Anything to do with chocolate

Madame de Sévigné on Chocolate

Published by Tuesday, December 1, 2015 Permalink 1

What to Eat in France: Marquise de Sévigné on Chocolate

by Jonell Galloway

Marie de Rabutin-Chantal, born the Marquise de Sévigné, was one of France’s most prolific letter writers of the seventeenth century. Known often as simply Madame de Sévigné, she was known for her love of chocolate, although her letters of 1671 reveal that she sometimes had a love-hate relationship with it.

In her letter of February 11, 1671, to her ailing daughter, Madame de Grignan, she wrote:

“You’re not feeling well, did you not sleep? Chocolate will make you feel yourself again. A thousand times I have thought: she has no chocolatier near her, poor child. What will you do?”

Letter of May 13, 1671:

“I beg you, my dear soul, my beautiful, to not eat any more chocolate. I’ve turned against it myself. A week ago I suffered from 16 hours of colic that gave me an acute kidney infection.”

Letter of October 25, 1671, when Madame de Sévigné’s daughter, who was pregnant, continued to follow her mother’s earlier words of advice:

“Chocolate, what can we say about it? Aren’t you afraid you’ll burn your very blood? All these miraculous effects, do they not hide something obscure?”

Letter of October 28, 1671:

“I wanted to reconcile myself with chocolate. I ate some the day before yesterday to help me digest my dinner and enjoy my supper. I ate some more yesterday just to get a little nourishment and to help me fast until evening. It had all the desired effects: this is why I find it so pleasant. It does what it is intended to do.”

Translated by Jonell Galloway, from Lettres de l’année 1671

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What to Eat in France: Mentchikoffs

Published by Tuesday, September 22, 2015 Permalink 0

What to Eat in France: Mentchikoffs, Chocolate Specialty of Chartres

by Jonell Galloway

Despite the Russian name, Mentchikoffs are a specialty of Chartres. There are only four or five chocolatiers who still make them because the process is time-consuming. You won’t find them in restaurants, only in chocolate shops.

Mentchikoffs have a praline and chocolate center and a crunchy dried Swiss-style meringue coating. They are almond-shaped and usually weigh from 10 to 12 grams.

This candy is said to have been invented by a famous confectioner named Dausmenil in 1893 in the rue de la Pie in Chartres. This was a period when everything Russian was the rage, from Russian salad to Russian jewels, after the signing of the Franco-Russian military alliance of 1894. Mentchikov, the son of a pastry chef and an apprentice bread baker, had been the aide-de-camp of Czar Peter the Great in the early eighteenth century. Dausmenil almost certainly named his chocolates in honor of the Russian of the same name.

mentchikoffs from Loos pastry shop

 

 

 

 

 

In 1900, Dausmenil sold his shop, along with the recipe, to a confectioner called Genet. There are records mentioning his mentchikoffs in 1930, along with the mintchikoffs of Mme Nessler in the rue Marceau.

It takes several days to make a mentchikoff — anywhere from 3 to 7 — because each step is followed by a period of drying. The almonds and hazelnuts are crushed and oven-dried. The water and sugar is then heated to 121°C. Off the burner, the nuts are added to the sugar mixture and then put back on the burner to caramelize. This mixture is then crushed into a fine powder to make the praline.

The praline is then mixed with melted butter and the chocolate added. This mixture is left to dry in a special drying frame and later cut into 7- to 8-gram candies which are shaped by hand.

One side of the chocolates is then soaked in the meringue, then removed and dried. This procedure is repeated for the other side. The finished mentchikoffs are then dried one last time and packaged in cardboard boxes.

Mentchikoffs are eaten after a meal with coffee.

 

 

 

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Food Art: Chocolate Hunting Dress, Salon du Chocolat Zurich, Switzerland

Published by Monday, April 2, 2012 Permalink 0
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Food Art: Flourless chocolate cake, food photography by Steve Homer

Published by Tuesday, February 21, 2012 Permalink 0

Our ongoing series of tapas photos from our latest food artist discovery: food photographer Steve Homer of Sabor de Almería in the southeast of Spain.

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The best chocolatiers in Paris: a list to keep forever

Published by Wednesday, August 3, 2011 Permalink 0

The best chocolate addresses in Paris: a list to keep forever

The top 20 chocolate makers in Paris, including addresses, websites and telephone numbers. A list to keep in your pocket as you wander around Paris.

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