Having just got back from a lovely holiday in France (Brittany), I have been inspired by the culinary delights I indulged in (and there were lots….) so I thought I’d bring these flavours into my kitchen over the next few weeks.
The main flavours I noticed trending in Brittany were:
Salted Caramel (of course)
Bergamot (Earl Grey flavour)
Coquelicot (what is that? I hear you ask…although I suppose the title does give it away a bit)
Look at these mouth-watering macarons I treated myself to, from ‘Maison George Larnicol‘ in Concarneau.
It’s very en vogue to bake with tea and floral flavours – chai tea, green tea, bergamot, orange blossom, rose, violet etc. I wasn’t too surprised to see these flavours head-lining in the pâtisseries and ice cream parlours, although I was amazed by just how readily available they are in France. I was most intrigued by coquelicot (poppy), the French name for wild corn poppies, so that’s where I will start.
Poppy petal ice cream. Poppy petal chocolate. Poppy and raspberry jam. Poppy petal syrup. A culinary adventure! Here was a flavour I had never tasted before and have never seen available anywhere in the UK. My baking brain started whirring straight away. Desperate to take this exciting flavour into my kitchen, I bagged myself some poppy jam/jelly and some poppy syrup.
The search then started for a recipe, I found a recipe for Poppy Panna Cotta by ‘always leave room for dessert’, which sounds deliciously enticing (one for another day perhaps), but I was really after a cupcake recipe on this occasion. I found several French recipes for poppy cupcakes (see below), but otherwise drew a blank – it seems that poppy really hasn’t ventured outside of France.
They all look delicious, but in the end I decided not to pair poppy with anything else. I really wanted to let the flavour shine by itself before I start trying out any combinations.
Poppy Petal ‘Coquelicot’ Cupcakes
For the cupcakes:
Add 2 tbsp sirop de coquelicot / poppy syrup
For the butter icing:
Add 1 tbsp sirop de coquelicot / poppy syrup
All syrups, liqueurs, extracts and essences have different strengths so you would need to do this by taste – but remember you can’t add too much liquid to butter icing or it will split. I toyed with the idea of putting some of the poppy jam in the middle, but I was just too impatient to devour them! I just brushed a bit of syrup over the top of the cupcakes for good measure, then piled the butter icing on top – nothing fancy here, sometimes piping takes a bit too long and I was desperate to get stuck in.
Now an attempt to describe the flavour. Paris Patisseries, connoisseur and taster of all the best pâtisseries in Paris declared the ‘macaron coquelicot’ by pâtisserie ‘Un Dimanche a Paris’ number 19 on his list of 38 best pastries in Paris (which probably means in the world, right?). The macaron coquelicot is described as ‘the greatest macaron ever conceived’ and the flavour like ‘the essential nature of existence itself’!! High praise indeed! I can’t be quite as hyperbolic about my cupcake – it’s not my all-time favourite flavour, but it certainly ticks a lot of the boxes and the anticipation of taking the first bite was almost too much to bear! It’s sweet, fresh and delicate, just like the flower. Its perfume is similar to rose, but not at all overwhelming – in fact, it’s more of a tantalising floral hint that just keeps you coming back for more. I love that it’s unique and will surprise whoever is lucky enough to eat one. It might just be worth a try, don’t you think?
If you are lucky enough to be heading on your hols to France this summer, I urge you to sample coquelicot ice cream, jams and macarons and if you, like me, are intrigued by the flavour get yourself some jam or syrup to bring home and bake with! If you are not off to France any time soon, but still want to use poppy flavour in your kitchen then worry not, you can get it online:
Poppy Liqueur available from Amazon – this would be amazing in cocktails. How about Coquelicot Royale?
Poppy Jam / Jelly available from Amazon
Poppy, violet, rose and mimosa flower syrups available from Confiserie Florian
Make your own poppy syrup, as shown here by Frugal Gourmet (disclaimer: I have no idea whether this is really safe, so do your research).
I wonder what I should pair poppy with? At the moment, I’m addicted to the flavour all by itself, but I’ll keep you posted.