French chefs have had a love affair with chocolate ever since it was introduced to France from Spain in the early 17th century. Here are four luxurious, chocolate-rich, desserts that you will want to eat again and again
In 1895, a Chambéry chocolatier named Louis Dufour failed to receive a delivery just before Christmas, so he concocted a ganache with cream, cocoa powder and vanilla, and then dipped rough balls in melted chocolate and cocoa. Whimsically named ‘crottes de chocolat’, which roughly translates as ‘chocolate droppings’, the sweets later earned a more elegant name inspired by their resemblance to the precious tuber melanosporum, or black truffle.
This little chocolate pudding, half cake, half molten chocolate volcano, is not to be confused with the rich flourless chocolate cake (known as a gâteau fondant au chocolat) that shares the same name on many menus. Word has it that Jean-Georges Vongerichten, a French chef working in the US, accidently created a fondant au chocolat when he mistakenly removed the cake he was baking from the oven too soon, and when he cut into the centre, a gooey chocolate sauce flowed out. As the mixture was warm with an inviting glossy texture, a new dessert was born.
No matter what style or class of French restaurant – from humble workers’ café to gourmet destination – you will pretty much always find mousse au chocolat on the menu. There are countless variations, but the basic recipe of dark chocolate, whipped egg whites and a little sugar is pretty much universal. Mousse means foam, and it is the combination of whipped egg whites stabilised with melted chocolate to trap the air bubbles that gives this dessert its texture.
An autumn take on the chocolate classic. In The Little Book of Chocolat, the novelist Joanne Harris writes: ‘My French grandmother (or P’tite Mère, as we called her) hated all fruit and nuts except for chestnuts, which she adored. I think she would have enjoyed these chestnut truffles, combining as they do the earthy scent of autumn with the silky sophistication of chocolate.’
Like this? Then check out Classic French desserts you have to try in France – our top 6 picks