Friday, February 5, 2010

ROMAN DE LA ROSE CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES


The Garden of Pleasure, 15th C. Flemish

Roman de la Rose was a transformational 13th century work written by 2 different people 45 years apart springing no doubt from the Poitier’s court of the incandescent Eleanor of Aquitaine. The work came at the beginning of the literary tradition of courtly love”concurrent with the first bloom of Arthurian legend (Chretién de Troyes and Geoffrey of Monmouth were nearly contemporaries) and remarkable for the way it explored love in its many forms.

First page of University of Chicago Library copy

Its popularity was extraordinary since it predated the printing press by hundreds of years and circulated only through beautiful illuminated books (hundreds of which still exist today).

"Love Roundplay", from French book illustration, master of the "Roman de la Rose", c. 1420/30; Archiv fur Kunst und Geschichte, Berlin.

Circulate it did, in spite of the church throwing up rather unfortunate draconian rules and regulations regarding sex with really, really unfortunate consequences for those who disregarded them (roasting, chopping, flaying, castrating, filling with hot lead...all while still alive).

14th C. Copy, University of Chicago

Perhaps these rules were in direct response to the life-style portrayed in Roman de la Rose and other kindred works that glorified romantic love and flirted with barely disguised sexuality.

Pavane, British Library

Roman de la Rose begins as an allegorical dream set within a walled garden (locus amoenus, or ‘pleasant place’ with Garden-of-Eden leanings) that represents romantic life. What lies beyond is ‘la vie ordinaire’.

Enclosed Garden, BL MS Egerton 1069, 1400

In the dream, a young man gazes into The Fountain of Narcissus and falls in love with a rosebud. He never consummates his desire (one of the fundamentals of courtly love is that love be unrequited yet transcendant and usually secret). The second and later part opens the work up to the world and its eroticism is richer with many associations with the Latin poet Ovid’s The Art of Love . Interestingly, the rose in this book is not just a symbol of the female, closed it signifies the male.

Declan McCullagh photograph

The rose became associated with love as it was the favorite flower of Venus, the goddess of love in Roman mythology. It has remained so evermore and the idea of giving roses to one’s beloved probably had roots in the language of flowers that dates back to antiquity and eventually grafted itself onto Valentine’s Day. Red roses still imply passionate, romantic love and pink roses a lesser affection; white roses suggest virtue and chastity and yellow roses still stand for friendship or devotion.

Maythechocolatebewithyou

For most of us, the ultimate romantic aphrodesiac is chocolate but Europe wouldn’t know its seductive properties until Columbus brought it back from the New World. Theobroma cacao in Greek means ‘food of the gods’. You probably see where I’m going with this. Roses are flowers of the gods, and chocolate…well, Elaine Sherman, “Madame Chocolate”, wrote “Chocolate is heavenly, mellow, sensual, deep, dark, sumptuous, gratifying, potent, dense, creamy, seductive, suggestive, rich, excessive, silky, smooth, luxurious, celestial. Chocolate is downfall, happiness, pleasure, love, ecstasy, fantasy … chocolate makes us wicked, guilty, sinful, healthy, chic, happy.” The Aztecs thought that it was a source of spiritual wisdom and sexual power

For Valentine’s Day, I will share with you my favorite cupcake, gathered long ago from the pages of the old Victoria Magazine. There is nothing better than chocolate flavored with roses… well almost nothing… and these will get you in the mood for, well, you know. I used Mandy Aftel’s Rose Absolute for the cupcakes for the first time and was over the moon with the results after using rosewater for many years… try to use it if you can.

Happy Valentines Day!!!!!


Romance of the Rose Chocolate Cupcakes

1 ½ c Flour

½ c Cocoa powder

1 ½ t. baking powder

¼ t salt

2 L eggs

1 c sugar

¾ c buttermilk

½ t. vanilla

1 stick butter

2 oz. chocolate, chopped

Set your oven at 350º. Sift the flour, cocoa and baking powder and salt in one bowl. Combine the sugar and the eggs and beat till golden and smooth, add the buttermilk and vanilla. Melt the butter and add the chocolate stir till melted with a gentle heat then add the dry ingredients then the wet. Makes 12-15 cupcakes. Cook for 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Frost with:

Rose Frosting

1 cup powder sugar, sifted

4 T butter, softened

1 T Cream or milk if frosting is too stiff

3 drops Rose Absolute or 2 t. rosewater (do this to your taste)

Rosebuds for decoration

Whip together till a smooth frosting develops and frost your cupcakes. Eat and swoon.

*** If you are laying on the frosting with abandon as I did, you will need to triple the recipe.

Supposedly, the earliest Valentine card is in the British Museum and was written by the Duke of Orleans to his wife in France when he was locked in the Tower in 1415

Je suis desja d'amour tanné

Ma tres doulce Valentinée…

Duke of Orleans letter in British Museum

I will announce the winner of the Jasmine and Rose Absolutes this weekend!!!

