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I recently realized that I spend a good deal of my blog time praising my belle-mère. To some that might seem a little strange since mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law aren’t typically supposed to get along. I’ve also recently discovered that this discord is much more of a widespread stereotype than a reality. Lots of wives get along famously with their in-laws, and I count myself lucky to be among them.

For me, as any expat living in her spouse’s country, getting along with the belle-famille is of particular importance. Eleven-and-a-half months out of every year, these people are my only family within reaching distance; theirs are the shoulders I lean on, the ears ready to listen, and the hearts open with help and support.

As a part of their family now, I naturally find myself inclined to model my behavior after theirs; picking up on cultural clues, especially from my belle-mère. She is quite literally a Lady of the Manor and I know that one day I will fill those shoes. So my arms are open wide to her offers of guidance and savoir-vivre, an extraordinary wealth of life knowledge and wisdom. I can’t get enough of her French Countess, old-world elegance, decorum and charm. I love her traditional manners, and her style, her refinement.

While I was staying with my in-laws after foot surgery this spring, I was able to observe their daily routine on a more personal level. She the Lady, he the Lord.

One afternoon, I experienced an afternoon tea among the ladies and a little Bridge on the side. The table was set with an antique lace table-cloth; the silver café and tea pots were brought out, the china laid carefully at each place.

For the menu, my mother-in-law had a batch of delicious little cake/cookies called Visitandines whipped up. They were so excellent, so moist and delectable I had to excuse myself from the salon in order to prevent myself from stuffing my face! (Well, almost, I actually stayed in the room and just moved to another side far away from the little silver platter of these buttery vanilla delights.)

I call them cake/cookies because Visitandines are this strange combination of the two types of dessert. I watched as they were baked in small medallion molds so they came out looking something like Madeleines. Yet they taste a little more like a chewy sugar cookie than a fluffy cake. I’ll let you decide.

Visitandines are remarkably simple to make and provide an adorable sweet to go alongside afternoon tea with the Lady of the Manor.

  • 150g almond powder
  • 200g powdered sugar
  • 4 egg whites
  • 200g butter
  • 1 tbsp powered vanilla (or liquid vanilla)
  • 75g flour (This is optional! If you’d rather make a cake type dessert, use the flour. If you are going for tea time treats, hold off.)

Mix egg whites with sugar, almond powder and vanilla for 10 minutes. (Add in flour if using a cake mold.) Heat butter in sauce pan until it turns brown. Note: Don’t over cook. If butter turns black, start again or it will ruin the flavor of the dessert. Once brown, pour butter into mixture. Stir well. Cook for 45 minutes at 200C.

Bon appétit! And enjoy the afternoon channeling your inner Lord and Lady of the Manor! 🙂