Bye Bye May: Lemon Macarons

May 31, 2007

Why would the end of May prompt me to make macarons? Well, they are delicate little cookies and for me May is a "delicate" month. On the first of May, I get a card from my parents with dried, fragile Lily of the Valley tucked inside. Then there is my birthday, for which I receive some precious orchid (background in the picture above) or other exotic flower....delicate.
Then there is a few more girlfriends' birthdays and of course mother's day...the month ends up being very feminine, very pink and a major reason to make macarons!

I have been experimenting with a couple of recipes, one is promising but I want to tweak it a little bit more before posting, the results are almost as good as my cherished recipe originally found on Mercotte's blog.
I made a batch of these in an attempt to teach my friend C. and when she divided the loot in half I told her to keep them all and that I did not like macarons that much. Her jaws dropped, her eyes rolled in their socket and she almost checked my temperature. Yes, I am weird: I will gladly put me through the joyous torture of Italian meringue and macaron making but I don't like eating them. I love the whole process, from deciding on the flavors, colors, folding, piping, filling but I am not a big fan. I find the process more rewarding than the results but friends and family think otherwise.

What could be more fitting the celebrate the end of May than a lemon flavored macaron filled with freshly whisked lemon curd? June will bring bolder flavors and colors but for now let's stick to a tried and true recipe for the shells, as well as this lemon curd that I use now all the time.

Lemon Macarons:

For the shells:

120 gr. egg whites, divided
35 gr. sugar
150 gr. finely ground almonds
150 gr. powdered sugar
2 tsp. pure lemon extract

For the boiling syrup:
150 gr. sugar and 50 gr. water

Sift the ground almonds and powdered sugar.
In a stand mixer, whip 60 gr. egg whites to soft peaks, add 35 gr. sugar.In the meantime, in a saucepan on high heat bring the water and sugar for the syrup to 230 F. on a candy thermometer.
Slowly add the boiling syrup to the egg whites and continue to whip on medium - high speed until they are completely cooled and you have a shiny meringue (10-15 minutes).
Mix the remaining 60 gr. of egg whites, the lemon extract and the sifted almond/sugar and carefully fold into the meringue.
Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip with the mixture and pipe macarons about 3 inches in diameter on parchment paper lined baking sheet. You can let them sit at room temperature for 20 minutes if desired. This is often done to assure those little feet at the bottom but I found that I can skip this step with this recipe and still end up with the same result.
Bake at 320 for 15 minutes. Let cool.

Lemon Curd:

grated zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup strained lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar
1 eggs
Combine the zest, sugar, juice in a saucepan, and bring to a simmer.
In a small bowl, beat the eggs until light.
Beat some of the lemon mixture into the eggs to temper. Scrape the mixture back into the saucepan and cook stirring constantly until it thickens up, about 5 minutes.
Strain and refrigerate, covered with plastic wrap until ready to use.
Fill the macarons with about 1 Tb of the curd and refrigerate.

Bye bye May...Looking forward to June!

Note: Check out the WTSIM May edition on Jeanne's blog...Yum!

Waiter There's Something In My... Citron

May 29, 2007

I almost missed that one, all entangled that I was in webs of spun sugar! This month's edition of "Waiter There's Something In My..." focuses on stuffed fruits or vegetables and is hosted by Jeanne from Cooksister.

There are those challenges when two or three recipes come to my mind and I keep oscillating between them for days...not for that one. For some reason only known to my brain (and trust me sometimes we don't communicate very well), the only thing that came to my mind and stayed there was "Citron Givre", or Frozen Lemon, another typical bistro dessert in France back in th 70s and 80s: a hollowed lemon filled with lemon sorbet. This was my dessert of choice when I was a child, really, it never failed that anywhere we went with my parents I would either have "vacherin" (a dessert of meringue and ice cream) or citron givre. Imagine: a whole lemon stuffed with more refreshing tart and sweet lemon flavored! How fitting for the theme and the hot days we are having now!

As an adult, I did not lose my love for anything lemony but I also added a repertoire of spices, herbs and other ingredients to my palate. This particular sorbet falls more on the line of a sherbet as it contains milk but the French only have one word for "sorbet". The ice cream was inspired by Pierre Herme's Lemon sorbet (sherbet) and kicked up a notch with crystallized ginger. The only downfalls to this particular dessert are that you don't want to share and you wished you had more!!

Citrons Givres:

Serves 4

4 lemons
150 ml lemon juice (some coming from hollowing out the lemons + extra if needed)
150 gr. (2/3 cup) sugar
150 ml whole milk (less fat makes it curddle)
150 ml water
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped crystallized ginger (your taste)

Slice a tiny bit off of the bottoms of the lemons so that they can sit straight (relatively speaking). Slice the top off and keep that "hat".
Scoop as much of the flesh out of each lemon and set in a fine mesh strainer set over a bowl. With your hands or the back of a spoon press as much of the lemon juice as you can and measure 150 ml. Add extra lemon juice if needed.
In a saucepan over medium high heat, bring the water and sugar to a bol. Add the ginger and let cool completely. Add the milk and the lemon juice, stir and process in your ice cream machine according to your manufacturer's directions.
If you do not have an ice cream machine: freeze until soft serve consistency and mix with an immersion blender or whisk in a stand mixer. Put back in the freezer and repeat the operation 2-3 times, leaving enough time in between whippings for the mixture to get frozen.

Once your ice cream is ready, fill the lemon cavities and keep frozen until ready to serve.
The presentation always makes people happy and you have just made an easy bistro dessert in almost no time!!

Head over to Jeanne's blog in a few days for a tasty roundup!

Previous Tartelette's participations:
Waiter, There's Something in My Brioche
Waiter, There's Something in My Easter Basket
Waiter, There's Something in My Pie

Gateau Saint Honore - We Dare You!

May 26, 2007

It’s time for the May installment of the Daring Bakers’ production, created by Ivonne and Lisa. It was my turn to pick a recipe and risk a minor stone throwing if it did not work out. After last month somewhat hair pulling Crepe Cake (and yes, Brilynn we still love you), I was really worried about presenting the recipe I had chosen: Gateau Saint Honore. I knew that some of us had previously made it either in their jobs or pastry school, some had baked parts of it for other recipes or had been tempted by makin some aspects of it without taking the plunge. There were several reasons behind my choice but primarily:
- Turns out that May 16th was Saint Honore (pronounced o-no-ray) Day, patron Saint of pastry chefs and bakers.
- It is the “must pass” element of pastry school students and it is a cake that includes several elements and techniques that bakers should try at least once: puff pastry, cream puff dough, caramel and pastry filling.
- We are Daring Bakers after all!

