Courtesan au Chocolat

Courtesan au Chocolat

Charming and quirky and full of bad language. Accurate descriptors both for The Grand Budapest Hotel and the outcome and process one goes through to make its star pastry, the Courtesan au Chocolat.

The fictional courtesan is baked at Mendl’s Bakery by the lovely Agatha, whom the Grand Budapest Hotel’s lobby boy Zero Moustafa comes to love dearly. It’s Zero’s boss, the Hotel’s concierge M. Gustave, who loves the Courtesan au Chocolat. And the wealthy octogenarian ladies who stay at the Hotel love M. Gustave.

Are you sensing a level of complexity here? I won’t go into the murder, stolen painting, prison break, homicidal henchman, and the state of the country Zubrowka on the brink of war that makes up the rest of the story then. I’ll stick to telling you about the Courtesan au Chocolat.

Courtesan au Chocolat

Most likely inspired by the French pastry the Religieuse - a two-tiered choux bun filled with pastry cream or vanilla custard (i.e. a profiterole) that is glazed with chocolate ganache and held together by a whipped cream collar – religieuse is also the French word for nun. A courtesan is not a nun, but I won’t get into that either.

The dessert version is three layers of pastel-glazed pastry filled with chocolate cream, held together with layers of blue icing and decorated with filigree of white chocolate. Filigree is the real man’s drizzle. What on earth would possess on to make one of these at home?

Boredom. Insanity. A case of the “it seemed like a good idea at the time”s. Or bloggers.

Courtesan au Chocolat

I could not turn down an invitation to team up with 15 incredible bloggers to bring you an awesome giveaway in honor of the Academy Awards next Sunday, February 22. Each of the participating bloggers has prepared an Oscar-themed recipe, and they’re up for best recipe. Vote for your favorite, and one lucky reader will win their choice of an Amazon Fire TV, an Apple TV, or a Roku 3 streaming media player. The winner can catch up on the year’s best films, and the blogger who receives the most votes for their recipe will receive $50. Below you will find the entire Oscar Noms party menu and all of the giveaway details.

Courtesan au Chocolat

Despite its intricacies and seemingly impracticability, this recipe does have a place in your kitchen. Probably not three tiers filled with chocolate and dipped in a sugary glaze, but break down the components to make something new. The pastry and filling are basic cream puffs. The pastry can be sliced in half like a mini sandwich bun, filled with something savory like a chicken salad, and voilà, you have yourself a cute little teacake. I also think these would be cute at Christmas time. Picture all three tiers dipped in green and decorated as festively or plainly as desired.

If you go ahead as presented here, I think it is important to know the things no one will tell you about making Courtesan au Chocolat. Things such as, you will wipe down your kitchen at least three times during the process, and it will still be sticky. You can leave The Grand Budapest hotel playing in the background while you make these. Twice. And like the movie, you will experience something colorful, extravagant, and complex. Enjoy, and good luck!


