Celebrating a Milestone! Joyeuse, Joyeux
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Broyer, Pilon + Mousse au Chocolat aux Epices - a spicy dessert to celebrate this word journal's birthday


Thank you for the wonderful profiles you are sending in, in celebration of this word journal's 15th birthday. It is a pleasure and a gift to read about you for a change, and your "bonne continuation" messages have given me an invigorating second wind! If you did not see your comment posted, scroll down to the end of the comments in the previous post and find the tiny "show more comments" link.

I told you I was celebrating this milestone and today's chocolate mousse is a festive way to do so! This is an easy recipe my superhero belle-soeur made for our family lunch in Avignon, chez Jacques (mon beau-frère, who gave us all that popular French yogurt cake recipe). The hardest part about chocolate mousse is the patience you'll need to slowly incorporate the whipped egg whites into the melted chocolate. We've included a video clip to help you to understand la vitesse involved. And you'll hear a slice of Nick Cave's album "Skeleton Trees", which was playing in the background as Cécile (who just saw him in concert in Paris!) made this spicy dessert. (A note about the photo: that's a bottle of beer in the background. In another photo, you will see a wine bottle opener--two objects which have nothing to do with a recipe tuturial for chocolate mousse. Don't worry, neither object belongs to me--and neither belongs in the photo. But it's kind of funny, isn't it? Which reminds me to tell you to just have fun making these recettes, and enjoy collection of our French family and friends recipes in these delicious archives

Today's words are BROYER and le PILON

    => the first means "to crush" or "to grind" and the second is a pestle, in French

AUDIO FILE & Example sentence
Hear Jean-Marc read today's words and the following sentence:

Soundfile for broyer and pilon

Ouvrir les graines de cardamom, les broyer au pilon.
Open the cardamon seeds, grind them with a pestle.


by Kristi Espinasse

My sister-in-law, Cécile, spent the night Saturday so she could help us with a few projects here at our new home in La Ciotat. For one, we needed her welding skills to take out an iron banister along our front porch. Next, we needed her to remove the base of some giant slide-out drawers that belonged to an old bed frame we dismounted (and transformed into a potager or kitchen garden! In this way we avoided having to buy wood to construct a new frame!). 

A bed frame repurposed into vegetable bed

Finally, Cécile helped with our family lunch, by making dessert.  This chocolate mousse was a spicy suite to the most delicious meal (Jacques' longtime love, Mariem, is Moroccan. And Mariem's dear and funny maman made us the best couscous in the whole wide world...marinated lamb, chicken, large slices of long-simmered pumpkin, carrots, zucchini, onion, raisins, and piment all on a bed of grains. After eating the gently-spiced plat principal, the gingerbread-safron aromas lingered in my mouth as I drifted off the the land of Tout Va Bien. (Isn't that where comfort food takes us? To a place called All is Well?) Surrounded by my adopted French and Moroccan family, and the history we've knitted together, was the next best thing to a 1970s Thanksgiving with family in the Arizona desert--only a selection of cheeses didn't follow the main meal, and, afterwards, my sister and I didn't shoot at leftover beer cans with Grandpa's BB gun. (In reality we probably only did this once, and we were in the wide open desert--almost as far off track as this missive has gone....).

I leave you with a recipe as thick and rich as good family memories. Enjoy, and many thanks to my sister-in-law, Cécile, who created this Spicy Chocolate Mousse and who appears in the photo tutorial below (she apologizes for her stained hands, but she welds and hammers in a workshop or atelier every day!). Cécile has a new Facebook page featuring her furniture and other creations. See you over there!

