There is croque madame, and then there is croque crotte (literally “crunch dung”), which is what I like to call the chocolate coated grapes featured in Michel Richard’s Happy in the Kitchen cookbook. They are absolutely delicious!
I thought of chocolate truffles this summer while watching my steps to avoid camel droppings along the shore of Yasmina Club Med resort, one of the rare spots you can find camels in the Moroccan north region, where they are brought specifically for the leisure of tourists. Croque crotte might sound gross, improper perhaps? Not if you don’t speak French, or if it’s… April Fools!
What is ‘proper’ is something that kids hear all too often, because they naturally do some unpleasant things. April Fools and its icky food tricks can be amusing but also confusing for kids, unless revolting things are explained calmly and maybe with humor, which of course parents never do when revolting things happen. Kids love to play with food, for example. The last time my kids were snacking on pomegranates, they started squeezing the seeds and shooting juice on each others face, then ducking under our heavy wooden dining table. It took some time for my son to realize that what was dripping from his forehead was not pomegranate juice but blood, after ducking and hitting the edge of the table, breaking through his skin. That was not the time to counsel with dignity on what is or is not proper to do with food. In fact, it was time to run to the closest emergency room. He had four stitches, by the way.
That’s why I like That’s Disgusting!. The picture book That’s Disgusting! by Francesco Pittau and Bernadette Gervais is a brilliant project. It’s nice for parents wanting to teach their children about where things belong. It might be effective, just because it is one of the only opportunities for parents to counsel their kids on repulsive things without scaring the hell of them.
Now back to Michel Richard. Though he doesn’t suggest in his book to make his chocolate grapes for April Fools, he thinks of them as a nice way to trick satiated guests at the end of a copious diner. They are also a great snack for kids, who usually love both grapes and chocolate. There is an incredible balance between the fleshy fruit and the chocolate candy, the sweetness of the grapes and the tart of the chocolate, the juiciness of the grapes and the dryness of the cocoa powder. It’s a genius combination and ridiculously simple to make. All you need is:
• 1 pound firm seedless sweet grapes, stems removed
• 4 ounces 60% semisweet chocolate, melted
• 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
Place the grapes in a large bowl so you can toss them easily. Make sure the grapes are completely dry. They also need to be cold, which keeps them firm and easy to toss. The cold also speeds up the chocolate setting. So, I suggest you wash them, dry them, and then keep them in the fridge until you are ready to proceed with the rest of the recipe. Pour the melted chocolate on the grapes while stirring with a spatula, carefully folding through the center of the grapes to coat all of them evenly.
After only a few minutes, when the chocolate begins to set, use a small strainer and sprinkle cocoa powder over the chocolate coated grapes. If the chocolate is still wet, the cocoa will soak into the chocolate and will create lumps. Gently stir and toss the grapes as you sift, continuing to add the cocoa until all of the grapes are well coated and separated. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until serving time (up to 3 days).
For less disgusting April Fools’ food ideas, check Silly Apron’s April Fools’ project from 2013.
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