Joyeux Noel, or Merry Christmas in France, our next stop in our Christmas Around the World series. Christmas is a religious holiday and French families celebrate Christmas with a creche (or nativity) in their homes or at church. Carols are sung as baby Jesus is placed in his manger bed.
The three wise men are not placed with the creche until Epiphany Eve, on January 6th. At that time a "Cake of Kings" is baked with a hidden bean inside. The finder of the bean receives a lucky crown and becomes king or queen of the party. We make one every year.
I promised the charges that last night we would make our Cake of Kings. And by golly, a promise is a promise. It was 10:30 when I was finally pulling my little French chocolate almond cakes out of the oven. I put a bean in each cake, since it's no fun to have only one winner. West found his bean immediately and was henceforth known as "King West." But the future Queen ran into trouble. At first she couldn't find her bean, or so we thought. But then we realized that she had EATEN it . A cold hard pinto bean, right in the middle of her beautiful chocolate cake! She laid her head down on the table, and I thought she might actually cry a little. Sneakily, I slipped another bean into her cake crumbs and encouraged her to look again. Tragedy averted! I love it when I can save the day. Queen Sailor, the bean eater, went to bed happy last night. She said she is planning on keeping her bean forever. Take a lesson from the French and make a little cake a kings for the royalty in your family, only take care that the young monarchs spit out their beans.
And one last thing: As testimony that too much work can make one a little batty, I realized that those sables I promised to write about, I'd actually already written about. Sables are sandy and delicious and well worth making. You can roll them in green sugar or red sugar and give them away as Christmas gifts. They are the original slice and bake cookies.Here is the recipe. And here is the cake.
French Chocolate Almond Cake
Estimated Cost: $4.00
I made a half batch and baked it in three 8 ounce ramekins.
4 ounces semi sweet chocolate
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon flour
3/4 cup finely chopped almonds
pinch of salt
Melt chocolate in microwave until just melted. Cream butter and sugar in separate medium bowl. Add chocolate and mix well. Stir in egg yolks. Add flour and almonds, mixing gently. Beat egg whites until stiff and gently fold into chocolate mixture. Pour into 8 inch cake pan (slip in a dried bean or two) and bake at 325 for 45 minutes. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve.
Here are some of my pics from my trip to France last year...
See you in a couple of days with Christmas in Sweden and Sweet Rolls