Pour 8 personnes

200 grammes de chocolat noir
200 grams of dark chocolate

6 oeufs
6 eggs

5 sachets de sucre vanillé
5 packets of vanilla sugar (you can use 5 tablespoons of sugar, just add vanilla flavoring)

1 morceau de gingembre
1 piece of ginger

du zeste de citron
some lemon zest

10 graines du cardamom
10 cardamom seeds

un demi verre d'eau
half a glass of water


Melting chocolate in a bain-marie or double boiler

Faire fondre le chocolat au bain-marie
Melt the chocolate in a bain-marie (this is simply a small pan set inside a larger pan filled about halfway with water, which will gently heat the pan of chocolate above it)

Ouvrir les graines de cardamom, les broyer au  pilon
Open the cardamom seeds, grind them with a pestle
Breaking open the cardamom
Pestle to grind the  seeds

Emincer le gingembre et le zeste de citron
Mince the ginger and the lemon peel

Slicing and mincing the ginger and lemon peel

Réserver le tout dans un peu d'eau pour faire ressortir les arômes
Reserve everything in a little water to bring out the aromas

ginger lemon peel cardamom in water

Séparer les oeufs
Separate the eggs (yolks from the egg whites)

Mettre le sucre vanillé avec les jaunes d'oeufs, avec une fourchette battre le tout et incorporer le gingembre citron, cardamom
Put the vanilla sugar with the egg yolks, with a fork beat everything together and incorporate the ginger lemon, cardamom

Monter les blancs en neige (astuce: ajouter un pincée de sel)
Whip up the egg whites (tip: add a bit of salt)

Lorsque le chocolat est fondu, incorporer la préparation avec les jaunes d'oeufs, et rajouter un peu d'eau au besoin pour que cela soit fluide.
When the chocolate is melted, incorporate the preparation with the egg yolks, and add a little water as needed to make it fluid.

Combining the eggyolk preparation with the melted chocolate
Mettre cette preparation dans un plat . Incorporer tout doucement les blancs d'oeufs montés en neige, cuillière par cuillière , l'idée est de faire rentrer de l'air dans la préparation.
Put this preparation in a dish. Slowly stir in the whipped egg whites, spoonful by spoon, the idea is to bring air into the preparation.

Mettre la mousse au frigo plusieurs heures. Si vous êtes pressé, c'est possible de la mettre au congélateur, une heure.
Put the mousse in the fridge for several hours. If you are in a hurry, you can put it in the freezer for an hour.

Spicy chocolate mousse with ginger cardamom lemon peel and verveine or verbena leaves on top

Manger très frais.
Eat it chilled.

Bon appétit - and for more recipes visit the recipe archives...

Cecile tabouret bench
Cécile's benches, tables, mirrors and shelves can be seen in Aix-en-Provence!

Aix'Potentiels is a shop at 9 Rue Fermée in Aix en Provence (check the address, as the boutique may move in the new year).
There are lamps, jewelery with stones and leather, bags, cushions and carpets, candles and ambiance perfumes, sweets for the taste buds, plants, furniture for the interior--mirrors, seating ... and much more!
An expo every month, and especially passionate people!
Open Monday to Saturday from 10h to 19h

Aix'Potentiels, c´est une boutique au 9 rue fermée à Aix en Provence
Ce sont des lampes, des bijoux en pierres et en cuir, des sacs,des coussins et des tapis,des bougies et des parfums d´ambiance, de la reliure des douceurs pour les papilles, des plantes, du mobilier de la décoration d´intérieur des miroirs, des assises... et bien plus encore!
Une expo chaque mois, et surtout des gens passionnés !
Ouvert du lundi au samedi de 10h à 19h

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Catherine Berry (But you are in France, Madame)

A bit of comfort food after the emotions of the last post. Nice. And ... very nice to meet you all, too.

Cynthia Gillespie-Smith

Looks even better than a tarte au citron!

Kristin Espinasse

Haha! It was great seeing you yesterday -- and that was a darned good tarte au citron ! 


Cecile has great taste in baseball teams, too!GO DODGERS!


By the way, this phrase "les blancs d'oeufs montés en neige" does not literally mean egg whites in snow, as per the translation above. It means to add the egg whites that have been beaten until they form peaks.

Cynthia Gillespie-Smith

And Cecile has great taste in music -- she loves Gianna Nannini too!

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Gail. I will fix this at the next chance. Much appreciated.