Courtesan au Chocolat
 
Author:
Serves: at least 16
Ingredients
  • For the Pastry
  • 1 cup water
  • 8 tablespoons butter, cut into large cubes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • For the Filling
  • 1½ cups whole milk
  • Several pieces of good quality, semi-sweet chocolate (I used a heaping cup full of pieces)
  • 3 egg yolks
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch (plus more if the filling requires thickening)
  • For the Glaze
  • Confectioners sugar
  • Milk
  • Vanilla
  • For the Decoration
  • White chocolate bark
  • For the Assembly
  • Buttercream frosting
  • optional: blue food color and sprinkles or cocoa beans
Instructions
  1. To make the pastry, bring the water, butter, salt, and sugar to a boil in a medium-size saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Remove the pan from the heat and mix in the flour.
  3. Return the pan to the heat and stir until the dough forms a single lump. At first you might think this is not going to happen, but them bam, it does.
  4. Allow the dough ball to cool so that is warm but not hot enough to cook the eggs when they are added. Slowly stir the eggs into the pan with a strong wooden spoon.
  5. When the mixture is incorporated, pipe the pastry (or just use a tablespoon) onto three baking sheets lined with parchment paper. The dough should be the size of a tablespoon on one sheet, the size of teaspoon on the second sheet, and the size of hazelnuts on the third (sizes are approximate - no need to overthink this step).
  6. Bake the pastries at 350 degrees F for 20-40 minutes until they puff up and start to brown. Because the dough is different sizes, it will finish baking at different rates. I kept the large pastries in for 40 minutes, followed by the medium at 30, and the small at 20.
  7. When done, remove the pastries from the oven and gently pierce the bottoms with a knife to allow the steam to escape. The pastries will be hot, but do this as soon as you can handle them without burning yourself.
  8. To make the filling, heat the milk and the chocolate in another saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring frequently so the mixture turns into a chocolate milk. Take care to keep the heat low so the milk does not scald on the bottom of the pan.
  9. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar, cocoa powder, flour, and cornstarch into a smooth mixture.
  10. Add half of the hot chocolate milk to this bowl, stirring constantly.
  11. Now add this mixture back into the rest of the hot chocolate milk, stirring over low heat until the mixture thickens to a custard. If you need to add more cornstarch to thicken the filling, do so (I ended up adding three additional tablespoons over the course of stirring). If you add additional cornstarch, the mixture will clump. Don't panic, just whisk, whisk, whisk until it smooths out again.
  12. Remove the chocolate filling from the heat and chill for at least hours.
  13. Once cooled, spoon the filling into a pasty bag and pipe into the large and medium pastry balls.
  14. Next it's time to glaze the filled pastries. There is really no consistent way to provide measurements for the glaze, but you will need to mix the confectioners sugar (sift it so it does not create clumps), a dash of vanilla, enough milk to achieve the desired consistency. The glaze will need to be thick so it does not run right off the pastries when dipped. Even then, you may need to dip the pastries twice to achieve the desired look.
  15. Separate the glaze into 3 small bowls and add food color to each – one lavender, one green, and one pink.
  16. Dip the large pasty in the lavender glaze, the medium pastry in the green, and the small pastry in pink. Dipping them to the mid-line is sufficient, though you can dunk the whole thing if desired.
  17. When the glaze dries, decorate the balls with filigree of melted white chocolate. If you can call what you see here a filigree, what you can do to imitate it is to melt a few bricks of white chocolate bark, pour the melted bark into a pastry bag fitted with a small round tip, and pipe away.
  18. Finally, oh finally, assemble the dessert. Pipe or place a dollop of (preferably) blue frosting atop a large pastry ball. Take a medium size pastry ball and press it gently on the large ball so it stays in place. Repeat this step with placing one of the small balls atop the medium.
  19. Pipe a small butter cream star on the top and place a sprinkle or a single cocoa bean on the star as a garnish. Or at this point, just leave the star on top and call it a day.
Notes
It is highly recommended you have a few pastry bags and tips on hand to pipe the pastry onto a baking sheet, fill the pastry with the chocolate cream,
decorate with the white chocolate, and create the butter cream star. I used Wilton tips 12, 230, 3, and 21. You may notice the lack of a buttercream frosting recipe. You could whip some up with confectioners' sugar, butter, and a dash of vanilla and milk for consistency, or like me, just buy a tub.

The Oscar Noms Party
Menu & Movies

Appetizers
Pork Tenderloin Sliders – The Judge
Aged Cheddar & Apple Grilled Cheese – Boyhood
Pull-Apart Pepperoni Pizza Bread – Whiplash
Asparagus Rolls – Into the Woods
Texas Guacamole Quesadilla – The American Sniper
Magic Garbanzo Beans - Into the Woods

Desserts
Nutella Mochi – Big Hero 6
Rocket Raccoon Cake – Guardians of the Galaxy
Texas Peach Crisp Skillet – American Sniper
Camouflage Mini Cheesecakes – American Sniper
Courtesan au Chocolat – Grand Budapest Hotel
Butterscotch Pudding – Gone Girl
Chocolate-Covered Cherry Granola – Wild

Cocktails
Pink Lady Cocktail – Grand Budapest Hotel
Black(berry) Hole – The Theory of Everything
Oscar Chambord Royale – The Theory of Everything
The Blueberry Wish – Into the Woods

Oscar Noms Party Giveaway

Meet The Bloggers!

Anne from Wit Wisdom and Food // Beth from bethcakes // Cat from The Rustic Willow // Cate from Chez Catey Lou // Erin from The Speckled Palate // Ginnie from Hello Little Home // Grace from Think Fruitful // Jenna from A Savory Feast // Katie from Twin Stripe // LeAndra from Love & Flour // Leia from Eat It & Say Yum // Linda from Brunch with Joy // Madison from The Wetherills Say I Do // Meghan from Cake ‘n’ Knife // Molly from Hey There Sunshine // Susannah from Feast + West

Oscar Noms Party Giveaway

Giveaway Rules

  1. Enter the giveaway through the Rafflecopter widget below. Everyone gets a free entry! You can also enter multiple times by following the giveaway sponsors on social media. (If you’ve followed in the past, that counts! Just enter the info as prompted.) All entries will be verified. No purchase is necessary to win.
  2. The giveaway is open until Sunday, February 22, 2015 at 11:59 p.m. EST. One winner will be chosen at random and emailed within 48 hours. Winners must claim their prize within 48 hours of initial contact. The retail value of the prize is $100. Prizes shown in the graphic are the only ones available.
  3. Open to U.S. residents with a valid shipping address only. Must be 18 years of age as of February 16, 2015.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Marshmallow White Chocolate Krispie Treats

white chocolate marshmallow krispie treats

Each year as Valentine’s Day nears, I sense more animosity than actual cheer. Whether I have a Valentine or not, I am a believer in cheer. You know why? Because after February 14th there is Februray 15th, and February 15th brings chocolate to its knees at 50% off. I am ready!

