A STAGE*, A DISH: WALNUT AND CHOCOLATE CARAMEL PIE

La Tour-du-Pin (Isère)-Villard de Lans (Isère), 09/15/2020



Yesterday’s stage finished in Villard-de-Lans on the plateau du Vercors.

The name Vercors irresistibly reminds of the maquis du Vercors, one of the most heroic and tragic episodes of the French Resistance actions during WWII. “Maquis” originally refers to a type of thick scrubby evergreen underbrush constituting a true maze for those not familiar with the area. Because of those “qualities”, maquis areas became some of the favorite sites to host French resistance groups. By extension, maquisards designate people who would be called guerrilleros in other areas and maquis the theatre of their feats. Thus, maquis du Vercors designated a rural group of the “French Forces of the Interior” (FFI) that resisted the 1940–1944 German occupation of France in World War II. The Maquis du Vercors used the prominent scenic plateau known as the massif du Vercors (Vercors Plateau) as a refuge. Initially the maquis carried out only sabotage and partisan operations against the Germans, but after the Normandy Invasion on 6 June 1944, the leadership of an army of about 4,000 maquisards declared the "Free Republic of Vercors," raised the French flag, and attempted to create a conventional army to oppose the German occupation. The allies supported the maquis with parachute drops of weapons and by supplying teams of advisors and trainers, but the uprising was premature. In July 1944 as many as 10,000 German soldiers invaded the massif and killed more than 600 maquisards and 200 civilians. It was German's largest anti-partisan operation in Western Europe during World War II. In August 1944, shortly after the battle for the Vercors, the area was liberated from German control by the American army allied with the FFI.

Yesterday, the Vercors was the theatre of a much more pacific battle with the win of… a German racer in Villard-de-Lans.

The Vercors and the whole département of Isère around Grenoble are famous for their walnut production. To such a point as à la grenobloise refers to a dish involving walnuts. I made this very decadent walnut pie inspired by a recipe seen on a TV program. Just read the composition of the filling: walnuts, of course, milk, sugar, honey, chocolate morsels, cacao nibs, heavy cream… and butter as a final touch!

* During the Tour de France, combining two of my passions, biking and cooking, I will try to present (almost) every day a recipe from the route followed by the peloton.


Levels of difficulty

Cost

Preparation

Resting

Cooking

n

 

$

60 minutes

>12 hours

120 minutes


Ingredients 8 servings

 

For the pâte sablée (shortbread-type dough):

§  250g flour

§  125g sugar

§  125g butter

§  1 whole egg + 1 egg yolk

§  1 pinch of salt

For the caramel:

§  4 tbsp milk

§  100g sugar

§  20g milk chocolate morsels*

§  20g cacao nibs*

§  100g honey

§  200g crème fraîche

§  230g walnuts

§  20g butter

 

* The original recipe called for 30g of dark chocolate. Here, I replace it by milk chocolate and cacao nibs… 

Instructions

 

§  In a bowl, mix the flour and the sugar. Add the cold butter progressively in small dices and mix the whole. Add the egg, the yolk and the salt, and knead quickly to form a ball. Let rest for 30 minutes in the fridge

§  Place the dough on a parchment paper sheet. Roll it with a pin. Place it without removing the paper in a pie mold. Remove the excess dough on the edges. Cover with parchment paper, place weight (dried beans or marbles) and bake for 25 minutes in a 350F preheated oven

§  Remove the topping paper and bake for another 10 minutes at 350F

§  Pour the milk and the sugar in a wide saucepan, add the chocolate morsels, the nibs and the honey. Heat for 5 minutes over very low burner, keeping on stirring

§  Add the crème fraîche. Simmer the mixture over low burner while stirring regularly for 20-30 minutes or till the mixture coats the spoon and smells.. like caramel

§  Add the walnuts and cook for another 5 minutes over medium burner while stirring

§  Off burner, add the butter and stir it till melted

§  Pour the walnut caramel in the crust and even it with a spatula

§  Let it cool down at room temperature, then put it in the fridge for 30 minutes if you serve it immediately... after removing the bottom parchment paper! Otherwise, take it out of the fridge 30 minutes before serving it.

 


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