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Monatsarchive: February 2008

Julia Child’s French Bread With A Plate Of Daring Bakers!

You got it…that’s what I did with the latest Daring Bakers' Challenge. I stuffed it with chocolate and ate it at 4 o’clock!….Why? Because it was French bread and because it was my favorite snack when I was a kid, that’s why, ahahah!

After the wonderful Tender Potato Bread a few months ago, Mary from The Sourdough and Sara from I Like To Cook bring us French Bread via Julia Child. We were given the challenge at the beginning of the month while my mom was visiting. I went for an enthusiastic "French bread by Julia Child?! Right on!", while mom went for a suspect "Julia Child? Who’s that?!" Ah yes….I had forgotten that Julia Child is to us what Maite and La Cuisine Des Mousquetaires is to you. Precisely: who? what?where? I had not heard or seen one of her shows,or reruns until I moved to the US. I fell in love with her style, her gusto, her love for good food. And yet, it took me until this challenge to ever make anything from her cookbooks. No particular reason really, just that 24 hour days are much too short for me and all the things I want to bake and cook!!

Well, with all the shopping and chatting that we did with my mom, we never got around to make the challenge bread together and it was kind of sad making it after she was gone but the neighbors were really happy when I brought the loot down to our quickly gathering! After a few years of being neighbors we know a whole lot of stuff about one another and they know I put Gertie and Bob, the crazy-going- starters, to good use on the weekend and have plenty of loaves to give extras away. The twins asked that same week when was I going to make French bread again. "Well, funny you ask…right now!" , "can we come and help?" Oh gosh what have I gotten myself into with my briliant ideas?! "Oh well, the house is a mess really, why don’t I call you in the middle and you tell me if you think the dough has risen enough?" That settled it as they love the come check on the small ball that keeps inflating, their favorite part beig the punching and slapping of the dough on the counter to knead it. In one of the later videos of Julia making French bread the chef who is baking with her slaps the dough 800+ times…golly! I usually go 10-15 minutes but I might try the counting method next time!

Anyways…back to the bread. I went for what B. calls the "Naked" approach and no he does not mean me…don’t start the 'eeewwws" before it’s time people! That means without any of the things that I would normally use to make my life easier when baking something. In that case that meant kneading by hand, no pretty and steady baker’s couche, no quarry tiles to simulate a baker’s oven and no steam injection oven like I have at work sometimes (that thing is the bomb!). That brought me back eons ago to my first bread baked in an oven and starring at the brick I pulled out that first time! Why did I tell B. I was going to "Naked challenge" this one ?!!Suddenly I started having visions of bricks coming out of the oven…But no, everything went well, and unlike Julia, I did not wait the recommended 2 hours to cut one loaf open. I love the bread when it is still warm, after about 1 hour or so of cooling time, the dough inside has finished its little extra baking business and you can start eating it up!

For the canvas or couche necessary for the baguettes to keep their shape during their final rise, I used a clean cotton sprayed with water and flour. I let it dry and it became as stiff as an overstarched shirt (but it’s not "real" starch that you would use while ironing). When it was time to move the baguettes on it, I sprinkle more flour and the creased remain in place quite easily like that. I sprayed the bread with water (99 cents sprayer at Wallie World) and baked the loaf and epi on a pizza stone sprinkled with cornmeal. I transferred the baguettes to regular baking sheet line with parchment paper. Both methods gave me the same nice crispy crust and bottom.

I dealt with the steam issue by placing an empty 9x9inch baking pan in the 450F oven, and when the loaves were in I added one cup of water, closed the door and let it get steamy, then I repeated the operation once after 5 minutes, which differs from the recipe slightly but there is an explanation. Past 450F, the heat from my oven sets the fire alarm on within 2 seconds of our opening the door (but you could smoke a brisket right underneath without the fumes setting it off…go figure!), so it was either have my ears bleed three times every 3 minutes or twice every 5 minutes. Don’t rely on my maths but that is one time less….heavenly silence in the neighborhood!!

I would have posted the recipe here but I am afraid to send Blogger to a black vault it is so long. However thanks to Mary and Sara, you can locate it here. And I am fully aware that my Epi is not figuratively "hot"…it did get a little too brown, but I was completely enthralled in an email conversation with Tanna (and not food related for once!!) and completely forgot about it. It was great the very same night, let’s just say it fed the seagulls the next day…

Will I make it again? I probably will but I will give it one less rise and I will reduce the salt by a teaspoon. It seems that we all had different degree of saltiness in our bread this month and it is not surprising given all the different varieties available. The directions may be long but they are there to teach, guide and help. A recipe is a tutorial in many circumstances, especially when dealing with the basics of bread baking as this one does. The active standing time in the kitchen is very small as the dough does not need you to rise away, but it does require patience and attention…give a little love and you’ll get plenty back….

