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So Much Chocolate! February in France

So much time, so many places, so much chocolate!

February in France is one of my favorite months. Perhaps that’s because it brings back memories of chocolate. It’s the month of Valentine’s Day and my birthday. Just a week apart.

I love February because I give myself permission to splurge on chocolate. Starting with a box of chocolates on Valentine’s Day and finishing with the last morsel of chocolate fudge cake on my birthday, I cram as much of my favorite sweet into a month as possible.

As I embark on my new “season” of chocolate, I’m bringing back memories of my favorite chocolate experiences. There have been many to sort through. Here’s a go at it.

Visions of Chocolate

Visions from years ago take me to the 5 & 10 stores my father owned in North Carolina. When I was barely old enough to reach the top of the counters, I could easily scoop out candies from behind the glass case in the front of the store. Those days, the “good” chocolates were sold in shiny boxes stacked on shelves. Candy counter chocolates that I recall were wafer-thin and coated with multi-colored sprinkles. Other favorites were chocolate-covered raisins and nuts.



Later in my chocolate years, I discovered the most heavenly fudge. On vacation in Cape May, New Jersey, I found the creamy chocolate delicacy made daily with fresh dairy cream. (1)

While living in Minnesota, our family’s favorite stops were at the General Mills’ Pillsbury Pie Shops. Customers lined up in twenty below-zero weather to buy the velvety French Silk Pies. (2)

Ricotta-cream-chocolate chip cannolis with dark chocolate-dipped shells, found at Ferrara‘s in New York’s Little Italy,  were totally irresistible. (3)

Then there was the chocolate chiffon creme pie my mother made from this recipe. I have kept the “Fidelis Bible Class” Cook Book from Myers Park Baptist Church in Charlotte since 1954! (Recipe below)

So much time, so many places, so much chocolate.

Now that I live in France, it’s not surprising that I would have my most exhilarating chocolate experiences here.

Chocolate Highs: February in France

The first chocolate memory in France was shortly after I arrived to live in Uzès. I was entertaining new expat friends, and we drove to one of my favorite places — San Quentin de la Poterie. The small town is famous for its potteries, where craftsmen often are found busy at work in their shops.


On this particular day, it was quite windy —  “Le Mistral.”  My guests and I bundled up with hats and scarves before we left Uzès. While walking through the narrow, winding streets of San Quentin, we knew the sharp wind would surely turn too cold for comfort. Soon, we stopped at the store where I had shopped for a few items for my apartment. I reminded them about the little daybed they’d admired.

When we opened the door, tingling bells announced our arrival. The shopkeeper appeared almost immediately. She was as delightful as I recalled. Inviting us in to get out of the cold, she asked if we would like a beverage? “Tea? Cafe? chocolat chaud?”

“Chocolat chaud?” we answered almost in unison.

“Oui,” she said .. followed by something else in French.

Let me stop here momentarily to confess I don’t speak French — try as I might. That’s another story.

While trying to disguise that I understood only one-tenth of what the shopkeeper was saying, my friends told me later that she said that she makes each cup of chocolat chaud from scratch with melted chocolate.

After taking our order, the shopkeeper set off for the kitchen, and we busied ourselves rambling through the store. It was filled with pretty little antique items, nostalgic home decorations, delicate lace items to wear, and an array of tableware arranged perfectly with new and vintage linens. It was like visiting inside a life-size doll house.

Just as I was lifting a wine goblet out of its place to examine it more closely, our hostess approached and led us to a small alcove in the store. The cozy space was decorated like a Victorian sitting room. She sat us at a petite wrought iron table in the center of the alcove. When we removed our coats and were comfortable, she brought the first of our giant cups of chocolat chaud. She placed it in front of me. She served another, then the last. Each fine bone china cup was the size of a soup bowl. Each was filled to the brim with steaming hot chocolate. Saucers beneath each cup held two dainty shortbread cookies.

Holding my cup by its handle, supported by my hand on the bottom, I sipped the heavenly brew. “Oh my!” I exclaimed. “Surely these cups with beautifully hand-painted, gold-leaf laurels have never held such a delicacy.” With the next sip, my tastebuds burst open from the subtle sweetness, then the flavor of chocolate — deep, rich cocoa. With another bigger sip, the velvety liquid filled my mouth. I was delirious. How could anything taste this good? I glanced at my friends to see their reaction.

