La galette des Rois, or king's cake, is made every year to celebrate Epiphany. For those who don't know, epiphany is a Christian holiday that celebrates the Magi visiting baby Jesus. January 6th is the official day of Epiphany, but in France, we usually celebrate it on the Sunday between the 2nd and the 8th.
This delicious treat is a flaky puff pastry with a sweet filling. The traditional filling is a simple almond cream, or frangipane, but this year I felt like a change. To the basic frangipane recipe I added melted chocolate and Grand Marnier (or orange extract for the kids).
Before serving, it's customary to hide a small figurine in the galette. Whoever gets the piece with the figurine is king (or queen) for a day. In reality, the winner is anyone who gets to have a slice of this delicious dessert.
Servings: 6 small galettes
12 (5 x 5-inch) squares puff pastry dough (store-bought)
2 eggs, at room temperature
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
1-1/3 cups almond flour, (125 grams)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier (see tips)
1/3 cup chocolate (I used milk chocolate), 2 ounces
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons marmalade
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
For the frangipane (almond cream):
Using a handheld mixer, whisk the eggs with about 5 tablespoons of sugar until you get a pale, yellow foam. It will take about 5-6 minutes. The consistency must be very airy. Add the almond extract and Grand Marnier. Set aside.
Cream the butter with the rest of sugar. Pour in the egg mixture. Add the almond flour. Mix until the batter is smooth. Add salt.
For the chocolate and orange:
Place a pot filled with hot water (at a gentle simmer), topped with a piece of cloth so the bowl does not move and place a stainless-steel bowl filled with chopped chocolate on top. When the chocolate is melted, add the orange zest. Add the chocolate to the almond cream. Stir well.
For the egg wash:
Using a fork, beat the remaining egg yolks with 2 tablespoons of milk. Set aside.
Using a 5-inch (127-millimeter) circle cutter, create 6 puff pastry disks and 6 other disks using a 3-7/8-inch (98-millimeter) circle cutter.
Line 2 baking sheets with a silicone mat or a sheet of parchment paper. Place the smaller-sized puff pastry disks onto the baking sheets. Prick the dough with a fork. Spread about 2 tablespoons of chocolate almond cream in the center of each disk. Lightly brush the puff pastry around the mound of almond cream with egg wash. Place a second layer of puff pastry (using the 5-inch puff pastry disks) over the almond cream. Press with your thumb around the almond cream to ensure both puff pastry pieces are sealed well.
Using the tip of a paring knife, create a flower design on the puff pastry dough and brush the top with more egg wash. Chill in the refrigerator for about 15-20 minutes prior to baking.
Bake for 5 minutes at 375°F, then lower the temperature to 350°F and bake for another 20 minutes until the top is golden.
In the meantime, dissolve the marmalade with 1 tablespoon of water (if you fancy more Grand Marnier flavor, add a drop). Warm the mixture in the microwave for 20 seconds (or over the stove).
Open the oven. Using a silicone brush, glaze the galettes with the warm marmalade and bake for an additional 3-5 minutes to get a nice golden crust and glossy look.
Let the galettes cool for a few minutes. Serve warm with a nice cup of hot tea.
I used our friend Laura's French marmalade (orange, vanilla and sugar) for the base of the glaze. You can find her preserves at the annual Belmont Arts and Crafts fair (San Francisco Bay Area) or directly online at www.domainebrix.com.
Little reminder on how to obtain orange zest: Grate an orange with a fine mesh microplane, being careful to take only the thin orange skin, not the white pith beneath. Gather about 1 teaspoon.
You can either buy ready-made almond flour, or make it yourself. Remember to get a little more than 125 grams of whole almonds to get the correct amount of flour. Place whole almonds in a metal bowl, then cover them with boiling water. Let them sit for no longer than 2 minutes. Strain and transfer them into a cold water bath. Pat them dry on a towel, and the skins should come right off. Grind them with a food processor or spice grinder. Make sure you stop before it turns into almond butter. I use the VitaMix Dry Blade Container. The result should be a fine white mill.
Grand Marnier is an orange-flavored liqueur. You can also use Cointreau. For a kid-friendly version, you can substitute 1/2 teaspoon of orange extract for the Grand Marnier.
You can skip the step with the egg wash if you like and brush the puff pastry dough with only water or melted butter. The egg wash gives a finished golden, glazed look and shine to the pastries. It also helps the dough sheets to stick to each other. You can also replace milk with cream, half and half or water.
Set aside the egg whites from the egg wash in the refrigerator and save them for making almond tuiles cookies (literally "roof tiles" in French).
Don't discard the remnants of puff pastry. Make savory goat ricotta cheese puffs, parmesan puff pastry knots or cheese twists the next day!
Check out more desserts using frangipane and puff pastry.