{twd} blah mahn jhay

Oh, French. You and me have a troubled relationship. Barred from you in high school–parents made me take Spanish–I moved on. French, you’ve come tiptoeing in my life again. My problem is simple: French pronunciation kills me. I have a mental block, I try to pronounce French words the Spanish way, I think people will laugh at me.

It really wouldn’t be a big deal because on a day-to-day basis most people in California don’t speak or need to use French. However, several recent developments in my life  have brought French-learning high on the list of things I need to do. I don’t need to be fluent, but I should know a few important words and phrases.


One reason I need to learn:  I now have the tendency to travel to French speaking countries at least twice a year. Another reason: I now have friends whose first language is French. And that’s friends with an ‘s’, multiple friends. Who I speak to/email/facebook on a regular basis. They tell me, “Wendy, you don’t need to be embarrassed or shy. We won’t laugh at you. It’s better to try than not to try. etc etc”


And last, but not least: now that I’m cooking, eating, baking and generally involved in this food world there is  a lot of French (duh). It makes me so incredibly happy when a phonetic pronunciation is provided, like in this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie selection: Raspberry Blanc-Manger. Dorie Greenspan, in the introduction to the recipe, provides the pronunciation right there in the 2nd paragraph–blah mahn jhay! I’ve been saying it all week. It’s fun to say. I want to go to restaurants and order it off a menu, just so I can say it. I do realize it’s not a very practical word to know how to say, but it is very fun.

A blanc-manger is a creamy gelatin dessert flavored with almonds. It was very easy to make, involved a whole slew of dishes, and I used sheet gelatin for the first time. Another first: trying fresh red currants. I saw them at the store and decided to use them in place of the raspberries. They made a very bright red coulis (another French word!).

Keeping with the French theme, I did a TWD rewind and made the French Chocolate Brownies to use as a base for mini-blanc mangers.

This summer I had to choose between taking conversational French at the University or taking S.C.U.B.A lessons to  finish my certification. I chose S.C.U.B.A. When I go back to French Polynesia in November, I’ll be a certified diver who is slowly make progress in the French language.

Thank you so much to Susan of Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy for selecting such a fun recipe. You can find the recipe on her blog or buy the book–Baking…From My Home to Yours.

52 thoughts on “{twd} blah mahn jhay

  1. So, now this sounds as good as it looks! I loved it on its own so it has to be tres delicieux avec les brownies! (I don’t know if we have any of the same French-speaking blogging friends, but I love them for being tolerant of my terrible French!)

  2. Love the brownie base! I wanted to do a base, but had to keep mine gluten-free, so I opted for the simple this time. Thought about you when I saw the name/pronunciation ths week – another new word for Wendy!

  3. Wow. These look wonderful. I love the brownies and currants. What a nice twist. Good luck with the french. I have the same problem.

  4. So creative you are…I can barely manage to get the ONE recipe all done in a somewhat presentable manner most weeks and here you are managing TWO and making it all look spectacular. Wow…those currants are wonderful looking in this. Kudos to you, another outstanding week for you!

  5. i adore how you paired it with the french brownies. Totally befitting of the french theme. haha. Must have been pretty divine stuff too!

  6. Oh, they look delicious! And don’t worry about sounding silly when you speak French. I found they respect you a lot more if you at least try.

  7. Wow the currants and the brownie base look like the perfect additions to this beautiful recipe! I feel exactly the same way about my French, too, so no worries!

  8. The brownies and the color of the currants really set off the beautiful white blanc manger! Great idea!

    Um, can I go to French Polynesia with you?

  9. Love your post 🙂 Although I have only random French language knowledge, I was recently discussing the correct pronunciation of noir with my brother-in-law. No-wah, no-wah! Your dessert looks delicious and I love the red currants. Beautiful!

  10. Noir: the “r” is not mute (sorry Nicole). And there is no hiatus: it’s one sound. Forêt noire sounds [forenwar].
    But in my opinion, anything will be forgiven if you come with your cakes!

