Holiday Gift Idea! Drinking French Bar Boxes from Slope Cellars and K & L Wine Merchants

What better way to send off 2020, and kick off a brand new year (…which, fortunately, is just around the corner…) with a gift for yourself, or for someone special, of a Drinking French Bar Box! I’ve teamed up with two of my favorite spirit shops to offer specially-curated bar boxes with a selection of French spirits and apéritifs. And to sweeten the pot, for…

What better way to send off 2020, and kick off a brand new year (…which, fortunately, is just around the corner…) with a gift for yourself, or for someone special, of a Drinking French Bar Box! I’ve teamed up with two of my favorite spirit shops to offer specially-curated bar boxes with a selection of French spirits and apéritifs. And to sweeten the pot, for a limited time, each bar box includes a bookplate signed copy of Drinking French.

Slope Cellars wine and spirits shop in New York includes a bottle of Old Forester Bottled-in-Bond Rye, Forthave Red Apéritif Bitters (a small-batch red bitter apéritif, made in Brooklyn), a bottle of Citadelle gin, the first gin made in France, and a demi-bottle of Dolin sweet vermouth from the French alps, as well as a copy of Drinking French. With those bottles, you’ll be able to make several drinks in the book, including my favorite cocktails, the Boulevardier and the Americano, a low ABV apéritif that’s perfect for easy-going holiday sipping.

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Chocolate, Rye & Amaretto Yule Log

Thanks to Doves Farm for sponsoring this post Every year for Christmas I make the Christmas Day dessert and, for the past few years, I’ve ended up making some kind of yule log. It’s such a great cake to have for festive celebrations – there are so many flavour combos you can do with the cake, filling and glaze, and so many ways to decorate it. I stick with the same roll cake recipe from my mum’s family cookbook and just adapt it differently each time. This year I’ve made things a bit fancier & sophisticated by using Doves Farm Organic Wholemeal Rye Flour (available from Ocado, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and dovesfarm.co.uk) and a touch of cocoa in the sponge. The rye flour really helps to create the softest sponge and highlights the earthy nuttiness of the cocoa powder too. Doves Farm is the UK’s #1 organic flour brand (Kantar Worldpanel 52 w/e 21 April 2019) who produce a range of amazing flours, from traditional types like plain white and self-raising, to their ancient grains range which includes rye and spelt. To add extra layers of chocolatey-ness I included melted dark chocolate in the whipped cream filling which is also spiked […]

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Thanks to Doves Farm for sponsoring this post

Every year for Christmas I make the Christmas Day dessert and, for the past few years, I’ve ended up making some kind of yule log. It’s such a great cake to have for festive celebrations – there are so many flavour combos you can do with the cake, filling and glaze, and so many ways to decorate it. I stick with the same roll cake recipe from my mum’s family cookbook and just adapt it differently each time.

This year I’ve made things a bit fancier & sophisticated by using Doves Farm Organic Wholemeal Rye Flour (available from Ocado, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and dovesfarm.co.uk) and a touch of cocoa in the sponge. The rye flour really helps to create the softest sponge and highlights the earthy nuttiness of the cocoa powder too. Doves Farm is the UK’s #1 organic flour brand (Kantar Worldpanel 52 w/e 21 April 2019) who produce a range of amazing flours, from traditional types like plain white and self-raising, to their ancient grains range which includes rye and spelt.

To add extra layers of chocolatey-ness I included melted dark chocolate in the whipped cream filling which is also spiked with Amaretto for that boozy hit. If you’re serving it to kids though, feel free to replace the alcohol with some brewed, cooled coffee with a touch of almond extract.

The most satisfying part about making this cake is the glaze – just a simple milk chocolate ganache – which you get to pour over the cake, enrobing it in a shiny, glistening coat. I decorated this with flaked almonds, some snowflake sprinkles and edible gold dust but a simpler option is to fork through the ganache (once set) in long streaks to give it a ‘tree bark’ texture and then dust lightly with icing sugar ‘snow’. It always looks so festive and fun when decorated like that I think!

Chocolate, Rye & Amaretto Yule Log

Chocolate, Rye & Amaretto Yule Log

Yield: serves 8
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Additional Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Ingredients

Filling:

  • 200ml double cream
  • 30g dark chocolate (70% cocoa), melted
  • 4 tbsp Amaretto

Ganache:

  • 100ml double cream
  • 100g milk chocolate, finely chopped

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C fan. Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking tin (or baking tray with high sides) and line with a piece of baking paper. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl whisk the eggs and sugar using electric beaters until pale, fluffy and tripled in volume.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the rye flour, white flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa powder. Stir with a fork or whisk to remove any lumps. Add this all to the bowl of beaten eggs and fold together gently using a spatula until just combined.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and spread out gently into an even layer. Bake for 12-15 minutes until puffed and pale on top. Run a knife around the edges to loosen the cake from the tin as needed.
  5. Dust a clean tea towel with icing sugar and flip the cooked cake out onto it. Trim off the very edges of the cake (they’re crusty so don’t roll well) using a pair of scissors or a sharp knife. Gently peel away the baking paper then, starting at a short edge, roll the cake up with the tea towel (almost as if the tea towel is the filling of the cake). Leave the rolled cake seam side down to cool completely at room temperature.
  6. Once the cake has cooled, make the filling by whipping the cream until billowy but still forming soft peaks. Fold in the melted chocolate (make sure it has cooled a bit before folding in) followed by the amaretto.
  7. Make the ganache by heating the cream in a small pot until gently steaming. Place the chopped milk chocolate into a small heatproof bowl and pour the steaming cream over the top. Let sit for 5 minutes so the chocolate can melt then stir together until completely smooth. Set aside at room temperature so it can thicken slightly – you want it to be the texture of a thick glaze so it’s still pourable but not super runny.
  8. Carefully unroll the cooled cake and spread the filling all over the surface of the cake. Re-roll the cake and place onto a wire rack set over a baking tray.
  9. Pour the cooled ganache over the cake and leave so that the excess glaze drips off onto the tray below. Once the glaze has stopped dripping, use a metal spatula to transfer the cake to a serving platter. You can serve it now or chill for up to 24 hours before serving.

