French Blanc-Manger (page 2 of 2)Home >> Recipes
The next day, we moved to the castle's original kitchen, which opens into the banquet room through a secret door. Dan's wife Hanne kindly helped us unmold the blanc-manger into individual plates.
I nearly had a heart attack when I saw the blanc-manger had split in two phases, with the water-rich almond milk predominantly at the bottom - now the top - and the cream soaked with air bubbles firmly at the bottom. We feared a disaster.
With all eyeballing me, I slowly ate a blanc-manger, then another, and then yet another before passing my judgement with a grave composure: This is seriously delicious.
Blanc manger is very sweet and, without a kick, would be quite bland. It needs a touch of acidity and color contrast to work. We bought 2 kgs of red currants and rasberries which we stem ...
... drop into a saucepan ...
... and simmer for a few minutes until really soft. You can add a little sugar but it needs to be seriously tart to balance the sweet richness of the dessert. Don't make it too sweet.
Hanne garnishes each little blanc-manger with a bit of red currant compote.
Out of the 20 little blanc-manger molds we did, we forgot to unmold one (picture). We did not realize this at the time, but fortunately it did not fall on the Préfet de la Meuse but on good old Dan, who made the hypocras and squeezed the milk out of the almonds. Dan told me the glass provided a well-needed note of crunchiness.
I asked for each plate to be garnished with an almond tile to provide crunchiness or texture, as chefs incorrectly call it.
FX Cremel, who sold the castle to its present owner, provides after-sale service by kindly lending a hand to bring the desserts to the table while I'm having a game of hide the camera with Francine, the caretaker's wife.
Some of the French big enchiladas that were sitting around the huge table next to the fireplace were already quite far gone in the appreciation of our hypocras. I managed to draw their attention with the following speech:
I began to speak and said
This dessert, in his modern-day version, gives a brilliant illustration of French culinary genius. It is built around a number of contrast. Color contrast - the white blanc-manger versus the red coulis. Taste contrast - the bland, sweet blanc-manger versus the tart berry coulis. Temperature contrast - the cold blanc-manger against the warm coulis. Texture contrast - the soft dessert verus the crunchy biscuit. This simple dessert is built on this strong architecture of antinomous poles, each calling and answering the other.>
You should have seen their faces when I said «French culinary genius».
The guests rushed to the dessert buffet...
Out of all the dessert we served that day, there is no question that modern blanc-manger was the most tasty. People just kept coming and coming until they could no longer walk. The almond jelly is cold and sweet and has a delicate almond taste with none of that grit you get in your teeth when eating regular almonds. It really captures the soul of the almond and freezes it into a white jelly. The dish works because of the intensely tart red coulis that makes for a stark contrast with the relative blandness of the blanc-manger. White versus red, soft versus hard, sweet versus tart. A simple and powerful culinary statement straight from the Middle Ages.