Showing posts with label French. Show all posts
Showing posts with label French. Show all posts

Saturday, April 5, 2014

French Custard Cake

From Peg Cochran

The French name for this cake is "Le Far Aux Pruneaux."  Pruneaux I knew meant prunes (although they are calling them "dried plums" now.   Guess prunes had a bad rap.)  Le Far was a new word to me so I looked it up and it means Breton Custard Cake with Prunes.  So the name is apparently a little redundant.  The recipe originated in Brittany, France.  

The recipe came from a charming tea towel my girlfriend gave me.  It is printed with the recipe in French.  I read it over and could do a fairly decent job of understanding it but when it came time to make the cake, I relied on the English translation!

It is a very unusual batter--more like pancake batter than cake batter.  It is supposed to go into a cake pan but there was no way it was all going to fit into my 8 inch cake pan.  So I used a tube pan.  it turned out fine but I couldn't get it out of the pan--had to slice it in the pan and serve it like that.  No biggie because it was delicious!  Reminded me of a clafouti crossed with cheese cake--cakey around the edges and custardy in the center.  

1 cup whole prunes
4.5 cups light tea (I found 4 cups was enough)
1.5 cups white flour
3/4 cup white sugar
4 eggs
3 cups plus 8 teaspoons warmed milk
3.5 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
"Spoonful of rum" (you are on your own as to what a spoonful is.  I measured out a teaspoon but would use more next time.)

Macerate the prunes in the tea for 2 to 3 hours.  

In a large bowl, sift the flour and salt.  Make a well in the top.  Pour in sugar and eggs (I beat the eggs first).  

Add the warm milk to the bowl while constantly stirring.  (Helps to have a second pair of hands or at least a third arm for this.)

Stir in the rum and vanilla.  The batter will be very light and liquid.

Butter your cake pan with half the butter.  Drain the prunes and arrange on the bottom of the pan.  (Note: they will not stay where you put them when you pour in the batter.)  

Pour the batter over the prunes (you can rearrange your prunes now.)  Dot with the remaining butter (butter will sink.)

Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for one hour.  Cake will "fall" after being removed from the oven.

Kalon Digor!  Meaning enjoy in the Breton dialect.  


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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Classic French Dessert: Chocolate Pots de Crème from Cleo Coyle

For many American kids, pudding is something premade in a plastic cup. If you’re really lucky, you’ll have it homemade for you from a cardboard Jell-O pudding box. This was my experience growing up. Sure, I enjoyed plenty of homemade Italian foods (my mom was born in Italy), but pudding was an American thing; and American things were found in boxes and cans, or wrapped in plastic. 

Cleo Coyle, searching for
new things to cover with
chocolate while writing
her next Coffeehouse
When I finally discovered pots de crème, the clouds parted. The sun appeared. I’d found pudding nirvana!

This classic dessert, which translates from French to English as "pots of cream," is not your grade school cafeteria’s chocolate custard. It’s a rich, smooth, sinfully chocolaty experience. It’s also very easy to make. No special culinary skills needed.

BTW, on the subject of pots of chocolate, my fellow crime-writing cook, Mary Jane Maffini, recently gave us a wonderfully easy, no-bake chocolate mousse recipe. If you missed it, you can check it out by clicking here.

My version of this classic French recipe makes approximately six 6-oz servings. This is a generous portion size for the typical pots de crème, but let’s be real. In America, the home cooks’ main concern is: Did you have enough? Would you like seconds? Which is one reason "palate fatigue" is (happily) a non-starter in most American homes.

If you’d like to learn more about the modern gourmet philosophy of palate fatigue, read my sixth Coffeehouse Mystery: French Pressed. You’ll see I have a strong opinion about it!

Cleo Coyle’s
Chocolate Pots de Crème

To download this recipe in a free PDF that you can print, save, or share, click here.

Servings: This recipe will produce 4 cups of liquid to divide among your ramekins, custard cups, or ovenproof coffee cups. Consequently, depending on the size of your containers, this recipe will give you 6 to 8 servings.


12 ounces of good quality semisweet chocolate chopped (or chips)
2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup milk
6 egg yolks (extra large or jumbo size)
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt

Step 1: Melt the chocolate - Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Put your chopped chocolate (or chips) in a metal or glass bowl. In a medium saucepan, heat the cream and milk until it’s just about to boil, but not yet boiling. Pour this hot liquid over your chocolate and let it sit for about a minute until the chocolate is softened. Then stir this mixture until it’s smooth. The stirring will take one to two minutes.

Step 2: Beat the eggs - Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs well, for about 1 minute. Gradually mix in sugar until smooth. Add vanilla and salt. Now gradually beat the chocolate mixture you made (in Step 1) into these egg yolks.

Step 3: Strain and pour into containers - Strain this custard through a fine-meshed sieve (I use a small metal colander). Pour the strained liquid into a container with a spout. This will make it easier to evenly divide the mixture among containers.

Step 4: Prepare for Baking - Place the cups in a shallow baking pan. Carefully fill the pan with boiling water until it reaches about halfway up the sides of the custard cups (or ramekins or ovenproof coffee cups).

Step 5: Cover and Bake - Cover pan with foil, seal ends, and pierce in several places so that steam can escape. Bake for about 25 - 35 minutes in the center of your 300 degree F. oven until the tops of the pots de crème look solid, but the custard still jiggles slightly when you shake it. Don’t worry; the custard will firm up as it cools.

Note on Cooking Time: The smaller your cups, the quicker your custard will set. The deeper your cups, however, the longer your custard will take to set. If your custard still has a liquid top after 35 minutes, then turn up the oven temperature to 325 degrees F. and bake another 10 minutes. (If you use cool or room temperature water, rather than boiling water for the water bath, the cooking process may take longer, as well.)

Step 6: Chill, baby! - Now carefully remove the hot pots from the oven and the hot pan and let them cool to room temperature before placing in the fridge. After they come to room temperature, make sure to cover these with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming. The custards should be chilled at least 3 hours before serving.


Because this is a classic French dessert, many versions exist in cookbooks and on the Internet. For variations on this basic recipe, reduce the vanilla to 2 teaspoons and add 2 tablespoons Kahlúa (or try dark rum, Grand Marnier, or coffee syrup).

Coffee syrup can be bought pre-made. It can also be made from scratch. My recipe can be found by clicking here or turning to the back of the fifth Coffeehouse Mystery Decaffeinated Corpse.

For many more ideas on variations
for French pots de crème,
click here and have fun! There are some wonderful ideas there.

Eat with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle, author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

To get more of my recipes, win free coffee,
or find out more about my books, visit me
 at my *virtual* coffeehouse:

Click on the book covers above
to learn more about Cleo's culinary mysteries.


A final, quick note for our mystery reading fans.
The latest Mystery Readers Journal with the theme Hobbies, Crafts, and Special Interests is now available.

The issue, edited by Mystery Fanfare's Janet Rudolph, includes many mystery authors who have guest posted for us over the past year. You can check out the contents by clicking here, which will also give you info on how to purchase a copy (hard or electronic) for yourself.