No. 301: Crème Chantilly
As if there weren’t enough lip-smacking things to gobble up in France, along comes the tried-and-true crème Chantilly fresh from the town of Chantilly in Picardy. This is not what you would call delicate whipped cream. It is a hardy, stand-alone dessert topper whose snowy peaks and designs hold their shapes after a good whisking, like a 60s beehive-hairdo shellacked with VO5 spray.
As the story goes, French Chef Vatel first came up with the recipe to help “stretch out” his short supply of cream during a banquet given by Fouquet honoring the Sun King. (Supposedly he never lived to taste the cream because he committed suicide during the banquet when he found out there was also a shortage of fish for the diners.)
His one-time secret recipe is now a standard in French cooking, and the essential ingredient for a perfect Chantilly cream is top-quality whole crème fraîche (fresh cream), with a bit of icing sugar, and pod of vanilla mixed in; But beware, precise whisking is a must as too many strokes will turn the cream to butter…not necessarily the worst outcome, mais probably not the best consistency for embellishing desserts.
When visiting Chantilly, be sure to order a big bowl of the delicious cream to share.