Princess Torte

105

Friday, October 31, 2008


Princess Torte

It has been ages since I made a Princess Torte, actually many moons ago for a friend's little princess 8th birthday. Although not difficult, it is a mini production of its own, the sort of cake that I could see the Daring Bakers attempt one month. Out of the ordinary genoise base, rich pastry cream, almond paste, whisking, folding, heating up, cooling down, rolling thin, draping, trimming, etc... You get the picture. I absolutely love cakes like this one: incredibly rich and yet a feather on your tongue. A poetry of textures and flavors all wrapped up around your fork (let's not talk thigh side effect...it is Friday after all!), and when work becomes play what else can a girl ask for?!

Earlier this month I received a very sweet work assignment "Have you ever made a Princess Torte? Yoour mission, should you accept it is to bake one, style it and photograph it for our upcoming 4th issue." Ok, so this sounds more Mission Impossible than what Vera actually wrote me, but I never refuse an assignment for Desserts Magazine. Why? Again...that squishy sound when you turn the virtual pages....No! Just kidding! It's all about desserts folks! Each issue feels "real", jammed packed with tons of great recipes, practical information, and this month there is a ton of awesome giveaways and absolutely mouth watering cake recipes. I am very fortunate that Vera has trusted me with working on something for each issue and if you only knew what we are concocting right now, eheheh!!!

In "A Journey Around The World Through Cakes" I was Sweden. Not bad eh? Tall, blonde, blue eyes...ugh no...I was Princess Torte actually. Ha! Suits me just fine since I got the opportunity to sit back and bake a recipe from start to finish following the instructions to the letter down to the last dot on that last i. Yes...I find it relaxing to let myself be coaxed by someone else's measurements and instructions once in a while, not to mention that this was a recipe to make for work, not play so I was not to deviate in order to properly talk about it.

This is not the kind of cake you decide to make at 4pm to be served at 7pm that same evening. It is not difficult, it just requires a little time and planning. Start the day before and spread your work so you give each element your full attention and the necessary cooling and setting time they require. I absolutely loved making (and eating) this cake from Greg Patent's A Baker's Odyssey, making a few adjustments and notes along the way. The book is a collection of recipes from around the world, a great read, if only for the stories alone. You can read the original recipe in the magazine on pages 69-71. I reworked it a bit to include some notes regarding the ingredients, and I did shorten the instructions that were unnecessary lenghty at times.

Pastry Cream

The base is an unconventional genoise type where the egg yolks are added, with the mixer running, to the egg white while you are whipping them to firm peaks, alternatively with the flour. I did raise an eyebrow, thinking that it might destroy the actual structure of the cake until I remembered Grandma's lesson #53: you can pretty much add anything you want to your whites whipped to firm peaks in small amount without destroying many air particules and running your batter. The end result was a satin ribbon of cake batter that baked into a light and airy genoise type base for the cake. Once divided in three, the cake layers are filled with a thin coat of raspberry jam, a rich pastry cream combined with whipped cream and topped with more whipped cream. Finally the whole cake is draped with a thin sheet of pastel green tinted marzipan.

At first, you might feel like there is no way that al that cream filling is going to fit in one cake, but trust me it does! And you are going to love it! Draping the marzipan over the whipped cream can be a little tricky. Make sure to center your marzipan sheet right over it and work fast, let it drape over and use a gentle hand to press it down the side. If you are still worried, you can freeze the cake for an hour until the top is firmer and proceed with the draping. I did find that the dimension to roll it were a little too wide and ended having a extra so I made a few marzipan roses to decorate the cake with. If you are looking for a great tutorial on making marzipan roses, read this step by step written by Cakebrain. Hers is for chocolate clay roses but the same technique can be used for marzipan ones. Last note, this Princess Torte is best enjoyed within the first couple of days as the marzipan gets very soft and gooey from its direct contact to the cream.


Princess Torte,

Serves 8-10

For the custard:
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups half-and-half, divided
3 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

In a small bowl whisk together the cornstarch, sugar, and egg yolks. Slowly add in 1/2 cup of the half-and-half and whisk until smooth. In a saucepan set over medium heat, bring the remaining half and half to boiling point.
Slowly whisk the hot cream over the egg yolk/cornstarch mixture to temper the eggs. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens to a custard. It should take about 5 minutes. It is important to constantly stir to prevent the bottom from curdling or burning. If that happens, take a balloon whisk and whisk vigorously. If you fear your custard curdled too much, remove from the heat and pass it through a fine sieve before proceeding with the recipe. Off the heat, stir in the vanilla and pour the custard into a bowl to let it cool. Press a piece of plastic wrap on the surface to prevent a skin from forming while it cools. Let it cool to room temperature before refrigerating.

For the cake:
Fine dry bread crumbs for the pan
1/2 cup sifted unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 cup potato starch flour – substitute same amount of cornstarch if the former is not available
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
4 large eggs, separated
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9-inch spring form pan with cooking spray. Line the bottom of the pan with a round of parchment paper and coat with cooking spray. Dust the inside of the pan with the breadcrumbs and tap out the excess. This is very traditional of Eastern European cakes to line the pan with a coating of fine crumbs. In the older days, it replaced parchment paper, soaked up extra moisture. It also forms a tight crumbs on the outside which makes it easier when you frost the cake after baking.
Sift together the flour, potato starch, and baking powder. Set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites and salt on medium speed until the whites are shiny and form stiff peaks but are still smooth, not lumpy. Sprinkle in about one-quarter of the sugar, then add 1 egg yolk and beat for about 10 seconds. Repeat the process 3 more times. Beat a couple more minutes, until the mixture forms a ribbon.
Gently fold in the flour mixture in 4 additions, taking your spatula from the bottom of the bowl, up the side and over the batter. Pour the batter into the pan, and set it on baking sheet. Rap the sheet a couple of times on the counter top to smooth the top of you cake.

Bake for about 30 minutes, until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cake on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the sides of the cake to release it from the pan, if necessary. Release the cake from the spring form pan, cover the cake with a plate or another wire rack and invert. Remove the bottom of the pan and the parchment paper. Cover the cake with another wire rack and invert again. Let it cool completely before proceeding with the rest of the recipe.

Marzipan Coating
Two 7 oz packages marzipan
Green food coloring
Powdered sugar for dusting

Break the marzipan into small pieces into a medium bowl and knead with your hands. Your natural body heat will help smooth it out and add in the coloring. Add 3 or 4 drops of green food coloring and knead it into the marzipan to get a pale shade of green. You can add a couple more drops of the coloring but do so carefully. The final shade should be pastel and not neon green. Dust your work surface with powdered sugar. Shape the marzipan into a 6-inch disk, coat both sides lightly with sugar. Roll the marzipan to a circle about 16 inches in diameter and less than 1/8 inch thick. Don’t be afraid to add more powdered sugar to your work surface as you roll to prevent it from sticking. You can also roll the marzipan between two sheets of plastic wrap or parchment paper if they are wide enough. I had a lot of extra so adjust the diameter according to the size and height of your cake.