In the past, I made you a mixed tape and cupcakes for Valentine’s Day. One year I baked honey cookies for the lovers and decorated red-velvet shortbreads like pigs for the haters. My Valentine offering to you today are crazy easy but crazy good marshmallow white chocolate krispie treats and a collection of my favorite quotes on love (or thereabouts).

This basically means I could not find the words to fill this page, so I rifled through my quote book and found the words of  others to put down. Here they are:

white chocolate marshmallow krispie treats

“I said what I always say at weddings. That two people fall in love and decide to see if their love might stand up over time. If there might be enough grace and forgiveness and the occasional memory lapse to hold their love together.” -Anne Lamott, Some Assembly Required

“She was forced to consider the startling truth that the love of her life might not actually be someone with whom she could spend a lifetime.” -Jodi Picoult, The Tenth Circle

“She was a dull person, but a sensational invitation to make babies.” – Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five (The “or thereabouts” I referred to above).

“‘I love you,’ I say to my son, slipping away, but who should hear these words again if only to be able to recall much later on, ‘Somebody said that to me, and nothing since then has really seemed quite as bad as it might have.'” – Richard Ford, Independence Day

“You can be miserable before you have a cookie and you can be miserable after you have a cookie, but you can’t be miserable while you are eating a cookie.” ― Ina Garten

Go eat some cookies. Happy Valentine’s Day!

white chocolate marshmallow krispie treats

Marshmallow and White Chocolate Rice Krispie Treats
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1 package (10 oz) large marshmallows
  • 6 cups puffed rice cereal
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • Optional:
  • Valentine’s Day sprinkles
  • small pink marshmallows
Instructions
  1. In a large pan over medium heat, melt the butter then add the large marshmallows and melt them too.
  2. When the mixture is smooth, pour it over the puffed rice cereal and mix until well coated. Alternatively, you could save yourself a bowl to wash by removing the pan from the heat and stirring the cereal into the butter-marshmallow mixture.
  3. Add the white chocolate chips and continue to mix until everything is combined.
  4. If you are making these treats for Valentine's Day, now is the time to add as many sprinkles as your heart desires. Stir in the pink marshmallows, if using, in this step too. They will not melt all of the way, which is just fine.
  5. Press the mixture into a buttered 8 x 8 glass dish. This process will be much less frustrating if you spray a light mist of non-stick cooking spray over your hands before working with the mixture.
  6. Allow the bars to cool before slicing.
Notes
Using an 8 x 8 dish makes for thick treats. Feel free to use a 9 x 13 dish if you prefer thinner squares. As for the sprinkles and marshmallows, I tend to find "sturdy" sprinkles like the heart and lip-shaped ones pictured here or "jimmies" hold up better than the colored sugar variety of sprinkles. A bag of only pink marshmallows is also difficult to find, but sorting the pink marshmallows out of a bag of multi-colored marshmallows is not at all difficult (although it is a bit time-consuming). Save the leftover orange, yellow, and green marshmallows for a pastel pan of treats in the coming spring.
 

Thoughts on ClassPass with Throwback Thursday Yoga Cookies

Class Pass

“Writing is something I enjoy, and sometimes people enjoy my writing.” That line is tucked away somewhere in one of many online profiles. I share it with you here as I hope you agree; today there is no new recipe, but there is plenty of writing. Let’s begin.

Late last year I received an email with an invitation to try the monthly membership service ClassPass. New to Charlotte in 2015, ClassPass provides members in cities across the country the opportunity to work out at any participating studio for a flat fee. Members can sweat through as many classes per month as they would like, but they can only visit the same studio up to three times each month.  You can read up on all the nitty-gritty ClassPass details here.

Because Love & Flour is primarily a food-focused blog, I was hesitant about accepting the invitation. I was not asked to write one word about ClassPass, but when I am offered something, I always do. Would people who read a food blog like to read about fitness? Ultimately, I decided that since food and health are inextricably linked, wandering down the fitness path did not seem too far off.

If I were to start posting pictures of myself modeling the latest and greatest fashion trends, that should raise some eyebrows. Writing about how it is I “stay so skinny” when I “bake all those cookies” seems reasonable given I am often asked, “How do you stay so skinny when you bake so much?”

