Tuesday 11 January 2011

Recipe: Almond Marquises

Elegant, light, dinner-partyable, and delicious. As a dessert form, marquises went out of fashion ages ago - I think the last time I saw a recipe for one was in one of Michel Guerard's books, more than twenty years ago - and IMHO they are long overdue for a comeback. This particular version comes from a collection of recipes from Normandy published in 1976 by somebody called Ray Compas (no idea who he or she was, since beyond this particular collection, there was just one other book of dessert recipes, and that constituted the full Compas oeuvre).

My one word of warning concerns the quality of the langues de chat used to line the ramekins - there are plenty of versions of these biscuits commercially available, and I've found that some of them are so light in construction that they effectively dissolve into the marquise filling, and when you come to unmould the marquises, the biscuit 'casing' has disappeared. Not a complete disaster, but the appearance of the marquises is compromised somewhat, and you lose the 'bite' of the biscuit shell, in comparison with the smoothness of the filling. If you can't find good quality langues, then making them is not difficult - Julia Child has a perfectly reliable recipe in Volume 2 of Mastering the Art .

For four individual Marquises:

Ingredients: 125g Butter; 125g Sugar; 125g Ground Almonds; 250 ml Milk; 1 tsp Vanilla essence; 3 Egg Yolks; approx 150g langues de chats


1. Cream the Butter with the Sugar (I use an elctric whisk for this); once properly creamed, add to this the Almonds and continue beating until thoroughly amalgamated.

2. In a separate pan (or simmertopf), heat the Milk with the Vanilla, then pour onto the beaten egg yolks in a bowl; mix together, then return the mixture to the pan and continue cooking gently, to make a light custard. Leave to cool, then mix into this the almond-butter-sugar mixture.

4. Grease 4 individual ramekins, and then line the base and sides of each one with langues de chat (cut the ends off with a knife if necessary, before lining the ramekins, in order to have a good clean fit and to ensure the ends of the biscuits don't stand proud of the side of the ramekin).

5. Fill each lined ramekin with the almond mixture; cover the base with remaining biscuits, then place in the fridge for several hours to firm.

6. Run a small knife round the edge of each marquise in order to loosen from the ramekin before unmoulding onto individual serving plates.