Being a French parent in Finland requires elegant navigation between two surprisingly different parenting cultures. One vivid example was the first time I discovered “karkkipäivä” (translated to “Candy day” – limiting when children can have candies to 1 day of the week – usually on the week-end) I was pretty adamant that this would most probably not work in our home. In France it is very customary to eat sweet breakfasts of “Pain, Beurre, Confiture” or slices of pie or tarts and other pastries slowly enjoyed with a large cup of Café au Lait. Kids are no exception and usually sip a warm bowl of Hot Coco on which they dip various freshly baked daily treats of “petits Pain au chocolat” before going to school. and to the horror of the Finnish parents that will read this, it is very common to enjoy the daily “goûter” (“Välipala”, Afternoon snack) of the perfect tartine au chocolat.
It took me many years to understand that the rarely eaten Finnish breakfast would usually be a choice between rye bread with cheese and sliced cucumber and tomatoes, or a simple bowl of oatmeal topped with some sugar & cinnamon or jam. I remember vividly the look of horror on my husband’s face when on his first visit to my childhood home, the breakfast table proudly displayed a vast selections of gorgeous apple & pear tarts, shiny black & white éclairs with a creamy filling, twisted Escargots, round pains au raisin and so many more flaky golden beauties. After the initial shock, he simply stood up, grabbed a piece of baguette, opened the fridge, sliced a bit of Emmental cheese with his knife, cut half a tomato and proceeded to eat his rudimentary sandwich, in blissful ignorance of the outrageous display of sweet delicacies in front of him, and of my very offended French parents who had raided the Boulanger (baker) early in the morning to show their joy of receiving their new Son in law in true French Fashion!
In France this is now the time to celebrate la Chandeleur; I’m sure there is another reason why this day is important, but for me, it’s the day when I have an excuse to serve Crêpes and all sweet things for dinner! Crêpes have this cool factor that you must indulge while eating them; so, to top it off, here is the most incredibly delicious homemade Chocolate & Hazelnut spread. Crepes are ridiculously simple to make* and can be eaten sweet or savory which makes for a good compromise. One thing that I couldn’t resist was to make my own Nutella. Now be warned: this spread is completely addictive & is so delicious that you may not be able to stop!
Chocolate & Hazelnut Spread:
- 200 grams Hazelnuts,
- 1/3 Cup good quality Cocoa Powder,
- 1/3 Cup of sugar (you may want more but I like it bitter sweet),
- 1/2 teaspoon of pure Vanilla Extract,
- 1 Tablespoon of canola oil.
- Roast the hazelnuts in the oven at 200 degrees for about 15 minutes on the middle rack (check that they don’t burn and move them around if needed)
- Allow to cool & peel the Hazelnuts by placing them on a tea towel and moving them around for the skin to fall ( it’s ok if they are not perfectly peeled like in the picture)
- Put in a food processor and mix until a butter starts to form, add the cocoa powdered, sugar, oil & vanilla and pulse until smooth & creamy. Taste and adjust for sugar if you prefer it sweeter
Have a great chandeleur wherever you are!