Since there is an ever growing number of Daring Bakers, I asked Anita to co-host with me and you will find half of the Daring Bakers’s links to their creation on this blog and half on hers. We will be updating the links as people post throughout the day. There are 48 of us this month, from various baking backgrounds and accomplishments, with various jobs and trades and we have our first male Daring Baker too! On to the nitty-griddy of the recipe:

There are many fillings as they are bakeries: chiboust cream, pastry cream, Bavarian cream (aka Diplomat cream). The cake building goes like this:- base of puff pastry- rings of cream dough baked on top (so that the cream sticks)- cream puffs set on the pastry filling or hooked to the base with hot caramel- cream filling to fill everything
I compiled recipes from Bo Friberg’s books “The Professional Pastry Chef” editions 3rd and 4th, and "The Advanced Pastry Chef". It is straightforward and very close to what you would find nowadays walking on the streets of Paris and popping into a bakery (close our eyes, you’re there). I realize it calls for time consuming puff pastry so you can use store bought, but if you have never made it why not try? It is just a long process, but the recipe given below makes more than you need so you can freeze it and use it later for something else. The recipe for the Saint Honore cream is flavored with rum and that may not appeal to you, so substitute an alcohol that you like more (Grand Marnier, White Godiva, Kirsch,…), or vanilla.

Gateau Saint Honore is built upon the followwing pastry items:

Puff pastry, Pate a Choux (Cream Puff Dough), Saint Honore Cream, caramel and whipped cream.

Pate a Choux – Cream Puffs Dough

4 ¾ oz. all purpose flour (135 gr)
1 cup water ( 240 ml)
2 oz unsalted butter (58 gr)
¼ tsp. salt (1 gr)
1 cup eggs (240 ml)

Sift the flour and set aside. Heat the water, butter and salt to a full rolling boil, so that the fat is not just floating on the top but is dispersed throughout the liquid. Stir the flour into the liquid with a heavy wooden spoon, adding it as fast as it can be absorbed. Avoid adding it all at once or it will form clumps. Cook, stirring constantly and breaking up the lumps if necessary, by pressing them against the side of the pan with the back of the spoon until the mixture comes away from the sides of the pan, about 2-3 minutes. Transfer the dough to a mixer bowl. Let the paste cool slightly so that the eggs will not cook when they are added. You can add and stir the eggs by hand but it requires some serious elbow grease.Mix in the eggs, one at a time, using the paddle attachment on low or medium speed. Do not add all the eggs at once. Check after a few, the dough should have the consistency of thick mayonnaise.Transfer the dough to a piping bag and use as desired.

Pate Feuillete – Puff Pastry:

Makes about 2 1/2 pounds.

3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface (420 gr)
3/4 cup cake flour (105 gr)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt (7 gr)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, well chilled (60 gr)
1 1/4 cups cold water (295.5 ml)
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour (14 gr)
1 3/4 cups (3 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, well-chilled (405 gr)

1/ Make the dough package: In a large mixing bowl, combine both flours with the salt. Scatter butter pieces over the flour mixture; using your fingers or a pastry cutter, incorporate butter until mixture resembles coarse meal.
2/ Form a well in center of mixture, and pour the water into well. Using your hands, gradually draw flour mixture over the water, covering and gathering until mixture is well blended and begins to come together. Gently knead mixture in the bowl just until it comes together to form a dough, about 15 seconds. Pat dough into a rough ball, and turn out onto a piece of plastic wrap. Wrap tightly, and place in refrigerator to chill 1 hour.
3/ Make the butter package: Sprinkle 1/2 tablespoon flour on a sheet of waxed or parchment paper. Place uncut sticks of butter on top, and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 tablespoon flour. Top with another sheet of paper; using a rolling pin, pound butter to soften and flatten to about 1/2 inch. Remove top sheet of paper, and fold butter package in half onto itself. Replace top sheet of paper, and pound again until butter is about A inch thick. Repeat process two or three times, or until butter becomes quite pliable. Using your hands, shape butter package into a 6-inch square. Wrap well in plastic wrap, and place in refrigerator until it is chilled but not hardened, no more than 10 minutes.
4/ Assemble and roll the dough: Remove dough package from refrigerator, and place on a lightly floured work surface. Using a rolling pin, gently roll dough into a 9-inch round. Remove butter package from refrigerator, and place it in the center of the dough round. Using a paring knife or bench scraper, lightly score the dough to outline the butter square; remove butter, and set it aside. Starting from each side of the center square, gently roll out dough with the rolling pin, forming four flaps, each 4 to 5 inches long; do not touch the raised square in the center of the dough. Replace butter package on the center square. Fold flaps of dough over the butter package so that it is completely enclosed. Press with your hands to seal.
5/ Using the rolling pin, press down on the dough at regular intervals, repeating and covering the entire surface area, until it is about 1 inch thick. Gently roll out the dough into a large rectangle, about 9 by 20 inches, with one of the short sides closest to you. Be careful not to press too hard around the edges, and keep the corners even as you roll out the dough by squaring them with the side of the rolling pin or your hands. Brush off any excess flour. Starting at the near end, fold the rectangle in thirds as you would a business letter; this completes the first single turn.Wrap in plastic wrap; place in refrigerator 45 to 60 minutes.
6/ Remove dough from refrigerator, and repeat process in step 5, giving it five more single turns.Always start with the flap opening on the right as if it were a book. Mark the dough with your knuckle each time you complete a turn to help you keep track. Chill 1 hour between each turn. After the sixth and final turn, wrap dough in plastic wrap; refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight before using.

Saint Honore Cream (Rapid Chiboust or Diplomat Cream)

1 envelope unflavored gelatin (7 gr.)
1/4 cup cold water (60 ml)
1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons sugar (130 gr)
½ cup all-purpose flour (70 gr)
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 egg yolks
2 cups whole milk (500ml)
1 Tb. rum
¼ cup whipping cream (57 gr)
3 egg whitesdash of salt
1/2 cup sugar (105 gr)

Soak the gelatin in the 1/4 cup of cold water.
Put the sugar, flour, and salt into a saucepan and stir together with a whisk. Add the yolks and enough milk to make a paste. Whisk in the remainder of the milk. Place over low heat and stirring constantly, cook until thick. Remove from heat and stir in the rum and the gelatin. Stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved.Stir in the whipping cream. Set the mixing bowl in cold water and stir until the cream is cool. Place the egg whites in a clean bowl and using clean beaters, whip them with the dash of salt. As soon as the whites begin to stiffen, gradually add the 1/2 cup of sugar and beat until they are very stiff. Fold the egg whites into the cooled cream.