Yummy. I admire your resourcefulness- in your garden beds. So creative.


Oh yummy..eager to try this spicy mousse au chocolate! Merci. Lovely to gather family around any time. See you both we hope in 2018.

Saint Jivago Desanges

Congratulations on 15 years!!! May you have 15 and many more years of your wonderful blog.

Ran out of time yesterday in writing for my profile and couldn't post, so doing it today. Great recipe today too!

I have been a fan of your blog for at least 9 years, about the same time I was finally able to get the Tour de France on cable in Los Angeles. I am 70, look 50 but still feel 28, was a French major at UCLA, am an artist, graphic designer and photographer. I retired from commercial work and now I shoot and design and publish art related to travel. I am a big collector of so many things like thousands of books on art, travel and cuisine. I am a great cook too. A great vintage cookbook on French cuisine is The Flavor of France by the Chamberlain family.

My collecting of vintage travel-related items includes an archives of over 50,000 different vintage luggage labels of hotels, airlines and ships. I have luggage labels from over 500 different hotels from Paris. One day I will publish a book on that subject and have plans to open a small museum devoted to travel. No website yet for the museum but I have the domain names Museum of Travel Art and Souvenir de Voyage. In my collection are over 1,000 old hotel keys, vintage travel photography, posters and old luggage like Louis Vuitton.

Born in California, but as an infant, I started speaking Chinese, Spanish and Tagalog in the Philippines where my father was a colonel in the US Army. I lost those languages growing up in the states, but now I speak Spanish, French (Parisian accent), Portuguese (Brazilian accent) and am studying Italian. I travel mostly to France (Je suis fou des marchés aux puces), Brazil and S.E. Asia always collecting and shooting photos for my art projects. I have always had a dream of moving to the south of France with my family. Maybe one day.

Another passion of mine is collecting clever and inspirational quotes from literature, popular culture and movies. One of my favorites is from the classic French film Les Enfants du Paradis......"Paris est tout petit pour ceux qui s'aiment comme nous d'un aussi grand amour!"

Spell Check keeps wanting to edit my English and French words. I hope all is correct.

Felicitations, tanti auguri, parabens from Jivago in sunny California

Sarah LaBelle

Le vrai mousse au chocolat ! This brings back memories. When I was briefly doing graduate studies at Cornell University in Ithaca NY, which attracted many students from France for the hotel school at that long ago era, we had no birthday cakes, but mousse au chocolat, served out like ice cream. Simple, really but it uses so many bowls, and a double boiler, our word for bain marie, to melt the chocolate gently. the recipe I learned from them was richer, as butter was added to the egg yolk-and-chocolate mixture. We simplified life a bit by using semi sweet chocolate chips, readily available here, and then no need to add sugar. Real vanilla, of course, and some Grand Marnier for the orange flavor. I never tried Moroccan spices.

The proportions were
7 egss
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
1 1/3 cup (12 oz) semi sweet chocolate chips
vanilla and Grand Marnier (or orange juice) to taste.

Preparation was exactly as you describe it. The step I enjoyed the most was folding the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Gently, gently, and the magic is done, making it so light and airy. Chill the entire mixture or spoon it into individual pots and then chill.

My own siblings found it too rich to eat, but I loved it. I suppose I could remove the butter, see if my siblings could eat it now, and with the spices.


Go Dodgers! (This completely distracted me from the rest of the post, and I had to go back and reread it. LOL!)
Looks like a great recipe, and I can't wait to try it.
Congrats on the first 15 Kristi, here's to 15 more! Thanks for your delightful stories and for sharing your life with all of us.

Karla Ober

I've been here as a steady reader for at least 14 of those years! I own and have read all your books - most are signed, too!
Your dedication to this blog is amazing, and we all thank you for it. I have learned so much in such a gentle non-stressful fashion: Thank you! and Congratulations. Kristi!

~Karla Ober
Retired English Teacher

Diane Heinecke

Oh my. Bravo to Cecile! Sounds like French cookbooks of yesteryear. Yummy but lots of work to make "from scratch." I've become lazy. Is it too late to re-learn?


