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The Faisselle Experiments – Part Two…And Three

Faisselle and Maple Syrup

Allright, so let’s start this off the right way before I lose my mind. We all gathered today and read all your suggestions for a name for the dessert in the previous post and it was not easy making a decision…ya’ll are good!! But….the overall favorite was "Transatlantic" from Miss Lillas who said "Salted butter caramel from Normandy, American chocolate brownie. An elegant bringing together our 2 continents"….So Miss, please send me your mailing address so I can send this wonderful book your way! Congratulations!

A couple of weeks ago I took a long trip down memory and you were so kind to indulge me and read about my attempt to recreate a fresh cheese that my dad loves. The outcome was not "faisselle" like I remembered but something closer to fresh ricotta. The desire to recreate this unique product came from a conversation I was having with expat friend Aran from Cannelle Et Vanille after our first foray into re-creating desserts from our childhood and cultural heritage. She had a hankering for mamia and so did B. and I after we had a most delicious one on a trip back home at L’Ami Jean, a Basque restaurant in Paris. We started talking about making it right before she left on vacation so in the meantime that got me thinking about trying my hand at "faisselle" and when she came back we both agreed that it would be more logical and more fun to give you two experiments instead of one. Fast forward to last week, when my favorite Basque experimented with mamia and I with faisselle.

Much like her first batch of mamia, my first batch of faisselle for this post did not turn out as I hope for. After the batch I made last month, I decided to take away the added yogurt and to get straight for heating the milk, adding the rennet and letting it sit, until nice floppy large chunks of curd form and separate from the whey. Well, I got zippo zippeedee zip….I got liquid and tiny curds which once drained gave me about 1 cup of ricotta. For one gallon of milk you can expect that it did not cut it. I did not use raw milk this time and I don’t think it was the local homogenized whole milk I used…nope…just could not put my finger on it. In one email she mentioned she was trying another batch of mamia adding cream and dry milk and I went back to the drawing board with mine. Then I had the "genius"(self sarcasm) idea to call my dad and have him read the ingredients on a jar of store bought faisselle…Guess what?….Yep, added cream and dry milk, a little ratio working and I was back in !

Faisselle and Lemon Thyme Lemon Curd

I heated the milk again, added the dry milk, cream and rennet. Let it sit for a couple of hour and the result was exactly what it was supposed to be: large floppy and soft curds slowly separating from the whey. The first spoonful made me think I was definitely on the right track but it needed to develop a little character and an overnight stay in the fridge fixed that. Traditionally, faisselles are drained in molds set in larger containers so that the whey pooling at the bottom keep the cheese moist. I just drained the cheese with a large slotted spoon and scooped the cheese in containers. It did continue to render a lot of whey but I was too happy to have succeeded to be bothered!! The texture is soft but firm enough to separate into curds as you dig your spoon in it and the flavor is really not comparable to any dairy found here, neither sour nor tart.

My dad likes his with chopped fresh chives and fresh cracked pepper, which I have come to like, but I also love it on the sweet side. I served some with some lemon thyme lemon curd and some with chopped pistachios, redcurrants and maple syrup. Deborah from Bonbon Oiseau sent me a bottle of a local Vermont maple syrup producer and it arrived the day I was finishing the faisselle. My bottle of "maple crack" as she refers to it could not have come at a better time! Thank you! I played around with the remaining faisselle and used in some other pastry applications. It’s been a busy couple of weeks so I have not come around to sift through those pictures or even put them in a proper post yet…soon though.

Faisselle and Maple Syrup


1 quart whole milk ( 4 cups – 946ml)
1/2 cup heavy cream (118ml)
1/4 cup dry milk powder (60 gr)
8 drops liquid rennet

In a heavy saucepan, combine the milk, heavy cream and milk powder and bring the mixture to 120F over medium heat. Let cool to room temperature and add the rennet. Stir once with a wooden spoon, transfer to a clean bowl (porcelain, glass or plastic), cover with a clean kitchen towel and let sit undisturbed for 2 to 4 hours. Place in the refrigerator and let sit overnight to develop more taste. Drain and used as desired the next day.

