People who know me would tell you that it's hard to tell which I like more: gardening or cooking. I'd say it depends on which I'm doing at the moment. Anyway, French cooking and French gardening go hand in hand. For me, cooking is an on-going adventure. Join me here on my culinary explorations, where I share with you both my old favorites as well as new inspirations. It's my fondest wish that these recipes serve as a springboard for your own new creations.
01/09/2008 Authentic walnut rocks of Villaine (Véritables rochers de Villaine)
1/2 lb. very fresh walnut meats 3.5 ounces confectioner's sugar pinch of salt 2 egg whites A few drops natural almond extract
Preheat the oven to 250 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
Grind the walnuts with half the confectioner's sugar in a food processor until fine but not oily. Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until firm peaks form. Gradually beat in the remaining confectioner's sugar put through a sifter until the peaks are glossy. Gently fold in the ground walnuts and the almond extract. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto the baking sheet, 2 inches apart. Bake for about half an hour. The cookies should be chewy and not at all browned.
Note: This Christmas I received a wonderful gift. Marie-Hélène Métézeau, who makes most of the baskets for sale on this website, sent me an adorable little basket chest filled with these delicious walnut macaroons. She lives in Villaines-les-Rochers, a Loire village where traditionally nearly all the inhabitants made baskets. A river flows through the village, and many species of willow are still grown on its floodplain. The village backs onto bluffs (rochers) honeycombed with caves, all of which were once inhabited. Villaines was a troglodyte village. Marie-Hélène's entire family are still involved in basket-making. Her baskets are simply the most beautiful I have ever seen, and her work keeps alive rare traditional basket forms. In Villaines, these cookies are traditionally offered in the little basket chest that Marie-Hélène made for me. How's that for a beautiful story?