Julia is a child. (One who wears roller skates, which I especially admire.)
She bears some resemblance to THE Julia Child in her affinity for French cooking and butter, but this picture book is otherwise a fictional tale.
click image(s) to enlarge
Julia has a best friend named Simca. Together, they are experts in friendship and cooking and childhood.
Those are the themes of this standout book.
“When they dreamt of the future,
they always pictured themselves cooking happily together:
the oldest children in the world.”
The girls are pretty clear on how growing up is not to be desired. They’ve seen grownups. They know they’re “wary and worried, hectic and hurried.” Who would want to be like that?
Morstad’s illustrations show adults as line drawings, unfilled out with color the way the children are. They look like people who’ve lost something along the way.
So Julie and Simca prepare a meal to bring out wonder in those big, busy people. Through a wonderful meal that draws people to it with its rainbow-like aroma.
“‘The problem,’ said Julia, ‘is that too many grown-ups don’t have the proper ingredients.'”
The dinner has its ups and downs, but dessert is the biggest hit: petits gâteaux—”chocolate almond cupcakes with chocolate butter icing and the richest, creamiest centers.” Small, tasty bites to remind each adult of loveliness, with plenty to go around so they don’t get too greedy or worry about running out.
Slow-down, sweetness, wonder, and imagination. These are the ingredients of friendship and cooking and childhood. These are what to cultivate, like Julia and Simca do.
p.s. Kyo Maclear has a knack for inventing fictitious childhood characters from historical grownup ones. (See Virigina Wolf.)
“What I’ve tried to do here is forget the facts
and capture something about Julia Child’s spirit.
And by spirit, I mean her gusto, joyful abundance
and joie de vivre.”
Excerpted from Julia, Child by Kyo Maclear. Text copyright © 2014 by Kyo Maclear, Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Julie Morstad. Reprinted by permission of Tundra Books, a division of Random House of Canada, a Penguin Random House company. All rights reserved.
You all know how much I love the baking blog Coco Cake Land, right? In honor of Julia, Child, Lyndsay is sharing chocolate almond cupcakes inspired by the ones Julia and Simca make in the book!!
I’m delighted to collaborate with such a blogging superstar and lovely person! She knows a lot about baking joyfully with plenty of imagination and play!
CHOCOLATE ALMOND CUPCAKES WITH CHOCOLATE PASTRY CREAM
FOR THE CUPCAKES
- ⅔ cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup of dutch process cocoa powder
- ¾ cup boiling water
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cups almond meal
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
FOR THE CHOCOLATE PASTRY CREAM
- 3 egg yolks
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- ¾ tablespoon flour
- ¾ tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ¾ cup chopped dark chocolate
- ¼ cup toasted almonds, chopped
MAKE THE CUPCAKES
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Gently oil the top of the cupcake pans and line cupcake pans with cupcake liners.
- In a medium bowl, whisk cocoa powder with the boiling water until you have a smooth, thick and creamy chocolate paste. Whisk in the vanilla extract.
- In another small bowl, combine the almond meal with the baking soda and salt.
- Place the sugar, oil and eggs into the bowl of stand mixer with the paddle attachment and beat on high until thick and creamy, about three minutes.
- With the mixer on low, add the chocolate mixture until combined.
- Add the almond flour mixture until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl, about one minute.
- Using a medium sized ice cream scoop, dole out the cake mixture and fill the cupcake liners just over half full.
- Bake for 20 minutes – cupcakes will rise, and fall again.
- Let them cool in the pans.
MAKE THE CHOCOLATE PASTRY CREAM
- In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar, flour and cornstarch.
- In a saucepan, bring the milk and cream to a low boil.
- Whisk half of the milk mixture into the egg yolk mixture, then add the egg/milk mixture back into the saucepan with the rest of the milk.
- Cook the pastry cream over medium heat, whisking constantly until thick – about 3-4 minutes.
- Remove the pastry cream from the heat and add the chopped chocolate. The chocolate will melt into the hot pastry cream. Whisk to combine.
- Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and power-chill in the freezer for 30 minutes, or let cool in the fridge for 2 hours to set.
- Dollop two tablespoons of chocolate pastry cream into the sunken chocolate almond cupcakes.
- Sprinkle with toasted almonds and finish with a fresh berry.
TOAST THE ALMONDS
- Place almonds on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for ten minutes (watch they don’t burn!) Let cool until crispy, then chop.
Thank you, Lyndsay!
Check out the whole post with more photos to admire over at Coco Cake Land!