Caramel:8 oz sugar (240 gr)Assembly:

Roll the puff pastry out to 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick, 12 inch square (30 cm). Place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate covered at least 20 minutes.While the puff pastry is resting, make the pate a choux and place it in a pastry bag with a # 4 (8mm) plain tip. Reserve.Leaving the puff pastry on the sheet pan, cut a 11 inch (27.5 cm) circle from the dough and remove the scraps. (An easy way to cut it is to use a 11inch tart pan as a “cookie cutter”). Prick the circles lightly with a fork. Pipe 4 concentric rings of Pate a Choux on the pastry circle. Pipe out 12 cream puffs the size of Bing cherries onto the paper around the cake. Bake the puff pastry circle and the cream puffs at 400F (205C) until the pate a choux has puffed, about 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375F (190C) and bake until everything is dry enough to hold its shape, about 35 minutes longer for the cake and 8 minutes longer for the cream puffs (just pick them up and take them out as they are done)Place about 4 oz (114 gr) of the Saint Honore Cream in a pastry bag with a #2 (4mm) plain tip. Use the pastry bag tip or the tip of a paring knife to make a small hole in the bottom of each cream puff. Pipe the cream into the cream puffs to fill them. Refrigerate.Spread the remaining cream filling on the cake. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours to set the cream.

Caramelize the 8 oz. of sugar:Fill a bowl that is large enough to hold the pan used for cooking the sugar with enough cold water to reach halfway up the sides of the pan. Set the bowl aside.Place the sugar in a heavy bottomed pan and cook until the sugar until it has caramelized to just a shade lighter than the desired color. Remove from the heat and immediately place the bottom of the pan in the bowl of cold water to stop the cooking process. Dip the cream puffs into the hot caramel, using 2 forks or tongues to avoid burning your fingers. Place them on a sheet pan. The caramel must be hot enough to go on in a thin layer. Reheat if necessary as you are dipping, stirring constantly to avoid darkening the caramel any more than necessary. Also, avoid any Saint Honore cream to leak out of the puffs and get mixed in with the caramel while dipping as the cream can cause the sugar to recrystalize.

Whip one cup of heavy cream and teaspoon of sugar to stiff peaks. Place the whipped cream in pastry bag fitted with a #5 (10mm) star tip. Pipe a border of whipped cream around the top of the cake. Arrange the cream puffs, evenly spaced, on top of the filling, next to the cream.

Option: Before filling the cake, take care of the cream puffs, dip them in more caramel, hook them up to the base. Fill with the cream filling and fill the holes with the whipped cream.

From the sneak previews and reports I got, it seems that the majority had a “good time” (it’s all relative with a lengthy recipe), and no major doozies, some had a runny pastry cream filling, some puffs had difficulty rising and we only had minor burnt fingers casualties.
In my love of all things mini I did not go quite as small as last month crepe cake but I made 2 6-inch cakes and 6 3- inches.
What I love about monthly challenges like these is to be able to take one recipe that we all follow and compare notes. 48 bakers means 48 ways to bake and 48 different experiences. I love it!

Check them out:

Trembon In English - Valentina

Head over to Anita's blog for the other 24 Daring Bakers!

White Chocolate Brownies

May 24, 2007

This has been a heck of a week...truly nerve wracking. How would you feel if somebody told you that your paycheck (you know, the thing that makes your blog look good) is somewhere out there...but 3 days late... Yep, I thought you might react the way I did and picked up a spatula, some chocolate, cracked up some eggs and made brownies...Had to work out my nerves on something and when things don't go right I bake, I stir, I knead and I know I am not the only one. The world could have crumbled and fallen...I would not have cared...Maybe I need to take these to the bank tomorrow and they might be more understanding of a slight chance of an overdraft...!

I don't use white chocolate that much but here it truly worked magic and gave a great fudgy brownie. Oh yes, these are great. Really...I used my "mental" brownie recipe but reduced the sugar as white chocolate is already very sweet to my taste. I am surprised I liked these that much as I did. Yes, I know "white chocolate" is not remotely close to chocolate but that velvety smooth confections is known around the world as "chocolate", so indulge me with this one before calling the chocolate police.

White Chocolate Brownies:

6 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 ounces white chocolate
2 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup flour
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350.
Grease and flour an 8 inch square baking pan, or line with foil.
Melt butter and 4 oz of white chocolate together in top of double boiler over hot water. When melted remove from heat and add the remaining white chocolate. Stir to blend well. Set aside. Beat the eggs and sugar until pale and thick.Add white chocolate and butter mixture, vanilla and flour. Beat just until smooth. Add chocolate chunks and mix in by hand, being careful not to overmix.
Pour into prepared pan and bake 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack. Cut into squares or bars.

They made me feel so much better that I am virtually sending them to Myriam for her second Browniebabe Of The Month event. Check out the round up sometime after June 10th.
Update: the check finally came in... phewww!

Mirabelle Clafoutis

May 22, 2007

We can all thank Beverly for this gorgeous mirabelle clafoutis, fit for A Taste of Yellow, the event ran earlier in the month by Barbara. I know, I know, the roundup is done and your eyes can feast upon more than one hundred creations, but keep reading, it's important.

Beverly has been a member of my gym for over ten years, a soft and at the same time outspoken woman, she's always had a comforting word when things were not going easy. She has that way of saying one phrase, with the perfect poise, perfect look and body language and you know things are going to be ok. Her gym time is her social time with a small group of women 55-75, and it is not uncommon for her to stay 2-3 hours between the cardio, chit-chat, some weights...and more chats in the sauna. A couple of years ago, she stopped showing up and after a couple of weeks I picked up the phone only to hear her daughter say that she was undergoing chemo to treat an advanced colon cancer. Beverly has come to know a lot of things about me, but what she does not know is how much I cried staring at the receiver that afternoon when I got the news. This nonchalant, life loving, sensitive and caring woman was down...but trust Beverly to put up a fight, beat the odds and become a survivor.

