I love holidays, I love food and today I’m coming at you with a truly winning combination: winter holidays + french desserts = Festive French Foods. Seriously, what can beat it?
Galette des Rois
Every year Galette des Rois (King Cake) is making appearance at the end of December, and I get more excited than I probably should. Galette des Rois is a frangipane tart which consists of layers of puff pastry filled with almond cream. French people have Galette des Rois on January 6 to celebrate Epiphany (“Three Kings’ Day”), the celebration of the revelation of God the Son as human in Baby Jesus. Three kings came to give him their gifts.
But Galette de Rois is not just a cake. In each Galette des Rois there is a little charm (“la féve”) hidden inside. It can be a little porcelain figure of Jesus, Virgin Mary or Prophets, or just a pretty little thing. The rules of the game: the youngest child of the family hides under the table and tells the person who is cutting the cake who should get which piece. Whoever finds the charm in their piece of galette becomes the “king”/”queen” and puts a paper golden crown (comes with each Galette des Rois) and “rule” the family all day.
The charms I won through the years.
(Boulangerie; boulangerie; Lenôtre Collection Jean Cocteau; Ladurée Collection The Beauty & The Beast)
I think it’s an adorable tradition, and every January I get really excited of winning the paper crown. Although it’s not that hard to find a good Galette des Rois as they are sold in ANY boulangerie during the festive season, I recommend you going to a place like Pierre Hermé or Ladurée as their féves are always gorgeous. Just check what féve you are going to get before buying a galette.
The traditional iconic almond galette as we know it and this year charms
Galette des Rois aux Amandes: Lenôtre 2016
Galette des Rois Fragonard Fleur d’Oranger: Lenôtre 2016
Galette des Rois Mandarine Pecan: Ladurée 2016
An interesting take on Galette des Rois: La Pâtisserie Cyril Lignac 2016. Brioche dough with candied fruits and orange blossom flavour, sugar grains, pistachio nuts and orange peels
Candied glazed chestnuts were created during the reign of Louis XIV. The first recipe can be found in Le parfaict confiturier book written by François Pierre La Varenne in 1667. Nowadays you can find these treats everywhere from the most chic Sweets shops like Fauchon and Pierre Hermé to supermarkets Monop’ and Franprix. Marrons glacés have a pretty specific taste of sweetened chestnuts with a hint of alcohol (usually whisky) and can be eaten on their own as a mini dessert. Crème de marrons is a staple ingredient for other desserts, such as the famous Mont-Blanc and other cakes, seasonal ice creams and macarons.
Mont-Blanc – the signature pastry and pride of Angelina since 1903.
“If you haven’t experienced a FAUCHON candied chestnut yet, you know nothing of the subtlety and sweetness of life – the perfect finesse of the glazing… the tender softness of the chestnut… nothing… nothing at all.” – Fauchon describes the beauty of marrons glacés way better than I do.
Bûche de Noël
(In English-speaking countries Bûche de Noël is known as Yule log)
There is absolutely no Christmas without this buttercream cake in the shape of a log. The original recipe appeared in the 19th century – the cake came in a form of a swiss roll frosted with chocolate buttercream to look like tree bark.
Of course, there is a story behind such an interesting festive cake. Back in the days Celtic tribes were celebrating the Winter Solstice at December’s end by burning a massive tree trunk on the shortest day of the year. This way they were celebrating the long awaited rebirth of the sun. The days were becoming longer and winter was going to end. Then the Christianity came but people were still burning a small log on Christmas Eve. It was a symbol of getting rid of all the bad things that happened that year. The symbol of renewal and joy.
Nowadays almost every French family/person is getting a Bûche de Noël for Christmas. There are two options: a cake (a small one or a shareable one) or an ice-cream cake. And then you have three options: to go to a known pâtisserie maison (Ladurée, Pierre Hermé, Café Pouchkine, Lenôtre), your local trusted boulangerie or a supermarket (the biggest choice of ice-cream cakes).
Bûche de Noël Mandarine: Pierre Hermé 2015
Bûche de Noël Royale: Ladurée 2015
Bouchette Marie Antoinette Rose: Ladurée 2015
Bûche de Noël Macaron Pistache: Ladurée 2015
Bûche de Noël Célébration: Lenôtre 2015
Bûche de Noël Sous la Neige: Lenôtre 2015
Last but not Least
In Paris when you want a good coffee, you go to a café. When you want a fancy caramel brulée gingerbread syrop whipped cream “coffee” you go to Starbucks. Each year the people get excited about the new seasonal Starbucks drinks, and you just have to go and try them all. I mean, each of them. At least once.
I’d be happy if you guys told me abut your favorite festive foods! Even if you don’t like desserts. Even if you love “unfestive” festive food. Tell me everything.