An annual festival which is celebrated worldwide on 25th December, every year commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ is one of the most auspicious as well as sweet festival.
Religiously it is celebrated by the Christians around the World as well as by Non-Christians too.
Christmas brings a lot of goodies with it. Gifts from a Santa Claus is one of the most common thing associated with it but Christmas is also famous for a lot of Sweet things too, especially Cakes and Desserts.
Although, every country and almost every family celebrates it differently but people in France celebrate it in a uniquely defined tradition of serving 13 desserts.
In France, the public life on Christmas is very quiet. Post Offices, Stores, Banks, Cafes, Malls, Restaurants and all other businesses are closed. People in France decorate a Christmas tree and visit church, eat an elaborate meal and then focus on the gifts and presents on the eve of Christmas.
In France, Pere Noel or Daddy Christmas is a legendary gifter, who in English countries is well known as Santa Claus. Kids in France, leave their footwear filled with Carrots and Treats for Pere Noel by the fireplace before going to bed, Pere Noel takes the offerings and if the child has been good, leaves presents and gifts in their place which are small enough to fit in the shoes like Money, Candy or Small Toys.
The moist treats are always an icing on the cake, especially during Festivals and it becomes more tasty and a craved thing when its Christmas and that too in France.
There is a tradition of serving 13 desserts in France during Christmas after midnight that incorporates variety of Sweets, Nuts and other tasty items. These 13 desserts resembles religious symbols which alludes to Jesus and this twelve apostles.
You need not prepare all the 13 items, few of them can be purchased from a neaby supermarket.
Here is the list of all 13 desserts which are served during Christmas in France.
- Nougat(White) symbolizes Good.
- Nougat(Dark) symbolizes Evil.
- Assorted Fresh Fruits symbolizes Bountiful Harvest.
- Calissons d’ Aix – Almond Pastries.
- Pompe a I’ Huile – a round bread symbolizing bread eaten at the Last Supper. It is made of Olive Oil which should be torn not cut.
- Buche Noel – Christmas (Yule) Log.
- Various Candy Fruits and Quince Jam.
- Dates – symbolizing Christ coming from East.
- Oreilletes – Fried Pastries.
- Mendiants – (4) , representing the colors of the robes of the 4 religious orders of beggar monks
Here we bring you few such recipes to try this year for the Christmas and give your guests a Homely French Welcome.
- FRENCH CHRISTMAS COOKIES:
Total Time: Preparation: 20 Minutes.
Bake: 10 Minutes/Batch+Cooling.
Makes: About 2-1/2 Dozen.
- Softened Butter- ½ Cup.
- Packed Brown Sugar- 1 Cup.
- 2% Milk- 1 Cup.
- Graham Cracker Crumbs- 2-3/4.
- Chopped Walnuts- 2 Cups.
Toppings: ½ Cup Milk Melted Chocolate Chips.
Directions: Preheat oven to 375 Degrees, Beat cream butter and brown sugar in milk in a large bowl, then beat cracker crumbs in th mixture. Stir walnuts and 2 cups of chocolate chips. Fill 2 inches foil baking cup liners 3/4th. Place 1 inches apart in a baking pan and bake it for 10-12 minutes or until it sets. Remove from Pans to cool it down. Drizzle with Melted chocolate; let it stand until it sets. Store in an airtight container and refrigerate.
Nutrition Facts: 1 Cookie: 224 calories, , 13 gms Fat, 12 mg. Cholestrol, 85 mg. Sodium, 24 gms. Carbohydrate, 18 gms. Sugar, 1 gms. Fibre, 3 gms. Protein.
- CROQUEMBOUCHE: It is a traditional French cake which is served not only during Weddings or special occasions but also on Christmas. The traditional recipe is made with Vanilla Pastry Cream and decorated with Sugared Almonds. Modern recipes includes Pastry cream flavours, sugar, art and melted chocolate.
Total Time: 6 hrs. 30 min.
Preparations: 5 hrs 30 min.
Cook: 60 min.
Yield: Serves 12.
Nutritional Value: Calories: 475, Fat: 23 gms., Protein: 9 gms., Carbs: 59 gms.