To Assemble the Torte:
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup seedless raspberry jam
Marzipan Coating

Cut the cake into 3 equal layers, set aside.
In a mixer with the whisk attachment, whip the cream until thick and firm. Transfer one-third of the cream to a small bowl, cover, and refrigerate. Remove the chilled custard from the refrigerator and give it a vigorous whisk as it will be thick after cooling. Make sure it is smooth and creamy before proceeding. Fold the portion of the whipped cream that you did not refrigerate into the custard until smooth.
Since the cake is not easily moveable once completed (heavy and moist), set the bottom cake layer, cut side up, onto platter and arrange 4 strips of parchment paper under the edges cake to keep your plate clean as you assemble it.
Spread the raspberry jam onto the cake, and then spread half the custard cream mixture evenly over the jam. Invert the top cake layer onto the custard cream, cut side up. Spread the remaining custard cream over the layer and top with the remaining cake layer. Spread about one-quarter of the refrigerated whipped cream in a very thin layer around the sides of the cake. Evenly spread the remaining cream onto the top of the cake with an offset spatula. Remove the paper strips from underneath the cake and refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes to an hour. It does help with firming the creams again before applying the marzipan so it does not mush it down. You can also freeze it for an hour.
Remove the cake from the refrigerator and gently set the marzipan on top of the cake so that it drapes over the cake. Press it gently so it adheres to the sides of the cake, covering it completely. With a sharp knife, trim away the excess marzipan so that the edges. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Tossing With The Daring Bakers: Plum Mascarpone and Streusel Pizza

131

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Plum Mascarpone Streusel Pizza

This Daring Bakers' challenge almost did not come to be. Almost. It's been a busy month, work, play, life...the usual. Multiply that by two or three. It took a dinner invitation and a little Halloween inspiration to make it happen.

Our October hostess, Rosa from Rosa's Yummy Yums chose pizza as our challenge and although excited about it right from the start (it's got carbs...I am excited), I did not get to it until Monday morning. We had friends coming over yesterday for dinner and since it was going to be a late casual nibble around a game of Scrabble and some wine, I figured that pizza would be the perfect thing for that kind of get together. I made four small pizzas and kept three on the savory side and you guess it, one sweet for the blog. Turns out our guests arrived while I was still in traffic and helped themselves to the Plum Mascarpone and Streusel Pizza before Scrabble...my kind of peeps...dessert first!

One of Rosa's requests, although not mandatory was to take a picture of us tossing the dough. My schedule is completely opposite my husband's these days so I knew it would be a hard thing to do, not having extra hands to hold the camera while I tossed, even with a remote control it was proving difficult. I kept having this nightmare: 2 in the morning and you toss your dough, click the remote button and then watch your pretty dough fall on a glass of water or pan full of cookies, catch the said glass or pan and takes them for a dive down to the floor and with a big sound of broken glass, baking sheet tumbling and loud cursing you end up waking up a puppy, an old dog and your mate. So you spend the next hour, cleaning, playing, calming and promising more cookies to ease the pain of a bing and a bang...Yep...as I said, I had to find a back up.

Late Sunday night, I went to the attic to get some Halloween decorations and I was sitting there in the middle of unlabeled boxes (grhhh!), I picked up my favorite Halloween witches, Greta and Hilda. Ha!Ha! They would do the tossing or stretching and I would photograph their tribulations!Greta started on her own while Hilda was getting her pretty pink hair fixed up a bit and the task was proving to be a little to much for one person so Hilda jumped right in like a good Daring Bakers. Once they were done tossing, stretching and playing with the dough I spread some mascarpone flavored with some vanilla on one pizza, arranged plum slices over it and topped the whole thing with some almond streusel. The end result was close to a rustic brioche tart and absolutely wonderful warm out of the oven.

Thank you Rosa for such a fun challenge and to you Lisa and Ivonne for coordinating things so well each month! I bet your quest for pizza toppings and variations will forever be answered by taking a look at all the other Daring Bakers' creations. Happy tossing!

Pizza Ingredients

BASIC PIZZA DOUGH

Adapted from “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” by Peter Reinhart.
Makes 4-6 pizza crusts

For the dough:
4 1/2 Cups (20 1/4 ounces/607.5 g) all purpose flour, chilled
1 3/4 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Instant yeast
1/4 Cup (2 ounces/60g) olive oil or vegetable oil
1 3/4 Cups (14 ounces/420g or 420ml) ice cold water, ice cold (40° F/4.5° C)
1 Tb sugar
Semolina/durum flour or cornmeal for dusting

Toppings:
6 oz mascarpone, at room temperature
1 Tb sugar
1 vanilla bean
3 -4 plums, pitted and sliced
streusel topping (add 1/3 cup sliced almonds)

In a bowl combine the mascarpone, sugar and seeds from the vanilla bean and stir until smooth. Spread over the dough right before baking, arrange the plum slices around and topped with the streusel. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes (unlike for savory pizza, the streusel needs to bake a little longer and not burn).

DAY ONE
Mix together the flour, salt and instant yeast in a big bowl or stand mixer. Add the oil, sugar and cold water and mix well (spoon or paddle attachment) to form a sticky ball of dough. On a clean surface, knead for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth. If it is too wet, add a little flour and if it is too dry add 1 or 2 teaspoons extra water.
If you are using an electric mixer, switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for the same amount of time. The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl. If the dough is too wet, sprinkle in a little more flour. If it clears the bottom of the bowl, dribble in a teaspoon or two of cold water. The finished dough should be springy, elastic, and sticky, not just tacky, and register 50°-55° F/10°-13° C.
Flour a work surface or counter. Line a jelly pan with baking paper/parchment. Lightly oil the paper. Cut the dough into 4-6 equal pieces. Sprinkle some flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them. Gently round each piece into a ball.
Transfer the dough balls to the lined jelly pan and mist them generously with spray oil and cover with plastic wrap. Put the pan into the refrigerator and let the dough rest overnight or for up to thee days.
NOTE: You can store the dough balls in a freezer bag if you want to save some of the dough for any future baking. In that case, pour some oil (a few tablespooons only) in a medium bowl and dip each dough ball into the oil, so that it is completely covered in oil. Then put each ball into a separate bag. Store the bags in the freezer for no longer than 3 months. The day before you plan to make pizza, remember to transfer the dough balls from the freezer to the refrigerator.

