L’Appart: The Delights and Disasters of Making My Paris Home features David Lebovitz’s experiences in taking his expat life in Paris to the next level- searching for and renovating his own home. With language barriers, cultural differences, and misunderstandings, he has plenty of pitfalls and learns quite a bit along the way. David incorporates 25 sweet and savory recipes to pair with his experiences including Apple Maple Tarte Tatin, Vanilla Éclair Puffs with Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce, Swedish Meatballs, Kouign Amann, and Mojito Sorbet. I will also be featuring his recipe for Marshmallow Creme Fudge following the review.
Disclosure: I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review. All comments and opinions are my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase something through the link, I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
David Lebovitz is a professional cook and baker turned writer. He spent thirteen years at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California before leaving in 1999 and starting his website to coincide with the release of his first book, Room for Dessert. He is now the author of eight books including The Perfect Scoop, The Great Book of Chocolate, The Sweet Life in Paris, and My Paris Kitchen, and has been featured in Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, Cook’s Illustrated, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, Saveur, Travel + Leisure, and more.
After living in Paris for many years while renting a small apartment, David decides he wants to settle down and find his own place. The experience goes far from smoothly as he realizes just how different buying a home in a new country can be. Following the challenge of even locating a home to the required medical screenings tied to loans and all the paperwork involved, he finally finds the perfect-sized apartment only to discover that it needs to be completely redone.
He uses the opportunity to build his dream home and transform the kitchen into a space that many avid bakers dream of. This is where the real trouble begins with less than stellar contractors, wild goose chases for supplies that don’t even exist, braving the crowds with 4+ hour waits at Ikea, learning specialty vocabulary in a second language, and being taken advantage of for being too friendly. I would have liked to have seen some photos of the renovation included, but you can find a few in his post with additional recipe-related photos here.
Many of the chapters finish with a recipe, generally tied to something that happened in the previous pages. The measurements are listed in US Customary and Metric with the titles written in English and often French. For easy reference, an index is included at the end of the book with a list of all the recipes. The dishes range from the incredibly simple Truth Serum to the complex Kouign Amann (this one is on my bucket list and I will definitely be trying it soon). Most of the ingredients are readily available. Some that may be difficult to locate include Thai red curry paste, galangal, Thai basil, buckwheat flour, and Izarra.
Marshmallow Creme Fudge
I was immediately drawn to David’s recipe for Marshmallow Creme Fudge. He made this fudge using a jar of marshmallow creme brought back from the United States and shared it with the remodeling crew. I never really cared for fudge growing up. I’m not sure if it was the texture or the overly sweet flavor, but I always avoided it as a child. This all changed over Christmas when my sister-in-law made some cheesecake fudge with a pecan crust. One bite and I was addicted. This Marshmallow Creme Fudge (Fudge à la pâte à tartiner guimauve) had a similar effect.
The fudge comes together fairly easily, but does require the use of a candy thermometer. Evaporated milk is combined with butter and sugar, then heated to create the base before bittersweet and unsweetened chocolate, marshmallow creme, and your favorite nuts (I used walnuts) are mixed in.
Marshmallow Creme is a marshmallow-like confection with a spreadable, sticky texture. If you are unable to locate it or are wanting to avoid some less than natural ingredients, there are plenty of recipes online to make your own (I haven’t personally tried it yet).
I also made Cervelle de Canuts, Swedish Chocolate-Oatmeal Cookies (Galettes suédoises à l’avoine), and Chocolate Soufflé.
Cervelle de Canuts is an herby spread from Lyon. It came together so easily and is particularly perfect for herb and garlic lovers. A mixture of chopped shallots, parsley, chives, tarragon, chervil, and garlic is combined with strained fromage blanc and lightly seasoned with olive oil and red wine vinegar. David recommends pairing it with open-faced sandwiches or as a dip for crudités. It has especially become a favorite for my husband.
The Swedish Chocolate-Oatmeal Cookies (Havreflarn) were inspired by David’s trip to Ikea. These crisp oatmeal-based cookies are sandwiched between a layer of melted bittersweet chocolate. My son loved helping with the assembly. Dipping one of the cookies in chocolate and finding its perfectly-sized pair was quite the job for a five year old.
This was actually my first time making a Chocolate Soufflé (I had only tried the more savory cheese versions in the past). It was a huge hit. The crisp crust gives way to a decadent, tender mousse-like interior with a hint of coffee. We paired it with vanilla ice cream. While it is best served shortly after baking, David says “it’s also not bad the next day, at room temperature- for breakfast.”
Marshmallow Creme Fudge Recipe
Excerpt from L’Appart
Marshmallow Creme Fudge
- 2/3 cup (160 ml) evaporated milk
- 12 tablespoons (6 ounces, 170 g) salted butter cut into cubes
- 3 cups (600 g) sugar
- 8 ounces (225 g) bittersweet chocolate or semisweet chocolate chopped
- 4 ounces (115 g) unsweetened chocolate chopped
- 7 ounces (200 g) marshmallow creme
- 1 cup (120 g) almonds, walnuts, peanuts, or pecans toasted and coarsely chopped
- Line an 8 inch (20 cm) square pan with aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on at least two sides. Smooth out any wrinkles or creases.
- Put the evaporated milk in a 4-quart (4 L) saucepan and fix a candy thermometer to the side.
- Add the butter and sugar to the pan, and heat over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until the temperature reaches 234˚F (112˚C).
- Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the bittersweet chocolate, unsweetened chocolate, and marshmallow creme.
- Stir in the nuts, then scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Let cool at room temperature for at least 4 hours.
- Once cool, lift the fudge from the pan and cut it into squares, whatever size you like.