Thank you Sara and Mary for fun challenge and to Ivonne, Lisa and Mary for all their hard work behind the scenes. Go check the other Daring Bakers on this month merry bread dance!

Salade De Fruits…Jolie Jolie Jolie

No, no, this Fruit Salad with Blood Orange Syrup is not an ode to Mrs. Brad Pitt but rather a glimpse into my daily breakfast fare…in music. When Elly from Elly Says Opa! announced her "Eat To The Beat" event I knew right off the bat what I would make. Hugh…what so special about Fruit Salad you might ask?! Well yes, said like that, nothing really. Except that fruit salads always make me sing this song , and this one made me sing it even louder. It is just a simple mix of fresh cut kiwis, strawberries and pineapple but set on a bed of Greek yogurt and sweetened with freshly made blood orange syrup….hmmmm!

Every relationship comes with a great song. I like to think that I share this one with my grandfather, Papi Rene, now 97. The gentleman in the video is nothing like him and has long passed away but he was one of France’s genuine comedians and actors. My grandfather used to sing me this song all the time when I was a kid and although I was not paying much attention to the lyrics, it stuck to me like glue up to this day. I was always mesmerized by my Papi’s singing, his physique commanding respect (still does) and silence, and it kind of became "my" song. I realized the other day that it could be my wake up song because it always puts me in a great mood.

With this song and beat, I also thought it was about time to answer the questions I receive the most in the emails that readers send me "Do you eat everything you make all the time?" and "What do you really eat?". Yes, I eat the desserts I make and post about here, unless they are for special orders and then I just make a couple extra cupcakes or pastries for B. and me. Yes, I eat cake, cheesecakes and yes, I have chocolate everyday….but in a reasonable portion and we often share a dessert after dinner. No, I don’t polish a whole bowl of chocolate mousse on my own although I could totally see myself do that since I seem to have an expandable stomach, especially past 4pm, which brings me to this fruit salad.

I have a very difficult time eating in the morning and fruit and yogurt are usually the only thing I have time to fix and eat since I like to stay in my bed until the very last minute possible. It’s usually cut up seasonal fruits, yogurt and a drizzle of honey, sometimes a sprinkle of granola or toasted coconut (like here). Every winter I cannot wait to see blood oranges pop up at the store and I stock up big time last week and made a batch of syrup with a few. We pour it on almost everything: waffles, ice cream, yogurt, and even pork roast (trust me it rocks!). I get a good dose of vitamins and plenty of nutrients right from the start…it’s in the afternoon that things get a little different! When you bake for others you are often not hungry enough afterwards to want something big (or anything at all) and it is the case for me until a couple of hours later. Thus, I make sure there is dessert around so I can have a few spoonfuls of chocolate mousse or cake. Starting the day with this invigorates me, makes me feel good inside and out, and I know I have gotten one thing right ….especially if I somehow happen to lose my spoon to Ben&Jerry later on.

Feel Good All Around Fruit Salad With Blood Orange Syrup:

1 cup peeled and diced kiwis
1 cup diced strawberries
1 cup diced pineapple
toasted coconut
Blood Orange Syrup
Yogurt (Greek or any thick variety)

Make the orange syrup first and let cool completely. In a bowl, combined all the fruits. Layer the yogurt, fruits in glasses or cups and top with the cooled syrup. Top with toated coconut.

This more a method than a recipe and you can change the fruits at will depending what is available in your area (I am in a relatively tropical area so these are always to get).I have to add that my fruit salads are now even prettier in a cool polka dot bowl that Chris from Mele Cotte sent me (originally filled with chocolates, but these are long gone, ahahah!!) along with funky paper napkins that I love. Thanks Peaches, but helping you with your big event was a treat for me and I hope I could do it in person one day!!

