Recipe of the month: Pink Ladyfinger cookies from Reims
Our chef Sebastien Baud shares once again one of his favourite recipe. This month, we continue our trip in the Champagne-Ardennes Region, let’s discover the Pink Ladyfinger cookies from Reims (“Biscuits roses de Reims”). Bon appétit !
Hello everyone! I am delighted to be with you again as we are entering this month of December. We were previously in Lorraine, where I had the opportunity of sharing a few recipes which, I hope, have inspired you! This month we are headed to the Champagne-Ardennes region, the country of Kings.
Champagne-Ardennes features a limestone soil, three rivers – the Aisne, the Marne and the Aube-, and a temperate climate.
The Champagne area has the perfect soil for producing the fine-bubble wine that bears its name. It spans four departments, Ardennes (08), Aube (10), Marne (51), and Haute-Marne (52), stretching from Belgium to the North, to Burgundy to the South.
Livestock breeding is a feature of the region’s agriculture, but is relatively underdeveloped. Cattle breeding is more widespread, with 638000 head, followed by pigs and sheep, with 188,000 heads and 145,000 heads, respectively. Forestry is also present in the area, as forests, consisting mostly of oak trees, cover more than 25% of the land.
Reims used to be the French capital, where kings sieged, and is the most populous town in Champagne-Ardennes; however the department capitals are Charleville-Mézières, Troyes, Châlons-en-Champagne and Chaumont. Under the Roman Empire, Reims was a major crossroads and one of the most populated cities of the Northern Empire. In the early Middle-Ages, at Christmas time between 496 and 506, King Clovis was baptized by Saint-Rémi in the original cathedral. This is the reason why Reims became the city where French Kings where sacred through Charles the 9th. Champagne is everywhere here. Brut champagne is recommended with white blood sausage from Rethel, dried ham from Ardennes, Chaource cheese or Andouillette from Troyes. Demi-sec champagne makes a great pairing with “biscuits roses” from Reims or sugar tart.
Other local specialties are bacon salad, pig feet from Sainte-Menehould, “gateau mollet” (mellow cake), leek and Chaource tart, pink ladyfinger charlotte.
As in all French regions, many cheeses are also part of the region’s culinary landscape, such as the Langres, which is a cylindrical soft, washed-rind cheese. Chaource is a cow’s milk soft cheese. “Cendré de Champagne” is a cow’s milk cheese coated in ash. « Champs-sur-Barse » is a small cow’s milk cheese that is better eaten slightly cold. The Carré de l’Est from Troyes is similar to camembert. The Cendré d’Argonne is another ash-coated cheese, and the Trappiste d’Igny used to be made by nuns from the Igny Abbey.
That’s it! Today, I am sharing a simple recipe, which can be made with children. “Biscuits roses de Reims” are delicious with coffee, and can also be used to make a charlotte cake or dessert creams which will please all children, big or small.
• 2 eggs
• 100 g (½ cup) sugar
• 1 vanilla-sugar packet
• 90g (3 oz) flour
• 45 g corn starch
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• Red food coloring
• Confectioners sugar
Instructions for the cookies
• Separate egg whites from yolks and mix yolks with sugar for 5 minutes, until the mixture reaches a pale yellow color.
• Add one egg white and beat for 2 minutes, then add the second egg white and beat another 2 minutes. Add a few drops of red coloring (liquid or powder-based), until mixture reaches the desired color.
• Sift the flour, corn starch and baking powder and slowly incorporate to the wet ingredients with a spatula, until the batter reaches a smooth, lump-free consistency.
• Use a pastry bag to fill financier molds, or to form rectangles directly on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar and cook for 12 minutes at 180° C (400° F). The cookies will keep for a few days in a sealed container.
With these words by French writer Pierre Daninos (1993-2005), I wish you a “bon appétit” and look forward to seeing you again next month for another recipe. Thank you !
"The French have such a gourmand way of evoking good food that they can feast on words between meals…”
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