For the record, I’m not that skinny. I am 5’ 7” tall and weigh 150 pounds. This is 10-12 pounds heavier than where I feel most comfortable, and I’ve been wrangling with those 10 pounds for the past year. A lack of exercise without a change in my eating habits, coupled with some professional stress that I’m convinced raised my cortisol levels past a healthy threshold, led to the weight gain. Also, I am now on the wrong side of 30, and that is not helping matters.

The good news for me is I’ve always been fairly active, so getting back into the swing of things in terms of exercise is not a huge obstacle.  When the weather gets nice, I cannot wait to get outside and run (okay, okay, it’s really a run-walk situation I have going on). Other than that, I am a yoga girl. If I had a swimming pool in my backyard, I would be a swimming girl, but for now, I am on a run and yoga plan.

That said, when ClassPass rolled into town, I started with what I know.

Farmers Market Spoils

Yoga Oasis – Teaching Bikram, this studio offered a yoga style much different than the vinyasa flow I have been doing the past few years. I felt like I worked, but also like I stretched more than usual. This will not be my go-to style of yoga, but it will be something I return to on a regular basis. Not to mention the studio owner Lee is quite possibly the nicest human being I have ever encountered.

Yoga One – Now, this is what I know. Moving for 60 minutes in a sweltering room while going back and forth between thoughts of “this feels great” and “for the love of all that is great and holy, get me out of this pose.” This studio is often mentioned as one of the most-loved in town. My ClassPass experience was the first time I tried it, and I agree with the masses that this studio is top-notch.

After yoga, I did something radically out of character.

Jazzercise – I have no rhythm. As much as I might link to think I have moves, in reality, I have none. Aerobics classes and I have never been a good match. Add choreography, and my good heavens, watch out. I preferred the strength classes where participants used hand weights or rubber tubes to create resistance throughout the class more than the standard Jazzercise. And the instructors were awesome. Now that this is out in the open, I will never speak of it again.

I finished my month of workouts by doing something I had never done before, and unexpectedly, fell completely in love.

Inspire Pilates – Perhaps I should clarify. I am in love with the classes at this studio. They call their version “Pilates on Steroids”, and compared to the one traditional Pilates class I took after this experience, I think they are right. These classes may not be difficult for some people, but they were crazy hard for me. The scene went something like me working my muscles to exhaustion, me dropping my weights because my muscles were quivering like a block of Jello, me laughing because I was delusional with fatigue but while at the same time thinking “holy sh!t” before I kept going. Meanwhile, the instructors are doing all of the same moves while shouting out instructions because they are kick-butt women. I loved it when they yelled, “You got this!” I’d hear that and think, “You have no idea what you are talking about, but okay.” It was the most difficult but yet the most fun thing I have done in a long time.

Farmers Market Spoils

So, that was my ClassPass experience. You may have noticed that classes resembling boot camp and barre are absent from my list. There were a number of great studios offering these classes, but for reasons I will not elaborate on, they are not my thing. I’ve tried them both, but seriously, not my thing. If you would like to know more:

So, am I a ClassPass customer? No, not yet. That has more to do with the things I already have than it does with ClassPass. For instance, I cannot yet justify the cost of a monthly subscription when I have 59 (59!) yoga classes paid for and ready to use.

I am also not sure if my preferred exercise – a casual run outdoors when the weather gets nice, yoga, and now Pilates – warrants a membership in a city the size of Charlotte. If l loved boot camp or barre, then absolutely, I would join; there are number of great studios that offer great classes participating in ClassPass. Or if I lived in New York City where there is seemingly no end to the studios available, then absolutely, I would join.

My only real frustration with the service was that not all studios made their full class schedules available. For instance, I never got in to Flywheel, and Yoga One offered their late evening, not their early evening, class.  Still, I think ClassPass brings something nice to Charlotte.  If you have tried it, what do you think?

Farmers Market Spoils

Need a post-work snack? These yoga cookies – originally shared as vacation cookies in June 2012 – will take away your hangries.

Yoga Cookies
 
Author:
Serves: 16-18
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup canola or similar oil
  • ½ cup agave syrup
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups rolled oats
  • ½ cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
  • ½ cup raisins (I used golden)
  • ½ cup chocolate chips
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
Instructions
  1. Whisk together the flour, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl and set aside.
  2. In a separate bowl, stir together the oil, syrup, and vanilla.
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until combined.
  4. Fold in the oats, coconut, raisins, walnuts, and chocolate chips.
  5. Scoop 1½ to 2 tablespoons of dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets, then gently flatten the dough with the palm of your hand.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-14 minutes until the edges of the cookies are golden.
Notes
This recipe was first shared as "Vacation Cookies" on June 27, 2012.

The original recipe indicated 1½ cups whole-wheat pastry flour can also be used in place of all-purpose flour. The recipe also indicated maple syrup could be used in place of agave syrup. I opted to omit the walnuts indicated above, and instead used ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips and ½ cup milk chocolate chips.