DAY TWO
On the day you plan to eat pizza, exactly 2 hours before you make it, remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator. Dust the counter with flour and spray lightly with oil. Press the dough into disks about 1/2 inch/1.3 cm thick and 5 inches/12.7 cm in diameter. Sprinkle with flour and mist with oil. Loosely cover the dough rounds with plastic wrap and then allow to rest for 2 hours.
At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, place a baking stone on the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven as hot as possible (500° F/260° C). If you do not have a baking stone, then use the back of a jelly pan. Do not preheat the pan.
Generously sprinkle the back of a jelly pan with semolina/durum flour or cornmeal. Take 1 piece and lay the dough across your fists in a very delicate way and carefully stretch it by bouncing it in a circular motion on your hands, and by giving it a little stretch with each bounce. Once the dough has expanded outward, move to a full toss.
Make only one pizza at a time. During the tossing process, if the dough tends to stick to your hands, lay it down on the floured counter and reflour your hands, then continue the tossing and shaping. In case you would be having trouble tossing the dough or if the dough never wants to expand and always springs back, let it rest for approximately 5-20 minutes in order for the gluten to relax fully,then try again.You can also resort to using a rolling pin.
When the dough has the shape you want, place it on the back of the jelly pan, making sure there is enough semolina/durum flour or cornmeal to allow it to slide and not stick to the pan. Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice.
Slide the garnished pizza onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the jelly pan. Close the door and bake for about 5-8 minutes.

Plum Mascarpone Streusel Pizza

Pear And Pecan Tea Cakes - An Afternoon With Grandma

90

Monday, October 27, 2008

Pear - Pecan Cakes

I'd like to dedicate this post to another great lady, Bri who passed away last night. My sincere condolences to her husband and her family.

A post I was reading the other week prompted me to take out my grandmother's china and silverware out of their cases and bring them to life for a little while. The time of a dessert, a picture or a post. The time of a memory I might give my mother about a certain time in her past. I know I'll never be as creative as Pia in styling and setting the mood for the pieces I inherited but the moment was right to polish those spoons and dust off those cups.

I started to take pictures of the spoons on their own and although pretty, something was missing. I made some tea and hoped that the smell and relaxing atmosphere would inspire me a little. It was allright...not bad, there was still that little "je ne sais quoi" missing. I took a step back and tried to remember the last time I had seen my grandmother use those pieces. Had I? Ever? No, not really....So I tried to imagine grandma holding that cup of tea in one hand, swirling her sugar and lemon slice, spoon in the other. That's when it hit me! Cake! The one thing missing was one of my grandmother's tea cakes!

I cannot remember a day without going to her house for a 4 o'clock cup of tea and a slice of cake! There was never a shortage of pretty china and silverware, although I strongly suspect she had secretively put these cups and spoons away for me. Yes, they are just things....and they fell on my lap pretty much the same way they did on hers: they were all handed down from many women before me. If they weren't in our family, well eh, no big deal. But they are, and they are old, and they speak a little bit of my past and the women in the family every time I take them out, to me it is a big deal. I find it magical that every time I look at them, I can't wait for 4 o'clock to come around so I can make myself a cup of tea and have some cake.


I started to think about the cake that would reflect the mood around grandma's table at tea time. Tense! Really! It seems like we were always planning some kind of event, party, celebration, vacation..something. It was also very warm and playful. Mamie Paulette was indeed a study in contradictions. Tense, but with a great sense of humor and a joyous personality. Those little pear and pecan cakes with their little skirt of roasted pear slices are just that. They are a little tense if you don't bake often but they do not require major scientific knowledge (we all know I would not be baking them if they did!), no intricate technique (nothing wrong with that, just short on time these days!), or special ingredients (nothing wrong here either, grandma just happened to love pears). They also tend to look like roses....like the ones on grandma's little spoons.

The pear cakes start with a basic cake batter in which I threw chunks of pears and chopped pecans but feel free to use the same dessert with plums, apples, peaches, etc.... For the pear slices, make sure to cut them thin and choose pears of the same size if you can. Slice them first and use the end pieces and short slices, chopped, in the cakes. I used regular size muffin pans but one cup capacity ramequins or baking dished work well too. The tense part of the dessert comes when you position the pear slices around the cakes. Arm yourself with patience and have some bakery twine or rafia strings close by, wrap them around the slices, tie them up and let the cakes sit for 20 minutes. After that time, you can either remove the twine if you think you guests won't like it, and the slices will stick to the sides of the cakes on their own, of if your friends like ribbons as much as mine do, by all means, leave them be. Well, I did use some hot sugar (I guess I can't help myself) as I sprinkled some pecan praline on the plates before serving, but you can skip that step of course.

Pear Cakes and Grandma's China

Pear And Pecan Tea Cakes With Pecan Praline:

Makes 8 muffin size tea cakes.

For the roasted pear slices:
8 pears
1/3 cup of sugar

Preheat the oven to 300F. Peel the pears and cut them in thin slices. Reserve the small slices and meaty pieces from what is left on the stem for the cake batter. Place the pear slices on parchment line baking sheet and sprinkle them with the sugar. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool.

For the tea cakes:
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 egg
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup milk
1/3 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
remnant pear slices and pieces from the pears used in the previous step, chopped, plus more if needed to make one cup.

In a mixer, combine the sugar, oil, and egg and whisk with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Add the flour, baking soda and cinnamon and whisk until the batter starts to come together. Add the milk and whisk until smooth. By hand, fold in the pecans and pears. Divide the batter evenly among 8 muffin cups sprayed with cooking spray and bake at 350F for 15-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes back free of crumbs. Let cool.
Arrange the cooled roasted pear slices around the cake and secure with bakery twine (use butcher twine if you don't plan on serving them tied up). Refrigerate if not ready to serve within the hour. All the elements will keep fine for 3 days in the fridge but they are easier to assemble and nicer to eat at room temperature.

For the pecan praline:
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup chopped pecans

Place the pecans on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Place the sugar and 2 tablespoons of water in a heavy saucepan on high heat and cook until you get a golden caramel. Immediately pour it over the pecans and let sit until cold and hard. Chop into small pieces.

Pear - Pecan Cakes

Apple Frangipane Tartelettes With Cheesecake Ice Cream

100

Friday, October 24, 2008

Apple Frangipane Tartelettes And Cheesecake Ice Cream

When I was a little girl I had quite a few nicknames. I will spare you the ones my dear and gentle (hmmm...) brothers gave me but my family gave me two that are still around today: Tartelette and Reine des Pommes. The first one is obvious as I love to make tarts and they were probably my first venture in the kitchen. The second needs a little French idiom explanation. It's not that I ate that many apples but " une pomme" is also a person with a kooky or funky personality. I was just that as a child, coming up from my day dreams just long enough to breath some fresh air, realize the world out there was not that great and going back deep into my fantasies.

