When I was interning at Pierre Herme Patisserie here in Paris, I did everything wrong. I cut the butter wrong. I put the cookie dough on the cookie sheet wrong. I squeezed the lemons wrong. I scraped the dried cookie crumbs off the parchment paper wrong. Basically I breathed wrong there so when the subject of dessert comes up, I naturally start twitching like Pavlov’s dog. When I find a few good dessert recipes that I can actually make without incinerating the kitchen, I stick with them. Over and over and over. No one has complained yet so I just keep baking… This is one tried and true recipe that I adapted from Fast Food My Way, the PBS Jacques Pepin cook book. He serves it with an apricot-cognac sauce but a few weeks ago my clients requested no cognac. Plain apricot sauce sounded too sweet so instead I used a strawberry puree. The strawberries at the market that morning were some of the best I’ve tasted since I arrived in France, so I bought a crate and went crazy.

Gateau de Chocolat avec Puree des Fraises
a very fancy way to say chocolate cake with strawberry puree!

8 oz (225 grams) bittersweet chocolate, broken into small squares
8 tbsp butter (1 stick or approx 100 grams), cut into cubes
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp cornstarch
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks

2 baskets strawberries
sugar as needed

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Fill a small sauce pot about 1/3 with water and bring to a simmer. Put a stainless-steel bowl on top of the pot of simmering water. This is called a bain marie.
3. In the stainless steel bowl, put the chocolate, butter, sugar, cornstarch and vanilla.
4. Gently melt chocolate, butter, sugar, cornstarch, vanilla stirring with a spatula.
5. Once it has melted, whisk until smooth.
6. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs and yolks and add to the chocolate mixture. Whisk again until smooth. It will be a bit grainy at first but if you keep whisking, it with smooth out.
7. pour batter into ramekins or muffin tin liner. I use the magical silicone molds pictured below that require no butter or non-stick spray and are a dream to clean.
8. Bake for 8 minutes.
9. While the cake is baking, remove the stems from the strawberries and puree in a blender. Add sugar as needed to suit your taste.
10. Let set for a minute so you can flip them out. (Jacques’ recipes calls for cooling them to room temp but the inside isn’t as gooey then, so I prefer to serve them warm.)
11. Flip them back to right-side-up and top with sauce or fruit.

Bon Appetit!

Gateau de Chocolat avec Puree des Fraises 15 July,2005Cucina Testa Rossa


Cucina Testa Rossa

After a decade in Silicon Valley, Laura traded her keyboard for a cutting board and moved to New York City to immerse herself in food and wine studies and restaurant operations. She graduated from the French Culinary Institute where she studied under Master Chefs Jacques Pépin, André Soltner, Alain Sailhac, and Master Sommelier Andrea Immer. While in New York, Laura cooked with some of the world’s most highly acclaimed chefs including Mario Lohninger (Danube), Morimoto, Mark Franz & Emily Luchetti (Farallon), Michael Romano (Union Square Café), Mario Batali, Marcella Hazan, Jonathan Cartwright (White Barn Inn), Martin Heierling (Bellagio), Dave Pasternack (Esca), Richard Reddington (Redd, Auberge du Soleil), and the legendary Alice Waters (Chez Panisse).

After working as the Back Kitchen Chef of Jacques Pépin’s PBS cooking show, “Fast Food, My Way”, Laura moved to France to cook her way around the country. She cooked at the Cannes Film Festival, then to the northwest corner of France, to Britanny, to cook on a lobster boat, then east to Paris to the world famous Pierre Hermé Patisserie where she made thousands of his macarons every day! Laura cooked for the fabulous Olivia de Havilland and interned at 3 Michelin Star Le Cinq under Chef Philippe Legendre and Pastry Chef Fabrice Lecleir. Laura was the executive chef and cooking instructor at the DaVinci Code chateau outside of Paris where she was on set during the filming of the movie.

In Fall 2007, Laura worked on Jacques Pepin’s most recent PBS television series as prop and food stylist. “More Fast Food, My Way” should air in the Spring of 2008. “My Keyboard for a Cutting Board ~ Adventures in a French kitchen v1.0”, Laura’s first book highlights her first three months cooking in France, was published in Summer 2006. Convivialité is her second book and will hopefully be published in the fall.

Laura now splits her time between Paris and the San Francisco Bay Area doing private chefing, teaching cooking classes and leading market tours when in Paris. Bon Appetit!

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