Friday, 24 August 2012
Definitely not lost in translation: Chocolate and Banana Clafoutis, ou Clafoutis Chocolat et Banane
Many, many years ago I was really quite good at speaking French and was verging on fluent. Then I decided to study English at university and the whole thing started to unravel. Years of not really engaging with the language began to take its toll and as the visits became fewer, the more my knowledge waned. Fast forward about 10 years or so and my first visit to rural France in too long a time resulted in me just hearing 'noise' which I knew was French, but which meant absolutely nothing to me. Only when I managed to blurt out the phrase 'Est ce que vous parlez plus, plus lentement s'il vous plait' did I manage to cotton on to the odd word. A real fall from grace for the woman who had discussed the works of Jean Paul Sartre, in French, for her A level oral French examination. I was sad. And annoyed.
So, for the recent trip, I decided to immerse myself as much as possible in the language. Searching out French radio on long wave radio, TV5 on the cable telly, Pimsleur French III in the car to and from work, resulting in strange looks from fellow commuters as I sat at traffic lights, remonstrating with an absent Frenchman about my hotel room being dirty. I even rediscovered my gallic shrug, resulting in my losing the panicky squeak when I tried to communicate in a language that was not my own. The result was that I performed a lot better this time around, with about 90% communication and 10% gesticulation. Result!
Anyway, you may be wondering where I am going with this and up to now there has been a distinct lack of recipe mentioned. I was in the supermarket in France just before returning to the UK and I happened upon the magazines. I resist the temptation to buy food magazines in this country because it's a slippery slope. I buy one, I'll buy two, I'll buy them every month and before I know it I'll have piles of them all over the house, but I figured buying a French one would be 1) a one off, and 2) a good way to immerse myself in a language that I had rediscovered a love for and that I wanted to use. So this is what I bought:
...and there are lots of lovely recipes I want to try, but I started with this one, Banana and Chocolate clafoutis.
My alterations to the recipe were few. The original recipe calls for 180ml of milk to be added to the chocolate mixture. I added 60ml because I was concerned about the 'runniness' of the raw batter mixture. I didn't think it would set and so erred on the side of caution. It might have been that my eggs might not have been as 'gros' as the ones called for in the recipe. Either way, I would exercise a bit of caution in case the batter becomes far too runny. I also added a pinch of salt to the batter mix to bring out more of the chocolate flavour.
Several words about bananas. You want ones that are pleasingly yellow and slightly yielding. If they're turning black I don't think they lend themselves to this recipe. You want bananas that are going to keep their shape and not disintegrate to mush. Yuk. keep those for banana bread.
Clafoutis chocolat et banane, translated and adapted from the recipe in the French publication 'Cuisine de Grand-Mere'
Serves Lola, Finn, Mum and Dad, generously.
100g of dark chocolate
50g caster sugar
3 large eggs
2 tbsp cornflour
180ml full fat milk (I used 60ml, see explanation above)
a pinch of salt
3 large bananas
Preheat the oven to 180c (Gas 6)
Melt the chocolate gently in a bain marie or double boiler - basically in a bowl placed over simmering water. Don't let the bowl touch the water or else the chocolate will seize.
When the chocolate is melted, add the butter and combine.
Then, add the sugar. Stir to combine.
Let the chocolate mixture cool slightly, so that it doesn't scramble the egg that you are about to add to it.
Beat the eggs together, then slowly add them to the chocolate mixture. Stir until the chocolate mixture and eggs are well combined.
Add the cornflour little by little, whisking it in and taking care not to create (or leave!) lumps in the chocolate batter. Add a pinch of salt.
Lastly, add the milk to the batter, little by little, until the mixture is well combined. You may want to add less milk.
Butter six ramekins, or one larger souffle type dish (actually, I used a cake pan).
Slice the bananas and place into the bottom of the ramekins or dish.
Pour the batter mixture over.
Place in the oven for 20 minutes for ramekins or 30 mins for a larger dish. The clafoutis is ready when it is set but with a little wobble.
Allow to cool slightly.
I served this with cream and it was tremendous!