Whenever something was wrong I'd find comfort eating some of my mother's apple cake while reading a Charles Perrault's fairy tale. A slice of my grandmother's apple pie was also enough to transport me into a magical world of brave knights and pretty princesses. Yes, just from one slice. One of my favorite fairy tale was indeed Snow White, so Pomme quickly became my nickname. Even today B. calls me his "petite pomme" and I know he does not mean his "little airhead" as the idiom is sometimes used too. No man in their right mind would call his dear wife that when she is holding a plate of his favorite cookies right under his nose!

A couple of times before I have written here about our friend M. who is facing the biggest battle of her life right now. On the weekends, we go visit M. and her husband and try to help as much as we can. I do a little grocery shopping for her on my way there and try to fix a couple of dishes for the week. B. and her husband work in the same department so they talk shop or fix something around the house. I usually end up reading some pages to M. while she rests or tries to eat something. Last weekend she did not feel like reading from her current book. "Why don't you tell me one of your stories?" she asked instead. "A fairy tale", she added. "Allright, but we need apple tartelettes for that!" I replied.

She was a little caught off guard by my response and I quickly explained the pomme nickname, the childhood day dreams, the apple desserts and Snow White. Her request was perfect as I had brought some freshly made apple tartelettes to have for dinner with them. I remembered they liked theirs with ice cream so I also made a fresh batch of cheesecake ice cream to change from vanilla. Nothing wrong with that, I just wanted something a little different. We sort of forgot to tell the men we were digging into the dessert and sat on her bed with our tartelettes and ice cream while I proceeded to tell her a fairy tale.

Yes, she was the heroin, defended by her valiant King, conquering the villain Cancer Witch with the help of Little Pomme and her wonderful Prince Pomme and their two fearless and giant dogs (hum..hum..). I know M. I know I can come up with stories like that and not make her depressed or sad. Indeed, she cracked up and felt invigorated by this little tale proving my parents they were wrong to tell me that day dreams are useless. You just have to know when to use them, that's all.

The tartelettes are built in ring molds, starting with a sable breton base (shortbread), filled with a layer of frangipane (almond) cream and topped by slices of honey roasted apples. If you do not have ring molds, you can of course build the tartelettes into regular individual molds, they may not be as tall. The cheesecake ice cream is so easy to make and delicious I wish I could have some everyday for breakfast. Well, I could....I can....day dreaming again...oops! It is not too sweet and a nice change from vanilla ice cream. I like to add some graham cracker crumbs when I serve it on its own but I left it plain this time as they were already plenty of crust to go around. I used 3 inch round molds bought at the local craft store (Mickael's). Same store where I get the cupcake liners (Wilton brand) that some of you asked about in the previous post. The ribbons were added with a piece of thin double sided tape.

Apple Frangipane Tartelette

Apple Frangipane Tartelettes With Cheesecake Ice Cream:

Serves 8

Sable Dough:
1 stick (115 gr) butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup (93 gr) powdered sugar
1 large egg
1 1 /2 cups (188gr) flour
2 tablespoons (20 gr) cornstarch (makes for a lighter crumb)
pinch of salt

In a mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg and mix until combined. Add the flour, cornstarch and salt and mix briefly to incorporate. Dump the whole mixture onto a lightly floured board and gather the dough into a smooth ball. Do not work the dough while in the mixer or it will toughen up. Flatten the dough into a disk, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.
When the dough is nice and cold, roll it out on a lightly floured board or in between the sheets of plastic. You will need half the amount of dough to make the tartelettes. The other half can be kept in the fridge for up to 5 days or frozen, well wrapped for up to 3 months. Cut out rounds with a 3 inch pastry ring. Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake at 350F for 8-10 minutes. Let cool.

For the Honey Roasted Apples:
4 medium apples
1/2 cup honey

Preheat the oven to 350F. Peel core and cut the apples in thin slices. Lay them on a couple of parchment paper lined baking sheets and drizzle at will with the honey. Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden. Let cool.

For the Frangipane Cream:
1 stick (115 gr) butter, softened
1/2 cup (100 gr) granulated sugar
1 cup (100 gr) ground almond
seeds from one vanilla bean or 2 teaspoons vanilla paste or extract
2 eggs
1/4 cup (60gr) heavy cream

Place the butter, sugar, almond powder, vanilla bean seeds and the eggs in a large bowl and whisk until smooth (can also be done in a food processor). Add the cream but stir in it instead of whisking not to emulsify it or it will rise while baking. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Place 8 baked rounds of dough in 8 pastry rings, divide the cream evenly among the rings and bake 20 minutes at 350F. Let cool. Once cooled, remove the tarts from the rings and arrange the apple slices decoratively on top.

For the Cheesecake Ice Cream:
2 cups (50cl) whole milk
1/3 cup (10cl) heavy cream
3/4 cup (170gr) sugar
2 egg yolks
4 oz cream cheese (120gr)

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. If you do not have an ice cream machine, follow the directions laid out in this post.

Apple Frangipane Ice Cream And Cheesecake Ice Cream

Bittersweet Chocolate and Cardamom Cupcakes

117

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Bittersweet Chocolate - Cardamom Cupcakes

Over the past couple of months I have been consumed by guilt. Even though I had tons of ideas and a couple of sleepless nights I did miss a couple of Sugar High Fridays. Guilty! It matters. It's sugar. Allright, so "consumed" is a little strong. Upset that I could not work my schedule right to find an hour to make cupcakes is more realistic. When something I could have done starts bugging me, the smaller it is, the more it bugs me. I can easily forget there is an elephant in the room, but if a tiny little fly starts dancing in my head....It will keep dancing and buzzing until I do something about it. The elephant will still be in the room though.

I missed Fanny's S.O.S for cupcakes but I surely was not going to miss Anita's call for SHF spiced up sweets. So when C. and I started to plan her upcoming birtday party, the little fly in my head started to dance, loudly. Tap dancing even. Maybe I could combine both.
C: hmm, not sure what I want for dessert for my birthday...
Me: Cupcakes! You want cupcakes!
C: really?
Me: chocolate cupcakes with a hint of cardamom...
C: that's very grown up for a cupcake
Me: Well, that's settled then! Chocolate Cardamom Cupcakes! Glad we had this discussion!