Ingredients: For Vanilla Pastry Cream:
Whole Milk – 1 ¼.
Egg Yolk – 3.
Sugar – ¼ Cup.
All Purpose Flour – 2 Tablespoon.
Cornstarch – 2 Tablespoon + 2 Teaspoons.
Pure Vanilla Extract – 1 Teaspoon.
For The Choux:
Butter – 1 Cup.
Water – 2 Cups.
All Purpose Flour – 2 Cups.
Eggs – 8.
Salt – ½ Teaspoon,
For the Caramel:
Sugar – 2 ½ Cups.
Water – 2/3 Cups.
Steps to Make:
- Pastry Cream: Over low heat, warm the milk until it is hot enough to steam. Whisk egg yolks, flour, sugar and cornstarch altogether while the milk in warming and until the mixture gets smooth. Add half the milk to the egg mixture when the milk is steaming, continuously whisk. Add the milk and eggs in the hot milk and let it heat for 2 minutes until a custard reaches 170 F’ on a digital thermometer- it has to be thick. Remove and stir in Vanilla extract and chill the cream before filling the profiteroles for 2 hours.
- The Choux: In a medium saucepan, melt the butter in the water, add salt and flour and stir until a sticky batter is formed. Beat the eggs until the batter gets smooth. Preheat the oven to 400 F’ and grease 2 baking sheets. Spoon the choux dough into 24 small rounds on the baking sheet. Bake it for 30 minutes until the profiteroles puff up and turn gold brown. Remove from oven and let it cool down for 20 minutes before filling them with the prepared pastry cream. Spoon the pastry cream into a bag with a plain tip by inserting the tip into underside of a profiterole and pipe about 1 teaspoon of pastry cream in it.Repeat with the remaining ones. Store the filled profiteroles in the freezer for around 3 hours.
- Make Caramel: Spoon 2 ½ cups of sugar in a medium saucepan and pour 2/3 cup water over it. Draw a spoon through the sugar and turn the heat up to medium-high. Wipe down the sides of a pan with a pastry brush when the mixture reaches simmer. Allow the sugar mixture to boil for 15-20 minutes until it turns a pale golden brown. Remove the Pan from heating and plunge the contents in the bowl of ice water for 5 seconds to stop the cooking. Allow the caramel to cool until the consistency of maple syrup. Remember, you need to work fast once the caramel cools down.
Assemble : 12 profiteroles are dipped in caramels, one at a time. Arrange them in a circle on a parchment-lined serving platter or baking sheet, using the caramel to stick them together. Continue building the croquembouche by dipping and gluing a small ring of profiteroles on the top of the first. Continue until a classic cone or tower shape is achieved. Drizzle the remaining caramel over the croquembouche to form a cobweb of spun sugar . Press on sugared almonds, metallic dragees for decoration.
It is recommended to serve the cake as fast as possible once made because the risk of collapsing is is possible if left too long, specially during hot weather.
- CLASSIC OPERA CAKE: The Opera Cake recipe is worth the time investment. Make it a showstopper dessert.
Total Time: 110 min.
Preparations: 80 min.
Cook: 30 min.
Yield: 1 Cake (16 servings).
Nutritional Value: Calories: 577, Fat: 38 gms., Protein: 11 gms., Carbs: 50 gms.
For Almond Cake: Egg Whites: 6 Large.
Sugar: 2 Tablespoons.
Ground Blanched Almonds: 2 Cups.
Confectioner’s Sugar: 2 ¼.
Eggs: 6 Large.
Flour: ½ Cup.
Butter: Cool & Melted, 3 Tablespoons.
Instant Espresso: 2 Tablespoons.
Water: Boiling, 2 Tablespoons.
Sugar: 1 Cup.
Water: Normal, 2 Tablespoons.
Vanilla Extract: 1 Teaspoon.
Egg Yolk: 1.
Butter: 14 Tablespoons.
Dark Chocolate Ganache:
Bittersweet Chocolate: 8 Ounces.
Whole Milk: ½ Cups.
Heavy Cream: ¼ Cups.
Butter: 4 Tablespoons.
Bittersweet Chocolate: 5 Ounces.
Butter: ½ Cups.
