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A relaxed friendly hands-on cooking holiday in the Dordogne, France
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Dessert Louis XV

I saw this luscious dessert demonstrated by the great and highly regarded chef, Alexis Gauthier, on a cookery programme, and it was love at first sight – for the dessert, not Alexis, that is!

No ingredients were precisely listed and quite a bit of the method was missing, so I had to work it out using experience and quite a bit of trial and error.

My first attempt was a good dessert with all the right bits, but a bit clunky. The second was nearly there, but some elements required further work. The third, though, was right on the money (eh, it's a tough job!).

From the ground up, Dessert Louis XV goes like this: thin chewy hazelnut meringue base, layer of intense crunchy white chocolate/hazelnut Croquante, dreamy chocolate mousse, and a glistening shroud of melted plain chocolate. All given a final regal flourish of edible gold leaf. 

A completely beautiful, unctuous and sexy dish which would be my numero un dessert for a romantic Valentines meal. Seduction on a plate!

Serves six

Nougatine Base (using Italian meringue):
200g skinless whole hazelnuts
250g caster sugar
30ml water
4 large (or 5 medium) egg whites
1 tsp cornflour

Croquante Base:
100g white chocolate
100g hazelnut paste (or Nutella)
2 handfuls Pailette Feulletine (or Rice Crispies or Cornflakes)

Chocolate Mousse
:
100g dark chocolate (70% coco solids)
100g hazelnut paste (or Nutella)
400ml cold double cream

Topping
:
400g dark chocolate (60% coco solids)
Edible gold leaf

Method:

Pre-heat oven to 220°C.
Line a large shallow baking tray with non-stick baking parchment or Silpat.
Have ready six 7cm (W) x 3cm (H) cooks rings or plain metal pastry cutters.

Nougatine Base:
Spread the hazelnuts out on an oven tray and toast in the oven for around ten minutes, or until golden. Remove from the oven, cool for five minutes, then grind finely in a food processor.

Reduce oven temperature to 150°C.

To make the Italian meringue: place the sugar and water in a heavy based saucepan and heat gently to dissolve the sugar. When absolutely no sugar crystals remain, crank the heat up to max and boil to 120°C (use a sugar thermometer).

Meanwhile, in a spotlessly clean bowl, whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks, then briefly whisk in the cornflour.

As soon as the syrup reaches the desired temperature pour onto the egg whites in a steady stream, whisking constantly.

Once all the syrup has been poured, continue whisking for five minutes. The meringue should now be thick and glossy (and taste heavenly!).

Fold the ground hazelnuts into the meringue and spread out evenly onto the lined baking tray to a depth of 4mm and place in the oven. Any leftover meringue can be made into macaroons.

Bake for around ten to fifteen minutes @ 150°C, then reduce the oven to 120°C and bake for a further fifteen minutes.

Remove, allow to cool for five minutes, then stamp out six disks with the cooks rings. Remove the waste meringue and sit the disks - still in their respective rings - on fresh baking parchment.

Croquante Base:
Break the white chocolate into 1cm pieces and place in a heatproof bowl along with the hazelnut paste (or Nutella).

Sit over a pan with 1cm of barely simmering water (making sure the base of the bowl never comes into contact with the hot water) and gently melt, stirring occasionally.

Just before the mixture has completely melted, turn off the heat and allow to finish melting in the residual heat. Stir in the Pailette Feulletine (or Rice Crispies/Cornflakes).

Spread a thin layer of this mixture over the meringue disks to a depth of around 3mm. If there's any left over, eat it immediately!

Chocolate Mousse:
In a fresh bowl, break the dark chocolate into small pieces and add the hazelnut paste. Melt as above, then allow to cool off the heat for ten minutes.

Whip the cold cream to soft peaks and fold in the melted chocolate until seamlessly combined.

Spoon into the rings, making sure there are no air pockets and that the surface is a little proud of the top edge. Scrape off the excess with a palette knife. Again, if there's any left over, eat immediately!

Chill the desserts in the fridge until thirty minutes before you intend to serve (they can be made a day in advance, cling-filmed and kept refrigerated).

To Serve:
Place each dessert over an up-turned tumbler just small enough to fit inside the rings and push the desserts up and out by pushing down on the rings. Place them on a cooling grid set over a tray.

Melt the topping chocolate as above and pour over the deserts completely enveloping the tops and sides. Allow any excess to drip down into the tray.

Allow to rest for five minutes or so.

Place a small sheet of gold leaf in the centre of each Louis XV and serve on individual large white plates.

You have permission to publish this article and recipe electronically or in print, free of charge, as long as the following byline is included (a courtesy copy of your publication would be appreciated):

"Jim Fisher is an English chef who runs www.cookinfrance.com: relaxed friendly hands-on cooking courses in the Dordogne region of south west France. Contact him via: http://www.cookinfrance.com or Tel: 0033 (0)553 302405"

 

 

 

 




       

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5 Day/5 Night Cooking Courses Include:

  • Expert hands-on tuition with British chef

  • All courses conducted in English

  • All cooking ingredients, equipment and aprons

  • A continental breakfast each day

  • Lunch each day

  • Dinner
    (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Friday)

  • Tea, coffee and wine

  • An evening meal on the day of your arrival

  • En suite centrally-heated accommodation

  • Recipe pack containing all the dishes cooked during your stay

  • Entrance fees to places visited

  • Private and secluded pool

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    Some of the things you'll be doing on the cooking course:

    Learn how to cook pastries, breads and soups

    Select and prepare the best fish and shellfish

    Butcher common joints of meat

    Cook classic French and Italian sauces

    Construct modern dressings

    Master the art of stylish contemporary food presentation