Bikini season is back. Get ready, everyone! Time to go on weird diets, sigh about why you couldn't resist having that slice of chocolate cake last night, and page through articles that seem to focus on the only important topic of the season: your bikini-ready body.
Oh, I'm sorry, I thought it was the month of May for a second. Last weekend, I was lying around the park next to my apartment in Paris wearing a tank top and reading cooking magazines. I was really convinced that maybe I had gotten it all wrong--my calendar was tricking me into thinking it was Fall, and what was I still doing at my internship?
Reality came back and smacked me upside the head last week, when I had to get out one of my lighter Winter coats for the morning walk from the subway to work. However, during that small time frame in which I was ready to drink celery juice and nothing else for a week to get rid of those "unsightly bulges", I did a little light baking.
(I'm kidding, really. I would never have only celery juice for a week. Maybe celery juice once a week. And chocolate milk the rest of the time, because dairy products are really important and my magnesium supply is quickly depleting.)
The French counterpart of the American cheesecake is the gâteau au fromage blanc. It is made with fromage blanc, a thick yogurt-type product that's great with honey, jam, or a little sugar. Gâteau au fromage blanc is tall and proud, like a cheesecake, but has a much lighter texture and isn't as creamy as cheesecake.
Fat-free fromage blanc cake in the nude. This one's ready for her bikini.
I usually buy huge tubs of fat-free fromage blanc, a perfect vehicle for homemade jam from my aunt Mimi. One evening, I looked over at the bag of apples, also from the garden in the Vosges, and decided I wanted a gâteau au fromage blanc with stewed apples. All I had was the fat-free version, and I guessed early on that the texture would be completely different--which it was. However, for a quick, weeknight dessert, this hit the spot. Not too sweet but tasting distinctly of Fall with a hint of cinnamon, it's a light treat everyone is sure to enjoy--add a little caramel and you've got a more decadent treat.
I guess I could feel that Fall wasn't that far away when I opted for the cinnamon with the stewed apples. You've got to come back to the real world, someday. A real world that, in my case, involved a diet of hot chocolate milk: Winter is just around the corner.
Apple and Fromage Blanc Cake
serves 4 to 6
4 c. fat-free fromage blanc
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1/2 TS vanilla extract
1 TS baking powder
zest of 1 lemon, optional
2 large apples, sliced into eighths
1 TS cinnamon
1/2 TB butter
2 TB granulated sugar
Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C.
In a skillet over medium-high heat, melt butter. When bubbling, add apples and sprinkle with granulated sugar. Cook until golden.
Meanwhile, combine flour and baking powder in a medium bowl.
Beat egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl. Add vanilla and lemon zest if using. Refrigerate.
In a medium bowl, beat egg whites to stiff peaks.
Combine fromage blanc and egg yolk mixture. Add flour mixture and stire to combine. Delicately incorporate egg whites.
Place cooked apples at the bottom of a round 8 or 9-inch cake pan. Pour fromage blanc mixture on top.
Bake 25 to 30 minutes until top is golden. Let cool in pan and refrigerate until serving.