Vegetarian food blog featuring nourishing home cooked recipes, creative baking and luscious chocolate.

Teatime in Paris by Jill Colonna and Diamond Biscuits

Diamants

It’s always exciting when a fellow food blogger publishes a book and when it’s a book as good as Teatime in Paris, it doubles the pleasure. French pâtisserie is something many of us aspire to, but believe it’s too complicated to make at home. This book debunks that myth and makes many of these elegant pastries  accessible to us all, as suggested by the subtitle a walk through easy French pâtisserie recipes.

The author, Jill Colonna, is no stranger to French pâtisserie. She lives in Paris and gives guided walks around the city’s best examples. She has also published the much acclaimed book, Mad About Macarons. Macarons are something I’ve never had the patience to master, but as this book has a whole chapter on Parisian Macarons giving detailed step by step instructions, I guess I ought to give them a go. The instructions are well illustrated, but my attention was quickly drawn to the sumptuous pictures of perfect macarons liberally interspersed within the chapter. Jill includes numerous tips such as how to fill a piping bag and how to rescue a runny batter, so I really should stop my excuses and just do it. When I start, top of the list will be Chocolate, Honey & Orange Blossom Macarons, although the Salted Caramel Macarons would be a strong contender. Then again Rhubarb and Poppy Macarons would be perfect for this time of year. 

Teatime in Paris

However, the book is by no means all about Macarons, the fifty glorious recipes include tarts, choux pastries, and millefeuiles. It starts with the quickest and easiest little cakes to make, then moves on to the more technical pastries. The final chapter, A French Tea Party – La Crème de la Crème gives afternoon treats for special occasions which require a little more time and effort. Classics such as Madeleines, financiers and tuiles are not forgotten and I was particularly pleased to see a recipe for canelés which has been on my list to try for a very long time. Le goûter is a French afternoon treat, which in Paris is taken around 4 pm, often with a cup of tea. Jill gives serving suggestions for each recipe along with a tea, or other beverage, accompaniment. Passion fruit and lemon meringue tartlets for example go well with Ceylon or gunpowder teas; wild blackberry millfeuille are best served with a spiced chai tea, a berry tea or even Kir Royal with crème de mûr; and waffles with speedy strawberry-apricot jam require Darjeeling, Earl Grey or iced teas.

Teatime in Paris 2

The book is a total immersion into the Parisian tea time experience as seen by a native Scot who carries you along with her enthusiasm. We are taken on a journey from busy central Paris through the chocolate infused Saint Germain des Près and slightly risqué Montmartre to the elegant 7th Arrondissement and everywhere in between. Jills style is light and humorous and most informative. Each recipe begins with a brief introduction, detailing its history and/or associations and ends with variations on the theme.  The photographs are, of course, mouthwatering and the recipes are varied and interesting; most importantly they’re actually doable.

For those with a trip to the French capital in mind, Jill includes an appendix giving her Favourite Sweet Walks in Paris. This takes you away from the tourist traps and into the authentic cafés, tea salons and pâtisseries where the locals hang out.

If this isn’t enough, you will find plenty more inspiration on Jill’s blog Mad about Macarons.

Diamants

Of course, I had to try out a recipe. I had my eye on the double chocolate tartlets, but Janice over at Farmersgirl Kitchen got there before me in her review of the book. So I thought I’d try something different. Diamond biscuits, or diamants are a sort of shortbread, but the edges are rolled in granulated sugar to give a sparkling diamond border. I just couldn’t help myself and used half wholemeal spelt flour and half plain. The resulting biscuits didn’t much resemble diamonds, but they were easy to make and tasted wonderful; they were crumbly, almost melting in the mouth with a crunchy edge and they were not overly sweet. Next on my list are Mini Tigrés, a rather cute variation on a financier – I just need to get hold of some mini savarin moulds.

Waverley Books has granted permission for me to reproduce the recipe as follows:

Diamond Biscuits (Diamants)
Yields 20
A crumbly shortbread type biscuit with a soft mouthfeel and crunchy edges. The granulated sugar around the edge is meant to resemble the sparkle of diamonds.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
8 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
8 min
Ingredients
  1. 125g butter, softened
  2. 45g sugar (granulated if possible) + 20g granulated sugar for rolling
  3. 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  4. 150g plain flour
Instructions
  1. Mix the butter and sugar until light and creamy, either using a ballon whisk or in a stand mixer using the flat (or paddle) beater. Add the vanilla extract and gradually add the flour. Keep mixing until the batter forms into a ball. (At this stage you could add a different flavour such as cinnamon.)
  2. roll the dough out onto a floured surface, ensuring you roll it as round as possible into a sausage, to about 3 cm (1¼") in diameter. Roll in cling film and chill in the fridge for 25 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180℃/360℉ fan (Gas 6).
  3. Once chilled, roll in the granulated sugar then cut into 1cm-thick (approx, 3/8") discs. Place them on a baking sheet lined with baking paper or a silicone mate and bake for 8 minutes until golden.
Notes
  1. Serve with Lady Grey tea or Darjeeling, the Champagne of teas.
Tin and Thyme http://tinandthyme.uk/
Bloggers Around The World LogoI am really pleased that Bloggers Around the World is all about France this week. I haven’t managed to participate in this challenge for longer than I care to say, so I am sending these diamants off to Chris over at Cooking Around the World.