Where to get the rose absolute!

for great furniture and objects!


54 comments:

Sage said...

Wow! I really enjoyed your blog; love and romance in February; and those cupcakes look so good!Joyeux Valentin!
Rita

Becky said...

Beautiful post! Eleanor of Aquitaine is one of my personal heroines. :)

La Table De Nana said...

I love sprinkling those edible rosebuds on desserts also..I don't think mine have ever had the honor yours have today sitting on your glorious cupcakes d'Amour~The illustrations are so much fun also.

zurin said...

That was a beautiful and romantic and sensual post! And the cupcakes are simply gorgeous...roses and chocolate ..what could be more meaningful, rich and wicked!?

lostpastremembered said...

Sage>Thanks, I really wanted to share something special for Valentines!
Becky> She is one of mine too... she had a love court but the church expunged all records of it... probably far too revolutionary!
LaTable de Nana> Rosebuds are good...love dragees too... but not sure how good for you they are! Glad you enjoyed l'amour!
Zurin> Thanks, I wish I had your talent for desserts...me and the pastry bag are total strangers!!!

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

I love getting history lessons with recipes! Great post, and your cupcakes look delicious and so romantic :)

Blackberry Jam Cafe said...

What a wonderful post - loving your blog, and now following from Friday Follow.
Susan

Trix said...

I remember the old Victoria magazine! Is it still around? Well, I love how you tied the Roman de la Rose story in with your most excellent cupcakes - the photos are gorgeous, and look like they should be in Victoria mag. C'est magnifique!

vicki archer said...

That looks like a very delicious cupcake recipe....I would love to try that. Have a happy weekend. xv

SippitySup said...

A little bit of Romantic History served with cupcakes! GREG

powderate said...

what a cynosural temptress you are...

The Muse said...

The lovely memories I have of England is actually walking among the ruins of the old castles...
I adore history and its connection to our current life.

please stop over and join the giveaway at www.adivashammer.com

would love to have you participate!

Barbara said...

Victoria magazine was a charmer- found the most delightful needlepoint pattern of an elegant clasp purse in it years ago. I think it's still around, but haven't seen a copy in ages.
I always love your posts! This one is filled with charm and romance- just in time for Valentines Day! Your romantic cupcakes are a delight. And I love the way you have presented them.
Stunning...just what I expect from you!

Faith said...

What a beautiful painting with such a fascinating history. Your cupcakes are breathaking! I love that gorgeously thick layer of frosting, so I'll be tripling the recipe if (and when) I make these! ;)

5 Star Foodie said...

This is truly a gorgeous cupcake! The delicate flavors of the rose frosting must be fantastic!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Deana, these cupcakes are absolutely stunning! :) So romantic and just perfect for that lucky valentine! :D

lostpastremembered said...

Savoring Time in the Kitchen> I've made these for 10 years... they are awesome... you can also make a batch and freeze the cupcakes then
take out one at a time and make tiny batches of frosting... evil little treats!
Blackberry Jam Cafe> I'll check into Friday Follow... thanks for the note!
Trix> Victoria did start up again...haven't seen the new version... the old one was a real escape from the now! Thanks about the pics... I tried to play a little!
Vicki Archer> Thanks for stopping by!
Sippity sup> very romantic history... the mother lode!
Powderate> You had me at cynosural!!!

lostpastremembered said...

The muse> The castles don't get much older or finer than those great Norman edifices. History runs through us, if only we let it!
Barbara> What lovely things to say!!! Thanks so much. Victoria was
really a great little magazine... I got so many good things from it... dunno what the new one is like...
Faith> All that frosting is gorgeous... and so filling... I thought I'd give people the choice. Thanks for the kind words.
5 star foodie> the combination is out of this world. Do yourself a favor and give it a try.
Lorraine>Thanks so much... coming from you praise indeed... your photos are always amazing. I think the bling helped!!!

Ginny said...

Beautiful! I love the cupcakes... and the history lesson! :)

Nancy Jane said...

I always enjoy the background you provide with the recipe, and this recipe proves that taking a cupcake to the next level can be very seductive...

Arwen from Hoglet K said...

The illustrations are gorgeous! I like the romantic combination of chocolate and roses, it's both symbolic and delicious.

All Our Fingers in the Pie said...

Another amazing post, just perfect for Valentine's Day!

Linda said...

This is such a gorgeous post...and the cupcakes are spectacular!
So romantic!
Beautiful!

Diane {createdbydiane.blogspot.com} said...

Thanks so much for stopping by my blog. I love this post and the cupcakes are beautiful :) I'm following and can't wait to see what you blog next as well as scrolling through what you've already posted.

Ju (The Little Teochew) said...

A post most beautiful. How do you do it? You must be a beautiful person yourself. The chocolate cupcakes are divine. I am swooning. :)

lostpastremembered said...

