Recipes from Château Vaux-le-Vicomte
by Countess Cristina de Vogüé
The Château Vaux-le-Vicomte has had a long (and sweet) history of luxury and aristocracy, from its mid-17th century beginnings as the home of Minister of Finance Nicolas Foquet to its purchase and restoration by wealthy sugar industrialist Alfred Sommier in the 19th century. Its current owners, Comte Patrice de Vogüé (grandson to Sommier) and his wife, Countess Cristina de Vogüé (an Italian diplomat's daughter), moved into the château shortly after their marriage in 1967, and opened the grounds to the public in 1968. Equal parts scrapbook and cookbook, Decadent Desserts peeks into the sweet life of the countess and her years hosting visitors, friends and family in her beautiful Vaux-le-Vicomte home.
Borrowing recipes from countless nannies, chefs, family members and friends, de Vogüé compiles her favorite dessert recipes into this elegantly photographed book. Her childhood was nothing if not chocolaty—there are no less than seven chocolate cake recipes, though most of them are very similar to each other. Most of the desserts are classically French, including mousses, gateaux and plenty of fruit tarts, though there are some interesting Finnish and Indian-inspired recipes.
No dessert is too difficult to make, but don't expect any healthy renditions of cakes or tarts. As is the French tradition with desserts, it's all about decadence: sugar, eggs, butter and cream. But such opulence is of no surprise: would you really expect anything less from the Château Vaux-le-Vicomte?
Grandmother's Chocolate Cake
4 to 6 servings
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour
9 ounces (250 g) dark chocolate (70 percent cocoa solids)
2 sticks and 2 tablespoons (250 g) butter
1 cup and 2 teaspoons (250 g) sugar
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon butter and sugar, for greasing
Vanilla cream, to serve
Preheat the oven to 350˚F (180˚C). Melt the chocolate, butter and sugar, stirring in a pan to prevent it from boiling. Mix 4 egg yolks into the tablespoonful of flour, then stir into the chocolate mixture and pass the mixture through a sieve. Bea the whites until soft and creamy and fold into the preparation. Butter a cake pan and sprinkle with sugar. Cook in the oven in a bain-marie for 1 hour. Allow to cool. Remove the cake from the pan and top with whipped vanilla cream before serving.
Reviewed by Nancy Huang