I’m just back from a weekend in France with my family.
I’m feeling fresh and motivated and totally excited about the next few months ahead – a winning result from a weekend escape.
It’s been a long almost unbearable winter in Holland. Every day wearing as many layers as humanly possible and avoiding any opportunity to venture outdoors into the wild wind and cold. I don’t think I have ever been more excited to reach warmer climates.
I arrived in France on Friday and swiftly made a change out of my double layered socks, jacket and jeans. And spent the rest of the weekend swanning about in a cotton dress and sandals.
At 29 degrees each day in the beautiful south of France, having a skip in my step was an understatement!
We spent most of our time inland from the coast in a town called Aix en Provence. Then back to the seaside for a day in Marseilles.
After long hours of touring the french cobbled streets and visiting historic monuments, we ate. It became the theme for our weekend – walking and dining. On one day we stopped at as many as 8 cafes and restaurants…. including of course a couple of bars for ‘degustifs’ at the end.
I absolutely adore are the pastries in France. No other country makes them quite like the French.
Waaaaaaaaay back when I was a little girl, I remember my papa bringing me home treats from the patisserie. My favourite was always a pain au chocolat. My brother and I would split the pastry down the centre and take our time slowly eating our side of chocolate. Even now as an adult, I still eat my pain au chocolat in the same way – though this time my bro has to get his own.
When I’m away, I never hold back for the sake of ‘dietary requirements’. I believe in life you must indulge in the good things from time to time. Healthy options and nutrient rich food are important in your day to day life but it’s also important to give yourself a break and enjoy the delicious options this big ol world has on offer…. “Pourquoi pas?? nous sommes en vacances!!”
Because this blog is a health focused journal, I don’t have a pain au chocolat recipe for you today but I did come up with a sweet little pastry using some ripe pears we had on the boat.
I’ve used normal ‘full fat’ puff pastry for this recipe, but if you want a healthier option you can try my spelt and coconut puff pastry recipe here.
Apple, Pear and Cinnamon Pastry Squares
2 green apples, cored peeled and chopped into chunks.
2 pears, cored peeled and chopped into chunks.
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup water
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly shaved nutmeg
2 sheets of frozen puff pastry or make your own spelt and coconut pastry
1 egg, lightly beaten to brush over finished pastries
*Diamond shaped pastry roller, see note.
Pre-heat the oven to 200°C.
Put all filling ingredients into a saucepan and boil down until liquid has become a thick syrup and the fruit are brown and soft. Usually about 20 minutes or so.
Lay the defrosted pastry out flat and cut into squares – you will need two squares per pastry.
Using the pastry roller, cut one piece into shape and keep the second one flat.
Note: If you dont have a pastry cutter, you could cut thin strips of pastry and cross hatch the top layer like a pie.
You will need to work quickly as the pastry is hard to work with when it softens too much. I usually keep my un-used squares on a tray and leave in the freezer whilst I work on one pastry at a time.
So with your bottom layer, brush with eggwash. Place a small amount of the filling in the centre. Take your top diamond cut layer and stretch slightly for bigger diamonds. Lay over the top of the filling, and press in at the sides.
Wash over the whole pastry with eggwash and if you need to, cut away any rough edges.
Complete these steps with the rest of the pastry squares.
Lay all pastries on a tray lined with wax paper, and bake for approximately 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Serve with creme fraiche, and a pot of tea!