She knows about my geeky blogging obsession and when I told her about the LiveStrong Day Event, she vowed to bring me little yellow plums, "mirabelles", from her garden. A few days before the due date, she came to me panicking because they were not ripe enough to be pulled from the tree yet. This monday afternoon she brought me a basket full of the juiciest little yellow plum, apologizing for missing the event. I told her I would make a yellow dessert again anyway, unfortunately cancer knows no deadline. The first dessert that came to my mind is my grandfather's favorite, clafoutis.

Clafoutis is another traditional home and bistro dessert in France. Traditionally made with cherries, it is the dessert your grandmother was most likely to serve to comfort you and probably the first one you would learn how to make with your mom. It is best served at room temperature and it is the perfect cross between a cake and a custard. Oh goodness, did I eat my share growing up in Provence on a property with 2 humongous cherry trees.
I can't speak for all French families, but in mine we never pitted the cherries or plums we used in the dish, it truly adds depth of flavor. The dish is so simple to make and eat, it is nice to stumble on the pith and take the time to savour each bite.

Mirabelles Clafoutis

Serves 4

1 handful yellow plum per dish
3 ounces flour
1 ounce cornstarch
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1 ounce butter, melted
4 ounces sugar
1 tsp. grated orange zest
1/4 cup Grand Marnier

Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl, flour, cornstarch, sugar. In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, milk, melted butter. Slowly pour the liquids over the dry ingredients, whisking well making sure there are as little lumps as possible.
Divide among 4 dishes and bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool to room temperature. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

See what I mean about easy and satisfying? You can change the fruits and the liquor everytime you make one. You can even skip the liquor as does my grandfather: clafoutis has been on his breakfast menu for many many years. He might be on to something as he is 97 years old, still drives short distances, 20/20 vision and all his mental faculties ( I dare say better than mine!). Thank you Beverly and thank you Papi for putting this dessert on our table tonight!


Floating Islands - Sugar High Friday 31

May 20, 2007

The first dessert that came to my mind when Tara of Seven Spoons announced the Sugar High Friday 31 theme Shades of White was this quintessential French bistro dessert: Iles Flottantes or Floating Islands.

The choice was obvious for me on many levels. The dessert itself is composed of pillowy soft white meringue set on a pool of soft almond cream colored vanilla bean speckled custard sauce, also known as creme anglaise.

The main reason however spuns from a conversation I had many years ago with my grandmother, Paulette. The village where my parents and grandparents reside now is the traditional French village where the church sits prominent in the middle of the town center, surrounded by local artisan shops, pastry shops, a couple of cafes and in our case located close to the "chateau". I disgress...
We are neighbors (literally) so one day we were going to get bread at the bakery we passed the church while a wedding was taking place. The bride and groom were just coming out and my grandmother reacted the way she always did in that case, she frowned and mumbled...She was a modern woman in many ways and was aware that most brides knew pre-marital sex, but as a true product of her generation it was inconceivable that the bride would wear white. Wedding white or pure white as she would say was a badge of honor (slightly tinted with envy I think) for women her age.
That particular day, I did not feel like letting her get in a bad mood over this so I decided to play with her and indulge her sweet tooth: "If not white, and definitely not red, then what shades of white would be allright to wear for a wedding dress?" We kept on walking while describing shades of pale almond creme anglaise taffeta, caramel speckled meringue petticoat, nutty beige creme dacquoise undergarnment (she surprised me with this one), soft pink marshmallow lipstick, champagne veil and vanilla creme shoes. Gosh, did we make ourselves hungry while getting to the shop! She stopped right in front of the bakery and exclaimed: "Iles Flottantes is a dessert fit for a bride, in all its shades of white and soft meringue!"

Floating Islands are indeed a staple dessert in French households and bistros/cafes. They are easy to make, do not require a whole lot of time and make for a show stopping presentation. They are so light and airy that it makes them the perfect dessert choice during the warmer months or at the end of multi-course dinner. The meringue is almost always drizzled with caramel, and out of respect for the traditional I give you the steps to do so, but when you don't feel like messing around with hot sugar syrup, a simple topping of toasted nuts (I used pistachios) is perfectly fine. The meringues are poached into hot milk, which helps preserve their texture and form while you put everything together.

Floating Islands - "Iles Flottantes":

Serves 6

For the creme anglaise:

2 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
1 whole vanilla bean, split or 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Heat the milk with the vanilla bean to boiling point. In the meantime, in a bowl whisk the sugar and egg yolks until thick and pale. Slowly pour in some milk to temper the yolks, whisk and pour the remaining milk. Stir. Pour the whole batter back in the saucepan and cook over medium-low heat until it coats the back of a wooden spoon.
Remove from heat, let cool to room temperature, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

For the meringue islands:

2 cups milk
4 egg whites
1/4 sugar

Spread a clean kitchen towel on your counter near the stove and have a large slotted spoon nearby.
In a large saucepan, heat the milk to a simmer over low heat in a large saucepan.
Whip the egg whites to a soft meringue and slowlt incorporate the sugar, one tablespoon at a time until you get a stiff , satin like and glossy meringue.
Using an ice cream scoop ar a large spoon, form rounds of meringue. Gently lower them down into the milk, without overcrowding the pan. Poach the meringues one minute on each side. With the slotted spoon, remove them from the milk and lay them down on the kitchen towel.
When all are poached. Put them on sheet pan lined with baking paper and refrigerate one hour.

To assemble:

Divide the creme anglaise among 6 dishes, top with the meringue islands and drizzle some caramel on top or sprinkle with toasted nuts.

For the caramel: (optional and right before serving)

1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup water

In a heavy saucepan, stir the sugar and water together and cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat and cook until the caramel gets golden brown. Remove from the pan and let it cool a little. Spoon over the meringues.


Cheesecake or Cinnamon Ice Cream? Both?!

May 18, 2007

I don't particularly enjoy ice cream drips on my coffee table, but by the time I shot some pictures and we finally decided what flavor we wanted, there were tiny ice cream puddles and lots of slurping, licking and "humhumhums" heard around. Both ice creams are good together, both are good on their own and both are better shared with friends.
In my case, I liked them equally (a lot) and I played around having small scoops of both in a bowl. I even drizzled dulce de leche on one of them, then both...Thanks Marce for the bottle!