Allright, so that was the summed up version. I did give her some space to think and talk more than that, give me some credit here! I did however guided her towards the bittersweet chocolate cupcakes and the addition of cardamom in them which is a spice that she likes as much as I do. The frosting is a simple whipped ganache. Easy, rich and chocolatey to the bone. The combination seems classic and worked well as there were one left for her last night! Too bad I can only send a picture to Anita for this month SHF!!



Bittersweet Chocolate - Cardamom Cupcakes

Bittersweet Chocolate and Cardamom Cupcakes:

Makes 24 cupcakes.
Kitchen Notes: the whipped ganache needs to go on the cupcakes as soon as it is ready so have the cupcakes baked and completely cooled. Make sure the ganache is chilled well before whipping or it might separate.

Note: I noticed a bloop (sorry was typing late night-early morning) and in the ganache I gave the single measure of chocolate for a double measure of cream. My sincere apologies...and yes, I promise to stop typing this late :)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Sift together the flour, baking soda, cardamom and salt and set aside.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter and sugar on medium speed until airy and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition (scrape down the sides if necessary). Still on medium speed, add the chocolate and mixing until well incorporated. Add the flour,baking soda and salt alternating with the buttermilk . Make sure that all the ingredients are well incorporated but do not overbeat. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated, but do not overbeat. Spoon the batter into cupcake liners, filling them about 2/3 of the way full. Bake for 20–25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean.

Whipped Ganache Frosting:
12 ounces (360 gr) good quality bittersweet chocolate
2 cups (500ml) heavy cream

Place the chocolate in a medium size bowl and set aside. In a large saucepan set over medium heat, bring the cream to a simmer. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let sit for a couple of minutes. Stir the cream and chocolate together gently until the mass becomes smooth and shiny. Let cool and refrigerate until very cold. When ready to use, whip the ganache until it is holds its shape and spreads easily. Use as soon as it is made or it will be too stiff to pipe. If this happens, just reheat it on top of a double boiler to melt it again, and repeat the cooling and whipping process. If your chocolate is less than 72% bittersweet, add 2 more ounces before adding the hot cream.
We had a tad more than needed but with enough spoons digging into it, it was not a problem.



Bittersweet Chocolate - Cardamom Cupcakes

Choux A La Creme: Guest Bloggers Pull One From The Archives

56

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Acting Up For The Camera

I asked Bailey and Tippy to keep you entertained this weekend since I am trying to catch up on work I could not get to during the couple of weeks I was under the weather. That's what they came up with... Normal day in our household I may add! Bailey is eagerly acting up for the camera while Tippy looks at him with the "why mom? why?" look and ends up rolling over.

Tippy

Thus...it's one from the archives this weekend folks. I hate to do this but Cream Puffs are one of my favorite comfort "desserts" to make and eat when things are busy, stressed, stretched and sleep on the minimal side. Oh yes, I will always some time to make these... You can find the original post/story for these Strawberry Cream Puffs With Grand Manier Mousseline here but in the meantime here is the recipe again. I should be back on Monday or Tuesday, after you are good and tired of the pupps!

Strawberry Cream Puffs

Choux with Grand Marnier Mousseline:

Serves 8
For the Choux:
85 gr all purpose flour
75ml water
75 ml milk
65 gr butter
3 eggs
1 Tb sugar
1/8 tsp salt
Pearl Sugar

Sift the flour and set aside. Heat the water, milk, 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 elbow grease. Mix in the eggs, one at a time, using the paddle attachment on low or medium speed. The dough should have the consistency of thick mayonnaise. Transfer the dough to a piping bag fitted with a large round tip (I use Ateco #809). Pipe big rounds on a parchment paper lined baking sheet,sprinkle them with pearl sugar and bake at 350F for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Split the choux in half.

For the Grand Marnier Mousseline:
300ml milk
zest of one orange
3 egg yolks
120gr sugar
25 gr cornstarch
115 gr butter, cut into small chunks
30ml Grand Marnier
1 tsp gelatin and 1 TB water
120ml heavy cream
1-2 cups of fresh strawberries, sliced

Sprinkle the gelatin over the water. Let stand until ready to incorporate into the pastry cream. Bring the milk to a boil with the orange zest. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch until pale. Slowly pour the milk over it: add with a small amount to temper the eggs and make sure all your ingredients incorporate smoothly and them continue to add the rest of the milk. Return the whole thing over medium heat and cook until thick for about 5-10 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the butter and the Grand Marnier. In a microwave, dissolve the gelatin for 15 seconds. Quickly mix into the pastry cream. Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap (make it touch the cream so it does not let a skin form on top) and refrigerate until cold.
Whip the cream to stiff peaks and gently fold it in the pastry cream. Pour into a piping bag and divide among the choux. arrange some strawberry slices over the cream and put the hats back on (the picture below makes me think of the Smurfs). Serve within the hour. If you plan to serve this later, assemble it at the last minute so the choux don't get soggy.

Pecan Pie Macarons and Giveaway Winners

87

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Pecan Pie Macarons

I know! Macarons...again! Before you roll your eyes and quit reading, indulge me for a minute, there is a story behind it. A lovely meeting with a fellow Daring Baker and an afternoon spent baking macarons...and a lot of them! Before I get to that, I must announce the winners of the Confetti Cakes For Kids Cookbook for which I let the Random Number Generator pick the five lucky you's.
#9: Dorothy from The Fat Free Tester Squad
#19: Allie (no blog)
# 76: Ruby from Ruby's Tuesday
#106: Sugar Chef
# 266: Erica from The Underground Cupcake

Congratulations ladies! Please send me an email at marinette1 at comcast dot net with your mailing address and I'll pass on all your info to the publisher.

Now...the rest of the story and the Pecan Pie Macarons. When I can't sleep at night, I usually don't count sheeps, I think of flavor combinations for macarons instead. Seriously. You think I'd joke about that?!! Problem is, the world in my head and the world around me don't always agree with each other but I knew this one would work. I have been meaning to make a pecan pie inspired macaron for ages but you know how it goes....your mind wonders off and before you know it you are baking something else that you "just had to make". I wanted these to have a French twist and instead of figuring out how to put the traditional pecan pie filling into a mac, I used salted butter caramel sauce. It's not like I need an occasion to make them but I pretexted C's birthday to put a few many of these together for her. However, it took a few years and an afternoon baking with a new friend to get my head together with my hands and my time on that one!

