I have always been a huge fan of Wes Anderson all the way back to his pre-tweeness. One of my favorite things about Anderson is his obsessive attention to detail.
In the hands of less creative director, Moonrise Kingdom, would have a Boy Scout Camp, easily recognizable book titles, and a pop-driven score. Not Anderson. In Andersonville, there are Khaki Scouts, The Girl from Jupiter, and Benjamin Britten. Nothing screams teen romance more than Benjamin Britten. Yes, somewhere there is a Khaki Scout Handbook. And yes, of the six books that Suzy Bishop held dear, including The Girl from Jupiter, Wes Anderson wrote long passages for each book just in case one needed to read aloud these fictional fictions.
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou featured first time actor Seu Jorge, a famous Brazilian singer who sang David Bowie covers in Portuguese.
Did you notice the typefaces in The Royal Tenenbaums? Wes Anderson did.
In Andersonville, the worlds are self-contained and the most simple of things are fretted over with great detail. Nothing is off-the-rack. Everything is plotted and created. There is always a back story that Anderson can commandeer at any moment.
His latest movie, The Grand Budapest Hotel is based on a story by Stefan Zweig. I must admit a fondness for moody Austrian writers. I simply adore the late Ingeborg Bachmann. Anderson swears that he stole much of the movie from Zweig's Beware of Pity. The Grand Budapest Hotel features Mendl's Bakery as another location and key plot element. Mendl's has its own distinctive packaging and a famous confection: the Courtesan au chocolat. In a Wes Anderson movie, if there is a bakery with a special recipe, one can rest assured that that recipe is one that you too, can make. Further more, that particular recipe will have its own back story.
"The exact recipe for the Courtesan au chocolat has never been published or publicly disclosed as per the conditions of Herr Mendl’s will. However, the following has been collated and adapted from a several “pirate” sources in the Nebelsbad archives (including a 1963 recipe from the kitchen of the Grand Budapest Hotel using powdered eggs that was printed in the Lutz Daily Fact)."
There would be a recipe:
Mendl’s Courtesan au Chocolat
Make a choux pastry of flour, water, butter and eggs. Though correct proportions may vary depending on one’s elevation and humidity, we recommend:
1 cup plain flour
1 cup fresh water
1/4 lb (1 stick) butter
4 eggs beaten in a bowl
A pinch of salt
A larger pinch of sugar
Bring the water, butter salt and sugar to a boil. Remove from the fire and quickly mix in the sifted flour. Return to heat for a few minutes, stirring, and cook until the dough forms a single lump. Allow to cool just enough to keep the eggs from cooking and stir in very gradually with a strong wooden spoon.
Cover your tray in parchment and pipe the dough into spoon size dollops. You will need small, medium, and large size pastry balls (large tablespoon, teaspoon and hazelnut size dollops) to make a courtesan. Bake in the oven at 350F(180 C) for about 25-35 minutes. The smaller pastries are best put on a separate tray as they will cook more quickly.
Remove from the oven and discreetly make a small piercing in the choux to allow the steam to escape.
Once cooled, the large and medium choux should be filled with a crème pâtissière of chocolate, egg yolks, and sugar.
1 1/2 cups whole milk
Several large pieces semi-sweet chocolate
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
2 spoons cocoa powder
1 tablespoon flour
Cornstarch to thicken
Heat the milk gently and add chocolate, stirring to melt into a rich, almost-steaming chocolate milk. Whisk egg yolks, flour, sugar, cocoa and a few spoons of cornstarch into a smooth mixture. Add half of the hot chocolate milk to the bowl, a little at a time, stirring constantly. Then add this mixture back into the rest of the hot milk, stirring over gentle heat for a few minutes until the mixture thickens to a custard. Remove from heat and chill.
Once cooled, spoon the chocolate crème into a pastry bag and pipe into the large and medium pastry balls.
Prepare sugar icing of confectioner’s sugar, a dash of vanilla and enough milk to achieve the desired consistency. Separate into 3 small bowls and add food coloring to each - one pink, on lavender, one pale green. Reserve a small amount of white icing.
To assemble a Courtesan, dip a large ball of filled pastry in the pink icing (to the midline) and place icing side up on a small tray. Repeat with a medium pastry into the lavender icing, and place it, iced side up, atop the first ball. Press it gently so it sticks in place. Repeat with the smallest pastry in the green icing. Decorate with filigree of white icing as desired. Place a cocoa bean atop the tower as a garnish.
And there would be an instructional video:
I must say, The Grand Budapest Hotel is not my fave Wes Anderson movie, but so far, it seems to be the only one that comes with a recipe.