How I came to make the cheesecake ice cream is actually quite funny, at least to me but I am easily amused. I started with the cinnamon to take to the neighbors for our weekly cookouts, but I wanted to bring another dessert in case some did not like it. I had my elbow on this cookbook and realized I had not made anything from it yet. My brother gave it to me when he came to visit last year and thought that bringing Alain Ducasse, chef of chefs, and Sophie Dudemaine, queen of cakes, into my kitchen would make me feel closer to home. And what do I do? I close my eyes, grab the recipe section with both hands and open the book on the only American inspired recipe, Cheesecake Ice Cream...ahahah!!! I took it as a sign that I was perfectly integrated in my life (sometimes homesick but who is not?) and happy in my shoes.

Both ice creams were equally loved and quickly disappeared. In the meantime I have nothing planned for dessert tonight but I have enough ice cream recipes to fill my stomach virtually: check out my fellow Daring Bakers' creations: mascarpone, chocolate, your ice cream churning yet?

Cheesecake Ice Cream, adapted from Alain Ducasse:

2 cups milk (50 cl)
1/3 cup heavy cream (10 cl)
3/4 cup sugar (170 gr)
2 egg yolks
3 oz cream cheese (90gr)

Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar.
In a saucepan set on medium heat, bring the milk and the cream to boiling point, slowly pour a small amount on the egg yolks to temper. Pour the remaining over the yolks and sugar. Stir well then pour back in the saucepan and cook over medium low heat until the cream thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cream cheese until completely melted and incorporated.
Cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until cold. Process in an ice cream maker according to your machine's manufacturer's instruction.
Number of servings: if I apply the rules of reason and moderation, I would say 6...but if you want your friends happy, more like 4!

I use a counter top style ice cream machine as well as an hand held immersion blender when the former is already at work.

Cinnamon Ice Cream, adapted from this post:

4 egg yolks
2 cups half and half
4 oz sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon

In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until pale and thick, add the vanilla.
In a saucepan, on medium heat, bring the half and half and cinnamon to boiling point but do not let it boil.
Slowly pour the hot cream onto the egg yolks mixture and stir to combine (tempering). Pour the whole mixture back into the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the cream coats the back of spoon. At this point you have made a custard sauce, also known as "creme anglaise".
Let cool completely, strain and refrigerate until cold. Process the custard according to your ice cream maker manufacturer's instructions or use a hand held immersion blender.


Rhubarb Banana Cupcakes With Cream Cheese Frosting

May 16, 2007

Some of you are probably wondering if I am growing banana trees in my backyard...Every time I turn around there is a banana or two ready to be used. I even found a big bag of them in the freezer...We are being invaded and I have to come up with the recipes faster than I can run. I hope that this is my last banana installment for a while, not that I am getting tired of the taste but it's time to move on and play with other things in the kitchen.
I looked at pages after pages of banana centered recipes, and although they were all fine and dandy, there seemed to be something missing. After reading so many recipes for muffins and cupcakes, I already had formulated a basic recipe that would allow me to play with the ingredients and the spices.

I quickly scribbled this one on a piece of paper, using some of my sad bananas and extra roasted rhubarb. Then, I added two of my favorite spices, ginger and cardamom and to round things out I included some orange zest. The frosting used is a cream cheese one I have used several times on this blog before and could eat with a spoon on m morning toast.

Rhubarb Banana Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting:

3 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cardamom
3 eggs
3/4 cup oil ( I used apricot)
1 tsp. vanilla
grated zest of one orange
2 bananas, mashed
1 cup roasted rhubarb

Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl (flour through cardamom). In a separate bowl, stirr the eggs and the oil. Add the bananas, rhubarb and orange zest. Add to the dry ingredients and stir just until combined. Divide into muffin lined tins and bake 35-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Cream cheese frosting:

1 stick (115 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
8 ounces (227 grams) cream cheese, room temperature
2 cups (230 grams) powdered sugar, sifted

In bowl of electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter, on low speed, until very smooth with no lumps. Gradually add the sifted powdered sugar and beat, on low speed, until fully incorporated and smooth. Pour into a piping bag and decorate the cupcakes.


Banana & Mascarpone Mousse Parfaits

May 14, 2007

First of all, I would like to thank all of you for wishing me a Happy Birthday (32 for the curious). You sure know how to make a girl feel special!

Late wednesday night I was cleaning the kitchen after an afternoon of baking and macaron making when I gave a serious look into the fruit bowl: the bananas I had bought two days earlier were already having a mini meltdown. It is quite amazing how fruits wilt faster than you can use it over here. At first, I thought of the usual: banana tartelettes, bread puddings, muffins, cakes, breakfast treats...
It was hot you see, so I went for a cold treat instead and I am glad I did. I was tempted to make ice cream but changed my mind for something a little bit more elaborate when I learned we might have company on thursday night. Our dinner party did not take place but I was able to serve this to B. and the neighbors tonight while playing cards.

These parfaits were adapted from my other Sugar Daddy, Richard Leach. I have been mesmerized by his creativity, techniques and use of seasonal produce. His book might seem daunting at first but there is not one recipe that did not turn out delicious and even if one dish is made out of 4-5 elements you can definitely make them separately, like I did with these Banana Parfaits. I made the original recipe (post later this week) then had enough leftover parfait batter to make individual servings without guilding the lillies like he did (nothing wrong with that but I have more than one job and less than one day to do them all!).

Banana & Mascarpone Mousse Parfaits, inspired by Richard Leach:

Serves 8

2 eggs, separated
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup pureed bananas
1/2 cup mascarpone, at room temperature
1 cup heavy cream

In an electric mixer bowl, whisk the egg yokls and 1/4 cup of sugar until pale and fluffy. In a separate bowl, stir the banana puree and mascarpone until smooth. Fold the yolk mixture into the banana mixture. Whisk the egg whites until firm peaks. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar, 1 Tb. at a time and continue to whip until glossy. Fold the whites into the banana mixture. Whip the cream to soft peaks and add to the banana mix. Spoon into different shape molds. I used silicon pyramid shaped ones. Freeze overnight.

Chocolate Glaze:

Heat 3/4 cup heavy cream to boiling point. Remove from heat and add 1 cup dark chocolate chips. Let stand for 2 minutes ten whisk until incoporated. Let cool to room temperature

To assemble: Unmold the banana parfaits and drizzle the chocolate ganache on top, sprinkle with pistachios if desired.


