After two months in Miami riding out the last months of winter, returning to Paris in time for summer isn't exactly a rough really check. When I first arrive on South Beach, I feel like I can't get enough of the over the top eclectic glitz and extroversion of the pseudo-Latin American city. Bright colors, happy, half-naked people everywhere, tropical fruits and foods... it's just so endlessly entertaining. I love the French aesthetic, but after a while, I start to crave something a little spicier. Parisians are understated and well-dressed, certainly more conservative than the Miami breed, they (generally) behave within discreet societal standards, and on the food side, their culinary tradition is an artistic institution in itself. Cultural perfection is great, but after a while you need some mid-winter crazy à la Birdcage... and because the level of translucence my skin acquires during French winter can't be healthy. But eventually, the pendulum swings back. The colors get a little too bright and the depth of eccentricity a little less endearing, and my cravings for French patisserie start to get pretty intense.
I returned to France just in time for stone fruit, lilac and peony season, and for the patisseries to bring out their ice cream macarons and spring pastries. Priorities people. There are worse ways to measure time than in flowers and pastry rotations. And while Paris does winter better than any city I know–think heat lamps, killer lighting, rich hot chocolates, and that whole fairytale romance in the rain thing it has going on–nothing compares to the city in summer time. Honey dew gelato, cafés filled with people, flowers everywhere, macarons eaten in those lean back lounge chairs in the Luxembourg garden, walking home from parties late at night along the Seine filled with people grouped together on blankets, drinking wine talking. Paris, you'll always be my main squeeze.
Celebrating being back in Paris always includes some necessary patisserie indulgence. For my first sweet recipe of spring, I made crème anglaise, one of the foundations of French pastry. My version replaces the cream with almond milk and the refined sugars with natural, nutrient packed honey and maple syrup for a nutty take on the French classic.
Almond Milk Crème Anglaise
Unsweetened almond milk, 2 cups
Cornstarch, 1 tbs
Vanilla, 1 tsp
Maple syrup, 1 tbs
Honey, 1 tbs
1. In a bowl, whisk together egg yolks until thickened and pale yellow.
2. Add maple syrup and honey and continue whisking.
3. In a saucepan, heat almond milk until simmering and add vanilla.
4. Temper the egg yolk mixture by slowly adding the almond milk in stages. This prevents the egg from cooking too fast from the heat of the almond milk.
5. Mix and pour through strainer into a saucepan to remove lumps.
6. Add cornstarch to mixture and heat, stirring until the mixture thickens to the consistency of a custard; thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
*Fix Tip: If mixture cooks too long and becomes to thick, add a dash of almond milk to thin it out. If mixture doesn't set, add more cornstarch 1/4 teaspoon at a time and continue stirring over heat until thickened.