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Rye Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies

Rye Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies
There are many different types of flour that can be used in cookie recipes. Whole wheat flour, oat flour, coconut flour and almond flour cover just a few of the options. In this recipe, I’ve used some rye flour. These Rye Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies are a wonderful way to expand your chocolate …

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Rye Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies
There are many different types of flour that can be used in cookie recipes. Whole wheat flour, oat flour, coconut flour and almond flour cover just a few of the options. In this recipe, I’ve used some rye flour. These Rye Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies are a wonderful way to expand your chocolate chip cookie repertoire. The cookies are tender, buttery and loaded with chocolate chips – complimented by the unique flavor of rye. If you’re a fan of oatmeal cookies, but haven’t had rye flour before, that will give you a little more of an idea of what the flavor profile is like.

Rye flour is milled into flour from rye berries and you’ve probably seen it used most often in rye and sourdough breads. Rye is nuttier and slightly more sour (a flavour that you’ll really only see in sourdough breads – so don’t let that put you off!) than wheat flour. It also contains less gluten than wheat flour. In breads, this means that loaves are denser than those made with only wheat flour. In cookies, less gluten means that the cookies will be more tender. Rye also tends to absorb a bit more liquid than wheat flour, so I recommend pressing the cookies down slightly before putting them into the oven to ensure an even spread.

The cookies themselves come together quickly and easily. Chocolate chunks or coarsely chopped chocolate is going to give you the most rustic look to the cookies and ensure you get plenty of chocolate in every bite. I used dark chocolate that was coarsely chopped, however semisweet chocolate chips will get the job done efficiently, as well.

I topped the cookies with a pinch of flaky sea salt before baking. It brings out the nuttiness of the rye and adds a mouthwatering contrast to all those chocolate chunks. I like to make them a bit bigger and a bit thicker than some of my other cookies to get the most rye flavor. If you want a slightly smaller cookie (1-inch of dough), reduce the baking time by 1-2 minutes. The cookies should be baked until they are just set and allowed to cool on the baking sheet until they’ve firmed up. They’re ready to eat right away and will keep for a couple of days in an airtight container once they have cooled.

Rye Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup rye flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups chocolate chunks
1 tsp coarse or flaky salt, for topping

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, rye flour, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla extract until smooth, then gradually blend in the flour mixture until dry ingredients have been completely incorporated. Stir in chocolate chunks until well-distributed.
Shape into 1 1/2 inch balls (I used a medium-sized cookie scoop) and arrange on prepared baking sheet, allowing about 2-inches between cookies for spread. Gently press each cookie down to flatten slightly. Sprinkle with flaky salt.
Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until cookies are set around the edges and have a hint of gold to them. Allow to cool on the baking sheet for 4-5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

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Vieux Carre cocktail

This post was originally published in 2013, which I updated and revised. It’s part of an online “L’heure d’apéro” or Happy Hour that I’ve been doing on Instagram Live on my IGTV channel most evenings at 6pm Paris time (which currently is 1pm ET, 10am PT) where I’m making a favorite cocktail live in my kitchen and responding to reader’s comments while I mix and…

This post was originally published in 2013, which I updated and revised. It’s part of an online “L’heure d’apéro” or Happy Hour that I’ve been doing on Instagram Live on my IGTV channel most evenings at 6pm Paris time (which currently is 1pm ET, 10am PT) where I’m making a favorite cocktail live in my kitchen and responding to reader’s comments while I mix and shake. (The videos get archived on my Instagram page in my Stories, which are available to watch up to 24 hours afterward, and in my Feed, which are there indefinitely.

In the live videos I’m also talking about French spirits, a few of which are used in this cocktail, the Vieux Carré. I’ve brought this cocktail post up to the top here on the blog, and I’ll be bringing others up others, as well as sharing other types of recipes that I hope you’ll find helpful during this time when many of us are housebound. (Tonight, March 26th, I’ll be making the Jasmin Cocktail if you want to tune in. Thanks! – David

A Vieux Carré is supposed to have Peychaud’s bitters in it. It was at the tippy top of my shopping list when I wanted to make this cocktail. I had the rye whiskey in spades, as well as the other ingredients, but the bitters eluded me.

But I went to four liquor stores that specialize in cocktail liquors and spirits in Paris and three didn’t have it. And the fourth was inexplicably closed for some sort of fermeture exceptionnelle. There was no sign, no nothing, so I don’t know. I peered through the darkened windows to see if they had the bitters on any of the shelves but couldn’t get a glimpse of the bitters selection, so went home empty-handed.

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