I need to end this post on an even sweeter note. My favorite French student, great friend, pastry confident and all around amazing blogger Veronica, from Veronica’s Test Kitchen launched her very own baking business in Richmond VA, aptly called Petites Bouchees . To help her test taste the viability of shipping she asked a few of us if we agreed to be her guinea pigs….like I was going to refuse me a macaron?!!! I get to sit down for once!! I emailed her as soon as I got home and snatched the box from B’s hands "Is your name on the box?" I asked. "Hugh…I knew what is was and I figured I’d refrigerate them…you help" he said…."Minus 4 already!" As you can probably guess, the box is almost empty, and I am keeping guard tonight…these babies will be mine!! The boxing and packaging is exquisite but the macarons themselves are divine! The vanilla buttercream is absolutely wonderful and the scent makes you want to lay in a field of vanilla beans! The caramel is soft and deep golden, leaving that salty little touch on your tongue. If I were you people living in Richmond, I would run to my computer and get her info because I suspect Veronica is going to be busy filling orders they are so good.

Pineapple Almond Cheesecakes With Caramelized Pineapple

We all know the phrase "when life throws you lemons make lemonade" and while I am not going to tell you that when life throws you pineapples you should made pineapple-ade, I do have admit that our kitchen counter tops did look like they were sprouting pineapples like mad this past week.

It started when Sunny, my wonderful produce guy cornered me near the okra "Hey! It’s been a while since I saw pineapples on your blog!" Oh dear! He read the bits about himself then…maybe I should make him sound like he is Mark Wahlberg’s perfect look alike?….Hugh, I digress…"Hmm, I did sorbet once at the very beginning…." He then pushed 3 perfect little pineapples down in my cart "Well then, that’s settled! These should give you some materials to bake with!" I already had my hands full with baking this week, so I was unsure if I would get to them in time, but given that pineapples are the symbol of hospitality and good wishes, I could not refuse. You don’t have to be anywhere special to see this exotic fruit on door bells, gates, napkins, calendars, jewelry, license plates. The South loves pineapples allright!

I know, I know…three pineapples are nothing to write home about and not enough to make pineapple-ade or be all hung up about. If only it had ended there! The very same day, my lovely neighbor C. dropped off a couple of pineapples because "they were on sale and we all know I can’t bake but you can!". Two days later it was my mother in law who loves to shop huge discount stores and brought me three more. Let’s pause a second: so far we have 8 pineapples..which is getting out there but still manageable…somewhat! Thursday, as I was leaving the catering kitchen, the produce delivery guy stopped by and after I signed the invoice, I saw him walking towards me with a pineapple in each hand. I started heading towards my car but he yelled "Hey! These fell off to the back during the trip, and I can’t figure out which box they’re from. Why don’t you take them?" Before I could even say "no, thank you", there I was holding the fruits like a couple of newborn babies.

I was started to think that my Chinese fortune cookie from Sunday dinner reading "Go with the flow" was definitely coming true. Now I had a whole counter of the kitchen dedicated to pineapples…We went the easy routes first and juiced a couple which brought the number back down to eight. I made a quick ambrosia with one and took it to my mother-in-law’s book club; it is the ladies' favorite and all were happy. That night I made a fruit salad and stewed pineapples for crepes…down to six. What next? Jam! That would knock down a couple,easy…! Then one for a special verrine for Old Chef and one for these cheesecakes…and now I have the more reasonable two pineapples on the counter. Gee! That reminded me of the time the Exec. Chef kept ordering case after case of pears like they were going out of production!

We had the cheesecakes Saturday night at the end of a casual dinner (charcuterie, cheese, bread, salad and wine) shared with another couple. I used ground almonds in the crust as well as ginger cookie crumbs and since I have tonka beans stored in the fridge I grated one in the batter to impart that bitter almond taste that I love so much. Before I get emails and comments about these: yes, I am aware that they contain coumarin which is a blood thinner but I will say that you have the option of using almond extract if you are worried about this. I am no kamikaze either but I figure that one grated bean divided among four cheesecakes is fine, no to mention that I bake with them once every other month…Be responsible and eat everything in moderation (butter, sugar, oil and tonka beans…).

I used fresh cut pineapple in the batter and I caramelized cut slices of the fruit for the topping, using the pan juices to drizzle on the plate. I wrote the recipe for four 4 inch round cheesecake springform pans, but to change the presentation a bit, I cut each unmolded cheesecake into a square. Feel free to leave them whole (kind of a large portion for one person) or to split them up. You can also make one 8 inch cheesecake with the same amount of batter if you want. Since he kitchen looked more like a pineapple field this past week, I am sending this entry to Cookthink Root Source Challenge #2.

