After a tiring day of soaking the sites and sounds of Mauritius, from the bustling streets of Port Loius in the North to the awe-inspiring seven-colored earth at Chamarel, we returned back to our lagoon villa only to be reinvigorated by a tea-time surprise. The striking color of this surprise, lying on our table, was the first thing that caught our eye as we walked inside. All our fatigue turned into curiosity. What looked to us like macaroons, turned out to be Napolitains.
Napolitains are small french style cakes layered with icing and/or jam in the middle and completely enveloped in fondant. These petite desserts are the perfect accompaniment to a hot cup of tea against the backdrop of the Mauritian sunset. My husband brewed himself a cup of dark espresso and a cup of strong Earl Grey tea for me. The villa was suddenly filled with a strong aroma of coffee beans transporting us to the coffee bean fields of Brazil. Outside on the veranda,overlooking the sun-setting on the sparkling Indian Ocean awaited our Napolitains.
The sparkling rose pink color and tangerine shades of these Mauritian desserts could easily make them the “pièce de résistance” at any tea party. Being a girl, and obviously most attracted to pink, I bit into the Pink Napolitain. Right that very moment, I was transported to pastry heaven. Cake, strawberry jam and fondant- simple perfection. The orange Napolitan was the perfect blend of sweet and sour. It was a picture perfect moment; striking sunset, fresh air, strong tea/coffee and delectable dessert. Pastry chef Nicolas Maugard of the Four Seasons, Anahita was gracious enough to share the recipe with us:
- 250 g flour
- 175 g butter
- 100 g strawberry jam
- 500 g icing sugar
- 100 g water
- In a bowl, mix the flour and butter to make a dough. Shape it into a ball and let it rest for 1 hour at room temperature.
- Roll out the dough, 2 cm high and cut out 5 cm diameter circles with a round pastry cutter.
- Line them up on a baking tray and bake in the oven at 175 degrees for 25 minutes.
- Let them cool and then spread the strawberry jam on one mini cake and put another on top.
- For the fondant, put icing sugar in a pan, add the water and heat at 35 degrees.
- Add food color of your choice to the mixture
- With a big spoon, spread the fondant on each Napolitain individually.
- Let the fondant dry for 2 hours
It is your ticket to becoming a five-star pastry chef, or at least close to it. I was curious to find out the origins of Napolitains, so what better way to find out than simply asking the locals. According to them, the French vacated their land but left their influence behind. Napolitains are considered the most popular dessert on the Island, being sold in every corner of Mauritius. Maybe now, you can get a taste of this Paradise Island in your own kitchen.