Almond Sponge Cake: Preheat oven to 425 F’. Line two 15/12 inch pans with parchment paper and brush the surface with butter and set it aside for sometime.
With electric beater, beat the egg white on high till they become foamy and starts expanding. Sprinkle in the sugar, until the whole of it is incorporated in the egg whites. Continue beating until it gets glossy and holds stiff peaks. In a separate bowl, beat the ground almonds, confectioner’s sugar and whole eggsuntil the mixture gets light and foamy. Gently stir the flour in the almond batter. Stir ¼ of the almond batter into the whipped egg white. Fold the remainder of almond batter & the melted,cool butter into the egg whites. Divide the sponge cake batter between the two pans and bake the cake for 5 minutes. Cover the top surface of cake with parchment and invert them on a clean surface. Peel back the old parchment and let them rest loosely over the cakes.
Coffee Buttercream: Stir the espresso and boiling water and keep the mixture aside. Take a medium saucepan and set it for medium heat, bring 1 cup sugar, 3 tablespoons water and 1 tablespoon vanilla extract to boil. Cook till it reaches 255 F’, remove the sugar syrup from the heat and let it cool. Beat egg and egg yolk on a separate bowl until they get fluffy. Continue to beat the mixture and add the hot sugar syrup to the bowl in slow stream. Once the syrup is incorporated, mix in the coffee mixture. Continue to beat on medium-high , add butter, one tablespoon at a time. Once it turns thick & fluffy, the coffee buttercream is complete.
Ganache: Take a saucepan, medium heat, boil milk and cream. Mix in the chocolate and stir for 2 minutes till it gets smooth texture. Stir in the butter and continue stirring it for 90 seconds.
Assemble the Cake: Place a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut 10/10 inch square from each layer of the cake and place it on the baking sheet. Spread ¾ of the coffee buttercream over the surface of one cake. Spread Ganache over another cake in a layer. Place the last layer over the Ganache and spread it with a layer of buttercream. Chill the cake for an hour before glazing.
Glaze: Clarify butter by boiling and skim off and discard solids. Melt the chocolate in a boiler and stir until the glaze is smooth. Pour the choco glaze over the cake and allow it to set in the fridge before serving.
- POACHED PEARS: It is an exceptionally appealing French dessert. It showcases fresh pears poached in Wine syrup until they become buttery soft in a RUBY RED COLOR. The French use it as a way to consume fruits. The recipe of pears in a Wine offers a warming dessert option for a cold night for a family gettogether. Go for a fruit-forward red wine for mixing and pair it with your spiced tea and serve with vanilla ice-cream or homemade whipped cream.
Total Time: 30 min.
Preparations: 10 min.
Cook: 20 min.
Yield: 4-6 Servings.
Nutritional Value: Calories: 286, Fat: 0 gms., Protein: 1 gms., Carbs: 63 gms.
Anjou Pears: Peeled and Cored, 4-6.
Juice of Lemon: 1.
Red Wine: (Zinfandel, Shiraz or Merlot), 1 ½ Cups.
Granulated Sugar: ¾ Cups.
Lemon Juice: 2 Tablespoons.
Lemon Zest: 1.
Vanilla Extract: 2 Tablespoons.
Cinnamon: 2 Tablespoons.
Vanilla Icecream, Mascarpone Cheese.
Steps: Take a bowl, fill with water and lemon juice. Peel and Core the Pears, place in a bowl of water to rest.
Poach Pears: Mix Red Wine, Sugar, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, vanilla extract, zest and cinnamon in a saucepan and boil.
Turn down the heat and add pears. Simmer the pears for 10 minutes on one side. Rotate the pears and continue poaching for additional 10 minutes until tender. Remove pears and cool them. Bring back the wine sauce and cook until the liquid gets half.
Assembling: Place a pear in a bowl, add a stream of sauce over it, place a scoop of ice-cream, cheese besides pear. Garnish with Dark chocolate shavings or mint leaves. Serve and enjoy.
So guys, here comes an end to our tasty and finger-licking recipes. Hope you all love knowing about it and do not forget to try it, this Christmas. You can also try re-creating the recipes as per your creativity and taste. Welcome your guests with a FRENCH surprise and show them the level of your creative cooking.