A few weeks ago, I was reading my favorite American in Paris, David Lebovitz, when I read Kim's comment about how she had slaved for two days over macarons and most of them flopped. Kim writes one of my favorite blogs, A Yankee In A Southern Kitchen and lives in the same town. "Get out!"....Seriously! We "met" over the internet last year and tried to get our schedules together to meet and it never happened. As a joke, I have started a list of all the dishes I would like her to make me when we meet. Crabcakes, Cola Ribs, Tomato Pie, and so many more are already on the list. After reading about her misadventures in macaron making, I sent her an email saying that if she needed help next time, not to hesitate and I'd be happy to give her a hand. Last week, Kim asked if we could get together this past Monday so I could give her a macaron 101 lesson. Yes, yes, yes!

Caramels

Her kitchen is a foodie's dream: spacious, well equipped, bright with a huge window giving on the serenity of a beautiful garden. Now, let me add that meeting Kim was truly wonderful: cheery, full of Southern charm and hospitality and sweet as pie. Her daughter M. joined us and we spent the afternoon measuring, grinding, folding, piping, sprinkling, filling. We troubleshooted what went wrong the first time she made them and also figured out the proper settings for the ovens which was no small business. We made plain macarons Bourbon vanilla buttercream, pecan macarons with coconut cream cheese buttercream and peanut ginger macarons. The afternoon was graced by lovely weather, great conversations and laughs. I left with a skip in my step.

That evening as I was mentally registering all the delicious moments of the afternoon, I got a craving for the pecan macarons we made and decided it was time to make the Pecan Pie inspired one I have been thinking about. It also helped that I had plenty of egg whites and salted butter caramel sauce already made. The shells were half almonds and half pecans from our tree and the extra pecan boost was a little piece of pecan brittle in the middle. Hugh...yes....they are sweet....but dang! One is just perfect with a cup of coffee! So here's to new friends, new adventures and new experiences!

Pecan Pie Macarons and Pecan Brittle

Pecan Pie Macarons:
Makes about 20

For the shells:
3 egg whites (about 90 gr)
40 gr granulated sugar
200 gr powdered sugar
55 gr almonds
55 gr pecans

For the whites: the day before (24hrs), separate your eggs and store the whites at room temperature in a covered container. If you want to use 48hrs (or more) egg whites, you can store them in the fridge. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to a foam, gradually add the sugar until you obtain a glossy meringue. Do not overbeat your meringue or it will be too dry. Combine the almonds,pecans and powdered sugar in a food processor and give them a good pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Add them to the meringue, give it a quick fold to break some of the air and then fold the mass carefully until you obtain a batter that flows like magma or a thick ribbon. Give quick strokes at first to break the mass and slow down.The whole process should not take more than 50 strokes. Test a small amount on a plate: if the tops flattens on its own you are good to go. If there is a small beak, give the batter a couple of turns.
Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip (Ateco #807 or #809) with the batter and pipe small rounds (1.5 inches in diameter) onto parchment paper lined baking sheets. Preheat the oven to 300F. Let the macarons sit out for 30 minutes to an hour to harden their shells a bit and bake for 15-20 minutes, depending on their size. Let cool. If you have trouble removing the shells, pour a couple of drops of water under the parchment paper while the sheet is still a bit warm and the macarons will lift up more easily do to the moisture. Don't let them sit there in it too long or they will become soggy. Once baked and if you are not using them right away, store them in an airtight container out of the fridge for a couple of days or in the freezer.

For the filling:
Half a recipe of Salted Butter Caramel Sauce
100 gr (1/2 cup) sugar
80 gr (3/4 cup) chopped pecans

Make the sauce and refrigerate until cold so it won't ooze out of your macarons when you sandwich them together (mine only did because it was hot upstairs where I photograph).
For the pecan brittle: Place the pecans on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Place the sugar and 2 tablespoons of water in a heavy saucepan on high heat and cook until you get a golden caramel. Immediately pour it over the pecans and let sit until cold and hard. Crack the brittle in small pieces to fit inside your macarons. Place a about a tablespoon of sauce on one shell, add a piece of brittle and top with another macaron shell.

Plum - Raspberry Cardamom Crumbles

71

Monday, October 13, 2008

Plum Raspberry Cardamom Crumble

It's been a yucky week....all grey with some rain drops here and there. Rain with warm tempereatures. Thunderstorms and shorts, I'll never get used to this!! I decided to see it as soft and comforting. I baked and I baked without prospect of a good picture taking day. The fridge is overflowing, the freezer is about to get there. In the midst of running out of room in former, I had to start reorganizing the latter. I pulled out one bag each of raspberries and juicy plums to replace them with other desserts that will hopefully be "taken care of". I already told the neighbors to come over for desserts because there is no way B. and I can eat a dozen fast enough. Well we could....but our doctor would not be very happy!

The weather had been threatening us with rain long enough for me to let my guard down and leave the house without an umbrella. Don't ask...Of course I got soaked while leaving the grocery store after a quick run for milk and eggs one early morning!! Actually I was still dripping when I got home that I figured "what's a little longer?" and took the dogs for their long walk. They were wired and going crazy and I needed a quiet house later on to work, not the usual circus of Bailey hanging from Tippy's tail. Once back inside, we were all hungry and in need of a little comforting. I let them chase each other around, that their idea of comfort. Well more like Bailey running like a kid who just put his paw in a plug and Tippy watching, shaking his head as if to say "you crazy dog". I, on the other hand, was craving the comforting smell of a freshly baked crumble and a cup of tea.

Easy, fast, comforting...I don't know about you but at that moment a crumble felt as good as a dry towel.

I tossed together the raspberries and plums and topped them with a streusel topping spiced up with a little cardamom. Thirty minutes and a dry off later, I was rewarded with the wonderful smell of freshly baked "comfort". I exclaimed "you missed all the fun!" when B. got home and saw us all huddled together on the living room floor enjoying the rest of the morning. He saw an extra crumble dish on the counter top and quickly replied "no, I don't think I did" before proceeding to dig in his share with a happy smile. Dessert before lunch....my idea of making the best out of a rainy morning!

Plum Raspberry Cardamom Crumble

Plum-Raspberries Cardamom Crumbles:

Serves 4

For the fruits:
4 plums, pitted and chopped into small cubes (about one cup diced)
1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
1/4 cup sugar
zest of one lemon
2 Tb lemon juice
2 Tb cornstarch

Streusel topping:
6 tablespoons butter, cold
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat your oven to 30F.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the fruits and the rest of the ingredients. Toss well, but gently not to break the raspberries too much. Divide between 4 ramequins and place them on a baking sheet as the fruits are most likely to release their juice, causing a spill. Set them aside while your prepare the topping.
In a bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cardamom and walnuts if using. Add the butter cut in small pieces and mix with your fingertips until you get a mixture that ressembles coarse crumbs. Divide th topping evenly among the 4 dishes. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until the topping is golden brown.