Birthday Girls...

May 12, 2007

Tomorrow is my birthday (30 something and rocking...) and Kate's (20 something and rocking...)

I had no idea when I started this blog over a year ago that blogging would come with benefits. Not only did I become part of a wonderful group of talented, supportive and Daring Bakers (if you knew how fantastic they are you'd get teary-eyed too), I have also been asked to be one of the co-administrators of the Daily Tiffin by my dear friend Meeta....and last but not least I have met a funny and talented young lady, Kate of Applemint while I was hosting HHDD 11.

After exchanging emails we realized we shared the same birthday: May 13th.... We decided to celebrate this coincidence that we would both bake each other a cake.
Euh...Helen, today is May 12th....Ah maybe here in northern America but in Hong Kong where Kate lives it is already the 13th and I want her to see my birthday cake as soon as she turns her computer on. She has made me an awesome lemon sponge with lemon grass and lime leaf mousse with mango compote jelly. I love it! I asked what her favorite flavor(s) was and the answer came in one sweet sentence: "anything with dark chocolate".

In her honor I made a deep dark Devils Food Cake with Dark Chocolate and White Chocolate Ganache.

Happy Birthday to you Kate! Happy Birthday to Me!

Devil's Food Cake, adapted from Dorie Greenspan:

Makes 8 individual cakes

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1/2 cup buttermilk or whole milk, at room temperature
1/2 cup boiling water
4 ounces semisweet or milk chocolate, finely chopped, or 2/3 cup store-bought mini chocolate chips

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 8-x-2-inch round cake pans, dust the insides with flour, tap out the excess and line the bottoms with parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.
Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add the sugars and continue to beat for another 3 minutes. Add the eggs one by one, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Beat in the vanilla.
Reduce the mixer speed to low and mix in the melted chocolate. When it is fully incorporated, add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk, adding the dry ingredients in 3 additions and the milk in 2 (begin and end with the dry ingredients). Still working on low speed, mix in the boiling water, which will thin the batter considerably. Switch to a rubber spatula, scrape down the bowl and stir in the chopped chocolate. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and smooth the tops with the rubber spatula.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, rotating the pans at the midway point. Transfer the cake pans to a rack and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unmold them and peel off the paper liners. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up. Cut 8 4-inch rounds with a cookie cutter. Refrigerate for a couple of hours.

For the glaze:

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla
2 ounces white chocolate

Put the chopped chocolate in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a boil. Remove pan from heat and add the chopped chocolate. Let stand for 1 minute then gently stir until chocolate is melted and the glaze is smooth. Gently stir in the vanilla. Transfer glaze to a small bowl and cover the surface of the glaze with plastic wrap and let cool for 5 minutes at room temperature before using.
Place the chilled cakes, still on the cake round, on a wire rack set over a baking sheet. Slowly pour the hot glaze onto the center of the cake. Smooth the glaze over the top and sides, letting the excess drip onto the baking sheet . Melt the white chocolate and srizzle over the cake.

Kate, I wish you all the best for this new year and wish for the day that you can show me the sights of Hong Kong!

Since I'll be celebrating my birthday out somewhere tomorrow, I take this opportunity to wish all mothers out there a wonderful Mother's Day tomorrow. My mom will get her own special post June 3rd when they celebrate Mother's Day in France.


Blueberry - Acai & Pineapple Verrines

May 11, 2007

This is not only a tasty and refreshing spring dessert but a very healthy one to boot. I am going to let you in on a little habit of mine: I drink acai juice everyday....what is it? It is the juice from the acai berry, a palm fruit, originally used by the tribes of the Amazon. The fruit contains great health properties and the juice is actually quite tasty once you get acclimated to a little grassy palate.
I started drinking it when I was told to increase my levels of vitamin Bs and essential fatty acids. I hate taking pills, I almost always choke or gag and frankly I could do without all the coating additives around 1/2 cup of juice a day beats a handful of pills. I have grown to like the taste and have been trying to get B. to drink some in the morning but the man is like a tornado throughout the house..always on the go..until we both crash (yes, it is exhausting watching him!).

I figured I would try to sneak it in desserts to make sure he would enjoy the same benefits, so I came up with these "verrines" or "dessert in a glass". The blueberries have a strong enough flavor to mellow the acai juice taste if you have a reluctant tester or a picky eater, and the crushed up macaron on top, well, it's just like the cherry on the cake!

Blueberry - Acai and Pineapple Verrines:

Serves 4

2 cups of fresh pureed or diced pineapple
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. lemon zest
1/3 cup acai juice
1/2 cup sugar

For the blueberry-acai layer:
In a saucepan, heat the blueberries,ginger, cinammon, lemon zest with 1/4 cup sugar until the sugar is dissolved and the blueberries start to break down and get juicy. Remove from heat, stir in the gelatin until dissolved. Add the acai juice. Let cool and divide among glasses. Refrigerate until slightly thickened.

For the pinneapple:
In a saucepan, heat the pureed pineapple with the remaining 1/4 sugar. When hot, remove from heat and stir in the gelatin until dissolved. Let cool and pour over the bluberry-acai layer.

To finish: crush up a few macarons, meringues or cookies on top of each glass and serve.


Bananas Foster Tartelettes

May 9, 2007

Well, the same says it all. This was an impromptu dessert made last night. The boys were working on the boat and I decided to have T. stay over for dinner. There was plenty for 3 but I did not have any dessert fixed up....ok I am lying, there was ice cream but only for one and if we did not want to fight over it I'd better come up with something fast. I had half of the inside-out puff pastry chilling in the fridge and some banana that were getting a little too yellow for B. so there you have it:

Bananas Foster Tartelettes:

(serves 4)

Inside Out Puff Patry (or store bought)
2 bananas
2 Tb. butter
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup dark rum

Roll enough puff pastry to cut out 4 3-inch rounds with a cookie cutter. Lay them on a baking sheet lined with parchement paper, cover with another sheet of parchement paper and set another baking sheet on top. They will puff up but won't get wild on you. (I did not press them flat after baking like I did with the Mille-Feuille)
Bake at 375 (F) until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

For the bananas:
Cut them into 1/2 inch thick slices.
In a sautee pan, over medium heat, melt the butter, add the brown sugar and the rum and sloow the sugar to melt and the mixture to thicken up a little. Put the slices in a single layer in the sauce and cook 2 minutes. Flip and cook another minute. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
Once cooled, place them in a decorative pattern on top of the tart shells, and serve.