Pineapple Almond Cheesecakes With Caramelized Pineapple:

Makes four 4 inch round cakes (springform pans)

24 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tonka bean, grated or 2 tsp. almond extract
1 Tb lemon zest
1 cup diced fresh pineapple (you can sub canned if you want)
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs (or ginger cookies crumbled up to make 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup ground almonds (also called almond meal, almond powder, almond flour)
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup sugar
4 slices pineapples
1/3 sugar
2 Tbs butter

Preheat oven to 350F. In a medium size bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs,almonds, sugar and the melted butter. Divide among 4 mini springform pans lined with parchment paper and pat with your fingers until evenly distributed. Bake 10 minutes. Lower temperature to 300F.
In a large bowl, with the stand mixer or hand held one, mix the cream cheese and sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time until well incorporated. Add the tonka bean or almond extract, and the lemon zest. Fold in the diced pineapple. Divide between the springform pans. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until they wiggle just a tiny bit in the middle. They will set more after an overnight trip in the fridge. When ready to serve, run a hot knife on the inside of the pan and release the cheesecakes.
For the caramelized pineapple: in a large saute pan, melt the sugar over medium high heat until it starts to get a nice amber tone, add the butter, whisk to incorporate and add the pineapple slices. Let them cook 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the pan and place them on top of the cheesecakes. Use the pan sauce to serve with the cheesecakes if desired.

No Eggs – No Butter? Peanut Butter Scones And Lemon Lime Sunshine Cake From My Sweet Vegan

Baking without eggs and butter past midnight a couple of days ago…"Why would that be?" you might be wondering. Did I run out of baking supplies when a sweet craving hit? Was I cramming in homework at the last minute? None of the above…although I did in fact re-do a post just to update the pictures as Santa finally delivered my present and accessories. Looking at the old shots could not do these baked good justice anymore. So I decided to bake them again and pretended today was December 25th…any excuse to stay in my pjs on my day off is a good one in my opinion. But why out of all the things I could bake, did I decide to make vegan scones and cake?

Well, a couple of months ago, I received a copy from my dear friend Hannah’s first cookbook, aptly titled My Sweet Vegan. I got to baking her Lemon Lime Sunshine Cake that very same day and about every other weekend since then. Same with the Peanut Butter Scones, they are on B’s list of most requested breakfast items. I feel bad because I have been telling everybody about this book, promising Hannah and her publisher a review of the recipes I have tried so far and in the end I keep it all to myself. No more! The book is a perfect reflection of Hannah’s personality, warm and friendly, inviting you to try new things and be opened to the world around. When I first got to know her, I had no idea this very mature soul both in her writing and approach to food, came in such a young and cute package.

Look at that breakfast of champions! That is one awesome Peanut Butter Scone! I love to make these for brunch and take them (minus the glaze) to the gym when the 4 o’clock sugar craving hits. In that spirit, the book is written with the whole spectrum of dessert lovers in mind, vegan or not, and it reads like a novel. Hannah generously gives us her tried and true, favorite recipes as well as tips and tricks to achieve the best tasting treats. Reading through it is like spending time with a good friend over a good brownie or a cup of coffee. Did I say brownie? Yes…and many more like Strawberry Love Muffins, Butterscotch Blondies, Whoopie Pies, Mocha Devastation Cake, Ginger Dream Pie, Five Minute Coconut Fudge….and I am just scratching the surface.

Although not vegan, B. and I do respect the animals that feed us, giving them the day off once in a while. I am more into tofu, soy milk agave nectar, with a weakness of vegan "cream cheese" than he is, but he is a good sport and when I told him I was going to bake from Hannah’s book, he took it upon himself to give me the "Carnivore opinion". So far, everything has been a hit and when he asked about all these alternative items, I handed him the book where Hannah explains in detail her vegan ingredient guide at the begining. I added that if he flipped a couple more pages, she had a section entitled "Tools of the trade" where she explained everything anybody needed to know for baking. His response "I might have agreed to try vegan, but am still not ready to step into the kitchen, meat-lover or not…nice try!" Ah well, can’t blame me for dreaming!

See my midnight snack right out of the oven…? That’s the Lemon Lime Sunshine Cake baked in individual portion instead of a Bundt pan, so I feel even more virtuous stuffing my face eating dessert. I have stopped counting the number of times I have taken this to our weekend oyster roasts with the neighbors. Everytime I make it I end up skipping the glaze that is supposed to go on top because somehow the yogurt, lemon and lime juice and sugar in the batter end up forming their own curd around the edges so that just a dusting of powdered sugar suffice.