You can make this gluten free by substituting the all purpose flour with gluten freee flour or rice flour. Why am I mentionning this? October is Celiac Awareness Month! If you want to venture into gluten free baking, check this article.

Plum Raspberry Cardamom Crumble

Don't forget to enter the drawing to win one of 5 copies of Confetti Cakes for Kids! The contest ends Tuesday October 14th at midnight US Eastern time.

Confetti Cakes For Kids Book Giveaway

282

Friday, October 10, 2008

It looks like you all are going to get a break from my raspberry desserts this weekend....and have the chance to win one of 5 copies of Elisa Strauss' new pastry-cake book "Confetti Cakes For Kids".

I have been given the chance by the sweet and super efficient Anna from the Hachette Group to get a copy of the book before its official release on November 5th and she graciously offered to have 5 copies available for you!

Don't know Elisa Strauss? She is the owner of Confetti Cakes in New York, and the author of The Confetti Cakes Cookbook where her signature Handbag Cake is featured on the cover. She has made countless appearances on TV in Good Morning America, Food Network's cake challenges, etc...Check out this little video if you would like to put a face on the name. Well, she has now written a cake book especially for kids...although I got to say that the Gift Box Cake is something I would like for my own birthday!!

Do not be intimated by her level of expertise, designs or ideas. The instructions to reproduce her witty and fun cakes are extremely detailed. I admit I am not the most patient cake decorating person but the projects are so fun and the results so beautifully detailed, they make me want to get started pronto. I already have my eyes on the "Pajamas Cookies" ...so cute! "The Candy Factory Cake" or the "Beach Pail Cupcakes"....so fun! Everything you need to know is spelled out in the book so both novices and seasoned bakers.

The pictures are fantastic, sharp, crisp and there are tons of shots of all the little details you need to reproduce such cakes.

Yes...I am excited about that one...I need to check in the neighborhood whose birthday is coming up...or I'll just make the mini pumpkin cakes for us soon.

So...all this to say that if you would like to receive a copy of this book:

- leave a comment in this post. One entry per person, more will be automatically deleted. Thank you!
- the giveaway runs until Tuesday October 14th midnight (US eastern time) and winners will be announced shortly after.
- Even if you wish to remain anonymous, sign at least a letter or a pseudonym so it is easier to announce if you win
- As always, mom, you can't enter this one...

There are 5 copies available for readers in the US and Canada. I am sorry for readers overseas but I have had issues in a previous drawing and some books never made it abroad and I would hate for the same thing to happen again.

Check out Elisa's blog for more pictures of her latest creations!

Lemon Raspberry Mille Feuilles

91

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Lemon Raspberry Mille Feuilles

I know, I know, it is Fall...so why all the raspberries? And now the lemon? Store diplays, magazine covers and tv shows "fall season" premieres are doing a great job at convincing me it is Fall. Yet, one step outside in the middle of the afternoon keeps telling me otherwise, time and time again. Still wearing flip flops and shorts so I hope you will indulge me for a couple more raspberry posts. I promise the next one will have an autumnal twist.

We are enjoying quite a few dinners outside with the neighbors and the summer grill outs have finally given way to wonderful oyster roasts. It is hard to believe the way our street functions but if you spend one week here it'd be easy to see why I wish I could take the whole street with me if we ever move. It is not uncommon to harbor someone else's dog while they help you run after your own, have about 3 strollers and 8 dogs walking alongside your own crazy little-big ones. A walk up to the dock usually turns into a crabbing or shrimping fest while 2 of the above mentionned dogs decide to go for a swim without giving you notice first.

These are the moments that my soul swell with life and good feelings, the ones that make you wish your arms were big enough to grab a hold of it all. So you let your heart do it. You let all the wonderful strangers in. There will be moves and departures, goodbyes and boxes of macarons dropped at the doorstep of new neigbors. Just let them in...because they never ask why and what.

Our little nucleus likes to gather on the front steps of C&H and the twins. It is much easier to monitor the pets, the kids and we literally can throw a head of lettuce in direction of the picnic table if someone forgot the greens. I have not tossed anything like cakes and desserts, although the twins are polishing their receivers' skills for that very purpose. This past weekend we celebrated A's first time without training wheels, AJ's first three teeth (all or nothing kind of baby!), a tiny peaceful newborn, a kittie and a new neighbor. Somebody rented the house next to ours for the next few months and C. and I started to joke around that she might run away scared after one weekend spent around here. Loud. Busy. Open doors. Skateboards. Loud. Treehouse. S'mores. Frisbees. Did I say loud? I was feeling bad for this poor lady but I remembered the phrase "baptism by fire"...

Saturday night, the steamer started going full blast, we dragged the long narrow table upfront and set out buckets, oyster knives, crackers, wine, cocktails, etc... The kids really wanted to meet this new neighbor and were wondering if she might ever come out and say hi. I laughed and said "don't worry, she will...and fast I bet. If she comes down fast and smiling that means she is hungry and wants to meet you. If it is fast and fuming, run!!!" Within 20 minutes, L. was among us, glass of wine in one hand and my dog licking her other hand clean.

Lemon Raspberry Mille Feuilles

I am just in charge of desserts here. C. has a talent for making a yard or a driveway feel like the front steps of a magical kingdom. She laid down a huge and almost brand new rug she had found on the side of the street a couple days prior, a couple of newly painted red lawn chairs picked up from an army depot store and the kids were watching movies projected on a oversized curtain on the side of the house while the adults were seriously entertaining.

Since the mood was light and the temperatures still in the upper 80s, I decided to bring a summer-ish dessert to our picnic table. The children love to eat what the Pretending-To-Be-Grownups eat, preferably without plates or utensils, and the messier the better. While we delicately forked into our Lemon and Raspberry Mille Feuilles, sometimes separating layer for more of that flaky effect, they exercised perfect gluttony by eating these in two bites, flat. Good thing they were light and not too tangy and that I had made twice the amount necessary!

Light is the word. Mille Feuilles takes its name from the numerous layers puff pastry and although the traditional one, well, the one I grew up on, is filled with vanilla custard and topped with chocolate fondant, once you get the hang of it, the possibilities are endless. Puff pastry is not that difficult to do. No really, I am not just saying that. It requires patience and time, so yes, it best left for a day you are around the house doing other things. Make sure your kitchen is not blistering hot and that you let the dough rest the require amount of time in between each turn. Not only is it crucial to relax it but it also prevents the butter from turning to mush and running out of your dough while you roll.

