A descendant of Victor Hugo, Chef Florian Hugo looked to honour and pay tribute to his family heritage when he founded his New York restaurant, Maison Hugo. An artist at heart, his fresh, creative interpretations of traditional French cuisine have won accolades and earned a global following. With the holiday season on the horizon, the chef shares his favourite festive desserts with our readers. The iconic French confection, the dainty macaron, is reinvented in a refreshing fusion of East and West, filled with lychees and raspberries, for a combination that’s delightfully tart and sweet. And Hugo’s version of a perennial favourite, dark chocolate mousse, is as luxuriously rich and silky as it gets. Its flavour is deepened with cocoa’s delicately bitter edge, for a sophisticated sweet finish in the most tasteful of French traditions.
Sour Marinated Lychee with Raspberries. Makes 4 large macarons
160g powdered sugar
100g ground almond powder
75g egg whites (3 days old)
3g dehydrated egg white powder (optional)
50g powdered sugar
Qs (just enough, use your judgment) pink or red food colouring
1. Preheat the oven to 325⁰ F.
2. Mix the powdered sugar (160g) and the almond powder, and sift to eliminate any lumps.
3. With an electric mixer, whisk the whites together with the dehydrated egg-white powder and half of the powdered sugar (25g), and a few drops of pink food colouring.
4. When the whites begin to “point” (when lifting the beaters, a point of meringue forms), add the remaining sugar (25g) and mix again for 30 seconds.
5. Pour the almond powder mixture into the meringue mix.
6. Using a plastic spatula or horn, gently mix everything, making a circular gesture from the centre of the blend of the ingredients downwards and going up scraping the sides.
7. Be careful not to deflate the meringue.
8. Prepare a pastry bag with a 6mm tip.
9. Prepare a baking sheet covered with parchment paper (glue this down with a little of the macaron blend).
10. Pipe macarons onto the baking sheet, about 5cm in diameter to obtain 7cm after cooking.
11. Tip: Using a compass or template, draw 5cm circles on the baking sheet before piping.
12. Let the macarons dry for at least one hour at room temperature.
13. Bake at 325⁰ F for about 15 minutes.
14. After removing from the oven, lift a corner of the paper and pour a little water under it, to take off the macarons.
15. Wait 3-4 minutes and then peel each macaron from the paper.
16. Allow to cool on a plate.
50g white chocolate
20g softened butter
Qs rose water
Qs pink or red food colouring
1. Boil the cream and pour over the white chocolate in a bowl.
2. Mix with a spatula.
3. Stir in the softened butter, food colouring and rose water (a few drops only).
4. Store in a cool place.
100g fresh raspberries
50g powdered sugar
5cl water (scant ¼ cup)
1. In a saucepan, boil the water with the sugar.
2. Add raspberries and boil for another 2-3 minutes.
3. Press through a strainer with a spoon.
4. Discard solids.
5. Store in a cool place.
Ingredients for assembly:
250g fresh raspberries
200g canned lychees in syrup
The juice of one lemon
1. Roughly chop the lychees and marinate them in lemon juice up to one hour.
2. With a small spatula or a spoon, spread 8 half-macarons with the ganache.
3. Arrange about a dozen fresh raspberries on the edges of 4 half-macarons.
4. Add a spoonful of lychees to the centre.
5. Cover with the other half of the macaron.
6. Arrange on plates with the raspberry coulis.