Sunday 16 February 2014

Cookery Workshop with French Glace Cherries

French glace cherries were quite common in my childhood, always as the topping on a dessert - be it a knickerbocker glory or on top of a white iced fairy cake (we didn't call them cupcakes in those days!). I didn't like them and would always pick them off! So I was intrigued when I was invited to a cookery workshop aimed around one ingredient, and one ingredient alone: French glace cherries! The invitation promised to show us different recipes using cherries and I knew I had to go.
French Glacé Cherries

The class was hosted at the Central Street Cookery School in London, which I didn't even know existed - I can't believe I had missed such a gem! It's part of St Luke's Community Centre and the kitchen - which has a huge table and lots of ovens and sinks, so is perfect for teaching - can be hired for private events and cookery classes. The best thing is that the money they make from doing this goes back to St Luke's to help them provide food-related community projects.

The afternoon session that I attended was sponsored by French Glace Cherries and we were well looked after by the company's PR, Pauline at Sopexa. The company had teamed up with Cindy, a French chef who runs a baking business, Petit Gateau. Her blog also has information about her business and tons of great recipes.
Cindy and Pauline

 Cindy and Pauline welcomed us and told us a little about French glace cherries - originally they were candied not to satisfy a sweet tooth but as a way of preserving the cherries, and this process dates back to about 1600! I also discovered that glace cherries can be different colours - some batches darker than others - and this is a deliberate process, based on the juice that is used to stain them.

These ones come from Provence, where the growing conditions are just right for cherries, and I learned why it is important to use good quality cherries - not all cherries retain their flavour, shape and texture throughout the baking process (but these will), and cheaper glace cherries allow a lot of the sugar to seep out so you end up with a sticky residue at the bottom.

Cindy had already made a variety of treats for us to try,  which were quite simply amazing. In the pictures below you can see French glace cherries wrapped in bacon, which are then baked in the oven; mini oatcakes that contain chopped French glace cherries, topped with a French glace cherry chutney and blue cheese, and some mini French glace cherry smoothies, complete with a red and white striped straw. So cute!

 And in the pictures below, you can see some mini cheesecakes with a layer of French glace cherry compote, and chocolate fondants topped with a French glace cherry - I couldn't decide which of these two were my favourite! 

Cindy had devised some different recipes for us to cook on the day - Frencg glace cherry 'jaffa cakes' and French glace cherry financiers. We began by making the jaffa cakes as they needed to set in the fridge. First we made a genoise sponge for the base, which involved whisking eggs and sugar in a bain marie.Here you can see where I have finely chopped some French glace cherries for the filling.

Cindy had already made us a jam from French glace cherries, as we wouldn't have had time to do this in the class; we mixed this with gelatine and added the chopped cherries and put it in the fridge to set.

We cooked the genoise sponge in a silicon cupcake tray so we would have small flat discs for the base of the jaffa cake.

When the jelly came out of the fridge, we used a small round cutter to cut out circles.

It's much easier to make these if you keep the cakes in the silicon mould!

We placed a circle of jelly on each cake then melted some chocolate, and after waiting for it to cool a little (so it wouldn't melt the jelly), we poured it over the top.

Finally we decorated them with some candy and sugar paper hearts - it was nearly Valentine's day after all!

The finished French glace cherry 'jaffa cakes'. They tasted fantastic and the cherry was an interesting alternative to orange that I think worked really well.

Next we made financiers, a traditional French cake using ground almonds. Here's Cindy demonstrating; the full recipe is on her website here.

We heated butter so it was slightly burnt and golden brown; it takes on a nutty flavour so is called a 'beurre noisette'. Then you mix flour, ground almonds and sugar and add the butter. Then add egg whites - so this is a good recipe if you are using egg yolks for something else and have the whites left over!

We added chopped French glace cherries to the batter once it had gone into the pan. We used a cute heart-shaped silicon mould for this but you could use any shape pan or muffin tin even.

After just a short time in the oven, they were ready:

Very pretty! And again another recipe I wouldn't have thought to use French glace cherries in.

Thanks to French Glace Cherries, Pauline at Sopexa and Cindy at Petit Gateau for organising and hosting the event and for inviting me - and for my fabulous goody bag! It was great to meet some other bloggers and to learn some new recipes.


  1. I was invited to thus event but couldn't make it but what wonderfully inspiring recipes!

    1. Shame you couldn't go, it would have been nice to finally meet you!

  2. It was great fun, and lovely to meet you!

  3. I would never have thought about putting glace cherries in half of these things!

  4. The link doesn't work

    1. You're right, the Petit Gateau link doesn't work - I've checked and it is/was right so maybe that website doesn't exist any more or isn't working at the moment, sorry.


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