Ginny>I thought sharing this classic would be a good VD present!
Nancy Jane> How sweet... it is a classic and easy cupcake recipe... it's all about the rose!!!
Arwen from HogletK> There is nothing like illuminations... it's fun to see the lines they used to keep them on track!
All Our Fingers in the Pie>Thanks Sarah! Glad you're home safe!
Linda> Romantic... that's what I was going for...
Diane> That is so great you are scrolling back.. I love to do that on other peoples blogs...
Ju> Swoon away... you are very kind.

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

Mon Dieu, your blog is sensual and brilliantly conceived! Thank you for visiting me and dancing with the stars....thank you for your lovely comments and the awesome chocolate cupcake recipe! I just adore how YOU weaved in this era of art and history and French all together. Merci pour être venue!! Anita

Eléonora said...

Thank you very much for your nice comment. My wish is to pass on my passion for cooking and photography. Such comment as yours is a great encouragement for me.

Stella said...

Soooo pretty. What type of flower did you put on the cupcake? Is it edible?

chapot said...

The photo of the chocolate is so gorgeous !
It's funny, last week I have a lesson on, in french, we say "enluminures", it's so beautifull, I love so much visiting your blog

lostpastremembered said...

CastlesCrowns&Cottages> Everyone should visit your dancing blog... fun for Valentines. Thanks for the kind words..it was fun to do.
Elenora> You have such magnificent evocative pictures... it was wonderful to find you!
Stella> They are edible... I now have a link (Kalustyans didn't have them online)
Chapot> How wonderful to take a class in illuminations... they take my breath away... especially "Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry"... the colors are magical... a veritable jewel box of color!

Helene said...

Your cupcakes are looking absolute delicious.

lostpastremembered said...

WINNER********

OK my lovely readers, the winner of the jasmine is Trix, because she was the only one that had jasmine leanings! The rose winner is Powderate because she really worked the rose into many dishes (and used the word cynosural in the 21st century !!!!).

nikki said...

These rose studded cupcakes are divine! Thanks for sharing the history too.

Gemma said...

I didn't know the origin of this tradition and It seems to me very nice :)
The combination of chocolate and roses is very aphrodisiac, It's a really very good recipe!

lostpastremembered said...

Helene> Thanks for visiting... they are good!
Nikki> History is gilding the lily on these... nice visiting your blog too!
Gemma> I hope you can make them... I think they are your style!

Mansi said...

beautiful picture, and a great story! the cupcakes look awesome! and they'd be perfect for my Valentine day giveaway! would you care to send them in for the event?

http://www.funandfoodcafe.com/2010/02/valentine-super-bowl-recipe-carnival.html

Medieval Muse said...

An absolute visual feast of a post! I shall enjoy this for days to come.

lostpastremembered said...

Mansi> thanks... I'll look into it!
Medieval Muse> So glad you enjoyed it... there is a whole lot of the middle ages in Roman de la Rose.

Ellie said...

Lovely cupcakes. so romantic!

food with style said...

oh soooooooo gorgeous, love your shots!

Sanura said...

Beautiful history lesson and recipe.

lostpastremembered said...

Ellie> MAny thanks... they are kinda romantic... after you eat them your kisses taste like roses... how cool is that?
Food with Style> I thought of you when I did them... how can you go wrong with red jewels|????
Sanura>Thanks so much for stopping by... and joining my little family of friends... I am happy you enjoyed the history.

Jane said...

What a gorgeous prelude to a divine recipe. I was so engrossed in the history, I almost forgot we were leading up to chocolate cupcakes! I love the rose aspect, and though I've never thought about adding a little rosewater to icing, I am interested in trying it now. Beautiful post.

lostpastremembered said...

Jane> Many thanks. The rosewater frosting is really unbelievable... true confession... I make extra and dip into it for a naughty snack!!!

Esi said...

These sound great! I love the rose flavor in the buttercream

Grapefruit said...

Thanks for your comments on my blog.
Love the name of your blog as well and oh MY these cupcakes are simply beautiful!

George Gaston said...

Deana, what a beautiful post; and the old valentine is awesome. I love old history and it looks like the Duke of Orléans was a romantic, as well as a poet, while he served as he called “in the forest of long wait” in his confinement in England.

Your recipe for the chocolate cupcakes is amazing, too. And the icing must really put them over the top. I definitely will have to try this. Thanks…

lostpastremembered said...

Esi>How sweet.. it is the best buttercream!!!!
Grapefruit>Yup... they are good and the bling made the photo!!!
George> I am so amazed... "the forest of the long wait" is such poetry... the cupcakes are all about the frosting, rosewater or rose absolute it works magic with chocolate!!!

Bigarade said...

These sound delicious!
& the pictures,well theyre AWESOME!
youve got a skill there!!
V.nice blog too :D

x

lostpastremembered said...

Bigarade> Thanks... they are good!

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Sarah | Yahoo! Shine said...

I love that this is relatively simple yet so special. It would make a lovely contribution to this month's Shine Supper Club. I hope you'll join us!

ayumi said...

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