Sweet Thoughts in the Mail

A Taste of France (From Left to Right--Palets bretons, Galette des Rois Tart Mix, Organic Guérande Sea Salt with Herbs, and Confiture de Lait)

I decided to try another food-related mail swap.  One of the best things about traveling for me is the chance to try out new foods.  Since we don’t have any immediate vacation plans, I thought I would give my taste buds a trip around the world instead.  While I wait for my package to arrive, I thought I would show you what I chose to send.  Unfortunately, my partner didn’t want fish/seafood items (what this part of France is known for in particular), so I went for a more dessert-themed package instead.  I hope she enjoys everything.

Despite the no-fish request, I wanted to put at least one or two things from Brittany in my package.  The cookies are palets bretons, dry thick buttery cookies that can be found all over the region and are made with salted-butter.  They are perfect with tea or coffee for a snack.  Nibble on the cookie, eat all the crumbs and pretend you’re on vacation!  Feel like making one yourself?  Here’s a basic recipe to get you started.  First, using a mixer, mix 2 egg yolks with 80g sugar in a large bowl; add 80 g butter (room temperature) and continue to mix.  Next add 140g of flour, a pinch of (Guérande) sea salt and half a package of baking powder (6 g).  Using your hands, make a log out of the dough.  Cover it in cling wrap and place it in the fridge for 2 hours.  Cut the log into cookies and bake in a pre-heated 170°C oven.  If you don’t want your cookies to spread out too thin, bake them in a muffin pan.

The Organic Guérande Sea Salt with Herbs was my other Breton touch.  Guérande in southern Brittany is famous for its sea salt.  Anthony and I have visited the salt marshes and watched the workers harvest the salt.  It’s a thousand-year old tradition and a delight to cooks everywhere.  I chose a flavored version designed for vinaigrettes, vegetables and grilling.  I’ve become very salt-conscious especially since having the girls but still enjoy sprinkling a bit of Guérande on our food!

The tarte mix is for a Galette des Rois one of my favorite holiday desserts.  I’ve already blogged about this January French tradition earlier this year but couldn’t resist sharing it with my partner.  If you look at my older post, you’ll find a do-it-yourself recipe.  With the mix, you simply add 100 g melted butter and 60 ml milk to the prepared mixture and pour it into a tart shell lined with puff pastry.  Cover the batter with another sheet of puff pastry, paint with egg wash and then bake in a 180°C  oven for 30 minutes.  I make most of our desserts by hand as I enjoy baking but there is something to be said for convienence baking from time to time!

Confiture de lait, literally milk jam, is similar to soft, thick, spreadable caramel.  Originally from Normandy, you can now find it in grocery stores all over France.  To make it, milk and sugar are brought to a boil and then left to simmer for several hours until they reaches the desired consistency.  You can also add a touch of vanilla extract or vanilla bean seeds and a pinch of salt to the basic milk/sugar combo for a fuller taste.  While not hard to make, it is a bit time-consuming and I often just pick up a jar when I’m needing my calorie-fix for the week.  Spread it on crêpes, toast, a baguette, or your Sunday morning brioche and you will be in for a treat!  If you can’t make it to France, bring 1 liter of whole milk, 350 g of sugar, and one vanilla bean (cut in half) to a boil.  Reduce the temperature and let it simmer for 1.5-2 hours until it turns caramel colored.  Stir the mixture every 10 minutes or so to keep the bottom from burning.  Remove the vanilla bean pods before pouring your confiture de lait into a glass jar for safe-keeping.

What would you try first?  Anything tempting your taste buds?

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One Response to Sweet Thoughts in the Mail

  1. SarahF says:

    Oooh, that was very interesting (and appetizing) to read! Thank you for sharing, it’s always so great to read a bit more about the swaps others send and the thoughts that went into them. 🙂

    And the answer to “Anything tempting your taste buds?” is pretty short for me, I guess: Everything! 😀 I definitely think I’m going to try at least one of the recipes you wrote down!

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