I am an avid fan of your blog and enjoyed reading your books. I'm a retired Montessori teacher and love learning and experiencing new cultures. My husband and I have been to Provence twice and hope to go again soon. Congrats on 15 years of creating French Word a Day! Please continue! And enjoy the process of settling into your new home.


Our dear Kristi,
Wasn't it dear Cecile who inspired us all when she wore her Wonder Woman pants?
Wow!She has done it again with this heavenly mousse recipe!(YUM!)
THANK YOU for sharing it with us!
May I share one of my favorite au pif mousse recettes?
Honeyed Chocolate Mousse(I apologize for forgetting the source;must've been making it 30 years now)
Whipping cream ( I use a bit better than pint;pint is 2 cups)
Beat cream till standing in light peaks.
Fold in about 3 tablespoon honey(or to taste)
Melt 2-3 squares milk chocolate(either in double boiler or micro)
When cooled off enough ,gently fold into whipped cream.(looks pretty in swirls)
Spoon into small cups(is rich) and place in frigo.
Serves 4(with possible spoon licks to chef and helpers)
Natalia XO
PS I always enjoy reading all of the comments and,now,especially in celebration of your wonderful 15th anniversary(!),learning more about the authors! Kristi,what a great idea!!


Unfortunately my email from your site stopped several weeks ago, however I have subscribed again. I am soon to be 89,docent at DMA touring students and adult. Taking up my camera again and enrolled in community college courses for seniors. Been reading since long before your first book, came thru mail from France, and have all books last a digital copy. also now painting at same school. Wishing you and yours the best,

Jan Hersh

I'm not sure when I started reading your posts...seems like a long wonderful time. I live in California/San Francisco East Bay and have worked for many years as a vocal musical teacher for young children in both elementary and pre-schools. I started a weekly music therapy job for extremely disabled school age children at a private school last December. It is a blessing to be doing this work.
Happily Married for 42 years, had a girl and a boy, BA in French in 1971 from San Francisco State University, grandmother to two lovely girls, poet, and love to travel...especially to France!

Chris Allin

Dear Kristi,

Cécile is very talented...from building beautiful furniture to making a delicate dessert! The mousse is so tempting that I am considering trying it, even though my whole family is allergic to chocolate!

I have collected your recipes into a notebook. One of my favorites is a recipe for daurade. When having dinner at an amazing French restaurant in Washington DC, I had daurade en papillote, which was very much like Jean-Marc's mother's recipe, with tomatoes, potatoes, onions and lemon. It has become one of my favorite meals to prepare at home!

It is so exciting to see the raised garden beds...oh, the promise of your own fresh produce again!

Thank you for enriching our lives in so many ways through your journal. With all the turmoil and travesty in our world, it is nice to take a moment to appreciate the little things in life, especially French life.

Gail Wolstenholme

Hi Kristin
Congtaulaions on reaching 15 years of French Word a Day! And thank you for another lovely recipe - I regularly make your Yoghurt cake.....delicious! I've been with you through thick and thin, from the very early days when you invited me to sponsor the word "Savon" back in 2003! At that time I had just started my own online business selling French soap. Of course just sponsoring a word wasn't enough, I had to meet you. So, whilst on a soap buying trip to France with my friend Janet, we had our first memorable meeting collecting our signed copies of your first book, with the added bonus of meeting your two beautiful, very young children.......Oh how they've grown! Your blog was also inspirational in us buying a holiday home in Provence, which we enjoyed for nine years. Our subsequent memorable meeting was in 2012 for a wine tasting at your beautiful vineyard home in St Cecile, when we had the pleasure of meeting the Chief Grape and tasting his delicious wines!
Like you, we have moved on in life, selling our French holiday home, also my French soap business and moving house......only once though!
Thank you for giving us all so much pleasure over many years, and for giving us a fascinating insight into your faboulous French life!
Best wishes
Cheshire, United Kingdom

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