Lemon Thyme Lemon Curd:

3 large eggs
1/3 cup (80 ml) lemon juice
1 Tb freshly grated lemon zest
1/4 cup fresh lemon thyme
1/4 cup (60gr) granulated sugar
4 tablespoons (55 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into small pieces

In a bowl placed over a pan of simmering water, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon thyme, lmeon zest and lemon juice until blended. Cook, stirring constantly until the mixture reaches 160F. Remove from the heat and strain the mixture over a bowl. Cut the butter into small pieces and whisk into the mixture until the butter has melted. Cover with some plastic wrap directly in contact with the curd to prevent a skin from forming. You can refrigerate it for up to a week. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.
Note: I used liquid vegetarian rennet that I found at the health food store near me, but you can also find it here.

Faisselle And Lemon Thyme Lemon Curd

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Lunch Buckets August 25, 2008 um 6:31 am

The only currant I’ve ever seen was disguised as a miniature raisin. Looking at these pictures makes me want to strap on my boots and set off for wherever those little jewels grow right this very minute. Or maybe I’ll just check Whole Foods tomorrow.

Christy August 25, 2008 um 6:31 am

Congratulations on another successful cheese experiment!! And I love those little "woks" you used! Can’t help noticing how the colour of the maple syrup matches the colour of your place mats.That’s what I call good styling!!

Rosa's Yummy Yums August 25, 2008 um 6:41 am

That looks delicious and your pictures are absolutely stunning!



Mingoumango (La Mangue) August 25, 2008 um 6:43 am

Depuis le temps que je viens admirer tes recettes, je me dis qu’il serait temps que je laisse un petit mot…
Je suis scotchée par tes réalisations, tes macarons de plus en plus beaux, tes photos sublimes que je pourrais contempler pendant des heures… Bref, bravo !

Kitt August 25, 2008 um 6:50 am

Success! I will certainly try this. Alas, not with goat’s milk, as my girls had to be sold.

Cannelle Et Vanille August 25, 2008 um 6:52 am

Beautiful post indeed… we did it again and had so much fun doing it. The dairy farmers of America are loving us Helen!

Bonbon Oiseau August 25, 2008 um 6:59 am would that travel?

Anonymous August 25, 2008 um 7:31 am

Oooooh…that is giving me goosebumps….the little "I-want-to-eat-that-oh-so-slowly" goosebumps!

Botacook August 25, 2008 um 8:10 am

Bravo pour la réalisation de la faisselle! Ça donne envie!
Et j’aime beaucoup le nom choisi pour le gâteau chocolat/caramel!
Au fait, j’aurais voulu savoir si tu as une idée de date de sortie de ton livre (pas avant l’an prochain je suppose) et si tu sais si on pourra se le procurer via amazon? Merci!

Manggy August 25, 2008 um 8:36 am

Congratulations on cracking the faisselle! (With the help of some kind of cheat-y sleuthing… Hee hee 🙂 The lemon curd presentation is very elegant (cream and yellow look very pretty when layered)!

Clumbsy Cookie August 25, 2008 um 9:12 am

Glad to know you got your faissele right! It looks very creamy and not really difficult to do, of course now that you allready made all the experiments, lol! I’ll have to make that curd, that must be out of this world!

Deeba PAB August 25, 2008 um 10:52 am

How cool is that…YAY for Dad. Now I have dry milk & cream & rennet tablets. Just gotta figure out the equiv of 8 drops & will try even though I aint got a thermometer. One day…great post Helen, thanks for experimenting!

Anonymous August 25, 2008 um 11:22 am

I just love this partnership you and Aran have cooked up (heh) to re-invent products not available in the States. When are you going into business? 🙂

Mercotte August 25, 2008 um 11:40 am

tes photos sont de plus en plus époustouflantes…ciel mais j’ai les mêmes petites cuillères !!!!

Anonymous August 25, 2008 um 1:02 pm

sounds like something to try in the test kitchen. Thanks for your experimental zeal :)!

Anonymous August 25, 2008 um 1:31 pm

Looks tasty, and the photos are fantastic… especially the one of the thyme!