“This is the best ‘chocolat chaud’ ever!” we all chanted.

When I turned back to closely examine what I had put into my mouth, I noticed how the thick, smooth mixture clung impishly to the vessel’s sides. Minuscule specs of chocolate floated on top and down into the center of the devilish concoction as I stirred the drink with a spoon. The consistency was like rich, creamed soup, which caused me to take a few spoonfuls instead of sips. The taste reminded me of every piece of fabulous chocolate I had ever eaten. Memories swam in my head as I gazed into the masterpiece before me.

“Can I stay here forever?” I pleaded with the shopkeeper.

Switching between drinking and spooning the heavenly delight.. and ignoring my friends and all around me …  too soon, I saw the bottom of the cup. It was over. That was it.

“It may be a long time before I taste chocolate this good again,” I said sadly.

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“Lucky you,” joked one friend. “You can come back here anytime,” she said in a jealous tone.

“Exactement!” I exclaimed in my poor French. “San Quentin de la Poterie is almost next door!”

Chocolat chaud


My second chocolate high in France was visiting Angelina in Paris.

“From its opening, Angelina became the inevitable rendezvous of the Parisian aristocracy. In its salons, Proust, Coco Chanel, and the greatest French designers met… who jostled there to come and taste the famous Mont Blanc and the unforgettable hot chocolate known as “L’Africain.’ “

The day I discovered Angelina was on one of my favorite visits to Paris — just me and little Fanny in January. The lovely hosts welcomed us both. What a delight!

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Note: The chocolat chaud recipes are top secret. Do you have a favorite chocolate recipe you would like to share?


Here’s one from 1954! 

Fidelis Bible Class

Myers Park Baptist Church

Charlotte, North Carolina

Chocolate Chiffon Cream Pie Circa 1954 

1 envelop unflavored gelatine

1/2 cup cold water

2 squares (2 ozs.) unsweetened chocolate

2/3 cup sugar

1 cup milk

2 eggs – separated

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup cold evaporated milk, whipped (or 1/2 cup heavy cream, whipped)

1 teaspoon vanilla

Soften relative in cold water. Combine chocolate, 1/3 cup of the sugar and milk in top of double boiler; heat over boiling water until chocolate is melted; beat with egg beater until smooth. Beat egg yolks. Slowly add to chocolate mixture, stirring until well blended. Return to double boiler, cook, stirring constantly for about 3 minutes. Add softened gelatine and stir until dissolved. Chill until mixture is the consistency of unbeaten egg whites. Add salt to egg whites and beat until stiff but not dry. Gradually beat in remaining 1/3 cup of sugar. Fold beaten egg whites and whipped evaporated milk or cream into chocolate mixture. Add vanilla. Filling for one ten-inch pie crust.

Alice Edwards


19 Responses

  1. Deborah, I really think you need to schedule a visit to the annual chocolate festival in Tübingen in southern Germany. It is held every December at Christmas market time. Magic! We enjoyed it enormously when Anna spent a semester at the university there and again when Freddie studied in Stuttgart nearby. Highly recommended!

    1. The Christmas market sounds like a “must.” I’m sure there’s nothing quite like German chocolates … unless its French! Or Swiss? Come and go with me! Thank you for following and reading the blog. I love knowing you’re there!

    1. Hi Nancy! Thanks for your note. Yes, the little store is still in San Quentin de la Poterie. It’s L’Effet Rêve. Please tell the lovely shopkeeper the Barefoot Blogger sent you. She probably won’t remember me, but I try to stop in when the shop is open and I’m there. Enjoy the chocolat chaud!

