Did you see Stephanie Blaser’s Impressionism-inspired feast when we posted it a few weeks ago? She shared recipes for fish in foil, accompanied by a side of summer vegetables, roasted in the oven, and both inspired by Impressionist paintings.
Delicious! But we can’t help thinking that it left us just a little hungry for dessert…
Well, long-time friend of THATMuse, Élodie has us covered with this recipe for madeleines, inspired by Francois Boucher’s painting, Family Taking Breakfast. Yum!
Chocolate and Coffee Madeleines, inspired by François Boucher’s Family Taking Breakfast
In this manifesto of bourgeois life, François Boucher shows life in the time of King Louis XV: the attire with lace and silk, the Rocaille style décor… and the clear taste for the exotic.
Do you see that little figure on the shelf? It’s a magot, a small grotesque figure of Japanese or Chinese style, which were popular at the time. You might have heard of Les Deux Magots, a famous café in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Paris, which is named for two of the same type of figurine which live there.
Other hints at this taste for the East are the vase on the console on the left, and the fine porcelain, probably from China, on the red lacquer table.
As for the contents of that china, there have been endless talks about the drink that is being served in this painting. Is it hot chocolate? Or coffee? The hot serving pot, at the exact center of the painting, could be used for either drink. Neither the hot pot or the cups indicate what drink they were intended for, so art historians will have to continue to fight on this one!
Perhaps it was coffee: after all, King Louis XV was a keen coffee drinker, who even had coffee trees planted at Trianon. Both coffee and chocolate were imported from far away, and were therefore expensive and trendy. Tableware like the serving pots and cups we see in this painting was created for these new, exciting products.
But there’s something else unusual about this painting, which we don’t really notice nowadays. At the time it was painted, showing such an image of domestic intimacy and including children was very modern. It’s interesting that mothers – not nannies – are looking lovingly at the children, and that they even have toys made for children (the little horse, the doll).
As for my favourite part of the painting: I love the little detail on the child on the bottom right. She is wearing a bourrelet: a padded headband intended to protect the head from bumps and falls!
Bakes 24 mini madeleine cakes
- 80g butter (1/3 cup or ¾ stick)
- 2 eggs
- 100g granulated sugar (1/2 cup)
- 1 pinch salt
- 120g all-purpose flour (1 cup)
- 4g baking powder (1/3 tablespoon)
- 50g chocolate chips (1/3 cup)
- 12 tbsp instant coffee (could be replaced by 3 tablespoons of coffee extract, or for a different flavour, vanilla extract)
- Gently melt the butter in a saucepan.
- Add the eggs, sugar and salt to a bowl and briskly stir to bring the batter to a smooth, almost foamy consistency.
- Add flour and baking powder, and the melted butter, and stir briskly again. Add chocolate and coffee (save a few chips and 2 spoons of coffee for presentation). Stir and refrigerate for an hour.
- Pre-heat the oven to 230°C (450°F). Take the batter out of the fridge, give it a stir (if it’s too hard, add a tablespoon of milk).
- Grease the inside of the madeleine molds with butter and flour. Turn molds upside down to get rid of any excess flour.
- Fill the molds, not completely to allow rising. Add leftover chocolate chips and coffee powder on top for decoration.
- Cook for 10 minutes in the oven.
- Take out of the mold immediately and let cool on a cooling rack
Élodie Berta is a travel trade pro and licensed guide in all of France. As head of the MICE division of marketing for the Paris Tourist Board, and knows the Louvre and Paris like the back of her hand. We’ve been lucky enough to have Élodie as a friend of THATMuse for many years, since Élodie attended her first THATMuse (then THATLou) hunt at the Louvre in 2012, when we launched the Skull Scouting theme. Élodie tweets about all things Paris at @Paris_by_Elodie.