I made the big mistake a couple of weeks ago to lend it to my friend "Lucy-The Vegan"…I thought I would never see it again. It appeared she was baking her way through it with great success and that is no small testimonial to Hannah’s recipe when you know that Lucy is not much of a dessert person and a novice baker. I love baking from it because I can relax, kick back, knowing that Hannah has tried her recipes several times and gives us only her favorites. I can open the book at any category (sweet tarts, cookies and bars, cakes and cupcakes, pies and tarts, miscellaneous morsels and desserts) and just make up a treat. Some items take a little longer than others but are by no means daunting or intricate. I also really like the food allergy index at the end of the book. I have more and more clients with food allergies or dietary restrictions so I know that I can bake something without second guessing if I did not sneak in something they could not have without even paying attention.

What is next on the baking list from My Sweet Vegan? Well, I am baking the Triple Threat Chocolate "Cheese" Cake to a friend’s baby shower tomorrow and the Cookies and Creme Pound Cake for my mother in law’s garden club next week.

What? No recipes? In the spirit of supporting writers and young writers out there, I strongly encourage you to buy the book. I have already gotten a couple more for wedding and birthday presents and both recipients fell in love with the recipes, feel and gorgeous pictures taken by Hannah.

Strawberry Lime Tartelettes And A New Boyfriend

Remember a while back when I was going to give Pierre Herme some rest because I was all busy with another man? Well, meet my new boyfriend Christophe Michalak. Edible wouldn’t you say? Well, like a new boyfriend he is giving me "du fil a retordre"… Yep, he is giving me a hard time. Not that he is playing the three day rule without any phone call, but rather the three time recipe rule I have in the kitchen. You know the kind of boyfriend I am talking about. He looks good, presents well, he is popular, funny. You are attracted by a certain mysterious quality. The first date leaves you confident that there could be something there and subsequent ones leave you with a strange feeling, you don’t know "sur quel pied danser" (which foot to dance with). By the third date you are either giving up on the guy or you are pestered enough that you want to "break the code", get inside his head one more time because he is too darn genius for you to give up. Well, Christophe you make it very hard for me to like you!

Basically, when I pick up a new cookbook and try something from it, if it tastes yuck or fails after three times, I dump it or send it back. His marshmallow recipe left me confused just like after a first date…I was happy to try an egg white based recipe but decided after the first fiasco to stick to my trusted one. Don’t believe me? You should have a conversation with my mother when I handed her the KA bowl and beaters all glued with hot sugar syrup, egg whites and gelatin. Puzzled again when I tried his almond dough recipe which calls for one egg, then in the directions it reads "add the eggs"…"Hey honey! I have my glasses over my nose right?", then the pictures show what looks like a few egg yolks…Hmmm "Hey Michel, did you really proof-read your book?". I was starting to wonder if I was suffering from pastry amnesia.

Yes you look mysterious, mischievious and cute but Christophe your recipe and the book writing has me completely frustrated and mad…at you! I get that you are the World Champion of Pastry, I get that you are in charge of a prestigious pastry kitchen and I can understand the ego boost of publishing your favorite and gorgeously executed and photographed recipes. Oh yes, the book is a true feast for the eyes, however it is not written for the novice baker. You have to constantly read between the lines and think three step ahead…not a problem I am used to it…with recipes that are chemistry coherent.

I foresee a love and hate relationship with Christophe…not the cozy and fuzzy feelings that Pierre Herme or Richard Leach bring me when I settle on the couch with their creations. I love the concept of the book: one master recipe -5 variations. I fell in love with his tartelettes concept and was really excited to get going: his crust base is a 2 part almond short dough filled with frangipane (almond cream), after that the variations can be created. With experience you can read between the lines, but I hate that others might have difficulty doing so…and that would still be ok if the writing -recipes-pictures of step by step were all coherent. I don’t always bake from cookbooks, but new approaches, new methods, new chefs, not to mention pretty pictures always give me inspiration to make a recipe my own according to my palate and the practicality of a home kitchen.