Oh man that was good I am glad I made extras....!
See...I can do uncomplicated sometimes!!!


Meet My Sugar Daddy...

May 7, 2007

Well, Lisa and Ivonne are never going to forgive me but it seems like I have an affair with Pierre Herme almost every weekend, at least on sunday afternoons when I finally can sit down and fantasize about him..ok, maybe not "him" but his culinary ventures and creations. Every macaron, gateau, pastry is a poem in does the man. As I tried to put into words what I felt for and thought if Pierre Heme, I remembered a post I had bookmarked from ubber talented pastry chef Shuna at Eggbeater. Read this and you will understand why we are infatuated!

Instead of my traditional "internet fantasies by P.H", I became completely engrossed in a book my mom gave me for Christmas years ago... I love the book and yet I probably only made a handful of recipes from it, rice pudding, a couple of sorbets, creme brulees, chocolate mousses,etc. I am afraid to touch gold...I am afraid to mess with perfection...Oh what the heck?! I am far from his level so why not...after all, he put his recipes in book, he's got to be thinking about us and (please say so) can't be completely narcissistic....

I always read a cookbook from the end first: the materials and ingredient sources, the index, the ingredients and above all the techniques and tips from which I can always learn.
As I was reading the book, my eyes stopped at this recipe : "pate feuilletee inversee"...or...Inside Out Puff Pastry. Yes, you read right. In regular puff pastry, the layers are created by folding pastry dough over a butter block and folding and turning it several times. Well, leave it Pierre Herme to fold the butter block over the pastry dough, folding and turning. The result is fabulous, layers upon layers of soft, airy buttery goodness. I was really curious to see how that butter block (with a minimum of flour) would behave being on the outside. Things turned out perfectly and if I could have kissed my butter right then I think I would have, but the neighbors were around and I did not want to scare anybody off.
I don't know if Herme created the concept but it would not surprise me a bit given his ability to re-invent classics and techniques.

One particular recipe in the book caught my eyes, a "mille feuilles" also known as "napoleon" with gorgeous red strawberries, rhubarb and vanilla pastry cream. I had the dough, fresh plump raspberries and freshly roasted rhubarb. I favor simple whipped cream with raspberries and I was short on time, trying to put together an impromptu dessert for our weekly friday evening al fresco dinner with the neighbors. In other words, I skipped the pastry cream, and I am glad I did because the finished dessert was light, tart and let the dough shine through instead of taking supporting role.

Raspberry Rhubard Mille Feuilles, adapted from Pierre Herme:

Inside Out Puff Pastry: (enough for 4 napoleons and 1 large tart)
Butter Block:
190 gr soft butter
75 gr flour
175 gr flour
7 gr. salt
60 gr melted butter
70 ml water

For the Butter block: mix together the soft butter and the flour and form into a ball, in between two sheets of plastic or parchment paper, roll into a disk 3/4 inch thick. Refrigerate 1 1/2 hours
For the dough: mix all the ingredients together, adding the water little by little until you get a smooth dough. Pat into a square 3/4 inch thick and refrigerate 1 1/2 hours.
Roll the butter block into a 1/2 inch thick disk, put the dough block on top and enclose it with the butter block (by pulling the extra butter dough over the pastry dough).
Roll into a rectangle 16x9 inch. Fold the top and bottom toward the middle, fold the dough in half. Put the folded edge toward your left, lightly press the dough with your hand and refrigerate for an hour.
Repeat one more time and refrigerate 1 hour.

For the third and final turn, roll out the dough into a rectangle again, visually dive your dough in 3 and fold the bottom and top thirds toward the middle tier. Refrigerate another hour before using in your recipe.
The dough makes more than what you might need for one tart or severl Napoleons, but it is easier to work a large quantity of puff pastry and refrigerate or freeze what you don't use.

Remaining components:
1/2 Inside Out Puff Pastry
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks with 2 Tb sugar
1 pint fresh raspberries.
Roasted Rhubarb:
Heat oven to 375. Cut 2 rhubarb stalks into 1 inch slices. Put them in a medium sized roasting pan, sprinkle 1/2 cup brown sugar over it and roast until the rhubarb get caramelized, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, let cool, and slightly mash with a fork.

Roll the dough to a 1/2 inch thick rectangle. Line a baking sheet with parchement paper, lay the puff pastry on it, cover with another sheet of parchment paper, put a baking sheet over it and bake at 375 until golden brown. The top baking sheet adds enough weight for your dough to remain under control and yet allows for the layers to puff up during baking. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
Once cooled, cut the dough into equally sized triangles (decide the size according to your taste. I went for a base of 3 inches).

To assemble:
Put a pastry triangle on a plate, pipe or spoon some whipped cream over it, cover with raspberries. Top with a sheet of pastry, spoon some roasted rhubarb, cover with a final sheet of pastry and dust with powdered sugar.


Vanilla Cardamom Ice Cream - A Taste Of Spring

May 5, 2007

Why "A Taste of Spring"? Well, because here in South Carolina, this is just about what we have been given....a few days of clement and mellow temperature, a smidget of wind and soft blue clouds. I love spring and since I moved to SC I have been deprived of it. Scorching hot summers and mellow winters, but no spring, and don't get me started on fall!

I knew I only had a few days to celebrate Spring and since this is a perfect "entre deux" (in between) season, I aimed to combine my 2 favorites from winter and summer.
Cardamom screams winter to me and I go through huge supplies every year: in brioches, sweet rolls, hot teas, mulled spices, moroccan dishes, creams, custards,....
As far as summer goes it should be spelled "ice cream". I tend to agree that there is no season for it but a little scoop (make mine a big bowl) of ice cream on a sultry summer day is extremely refreshing.

For this dessert, you have an ice cream maker go ahead and use it but I did not have enough room in the freezer so I froze the custard base and took it out every couple of hours or so and give it a whirl with an hand held immersion blender and everything came out perfect.

Vanilla Cardamom Ice Cream, inspired by this recipe.

4 egg yolks
2 cups half and half
4 oz sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 cardamom pods, broken in half

In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until pale and thick, add the vanilla.
In a saucepan, on medium heat, bring the half and half and cardamom pods to boiling point but do not let it boil.
Slowly pour the hot cream onto the egg yolks mixture and stir to combine (tempering). Pour the whole mixture back into the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the cream coats the back of spoon. At this point you have made a custard sauce, also known as "creme anglaise".
Let cool completely, strain the cardamom pods and refrigerate until cold. Process the custard according to your ice cream maker manufacturer's instructions or use the hand held immersion blender described earlier.

