Joyeuses Pâques

Easter in France, like many religious holidays, is not as much about going to church as it is about spending time with loved ones and – of course – eating.

Everywhere you go in Paris, pastels, bunnies, and chickens greet you. Instead of pastel M&Ms, you can indulge in some mini egg-shaped Kinders.

Chocolate bunny

Chocolate bunny..sorry about your ears, Bud

Nest treats

Nest treats

My friends and I headed over to Stohrer (the home of the nests above) in the 2nd arrondissement for some wandering on the Rue Montorgueil a few days before Easter. Even with the entire street packed, it seemed that everybody in France came to this one bakery. With a line like that out the door and a date of establishment from the 18th century, you know this place has got to be good.

Stohrer's

Stohrer box

I heard about Stohrer from a link I found on Pinterest with the best sweets to try in Paris. It apparently has the best Puits d’Amour, or wells of love.

Delicately in their box

Delicately in their box

“Wells” are exactly what they are; when you break open their caramelized top crust, there is a well of cream waiting for you. The best way for me to describe this dessert, besides drool-worthily delicious, was that it’s like a mini crème brûlée with a flaky crust on the bottom. What could be so bad about that?

Stohrer Puit d'amour

Stohrer Puit d'amour

If you’re in the second arrondissement definitely pick up one of these treats. Oh, and don’t forget a flaky, dense, buttery croissant while you’re there.

Stohrer
51, Rue Montorgueil, 75002

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Chocolate Crackle Cookies

I drank milk every day with every meal my entire life. It wasn’t hard since my mom gave us the option of “milk or water, water or milk” when we asked for apple juice at dinner. Nevertheless, I wasn’t a water drinker until probably middle school.

with milkThough I don’t find myself sitting down with a cold glass of milk often, sometimes it’s just exactly what I need. Water just doesn’t do it after a peanut butter sandwich. Birthday cake? A “snort” of milk, as my dad would say (definition of a “snort” in my house: about an inch or two of milk; probably a code word for a “shot” when we were too young to learn about alcohol measurements). And of course, the American classic: cookies with milk.

In Paris, there are amazing desserts and pastries on every block. But cookies don’t really exist here. I made Martha Stewart’s Chocolate Crackle Cookies this past weekend that screamed for a glass of milk. They were basically brownies disguised as cookies, and though no one can master my sister’s boyfriend’s brownies, these might become a regular occurrence.  They were just sweet enough to be called a dessert, but weren’t tooth-achingly sugary. They were slightly crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside. Plus, this recipe makes a ton! It makes 4 logs of dough, and 1 log makes about a dozen cookies. A good way to exercise at least some portion control (though it was hard to convince myself that these weren’t truffles that could be eaten raw).

cut into 1 inch pieces

cut into 1 inch pieces

log of dough

Log of dough out of the fridge

rolled out log of dough

Log of dough rolled out

This was my first experience baking in France, the land of measuring in weight as opposed to volume. This recipe converted really well, and after a few searches on the internet, here are my suggestions:

  • 8 ounces of bittersweet chocolate: I used 1 200 gram bar of Nestle Corsé chocolat noir. I added 2 teaspoons of sugar when I melted it in the double boiler (1/4 teaspoon for each ounce). It ended up being deliciously bittersweet.
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder: I used one packet of “levure chimique.”
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter: about 113 grams
  • 1 1/3 cups light-brown sugar: I did 1 1/3 cups of regular sugar, plus a heaping teaspoon of molasses. (It’s about 1 teaspoon of molasses for each cup of sugar. If your recipe calls for dark brown, it’s about 1 tablespoon per cup.)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract: I used a packet of sucre vanillé (comes in a similar packet as the baking powder).

Though American recipes calls for a bit more effort, this one is definitely a hit. Just don’t forget a snort of milk!

Recipe via Martha Stewart

Mardi Gras

Fat Tuesday.

Masks from a trip to New Orleans 2 years ago

Masks from a trip to New Orleans 2 years ago

These words have rung in my head since I was a little girl. Every Mardi Gras, my mom would make breakfast for dinner –  fluffy pancakes, her famous homemade hash browns, bacon galore – in anticipation of the forty days of observance leading up to Easter. Resolutions usually consisted of giving up chocolate, which turned into a contest with my classmates of who could last the longest.

Similarly to Christmas, many Christian holidays turn from religious observance to something a bit more platonic. What used to be resolutions to devote yourself to God turn into New Years-type resolutions: easier to keep because they’re only 40 days, not 365. Though perhaps some of the religious connotation has been lost, Lent remains a time to acknowledge your faults and make resolutions to better yourself as a person in waiting for the resurrection of Jesus on Easter.

I’ll take this opportunity to focus on myself: walking (not metroing) around Paris as much as I can, snacking only on fruit, and having (gasp) only one cup of coffee per day.* But more than just cutting things out, I’ll be purposefully committing one selfless act every day, truly treating others the way I would want to be treated, and enjoying every moment that I’m here in Paris.

To prepare committing to our resolutions,my sister, her boyfriend, and I attended a pop-up brew pub with New Orleans flare. For just 3o€, we got 3 courses, 3 beers, and live Cajun music. It was the perfect way to spend a usually low Sunday in Paris and made us all want to pick up and move right down to the Bayou. Enjoy the pictures below, and happy Fat Tuesday! Eat up!

* Addendum: I did this last year, too, and I apologize in advance to anyone who crosses my path during the first couple of days.

Sunday Beer Lunch, New Orleans Menu:

Entree:
-Mini Pimento Cheese Crackers
-Mini Muffuletta
-Mini Shrimp Remoulade
Beer: Saison Dupont

DSCF0664

Plat:
-Jambalaya with smoked chicken and cajun sausage)
Beer: Brooklyn East India Pale Ale

DSCF0708

Dessert:
-Beignets with apricots and chicory sauce
Beer: Meantime Chocolate Porter

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P.S.: Movie recommendations for this time of year include Chocolat (Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp living as outsiders in a small, pious French town during Lent) and The Princess and the Frog (for some Mardi Gras inspiration, Nawlens Style).

Brown Sugar Chocolate Ganache Bars

My favorite kind of dessert definitely has chocolate. It’s small, but if I wanted more than one, it would be within reach. It’s light and dainty and won’t make me feel guilty, but is the perfect end to a meal. Exhibit A: Ganache-Filled Brown Sugar Bars. They are exactly the kind of thing that I crave. I made them with the gluten-free flour that I talked about here. I will make sure to set you up with a link for that really soon because it really is the BEST stuff around!

Recipe courtesy of Dana Treat via Pinterest