 

Thanks to Jill Colona and Waverley Books for a copy of this book. I was not required to write a positive review and as always, all opinions are my own.

Comments

  1. Leave a Reply

    Sarah James
    7th June 2015

    Sounds like there’s some great recipes to try, I need to have a go at macaroons too. I love French tea shops, one of my favourite treats.

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      7th June 2015

      Ah yes of course Sarah, you are able to take advantage. How wonderful. I am now raring to visit a French tea shop or ten!

  2. Leave a Reply

    Lucie Aiston
    7th June 2015

    Yummy!! These recipes sound heavenly…. Ive just joined Slimming World so I am going to run off and cry lol!! xx

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      7th June 2015

      Ah Lucie, there is a bit in the book about how Parisian women stay so slim and still eat these treats every day – something I need to learn 😉 Good luck with Slimming World.

  3. Leave a Reply

    Sarah Willoughby
    7th June 2015

    I would love to make macaroons! :O But they are so bleeding hard and all this talk about cream filled pastries is making me hungry- off to waitrose! 😀

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      7th June 2015

      I’ve made plenty of rustic looking macaroons Sarah, but they still taste amazing. I suspect French macarons are for more patient people than I.

  4. Leave a Reply

    Sophie
    7th June 2015

    Sounds like an excellent recipe book to add to my ever-growing collection!

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      7th June 2015

      Definitely worth having Sophie and an excellent guide if ever you go to Paris too.

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      7th June 2015

      I’ve never seen the macaron book Angie, but I’ve heard it’s good. This one definitely is.

  5. Leave a Reply

    Jenny
    8th June 2015

    When I was a child we lived in countries where you couldn’t buy cakes and biscuits in the shops and my wonderful mother used to do vast amounts of baking whenever the school holidays were approaching. This recipe looks very much like one of her “regulars”, although I think she would use Demarera sugar on the outside. They were absolutely scrumptious!

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      8th June 2015

      Ah yes indeed, here’s to wonderful mothers Jenny. We did live in a country where you could buy cakes and biscuits, but my mother would have none of that. Homemade or nothing! Demerara would give these biscuits a lovely caramel flavour. I will try it next time.

  6. Leave a Reply

    Tina @ The Spicy Pear
    8th June 2015

    Shortbread biscuits always take me back to my childhood, whether it was snacking on these while at school, or baking a batch at home with homemade lemonade. And yours look very tasty. I have always been a bit nervous when it comes to french patisserie but this book looks to be helpful in giving some confidence with that

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      8th June 2015

      Shortbread is such a good bake as it’s simple to make, but so delicious. You’ve conjured up a lovely image of shortbread and homemade lemonade. Jill’s book really is a good one and I will be using it to tackle some of the pastries that scare me.

  7. Leave a Reply

    Karen
    8th June 2015

    What a wonderful book, so full of tasty treats and as you say, lovely that it is published by a fellow blogger too! Karen

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      8th June 2015

      It’s made me want to visit Paris once again Karen – as well as visiting you of course!

  8. Leave a Reply

    Jacqueline Meldurm
    8th June 2015

    That first photo just pops Choclette and what tempting looking cookies. The last think I need is temptation in a cookbook like that right now. Maybe once I am slimmer lol!

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      8th June 2015

      Oooh, so glad you like the photo Jac, thanks for saying. I know what you mean about temptation – it’s tough being in love with food 😉

  9. Leave a Reply

    Jen
    8th June 2015

    This sounds like my kind of book. I’ve tried quite a few different patisserie techniques but always keen to learn more. I highly recommend trying macarons at least once. I’ve made them a few times and they can be tricky, I still can’t get a whole batch right but even if they end up a bit dodgy they still taste good 🙂
    The diamants look really tasty, I’ve not seen them before and I like the idea of a sparkling sugar crust round the edge of the biscuit.

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      9th June 2015

      Ah yes Jen, this would be a great book for you. And you are right, I should stop shying away from making macarons so I can see for myself how hard / easy it is.

  10. Leave a Reply

    Chris
    9th June 2015

    First of all, the biscuits look lovely and are for sure good to enjoy at teatime. Thank you for sharing them with Bloggers Around the World.
    Now about the book: It’s coming a bit late, I just have been to Paris a while ago and I don’t know, when I can make it again. Well, I wasn’t too free to do all the things I wanted anyway. Then maybe, there has to be another time.
    You wrote a great review that put the book immediately on my wish list. Concerning macaroons, if I hadn’t far too many interests food wise and otherwise, I had started already my journey on perfecting macarons. Though, I could imagine it with the right kind of guidance …

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      9th June 2015

      Ah, you are obviously meant to go to Paris again Chris and make sure you get some good patisserie whilst you are there. I’m impressed that you started a macaron journey, mine has yet to begin. Glad you liked the biscuits and review – I certainly liked the biscuits 🙂

      Looking forward to seeing the French round-up.

  11. Leave a Reply

    Kate - gluten free alchemist
    13th June 2015

    These remind me so much of biscuits that I used to make as a child called simply ‘demerara biscuits’ because they were rolled in sugar before cutting and baking. I used to adore the sparkly, crunchy edge. So I am certain that these will be as delicious as they look!!

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      14th June 2015

      Others have talked about demerara biscuits – I missed out and know nothing about them. A good excuse for me to make these again using demerara this time.

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