What you see in the pictures is a quick puff pastry I have been working on and I am really excited of the way it turned out, but I can't give you the recipe quite yet. I will however re-direct you to another one I absolutely love, from Martha Stewart. Works like a charm and make the most tender, flaky dough, and if you have to learn one basic, well hers is a great start. Each layer is filled with a lemon curd mousse and topped with rows of raspberries. Again, feel free to change the fruit as any would work great with lemon. There is plenty of chocolate coming up with the holidays so a little lemon-berry slice is a welcome lighter sight (that is if you forget all the butter in the dough!)

Lemon Raspberry Mille Feuilles

Lemon Raspberry Mille Feuilles:

Makes 6-8 depending on the size of your rectangles.

Kitchen Note: the dough makes more than you need but double wrap it in plastic film and freeze for a later use. You won't regret it.

For the 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)

- 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, mix in the butter until it resembles coarse meal.
-Form a well in center and pour in the water. 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 ball, and turn out onto a piece of plastic wrap. Wrap tightly, and refrigerate 1 hour.
- Make the butter package: sprinkle 1/2 tablespoon flour on a sheet of 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 1 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.
-Assemble and roll the dough: Remove dough package from refrigerator, and place on a lightly floured work surface. Roll dough into a 9-inch square. Remove butter package from refrigerator, and place it in the center of the dough square. Fold each corner of dough square over the butter package so that it is completely enclosed. Press with your hands to seal.
- 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. 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 and refrigerate 45 to 60 minutes.
- Remove dough from refrigerator, and repeat the rolling and folding process, 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 finger 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.
-Divide the dough in half, double wrap one half with a sheet of parchment paper and plastic wrap and freeze for a later use. The dough can be frozen up to three months.
-Roll one half to a 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick 18x10 or so rectangle and cut out 4x2 rectangles and place them on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Dock the dough with a fork to let the steam out while baking so your rectangles will be evenly puffed. Bake at 350F until golden brown. Let cool completely before filling with the mousse.

For the lemon mousse:
grated zest of 1 lemon
1 cup (250 ml) lemon juice
1/2 cup (100gr)sugar
2 eggs
1 cup (250 ml)heavy cream
2 pints fresh rapsberries (about 2 cups)

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 let it cool to room temperature, covered with plastic wrap until ready to use.
In a stand mixer, whip the cream to medium stiff peaks. Incorporate the cooled lemon curd in three additions. Place in a piping bag and pipe (or spoon) onto the puff pastry rectangles. Top with raspberries and repeat to obtain two or three sheet stacks.

Red Berry Almond Milk Panna Cottas

85

Friday, October 03, 2008

Red Berry Almond Milk Panna Cottas

I need to start with an apology...or two. First, as you can tell my blog posting schedule has slowed down to 2 posts a week instead of every other day. Hmmm...wonder why?!!! I really wanted to thank you for keeping on reading and checking back, especially right now that I have noticed some stressed induced grey hair. Ok, only two..but still! Second, I wanted to apologize for being such a ghost commenter on your blogs. I sometimes have to pack a whole week's worth in one evening so do not worry if it seems like I am stalking your blogs on Friday night....whole pages at a time. In that regard, I wanted to thank you for coming here and leaving comments, you have no idea how supportive I find them, especially at midnight when I am tweaking a recipe for the third time and recalculating metrics one more time.. just to be safe. So peeps....from the deep dark corners of my kitchen, thank you!

It is funny how things happen in series. Right after I posted the Daring Bakers challenge on gluten free crackers and vegan dips, a close friend of ours told us that he had been diagnosed with an allergy to dairy. While not an immediate concern since we do not live together, it became one fast since we had just invited them over for dinner. My initial thought was to look closely at the menu and remove all dairy from it until he called and asked if I could help him come up with dairy free options of his favorite foods. Absolument! Avec plaisir! Yes, it would be my pleasure!


Red Berry Almond Milk Panna Cottas

One of his favorite desserts is panna cottas, this delectable Italian concoction of cream, sugar and milk and precisely what he thought he would have to give up on this new eating regimen. I reassured him that there were tons of dairy free milks and creams available nowadays that it would not be difficult to satisfy his sweet tooth. He had just bought a carton of soy milk that tasted just like cardboard and he was starting to have serious doubt he'd find something he'd like. I reassured him that he had probably picked up the only cardboard tasting one in the bunch and pushed him to persevere and try rice milk, oat milk, hazelnut milk and my personal favorite, almond milk.

I actually think he gave me an easy one to tweak first. There are so many ways to approach panna cottas: milk, cream, yogurt, buttermilk, sour cream, creme fraiche, fromage blanc. All can be used in making this dessert. I like yogurt based ones a lot but I have a fondness for rich "creamy cream" ones, so does our friend. Problem with almond milk is that it tends to be on the thin side consistency wise so I added some dairy free creamer to the base, like I would in my usual recipe (whole milk and cream). I was a little concerned that the overall taste would be to his liking so I came up with a little diversion just in case: a little raspberry and redcurrant pureed at the bottom of the glasses.

The end result could have fooled the best dairy lover out there (hmmm that might be me!) and the almond milk added a little extra nutty flavor that was perfect with the berries. No grittiness, no cardboard after taste, no "fake" taste lingering after that last bite. Feel free to substitute your favorite dairy free milk and cream as well as fruits to go along. On the other hand if you'd rather stick to regular dairy full panna cottas, click here to get some ideas.


Red Berry Almond Milk Panna Cottas

Red Berry Almond Milk Panna Cottas:

Serves 4-6 depending on the size of your glasses or ramequins

Kitchen Notes:
1/ When you pour the liquid over the fruit, you will notice that the fruit and liquid mass have a tendency to get a little mixed and some of your fruit starts to float in the milk. One way to remedy that is to freeze the glasses once they are filled with the fruit puree while you prepare the panna cotta. Make sure the liquid is at room temperature before pouring it into the glasses or you will shatter your glass.
2/ I used Almond Breeze milk.


1 cup raspberries
1 cup red currant
1 cup almond milk
1 cup dairy free creamer
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons powdered gelatin bloomed in 2 Tb water (means to pour the water over the gelatin and let it sit while you prepare the panna cotta)

In a food processor, puree the raspberries and redcurrant together and divide the mixture among 4-6 glasses. Freeze (see Kitchen Note).

Combine all the ingredients, except the gelatin, in a saucepan over medium high heat and bring to a boil. Heat the gelatin in the microwave for 8 seconds and quickly stir it in the cream mixture. No microwave at our house so I set the cup with the gelatin in large saucepan with enough water to come up halfway up the sides of the gelatin bowl, on medium heat and let the gelatin melt that way. Let the panna cotta mixture cool to lukewarm. Remove the glasses from the freezer and slowly pour the cream over the red berry puree and let set in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours. Decorate with fresh berries if desired.

To make your own almond milk, you can check this recipe here, I have not tested it.

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