In that regard, I am sure you won’t mind that I have reworked the recipe that inspired these Strawberry Lime Tartelettes. For example, instead of a pistachio paste in the whipped cream, I made a simple lime curd. Although you can’t tell from the pictures but half the tarts had the strawberries rest on a small pool of lime curd while the others on strawberry jam (pictures). While both versions were excellent, they were also very different. The recipe called for mascarpone which I kept but you could easily substitute cream cheese, ricotta cheese or a fresh young goat cheese. The recipe is on the format of the ones I am fond of: multi-step, yes, but which allow you to make the elements over a couple of days, at your own leisure and assembled at the last minute for maximum freshness. Very nice option when you are making 40 like I did, but also when you have guests over for dinner as fresh is always best with berries. Stay tuned for further installments of my nights with Christophe!

We love them so much that I am sending them off to Rachel who is hosting this month Sugar High FridayPie That Evoke Your Dreams (and for a good cause: read at the end of this post)These Strawberry Lime Tartelettes evoked dreams of spring, fuzzy cuddles on the couch and beautiful easy going relationships…like strawberries and lime.

Strawberry Lime Tartelettes.
Makes 8

Tartelettes Elements:
Almond Short Dough
Almond Cream
Lime Curd Whipped Cream
2-3 cups fresh hulled strawberries, cut in half
3/4 cup strawberry jam

For the Almond Short Dough:
190 gr. flour
20 gr. cornstarch (makes for a lighter crumb)
90 gr. powdered sugar
130 gr. butter
35 gr. almond powder
pinch of salt
1 egg

Special equipment: 8 pastry rounds 3 inches in diameter and 1 inch tall (available here)

Sift the flour with the cornstarch, powdered sugar. Add the almond powder and cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or your fingertips until you get small coarse crumbs. Add the egg and the salt. Mix with your hands until just combined. Roll into a ball onto a plastic sheet, cover with another plastic sheet and flatten to a smal disk. Refrigerate one hour or overnight. You can do the whole thing in a food processor. 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 Almond Cream:
100 gr. butter softened
100 gr. sugar
100 gr. almond powder
2 eggs
5 cl heavy cream

Place the butter, sugar, almond powder 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 so as not to emulsify it or it will rise while baking. Refrigerate for at least an hour.
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.

For the Lime Curd Whipped Cream:
grated zest of 1 lime
1/2 cup strained lime juice
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
200 gr. mascarpone, softened
2000 gr. (20cl)heavy cream

Combine the zest, sugar, juice in a saucepan, and bring to a simmer. In a small bowl, beat the egg until light. Beat some of the lime mixture into the eggs to temper. Scrape the mixture back into the saucepan and cook stirring constantly until it thickens up, about 5 minutes. Remove the curd from the heat, let cool completely.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, mix together the mascarpone and cooled lime curd until incorporated, add the heavy cream and whisk until firm and medium stiff peaks form.

To assemble the tartelettes:
Divide the jam evenly over the bottom of each tart crust, arrange the strawberry halves decoratively on top.With a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip, pipe the whipped cream in the middle and decorate with grated lime zest if desired.

Printable version of the recipe here.

Check Rachel’s site for the round up on the 29th. In the meantime, if this sounds delicious, make a contribution to a non-profit helping to transform the world of food through pie- Pie Ranch. Please specify "Pie Ranch/Green Oaks Fund” in the "Designation" field of the online donation form (Pie Ranch is fiscally sponsored by the Rudolph Steiner Foundation) here.

Hot Macarons For My Hot Tamale

I know, I know…Valentine’s Day is like 4 days behind…and still I am all about the reds and the pinks…and gushy feelings for and shared with family and loved ones. You are going to think I am lying when I proclaim high and loud that we do not celebrate V-Day. Well, we don’t do the usual things like flowers, jewelry, and especially dining out. I love what Jen said about that day and how she feels about her man. Ditto Jen! So it should be no surprise to you when I tell you that we ended up making dinner together and that I am the one who brought the jewelry…in the form of these Jeweled Hot Tamale Macarons.

I know B. loves macarons way more than I do, and he likes Hot Tamales way more than I do, so I found it only fitting to make these for him for last Thursday, except they were made on Tuesday and also shared with my mother before her trip back. Only a few were left for Valentine’s Day dinner and that was plenty with a glass of dessert white wine. Why a Hot Tamale? Because I think B. is plenty hot to make me melt… Just like these macarons. Why Jeweled Macarons? Because they’re full of sparkles and when held in the light they look like a million bucks.

I filled them with a soft white chocolate and raspberry ganache and as you bite into them, you are surprised by a hot cinnamon candy. The macaron shells were painted hot red and sprinkled with pink sugar sparkles which offer a little extra crunch on your lips when you bite into them.

