On my bucket list is a trip to Provence during the summer months. I’ve always had a love affair with Provence and all things related to this French town, but thanks to modern tales like Picnic in Provence, this romance has taken on a fervor it lacked before. The abundance of farmers markets, the gorgeous countryside backdrop, and the delicately infused lavender ice cream that you can find there has my heart pitter-pattering for this French destination. I imagine that the day I visit Provence, I will be spending much of my time shopping at the markets and making stops at artisanal ice cream shops.
I spent my weekend getting some much needed R&R, starting a novel I’d be meaning to read, celebrating a birthday in the family, and baking. There’s always got to be some baking, and this weekend it was all about the classics. I made a bakery-style yellow cake with mocha chocolate frosting for my cousin’s birthday, and then spent a lazy Sunday morning making these banana chocolate chip muffins. These banana chocolate chip muffins are so incredibly moist. They remind me of the banana muffins I had at a Paris bakery I frequented in St. Germain. I visited this local bakery every day, sometimes twice a day, for breakfast and an afternoon treat. While the bread and viennoiserie were great, it was their muffins and cookies that really won me over.
If you step into almost any classic French bistro, you’ll find a croque monsieur or croque madame on their lunch menu. It’s the French version of our “club sandwich” here in the States, in regards to popularity and its widespread presence. A croque madame (or croque monsieur), however, is far cheesier and tastier than the club sandwich. The difference between a croque monsieur and a croque madame is the presence of the fried egg, which only exists on the croque madame. The fried egg on top is actually what inspired me to create a croque madame recipe for breakfast, rather than lunch.
One of things I always miss about Paris is the ability to have freshly baked goods at my doorstep. I love being able to walk out of the apartment building and go two doors down to a fantastic bakery. Here in the States, I have to drive about 20 minutes to my ideal bakery, which just isn’t practical on a daily basis. I miss the fresh croissants, pain au chocolat, and brioche I enjoy in Paris. Oh, the brioche! Whether it’s in the form of a loaf, individual muffins, or a spin off of classic cinnamon rolls like these brioche rolls here, brioche is one of my favorite French indulgences. If you’re not yet a fan, I have a good feeling that these brioche rolls will make you one.
I am totally that girl that loves espresso-flavored sweets. Chocolate-covered espresso beans, coffee-flavored ice cream, mocha cheesecake, and frozen espresso desserts like this parfait au café make me giddy with excitement. I love how the rich, robust flavor of espresso cuts through the sweetness of a dessert, providing balance and variety in flavor.