  2. Here’s my favorite hot chocolate recipe, courtesy of David Lebovitz

    Use the best chocolate you can find for this amazing hot chocolate.
    2 cups (500ml) whole milk
    5 ounces (130g) bittersweet chocolate, (best-quality), finely chopped
    optional: 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
    Heat the milk in a medium-sized saucepan.
    Once the milk is warm, remove from heat and whisk in the chocolate, stirring until the chocolate is melted. For a thick hot chocolate, return to heat and cook at a very low boil for about 2-3 minutes, whisking constantly. Be careful and keep an eye on the mixture, as it may boil up a bit during the first moments.
    Taste, and add brown sugar if desired.
    Serve warm in demitasse cups, or small coffee or tea cups.
    Note: This hot chocolate improves if made ahead and allowed to sit for a few hours. Rewarm before serving. I also like to add a few flecks of fleur de sel, the very good sea salt from Brittany.

    1. I do believe you’ve made this for me, Paula. But I’ve forgotten how wonderful… you must do it again! Thank you so much for your comments.

    1. I haven’t made the pie in so long! Hope you enjoy it. I’ll be anxious to hear. Thank you for following and for your comments. Looking forward to your next visit.

  3. Oh, what a delicious post! Growing up Dutch I had my share of fabulous chocolate, but what surprised me was the nasty smell coming from the cocoa factories in the Zaandam area. No, it does not smell like chocolate! The most delicious hot chocolate I ever had was in Rome, cioccolata calda, also in the month of February. It is very thick and creamy and also made with melted chocolate, not cocoa.

  4. I always love reading your blogs. But I love chocolate more. LOL. Thank you for your chocolate stories. I was reminded of my visit to a Chocolatier in Riorges, France called La Bonbonnière where hundreds of different types of chocolate are made daily. The luscious smell of creamy chocolate as soon as the door opened made me want to stay for hours and sample each kind of chocolate until I had to be carried home. But that did not happen. Instead, I walked out with a big bag of chocolates to enjoy during my 30-day stay in Riorges, and of course, to share with those I encountered. Your description of the chocolat chaud that you so thoroughly enjoyed made me yearn for the French chocolates that I now miss. Thank for sharing your Valentine chocolate stories. And Happy Birthday!

    1. Confess I had to look up Riorges. I visited in the Loire Valley but will have to go back…. For chocolate! Isn’t it odd we can remember things years later that we’ve tasted. Thank you for sharing your story.. and for following.

  5. Bonjour !
    I also like that in Paris they have at least 3 pastry shops for diabetics !
    On my next trip to France I want to include Paris on my list.

    February i still young ! Enjoy !


    1. I had no idea there are pâtisseries for diabetics. Leave it to the French to think of pleasing us all with the scrumptious desserts. Thanks for letting me know and for your comment. Stay in touch!

  6. OMG Deb you are making me drool! I’ve never had the chocolate chaud but it looks delish. I didn’t know that your dad had 5&10 stores (with candy counters). My grandfather in Ipswich, MA had a little mom and pop store with a candy counter. Oh boy, I loved going to Massachusetts to visit him! And on my birthday he would send to Iowa a care package of the candy. Thank you for the lovely vision of chocolate this morning. Love your hair!
    Be Well, Nancy

    1. I love your note and the fact you have such a similar attachment to chocolates from your childhood. You’ll need to return here to go with me to San Quentin. Keep making your beautiful jewelry!

  7. Your description brings it to as close to reality that one’s imagination could feel. Chocolate!
    I did not know evaporated milk could be whipped! I will try it. I think evaporated milk is under appreciated. It has depth to it, unique flavour.
    Take me back there a time for chaud chocolat!

  8. LOVE reading your blogs Deborah. Our trip to Uzes and spending a couple of days with you showing us around the area truly remains one of the best trips of my lifetime. Hopefully i will get back and see you again in future and get to have a cup of Chocolat Chaud with you! My very favourite food group!

    Nina from Collingwood, Ontario Canada

    1. Nina, we did have a great time. I think of your visit with Pat every time I’m in my kitchen. Still loving my bread slicer. Hope you’ll come back again. Thanks for following the blog!

  9. While living in the Dordogne region we made chocolate sampling part of our lifestyle! The chocolatier in St. Cyprien is heavenly and they hold Open House tours in their laboratory located just outside the city. And then there are the annual Salon du Chocolat where artisan chocolatiers gather to offer all things chocolate. Our favorites were held in Lalinde and Villefranche du Périgord and Marmande. We came away with HEAPS of treats! The countdown begins…Autumn 2024!

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