I promise this is the last "lurve" post for a while, I guess I just got inspired this year!! Note on the first photo: my mom was my model and I want to thank her for going through 15 minutes (twice) of "Don’t move" "To the right…lower…left" "Hold it" "One more…" especially right after she woke up…! Thank you Mom!

Hot Tamale Macarons:

For the Macarons:
3 egg whites (I like to use 2-3 day old egg whites)
50 gr. granulated sugar
200 gr. powdered sugar
110 gr. ground almonds
3 Tb hot red powdered food coloring, divided
sparkling sugar

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to a foam, gradually add the sugar until you obtain a glosy meringue. Do not overbeat your meringue or it will be too dry and your macarons won’t work. Combine the ground almonds and powdered sugar in a food processor and give them a quick pulse. It will break the powdered sugar lumps and cobine your almond with it evenly. Add them to the meringue along with 1 TB food coloring and fold the mass carefully until you obtain a batter that flows like magma or a thick ribbon. 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 with the batter and pipe small round onto parchment paper baking sheets. Preheat the oven to 315F. Let the macarons sit out for an hour to harden their shell a bit and bake for 8-10 minutes, depending on their size. Let cool completely. Combine 2 Tb food coloring with 1TB water in a small container and paint the macaron shells with the color. Sprinkle with the sanding sugar. Fill a pastry bag with the ganache, pipe over one shell, add a Hot Tamale candy and close with the other macaron shell.

White Chocolate Raspberry Ganache:
8 oz white chocolate
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup rasberry puree

If you can’t find raspberry puree: in a food processor, puree enough raspberries (1/2pint) to get the required mesurement.
In a heavy bottom saucepan, heat the cream to boiling, remove from heat and stir in the white chocolate. Whisk until completly combined, add the raspberry puree. Refrigerate until ready to fill the macarons.


Now…I need to brag a little…but just a little…. Dessert Magazine released their first digital edition and is featuring a lot of the contestant from the Death By Chocolate Contest (with their permission) Not only am I featured in their edition but The Nutella Creams picture actually made the cover! Now…excuse me for the shameless "Tooting my own horn"…I am done. I love the layout of the magazine and the actual "flipping" the page sound, I am looking forward to reading more issues!

Time To Make The Donuts – Second Batch

Thank you for your patience waiting for the second batch of the round up here. Turns out that even though we tried to split entries and forward to each other the proper ones, Peabody and I had pretty busy schedules this past week and you may find some entries twice or misplaced. The important thing is that we do not forget anybody. If you do not see your post right away, no worries, we are adding and squaring things out over the course of the day. For me that means going back and editing my typos….!

Where was I again? Oh yeah….Doughnuts!!!

Katia from Gourmet Girl makes little fried jewels with these Brandied Apricot Beignets. An extra dose of powdered sugar and we are all screaming for more! Thank you for sharing this with us.

Lynne from And Then I Do The Dishes sent us those mouth watering Dutch Ollie Bollen, ovecoming her fear of doughnuts and frying. Thank you for braving your fear, look at the results and for your patience with the roundup!

Zorra from the always mouth watering 1x umruehren bitte aka kochtopf made us some "Fasnachtschüechli", a typical Swiss Carnival pastry. They remind me of a pastry my grandmother used to make me on Mardis Gras called "ear beignets". They are crsipy and sugary, perfect with a cup of coffee or tea. Thank you for finding the time to make us these!.

Another favorite bread baker of mine, Sandra from Le Petrin in France made traditional Alsatian Beignets, "Fasenachtskiechle". I am glad I begged because they turned out perfect! Hope you get to try these are they are texture perfect.

Pat from Feeding My Enthusiasms goes all out with these Gingerbread Doughnuts with Lemon Curd Filling because you are not likely to find those at a donut shop! Thanks for a mouth watering recipe. I love that they look like they are stiking their tongue at me!

New mom and blogger and talented pastry chef Aran from Cannelle et Vanille makes some of the most incredible doughnuts: Caramelized Banana Beignets with Chocolate Soup. Did I hear you go "hmmhmmhmm"…That’s what I thought! Thanks Aran for your entry!

Lisa from Pittsburgh Needs Eated was among the first ones to send her entry and I started drooling right away! Those Sugar And Spice Doughnuts are sure crowd pleasers! Thank you Lisa!