Anonymous August 25, 2008 um 1:31 pm

I feel like the only person in North America who isn’t making fresh cheese! I must get right on this bandwagon!

Anonymous August 25, 2008 um 1:42 pm

Beautiful photgraphs! Wow. Love the warmth of the first set and the lightness of the second set!

Dana August 25, 2008 um 2:16 pm

Looks lovely! Btw, you’ll *never* guess what I found in the Whole Foods near me: Petit Suisse!!! Original and fruit flavored. It’s only at one of the 3 stores near me, but I started dancing when I saw — and clearly stocked up :). I’ll blog about it more after I get married…this Saturday!

Mary August 25, 2008 um 2:28 pm

Congratulations on figuring out the recipe! It sounds delicious. But where do I get the liquid rennet? Can I order it online?

LizNoVeggieGirl August 25, 2008 um 3:07 pm

I always enjoy reading about your latest experiments and trips down "memory lane" :0)

montague August 25, 2008 um 5:00 pm

i’d never heard of faisselle, but it looks A-mazing!

Maria August 25, 2008 um 5:03 pm

Another fabulous cooking adventure!! Stunning photos as usual!

Anonymous August 25, 2008 um 5:38 pm

Love the photographs! I’m curious as to where you get all of your lovely dishes? In particular, the jars you put the faisselle and lemon curd in? Great job, as always 🙂

Parisbreakfasts August 25, 2008 um 6:48 pm

YAY on "Transatlantique"
That choco cake does look a bit like a boat or barque or the Titanic…
going downnnnnn fastttttttttttt

Mallory Elise August 25, 2008 um 6:50 pm

you guys go traveling together? how fun!

i tried to eat at a Basque restaurant in Paris once, it was new and named Afaria, it was in the 15th, like a half hour walk from where i lived. i read about it in Saveurs magazine, anyways a friend and i went and like the silly me that i am of course i didnt think to make reservations for a lunch, so they didn’t have room, and then afterwards no one would go with me because they said reservations? it must be expensive–i’m not spending that kind of money on food. i should have gone alone. alas! i missed the basque! i was looking forward to the fondue de la mer and glace aux pruneaux. next time in paris i’ll go to your basque cafe, or maybe i’ll just go tot the basque land, yeah that sounds better.


Parisbreakfasts August 25, 2008 um 6:52 pm

Next time you’re in France, would you please give us a guided tour of the milky products case at the supermarche with all those creme fraish(sp) and multitudinous kinds of milky custardy things?
I’d love to know what they all are and which to get for what…
Aidez-moi S.L.V.P.

Anonymous August 25, 2008 um 6:59 pm

It’s fun seeing you and Aran collaborating. I am so inspired by both of your photography skills.

Eileen (passions to pastry)

Alexa Johnson August 25, 2008 um 7:21 pm

Thanks so much for your lovely comment on Ff, and such beautiful work and pictures (as always!) from you. Mmm…I’m hungry!

Cakebrain August 25, 2008 um 8:13 pm

Yay for you being able to recreate the flavours you remembered! I always find your posts on regional cuisine fascinating!

Cakebrain August 25, 2008 um 8:13 pm

Yay for you being able to recreate the flavours you remembered! I always find your posts on regional cuisine fascinating!

Mrs.French August 25, 2008 um 8:33 pm

looks amazing…I want the last photo in my kitchen!

Anonymous August 25, 2008 um 9:24 pm

Sounds delicious, Helen, and thanks for the link in the comment above about the rennet. I was wondering…Gorgeous photos. The red of the currants is brilliant.

Peabody August 26, 2008 um 1:01 am

What beautiful photos Helen, they really are supurb!

Anonymous August 26, 2008 um 1:38 am

Beautiful pictures …

Alexa August 26, 2008 um 4:12 am

Gorgeous, superbes, sublimes photos! I am speechless …:-)

Susan @ SGCC August 26, 2008 um 4:23 am

They look marvelous, Helen! I’m really fascinated with these dairy creations that you and Aran have been showing us. I’m still going to try the petit suisse again, and them I’m trying this!

cindy* August 26, 2008 um 5:04 am

every time the two of you take on another dairy challenge it makes me want to try it! however, i don’t think i have that much ambition. looks delightful and beautiful!