I wish I had made 2 gallons of sophisticated.
I believe I have to make more if I want to have at least a couple of scoops to take to Meeta's Monthly Mingle, appropriately celebrating spring. Participate as well, so I can live Spring vicariously through you!


Mango Mango - Taste Of Yellow

May 3, 2007

If you are not a food blogger you probably do not understand why so many of us are creating and posting yellow foods.... We are all in for a good cause.

Barbara of Winos and Foodies is the driving force behind so many yellow dishes popping on your screen. Currently fighting cancer, she still finds the energy to create an event, A Taste of Yellow, to raise cancer awereness. Her idea has been recognized as an official event supporting LiveStrong Day and the Lance Armstrong Foundation on May 16th. So, whether you blog about food, cancer knows no boundaries and I urge you to make a yellow dish and post about it before May 7th, and visit Barbara's page to learn more about it.

I have already mentioned how cancer affected my life. My brother died of oesophagus cancer at 38 years old, and recently my grandmother passed away from complications of breast cancer. One life cut too short, the other one well filled and ready for the next journey. Pain, anger and sadness are part of my daily routine but I feel comfort and strength in reading or meeting people fighting or surviving cancer. Whoever said the pain dimishes with time was wrong, way wrong, that's why I jumped on the occasion to participate. I hope and pray that no one has to go through the pain of saying goodbye to a sibbling, child or relative who suffered through cancer and did not make it. Our family has grown stronger and closer being tested in their faith, love and friendship and not in our futile attempts at cheating death.

I was staring at all the yellow foods at the store when I found my hands grazing a crate of beautifully ripe and fragrant mangoes. A couple lemons and four mangoes later I was back in the kitchen putting my yellow dessert together.

For this, I drew my inspiration from Richard Leach's Sweet Seasons, once again, adapting his "Lemon-Mango Coupe" to be easily made in a home kitchen.
The components can be made over several days and the whole thing put together the day you plan on serving it. From bottom to top:
-base of Ultimate Lemon Pound Cake
- lemon custard cream
- diced mangoes
- sour cream topping
- mango sorbet in spring roll wrapper tubes

All Mango - All Yellow:

Serves 8

Ultimate lemon pound cake : 8 slices needed. Recipe here.
Cut the slices using 2.5 inch metal rings (8 slices-8 rings). Set the rounds on a sheet pan. Set aside.

Lemon Custard:

1 cup (236 ml) lemon juice
1/2 cup (118 ml) sugar
4 eggs
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup (118 ml) creme fraiche or sour cream
zest of 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.Combine lemon juice, sugar, whole eggs and eeg yolks in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Add the creme fraiche and lemon zest. Incorporate well.
Line the inside of an 8 inch round cake pan with plastic wrap. Do not worry, it will not melt. Fill the pan with the custard and place it on deep sheet pan or roasting pan. Fill the larger pan with water and bake the custard in this water bath for 30 minutes or until set. Allow to cool and refrigerate.
Cut the custard using the 8 rings previously used for the cake slices. The custard should remain in the rings, place them on the sheet tray on top of the cake rounds. I did this tricky move by using a spatula, sliding it under the tubes, lifting them carefully with my hand and quickly setting them on the cake rounds.

Mango filling:

2 fresh mangoes, peeled and diced
1/2 cup sugar, divided
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
2 cups cream fraiche.

Lightly sprinkle the mango with 1/4 cup sugar and toss gently. Fill the rings with the mango to withing 1/2 inch of the tops.
Combine the creme fraiche with the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar. Carefully spoon it into the rings and smooth the tops. Place in the refrigerator.

Mango Sorbet:

4 cups diced mangoes
1 1/2 cups water
2 cups granulated sugar
juice of 1/2 lemon

Combine all the ingredients ina saucepan and brigng to a simmer. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes, remove from the heat and puree until smmoth. Pass through a sieve. Cool completely and process in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer's instructions. Keepp frozen until ready to use.

Spring Rolls Rings:

4 large spring roll wrappers
1/4 cup clarified butter
1 egg white, slightly beaten

Heat oven to 350. Cut the wrappers into strips 3 inches wide and 5 inches long. Butter the strips, with a pastry brush, leaving 1 inch unbuttered. Using 16 metal tubes 1 inch in diameter, roll the wrappers around the tubes. Brush the butter free space with the egg white and overlap a amll ostion of the wrapper, sealing it.Bake for a couple of minutes or until brown. Watch closely.
Slide them off the tubes and let cool completely.

To assemble: place some mango sorbet into a pastry bag and pipe it into the spring roll tubes. Place 2 on a plate, side by side. Unmold the mango dessert next to them. Decorate as you wish.


Chocolate Ice Cream Pops

May 1, 2007

It's hot here...really hot. Leave it to South Carolina to skip spring and go right into summer!
We are starting to crave ice cream...bad! I am impatiently awaiting David's new cookbook, the ice cream maker is all polished and shiny but we need something to cool us! Yes, we could go and buy some but what fun would that be when I can whip this little cuties out?!
The day I made the Banana-Chocolate Bonbons I doubled on the recipe since it was pretty tasty. Turned out that half of the chocolate pudding stayed in the fridge while I tended to other creations. To top things off, we did not really feel like eating it "like that", so I came up with these.

Dark Chocolate Ice Cream Pops:

Chocolate Pudding:
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
4 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate
2 Tb cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

In a heavy saucepan whisk together sugar, cornstarch. Add chocolate and cocoa powder to sugar mixture. In a bowl whisk together milk and egg yolk and gradually whisk into chocolate mixture. Bring mixture just to a boil over moderate heat, whisking constantly, and boil 1 minute, whisking. Remove pan from heat and whisk in butter and vanilla.Divide pudding between two 8-ounce ramekins. Chill puddings in freezer, surfaces covered with plastic wrap, until cooled, about 30 minutes.

1 cup heavy cream, whipped to stiff peaks.

For the pops: once the pudding has cooled, gently fold the whipped cream into it. Pour the batter into 4 ice cram pops, or 4 glasses like I did. Put a wooden ice cream stick on the middle, and freeze until firm.

Easy to make on a hot day and easier to eat on a hotter day!

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