23-02-2014 06-57-36

..preparing the buffet table..

Marinell 30 ans 23-02-2014 06-59-03 and food..

Marinell 30 ans 23-02-2014 06-59-13

..salmon fillet..

Marinell 30 ans 23-02-2014 07-00-23

..old fashioned coke..

Marinell 30 ans 23-02-2014 07-01-08

..always a fire..

Marinell 30 ans 23-02-2014 07-50-39

..night falls..

Marinell 30 ans 23-02-2014 07-52-41

..a chandelier in the walnut tree for some romance..

Marinell 30 ans 23-02-2014 07-56-05


Marinell 30 ans 23-02-2014 08-21-16

The day after the night before always starts in slow motion. Crawling out of tents, coffee with brioche, and a shower finally opens up heavy eyelids. so much so that a rugby ball can be thrown about by the brave, others go for walks and pick wildflowers(which would find their way onto my dressing table, since it was mother’s day), some just hang around in a deep chair, and the real brave ones get onto a horse. Finally everyone gathers to fill stomachs on leftovers, tent pens are pulled out, cars wave goodbye and the sun sets on a 30th birthday. Long may she live to remember this year!

Marinell 30eme-001

Mendiants à la fleur de l’ atelier chocolat.

Mendiants are so quick to make and over the festive times coming soon, are a handy snack to serve with coffee. IN France the habit in a bar, mostly, not everywhere, is to serve a petit biscuit or chocolat along with the coffee. Towards the end of the year it changes to something special, like a petit meringue, or une truffe au chocolat. Why not a mendiant, topped with dried fruit and nuts of your choice?

mendiants aux fleur de sel 15-10-2013 12-19-56 2801x2795

Wikipedia says:  “A mendiant is a traditional French confection composed of a chocolate disk studded with nuts and dried fruits representing the four mendicant or monastic orders of the Dominicans, Augustinians, Franciscans and Carmelites. Each of the nuts and dried fruits used refer to the color of monastic robes with tradition dictating raisins for the Dominicans, hazelnuts for the Augustins, dried figs for Franciscans and almonds for Carmelites. Usually found during Christmas, recipes for this confection have veered away from the traditional combination of nuts and fruits to other combinations incorporating seeds, fruit peels and other items.”

Larousse says: The mendiant order imposed poverty on the the mendiants(beggars) and they were dependent on donations for their upkeep. They were allowed to get some kind of income as long as they abstained from any benefits from the church.

..mendiants à la fleur de sel..

atelier chocolat 15-10-2013 11-21-55 4034x2820

La recette:

  1. Break 400 g dark chocolate in pieces. Add to a bowl(or top part of double boiler) on a pot of hot water.
  2. Temper the chocolate ( see below under Tempering chocolate).
  3. Keeping the chocolate at 32° C, drop spoonfuls of chocolate onto a baking sheet covered with bakewell paper. Sprinkle very sparsely with some fleur de sel and leave aside for about 10 minutes for the chocolate to settle.
  4. Use dried fruit and nuts of your choice and top by gently pressing it onto the mendiants. (I used dried strawberries, almonds, pistachio nuts, dried papaya strips and hazelnuts). all favorite eating chocolate is dark Lindt chocolate à fleur de sel(left) and in the kitchen I use Lindt dark cooking chocolate 70% cacao and mix it with a cheaper Lindt cooking chocolate(ratio 3/4 – 1/4)..


1. Tempering chocolate:

Tempering chocolate gives you chocolate which is beautifully smooth with a gloss and is used when you are “decorating” with chocolate or florentines, or mendiants or making filled cups. When making truffles, it isn’t necessary, because truffles mostly get rolled in cacao afterwards.

  • Using a thermometer, melt the chocolate until  50 – 55°C, while stirring all the while with a spatula.
  • Remove from the heat and cool the chocolate to 28 – 29°C, stirring all the while.
  • Reheat again to 30-32°C and remove from the heat, taking care, because it heats very quick. If it heats above this temperature, it will make white streaks and you will have to start from the beginning.
  • Keep the temperature at 30 -32°C while working.
  • The left over chocolate can be stored and at a later time tempered again and reused.
  • The chocolate chips don’t give such a good result.

..tempered chocolate..

atelier chocolat 15-10-2013 12-42-06 3380x2804

In the top photograph,  the chocolate is tempered which shows the rich gloss and smoothness. The bottom photograph clearly shows the white, dull and milky appearance of untempered chocolate.

..untempered chocolate, simply melted..

atelier chocolat 25-10-2012 11-59-23 2397x2026 

Whip some cream and serve it in the little cup along with a strawberry or raspberry or a fruit mousse or light chocolate mousse. Place it with your main dessert  on a dessert plate for some added interest. Or why not serve it with a late afternoon coffee as a “goutêr“? If it has a quaint rose pattern like in the photo, it can be turned over and your guests break through the chocolate to get to the surprise filling.

