Molten Chocolate-Caramel Cakes and The Paris Library

 Though I certainly don't post reviews with recipes for all the books I read, sometimes the urge comes when a novel is particularly appealing.  For instance, The Paris Library, by Janet Skeslien Charles, another of the many WWII novels written since those war years, but with some differences.  Through her various characters, we see our own human tendency to judge others, to hold resentment, with often tragic repercussions, and the importance of forgiveness.  As it has been written, "Look after each other so that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many."

We see this very clearly in Odile, an intelligent, helpful and charming, though imperfect leading lady, during those war years in Paris, and later as an old woman in America, wiser and able to mentor Lily, a young woman making and about to make similar mistakes in her life.  They form a precious intergenerational friendship, which is encouraging and important to them both.

From the Publishers:               
"An instant New York Times, Washington Post, and USA TODAY bestseller—based on the true story of the heroic librarians at the American Library in Paris during World War II—The Paris Library is a moving and unforgettable “ode to the importance of libraries, books, and the human connections we find within both” (Kristin Harmel, New York Times bestselling author).

Paris, 1939: Young and ambitious Odile Souchet seems to have the perfect life with her handsome police officer beau and a dream job at the American Library in Paris. When the Nazis march into the city, Odile stands to lose everything she holds dear, including her beloved library. Together with her fellow librarians, Odile joins the Resistance with the best weapons she has: books. But when the war finally ends, instead of freedom, Odile tastes the bitter sting of unspeakable betrayal.

Montana, 1983: Lily is a lonely teenager looking for adventure in small-town Montana. Her interest is piqued by her solitary, elderly neighbor. As Lily uncovers more about her neighbor’s mysterious past, she finds that they share a love of language, the same longings, and the same intense jealousy, never suspecting that a dark secret from the past connects them."

For cooking inspiration, I was settled on either the Croque Monsieur sandwich or a Chocolate Soufflé cake.  Lily had a chocolate cake at her graduation party, made in honor of her longtime love of France, and her studies of the French language with Odile.  Then, why not do both I thought? 

The title Croque Monsieur comes from “croquer", to bite and “monsieur” meaning mister. It’s literally a gentleman’s sandwich. It first appears in literature in a work by Proust, In Search of Lost Time in 1918, but it had featured on menus in Paris as early as 1910.  Sadly it's been sitting unused in my recipe file for years, and I needed the inspiration to finally make some.  A tasty solution.

For the chocolate cake, I had a recipe in my computer recipe file entitled Molten Chocolate-Caramel Cake, which sounded delicious, and was also just waiting to be made.  It called for caramel candies to be inserted in the center of each before baking.  Luckily our market had some coconut milk caramels.  Perfect!  Especially when topped with whipped cream just before serving. This is a decadent, moist pudding like confection.  Just fantastic!  Everyone thought so.

I couldn't remember where I found this recipe, sadly saved but not credited. Still, for what it's worth, very good! 

Meanwhile, I'm hoping to read another of Janet Skeslien Charles' thoughtful novels, Moonlight in Odessa, not currently in our library system.  We may have to go with ordering the Kindle version.  I'll be linking this post up with Weekend Cooking. hosted by Marge, the Intrepid Reader, and with Heather at the January edition of her Foodies Read Challenge.


Tina said...

You make this book quite appealing so I will add it to my Goodreads list. The food you prpeared looks excellent!

A Day in the Life on the Farm said...

I think I would enjoy this read very much.

Mae Travels said...

That chocolate-caramel dessert looks fabulous. I haven't had a croque monsieur for a long time (probably because we stopped buying ham).

best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

Beth F said...

I have this book on my list ... must get to it! Can't go wrong with a chocolate caramel cake!!

gluten Free A_Z Blog said...

Thanks for the review. I like books based on true stories and I do like to read books that took place in WW2- Thanks for the review. The chocolate cake looks amazing.

Melynda@Scratch Made Food! said...

According to all my family chocolate is always a good choice! I have to say any historical book set in WWII calls out to me, that is when my Dad was in the service.

(Diane) bookchickdi said...

I love a good Croque Monsieur and your chocolate cake looks amazing too! The Paris Library sounds like a good read.

Marg said...

I do like a bit of Croque Monsieur, and I would love the chocolate cake too!

I do have this book on my TBR too!