  11. I have the same problem as you, but in reverse. I took French all through my school years (grade 6 through university), and am now trying to learn Spanish. It’s tough trying to get my head around certain pronunciations, and you can forget about rolling my R’s… it ain’t gonna happen, they’re forever French. That said, at least the pronunciation rules are easy 🙂
    Lovely blah-mahn-jhays! Je suis sûr qu’ils sont délicieux !

  12. I can’t pronounce anything French either! The worst is when we’re going to a French restaurant and people ask about it and I completely butcher the name!

    Love the brownie base, it sounds so yummy!

  13. The red currents are so pretty with this dessert. I would have been lost too without the pronunciation help in the header notes of the recipe. I used sheet gelatin for the first time as well. Isn’t that strange and very cool stuff?

  14. Your blanc manger look fantastic! I can’t say that I’ve ever had a fresh red currant, but they look wonderful. Great idea to put it on top of a brownie, I felt like it was more like a topping than a complete dessert…

  15. It looks great with the chocolate base!

    The only person I impress with my French language skills is my husband…and he doesn’t know any French. You must post some photos of French Polynesia – I’m dying to go there!

  16. I made Nutella hazelnut blanc-manger and was thinking about doing it on a brownie base, but didn’t. Your little minis look gorgeous and delicious! We didn’t care for the whipped creamy texture, so I made ice cream!

  17. Don’t feel bad – I took French for 4 years in high school, but since I never get to practice or have conversations, I’ve lost almost all of my skills. Your blanc manger looks awesome! I love the brownie base. I’ve never had red currants – yet another fruit to add to my growing list of things to try!

  18. I went with French, and now I pronounce Spanish with a French accent 😛 Can’t win! And I love the use of brownies as the base – it sounds so wonderful, dense chocolate and creamy fruit, mmm…

  19. I’ve never seen fresh currants before – they’re so vibrant in color! I love your individual serving blanc-mangers too, especially with a chocolate brownie base! The currant coulis is really pretty!

  20. Beautiful! I am so sad I missed this one. It is definitely one of the recipes in the book that I really, really wanted to try.
    I love that you used red currants. The color is stunning. And giving them a brownie base. Amazing.
    Sounds like you have a fun trip coming up 🙂

  21. You’ve done it again — you’ve made a good dessert even better! Love the look of your brownie-blancmanger combo and, as always, I enjoyed your post.

  22. Wow–I was also barred from taking French as a child because the parents thought Spanish was more practical. Although, I have had a Columbian roommate, so maybe that worked out? I still wish I knew French though.

    I really love the brownie base!!!

  23. Funny, I do the same thing when I find a word I like. I mentally say it all the time and try to incorporate it into my conversations. This would have been a tough one though. 🙂

    Good call on topping the brownies with your blah mahn jhay. It looks like a wonderful contrast of flavors and textures. Did you like it?

  24. Way to go Wendy. I love that you are learning French and who couldn’t love a brownie, not just any brownie, but a french brownie with lovely creamy goodness and fruit atop. What a great idea.
    Have fun with the scuba,

  25. I think putting the blanc-manger on a brownie base is a fantastic idea! My complaint (and I’ve seen similar feedback from others) was that the blanc-manger wasn’t substantial enough on its own, so I think that would go a long way in improving the dessert.

  26. What stunning little blanc-mangers – and on top of a brownie, to boot!

    My parents tried my best to talk me out of French in favor of Spanish (I also grew up in SoCal), but to no avail. I loved every minute of my five years studying French. Aced the AP test and everything. And it’s been 15 years and I’ve barely used it. But it was still a great experience.

    So if you are traveling to Francophone countries, go for it – you’ll use it and love it.

  27. Magnifique blanc manger 😉 Groseilles, framboises et chocolat vont très bien ensemble, well done !
    Not so easy to pronounce you’re right! I love when my British friends (and teachers!) try to speak French, that’s so cute !

  28. Wow. Those look fabulous. I really need to make the French chocolate brownies again. And I love the red currants–I haven’t eaten those in forever.

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