2. Chocolate decoration.

  • Use a home made cone – Place a piece of bakewell paper on a tray and draw your design on the paper. Fold a rectangle of bakewell paper into a cone, fill with melted chocolate and draw onto your design. Leave aside to cool completely of place in the fridge in warm weather. When the chocolate designs have settled, remove gently and store in an airtight container with bakewell paper between the chocolate decorations. Use of ice cream or whipped cream or serve on a hot chocolate topped with a thick layer of froth.
  • Making chocolate moulds/cups – use the brush shown below  and paint one layer of chocolate inside the moulds. Refrigerate and paint another. Continue until you have painted 3 coats. Remove gently and store in an airtight container. make chocolate decorations, I use the home made paper cone(left,  line 1),  the little brown container is useless, for it sucks air and make spurts of chocolate as you can see (line 2), the spoons are very handy and make nice linework(3 & 4),  the only drawback is that they don’t take too much chocolate at a time so your designs have to be small, but they are excellent in making swoops of chocolate on the dessert plate.

atelier chocolat 15-10-2013 11-31-21 3195x3124

..This is a perfect brush to paint the cup moulds inside with chocolate…

atelier chocolat 15-10-2013 11-32-03 2956x2216

..To end this short atelier chocolat(to know more you’ll have to come to my cooking classes), voici la Tour Eiffel, all in tempered chocolate…will I eat it? Definitely not today!..

atelier chocolat 15-10-2013 12-54-39 2339x2940

I bought this cute little book in Paris called, Retour à Paris: les mêmes lieux photographiés d’un siècle à l’autre, by Daniél Quesney. So until next time I’m leaving you with this view of the Eiffel over the Seine, a 100 years apart. Isn’t it wonderful…how I would love to be able travel back to “La belle époque!

..”voies George Pompidou, 16eme arrondissement. On quai du Pont du Jour, the Eiffel tower still carves out its slice of the sky, but the riverboat concertzs of old have have now given way to expressway automobile traffic”..

2013-10-161..à la prochaine..


Chocolat mendiant tart..and brown to cream inspiration.

I am very rarely inspired by a recipe. It almost never happens happens that I eat something great and I want the recipe. Of course I enjoy it, but my true inspiration to create a recipe  comes from “things” of everyday life. At the moment I am inspired by colour. Every day as  I watch nature, I witness colours deepen and darken, fade and disappear. I am mesmerized by the dark of wet wood.. the doors, the windows, the wood piles along the country roads ready for winter fires, the deep beiges of dry fields, the soft creams of the sheep grazing the green hills..and then I remember that recipe  saw in a magazine, or the one I tasted at a friends home, and I’m inspired to create the same. This time –  A chocolate mendiant tart I saw in a magazine at the hairdresser. I can’t remember the magazine, or theexact ingredients, except for the addition of the Nutella and the icing sugar roasted nuts. And yes, the chocolate colour perfect to accompany the browns I see around me. And the taste..perfect for the cold rainy days..or any other day!

Une Pincée de fleur de sel:

  • I used orangettes(candied orange strips). See crystallized orange strips how to make them. It is worth making them yourself to buying those tasteless ones in the supermarket.
  • Other dried fruits I used: Dried figs cut in slices and dried cranberries.
  • Nuts I used: Freshly shelled walnuts and pistachios.
  • I didn’t use a sweet pastry, because the chocolate is sweet enough.
  • This dough is enough for 2 tarts. I always make a double quantity so I have a spare pastry ready to roll out in the freezer.
  • Consider using this pastry recipe..Omit the cheese, thyme and peppercorns in the recipe. It is much more buttery, delicious of course, but also  richer.
  • Leave the tart/tartlets to stand for a day to develop flavor.
  • It is important to leave the dough to rest. I always leave my dough overnight, it prevents shrinking. This time I was too hurried and in the photo you can see the result..shrinkage! old dilapidated, but charming door contrast beautifully with white stone walls..

..typical Corréze country-with light cream stone houses and dark roofs, dark shutters, rusted barn equipment, nestling in the green hills..

green Corréze hills with brown soil prepared for new fields, dry cornfields of the past season and stark, late autumn trees..

..happy, creamy white sheep roaming the green hills..

..two friends, a familiar Corrézien sight..

 ..this is a time of year I love to sketch. At the moment, I am truly inspired by the browns and the shapes, especially those of leaves, branches and everything else I find on my walks..

..the stacks of wood ready for the fast approaching winter..

Joyeuses Paques from Coin Perdu!

Joyeuses Paques, happy Easter, gesëende Pase, buona Pasqua, felices Pascuas…!!!

..à bientôt..



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