Wednesday, August 31, 2011

White honey and dark chocolate cake

Posted By on Wed, Aug 31, 2011 at 7:41 AM

At a dinner at a French friend's house this past weekend, I encountered two new-to-me food items that I figured I'd share: white honey (Miel de Printemps) and a traditional French cake called Trianon (Le Trianon) or Royal (G√Ęteau Royal).

First up, the white honey: My friend gifted me a small sampler package of different honey flavors (determined by the flowers the bees visit) from Italy, and also let me sample some of her specialty French honey.

Some of the darker flavors like eucalyptus and chestnut were quite strong and a bit off-putting, while the orange, lemon and honeysuckle were easy favorites, as was the acacia honey, similar to Florida's famous Tupelo honey in that it supposedly never crystallizes.

The honey on the left is a chestnut honey. The white honey is a spring honey. And the one on the right is a more typical wildflower honey.
  • Matthew Schniper
  • The honey on the left is a chestnut honey. The white honey is a spring honey. And the one on the right is a more typical wildflower honey.

As for the white honey, all my friend could tell me is that it's a spring honey, leading me to guess that whatever the bees happen to be feeding on at that time, in that particular region, has a unique property to give it the marshmallow-like coloring. Its texture is also more like a whipped honey that you'd buy at the grocery store, a little more tacky and solidified than lighter, more syrupy honey.

I can't be positive that there isn't something being done with this honey (like whipping), because of the language barrier and lack of descriptive labeling. But in looking at this list of monofloral honeys (those made from the nectar of one plant), it appears that perhaps this white honey could be a pure alfalfa varietal, or maybe pure clover — but much different than what we see as alfalfa and clover here in our stores.

Now, for the cake: Per how my friend makes hers, it's basically a thick chocolate mousse layer dusted with raw cocoa powder above an equally thick crunchy praline layer and a thin, soft dough layer.

France never looked so good (to me) as it did when captured in chocolate mousse by my friend this past weekend.
  • Matthew Schniper
  • France never looked so good (to me) as when captured in chocolate mousse by my friend this past weekend.

Most of the ingredients she used to make the Trianon, including a primo Belgian cocoa powder, she either bought imported or brought back home on a recent trip. But based on this similar-looking recipe I just found online, it looks like you can use some easy-to-find substitutes like Nutella to compensate for the most authentic ingredients. Though you'd probably have to tinker with making your own version of the Gavottes pictured on the page.

Especially because of the textural contrast between the soft mousse and crunchy praline, it's a fun dessert to eat and feels extra gourmet and delicate. The hazelnut flavor, in particular, stands out. Though it's a far cry flavor-wise, it reminded me of the kremowka I ate in Poland because of the fine layering and overall impact.

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