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Edible French: From Blog to Friendship to Book

Clotilde Dusoulier and Melina Josserand

Clotilde Dusoulier and Melina Josserand

Ingredient #1: A collaboration works best if each participant has shown past initiative, gained momentum, and honed skills on his/her own time.

Ingredient #2: Although opposites can definitely attract, a work partner who has had similar life experiences as you often points, in turn, to shared values and a similar mindset.

Ingredient #3: Finding a low-risk project on which to collaborate eases you into the partnership and helps you evaluate how well you work together – how responsive each of you is, how fluidly you communicate, how good you are with deadlines, etc.

Ingredient #4: Each party should bring value to the relationship with complementary contributions. Our book would not have found a publishing home without both Melina’s eye-catching illustrations and Clotilde’s past bookwriting experiences.

Ingredient #5: Keep in mind at all times what each person’s role is and why he was brought in on the project. Let that person have the last word on his own domain.

Ingredient #6: Value the relationship over the collaboration. Should things become tense or the ride get bumpy, don’t allow difficulties to wedge themselves between you and your work partner. Not only do you stand a much better chance of overcoming them as a team, but you’ll feel a much better person when all is said and done and you are friends still.

Le Coupable (“The Culprit”)

“When I received the finished copies [of Edible French] from the editor,” Melina says, “it was a dream come true. That night, to celebrate, my family of six gathered around a beautiful Napoleon we make for special occasions. My husband nicknamed the dessert “The Culprit” because it is clearly a decadent treat and we find ourselves guilty of polishing it off every time! It is filled with fluffy crème de marron, a sweetened chestnut puree mixed with whipped cream and sandwiched between three layers of puff pastry. On top of the dessert we like to emulate the classic millefeuille decoration you’ll see in traditional French pastry shops, a chevron pattern drawn with chocolate on a layer of sugar icing. It’s very easy to do but looks quite fancy, and my children love to watch.”

Preparation

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll out the puff pastry thinly and cut into three equal rectangles. Arrange on the prepared baking sheet, and prick all over with a fork. Top with another sheet of parchment paper and a second baking sheet, to prevent the puff pastry from rising, and bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool completely.

2. In a medium bowl, whip the cream until stiff peaks form, and fold into the chestnut puree. Arrange one puff pastry rectangle on a serving platter. Spread half of the chestnut filling on it, top with a second rectangle, spread with the remaining filling, and top with the final rectangle. Put the confectioner’s sugar in a bowl and whisk in 2 teaspoons water to form a stiff but spreadable icing. Spread evenly over the top of the cake.

3. Using a teaspoon, pour parallel lines of melted chocolate in a thin stream on the icing. With the tip of a knife or a skewer, draw perpendicular lines in the icing to break the chocolate lines into a chevron pattern.

4. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving; use a serrated bread knife to slice the cake as neatly as possible.