Some of the most famous French desserts are called "entremets". This is a dessert that usually consists of three layers. The bottom layer is a pastry crust with a filling. The next layer is fruit or custard, and the topmost level add some cream or ice cream on top. Entremets are usually served with whipped cream on top, which makes them appear shiny and cover up any imperfections from the pastry-crust-fruit-cream sandwiches below them.
Most traditional French entremets are custards which originated in the 17th century. The first custards were made in the shape of a finger or claw, which was then dipped into fruit sauce. These early entremets were not very successful, but they ultimately became popular because of their ability to bear up well to freezing. Today, most Entremet recipes are made with cream and egg yolks instead of eggs.
1. Types of Entremets
These are the different types of French entremets:
• Custard Apple Entremets
• Honey Entremets
• Egg Custard Entremets
• Caramel Apple Entremets
• Chocolate and Cherries Entremets (Aligot)
• Pear and Chocolate Entremet (Croquembouche)
"Entremets" is a traditional French word meaning "outside dishes" or "off-dishes". This term is still used mostly in reference to desserts, but it also applies to other culinary creations such as puddings, soufflés, and concoctions that are in between the two. It can also be a verb meaning to treat something differently or in a different manner.
2. History of Entremets
• In the 19th century, they were called "mignardises".
• In the 17th century, they were called "entremets" and in the 16th century they referred to them as "entremets de luxe".
• In the 15th century, they were known as "sotelties" or "soteltiez". They can also be called "fruits en surprise", which means fruits in a surprise.
In the 17th century, the term "entremets" was used to describe all kinds of dishes that consisted of pastry crust, fruit and cream. In the 16th century, the term was used to describe pastry-like dishes in general such as tarts and cheesecakes.
3. Early Entremets
Most old French entremets are a variation of a dessert called "soteltiez" which came from Italy in the 15th century. Their first appearance in France was in the mid-16th century.
The term "soteltiez" is a most generic term for any dessert consisting of a pastry crust, fruit and cream. They were first used by Italian chefs in the 15th century. In Italy, they were not popular until the 17th century, and due to poverty in the 16th century during the Italian Wars of Religion, they were not initially well received by French chefs.
However, the French culinarily adapted soteltiez into entremets and by the mid-17th century, they were well-recognized and appreciated by the French. In 1670, Pierre Le Gras wrote: "These are very simple dishes yet you can make them with a very nice sauce".
Although custard desserts had been used in France since before 1400 from Italian recipes (coming from Rome), there was no recognition of them as an entremets in 17th century France. In 1682, "La Varenne" said that custards were not served as entremets because they were not regarded as elegant, and that they should be served on cheap dishes.
By 1687 however, custard desserts were recognized as French entremets when the famous cookbook writer La Varenne wrote: "An entremet is a kind of dessert which consists of fruit, pastry or some other dish".