Fifi Flowers August 26, 2008 um 5:52 am

I need a virtual spoon to taste all these wonderful things you create!

MyKitchenInHalfCups August 26, 2008 um 9:12 am

Genius is sometimes the obvious that’s so hard to see. I’ve only done cheese (ricotta) once but it was so far better than any store bought and not really hard I wonder why I don’t keep doing it. Maybe yeast keeps getting in the way. ;))

Liska August 26, 2008 um 11:18 am

Your pictures are really amazing. I love them.

ana dane August 26, 2008 um 2:45 pm

i’ve never tasted this, but now i am addicted before i even have a spoonful.

how lovely to recreate a favorite of your father’s, too- i’m sure he was happy to hear about it.

Camille August 26, 2008 um 2:55 pm

Ah…lovely, seeing yours and Arans both different, but both equally as stunning. I love lemon curd and have a lemon thyme plant…I think I’ll have to order some rennet!

LyB August 26, 2008 um 3:40 pm

Well, again I am in awe! Both of your creativity with recipes but also at your picture taking abilities! Everything looks fabulous Helen, picture perfect. 🙂

Zoe Francois August 26, 2008 um 3:56 pm

Bravo, this is gorgeous and I just love the story of how it came to pass. There is nothing like the tastes of our past.

Jen Yu August 26, 2008 um 3:57 pm

I have never had this before, but from your description, it sounds a lot like a tender tofu that we order at dimsum – served with sweet ginger syrup. I’m sure they are different, but the textures and how they can pair with sweet or savory is what made me think of it. Either way, this is far more beautiful than any dimsum I’ve ordered!! 🙂 You are a force to be reckoned with!

Nina Timm August 26, 2008 um 5:13 pm

Gosh, these photos, like all your other photos are simply exquisite!!!!

MissLilas August 26, 2008 um 9:13 pm

I’m so excited to receive your book, thank you !!!

"You don’t know what you got till it’s gone", this could suit to the faisselle as I wouldn’t imagine trying to make it myself when it’s easely available in stores here, but why not.
Thanks for sharing the experience !

Anonymous August 26, 2008 um 9:38 pm

Looks like you guys had some serious fun between you.

Great photos too.

Anita (Married… with dinner) August 27, 2008 um 1:38 am

it sounds delicious, and it looks beautiful! wow, Helen… stunning photos.

My Sweet & Saucy August 27, 2008 um 4:41 am

You are just too inspiring with all of your experimenting and all!!! Love looking at your creations!

Anonymous August 27, 2008 um 1:00 pm

Wonderful that the experiment worked!
Love the addition of thyme to the lemon curd.

Anita August 27, 2008 um 4:34 pm

Helen, what kind of transcontinental ESP do we have going on here…those little grey brulee dishes look very similar to some i just purchased…!!!
Congrats on the successful faisselle! Isn’t it always a thrill when kitchen experiments finally work out!

Nic August 27, 2008 um 7:42 pm

I’ve not had this before, but it looks divine!

mimi August 28, 2008 um 5:32 am

i love reading these joint adventures you’re having. i love reading about the history you have with these foods and flavors.

Rachel August 29, 2008 um 5:45 pm

These pictures are just too beautiful! Thanks for walking through the process, too. I might even make attempt to do this.

Anonymous September 10, 2008 um 3:39 am

Okay, so i isolate myself from the world for a few weeks and i come back to visit your blog and it’s post after post of delicious goodies and mouth-watering pictures. How do you do it, helene? What’s your secret? 🙂

Wow. What a crush i have on you! hehe

Anonymous February 3, 2009 um 4:00 am

This comment has been removed by the author.

Helene December 29, 2009 um 6:43 am

FlyingRoo: thanks for the info but I can find fromage blanc at the health food store near my house. What this experiment focused on was "faiselle" which is a step away from fromage blanc and which I succeeded into achieving. A lot og the experiment was in the research, making, experimenting, getting our hands connected to our memories and I think we have also achieved success on that front.

On another note, if you ever try fromage blanc and quark (which is German) next to each other, you will notice a difference in texture and taste.

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