Chantilly. A mythical, majestical town in the region of Hauts de France (Northern France) just twenty minutes north of Paris. The epicentre of the town is the Domaine de Chantilly - a treasure trove of cultural and natural delights.
Chateau de Chantilly: treasure of the 19th century
In the heart of the domain is the Chateau de Chantilly (one of the few furnished castles of France) and the Musee Conde. The museum houses the intact treasures of the 19th century prince, Henri d’Orleans, Duke of Aumale and has the largest collection of renaissance paintings outside of the Louvre.
Surrounding the chateau is 115 hectares of exquisite gardens, the result of several creations according to the fashion of each period in time. There is the French style garden created by Andre Lenotre - with its exceptional mirrored water features - in the 17th century, the Anglo-Chinese garden in the 18th century and the English garden in the 19th century.
The delicate Crème Chantilly
“Crème Chantilly”. Before anything, let’s try nailing the pronunciation. Crem Shontee. Say it that way three times. That’s it! Crème Chantilly, a name which only became common in the 19th century, is delicate and airy concoction is known right around the world. It’s reputation amongst fine gourmets is firmly established.
The complete history of “crème Chantilly” is uncertain. Further, it’s original secrets have remained just that: a secret. So, what DO we know of this light, fluffy and delicate bowl of French sweetness? Crème Chantilly first made an appearance around the Age of Enlightenment. It was initially served in a village called Hameau near Senlis. The dairy in Hameau was part of the Prince of Conde’s Chantilly domain, a land holding already well known throughout Europe. The famous cream was served during the banquets which took place in the Hameau reception hall, which welcomed Chantilly’s most privileged guests.
There is much debate on the secrets of making Crème Chantilly. The only recorded advice for its preparation and the only secret revealed to those 18th century guests, was that the quality of the crème Chantilly “depends on the freshness of the cream and once finished whipping, curled peaks have formed and the waves of cream hold their shape”.
Crème Chantilly Recipe
Et voila – whilst we dream of visiting Chantilly one day, here is a recipe for Crème Chantilly. A fun and easy thing to do a la maison!
- 300ml thickened cream
- 1 table spoon icing sugar
- 1 vanilla pod or teaspoon of vanilla extract
Pour the chilled cream into a chilled mixing bowl. Stir in the icing sugar and vanilla. Whip the cream vigorously with a whisk or an electric beater until it forms waves. The cream is whipped to a “Chantilly” consistency when the soft peaks formed when lifting the whisk out of the bowl hold their shape. (Be VERY careful not to over whip, when the cream turns to clumps.)
Crème Chantilly is best served a top a bowl of fresh berries. If you want to respect the real French tradition, you will eat it all. French chefs insist crème Chantilly must never be stored and must be served fresh. You have been told. Bon appetit!