I may not undestand everything Ile Ghetta Mabel from La Cocina de Ile wrote about but if you were ever wondering how to make a donut take a bath, just look at the pictures! Great post! I love how descriptive and nerve calming it was for frying newbies. Thanks for participating!

Wonderful and talented Anh from Australia at Food Lover’s Journey, makes another one of my favorites with Churros With Dulce De Leche Sauce. Do I hear your stomachs growl? Mine did! Thanks for tempting my tastebuds once more with such a great recipe!

Judy from Judy’s Gross Eats in California makes the fluffiest Beignets Souffles in honor of her mother and her past. That electric skillet was sure put to great use! Thank you for a mouth watering entry!

Joel and Amy from Foodmonkeys happily took out the toolbox and made us a batch of traditional French inspired Beignets. Thanks for sending a dozen to my way (fresh please!)

Marye from Apron Strings And Simmering Things made a full batch of Breakfast Donuts. Perfect cake donuts with coffee, the breakfast of champions! Thanks Marye for an easy and perfect recipe!

Sukanya from Hot N' Sweet Bowl gets creative with pizza dough and makes this colorful arrangements of doughnuts. Thanks for taking part in the event…they sure have some pizaz!!

Soul Sister and future godmother to my next furry and four-legged child, Lisa from La Mia Cucina, makes a fresh batch of Pan-fried Apple Fritters with Apple – Honey Dipping Sauce. Talk about good! Finally my lood pressure is settling down, she had me believe for a second that she may not have time….ahahah!!

Angie from Angie’s Pangies made the traditional Polish Paczki in her bread machine and filled them with jam and lemon curd. Nothing wrong with that! They turned out beautifully and I always love to see a fry-daddy in pictures! Thanks for your creations!

Witty Susan from Food Blogga remembers Dunkin Donuts doughboys and decides to fry up a batch. Not only is her post hilarious (read it out loud) but the resulting Doughboys are mouth waterig! Thanks for making me hold my ribs wishing my screen had a "smell" button available.

Ivy from Kopiaste, To Greek Hospitality makes Akoumia Symiaka, a traditional doughnut made to celebrate all happy occasions. They will make you even happier as they are spiked with Ouzo and coated with either cinnamon sugar or Greek honey. Thank you Ivy for sharing such a fantastic tradition and culture bit!

Dear to my heart Bron from Bron Marshall, Classic and Creative Cuisine, takes fried dough to a whole another level with these Mini Chocolate Matcha Doughnuts. I think they will be made very soon..I can only imagine the flavors! Thanks for taking part with suh a creative entry!

Jaime from Good Eats and Sweet Treats tries her hand at doughnuts for the first time and makes these scrumptious looking Candied Ginger-Orange Cake Doughnuts. No matter what you think Jaie, I think these cake doughnuts look very inspiring. Thanks for trying so many firsts for the event!

Francie from Ramblings of a Frantic Home Cook, recalls her honeymoon and the flavor associated with it in these tender looking Pina Colada Doughnuts. Very creative!

Without even knowing it, Baker Extraordinaire Mary from The Sourdough made one of my childhood favorites : Pets de Nonne – Nun’s Farts. The name alone used to make us giggle as children! But wait…she also made three more types, Paczki, honey and chocolate glazed, and powdered sugar doughnut holes, to accomodate our fancy! Thanks Mary for filling my dreams with so many choices!!

Sweetest Jenny from All Things Edible uses her new sourdough starter Marvin (love the name) to make these wonderful Sourdough Timbits. I can only imagine how flavorful they must be! Thanks for taking part to our little "lust after donut" event!!

Time To Make The Doughnuts – First Batch

Wow! Wow! May I add Wow?! I had no idea that my innocent email to Peabody reading "Hey! I want to host a doughnut/beignets event and was wondering if you would like to co-host with me?" would be met by so many of you. Last time we counted we had 94 of you wonderful people who made us all kinds of doughy-oily-baked-filled-dipped doughnuts/fritters/beignets…. I want to thank her immensely for being such a great co-host while busy with things of her own. Cheers to you!

I am thrilled to see entries from all over the world showcasing traditional doughnuts (say that 3 times fast) as well as so many of you braving your fear of yeast, oil and other kitchen adventures. Thank you! Thank you! May I add Thank You?!! You made my day, my week, my month…really I am not evil, I just wanted to make sure ya’ll had the opportunity to justify making fried sugar dough in the middle of winter. You all were very giving in your posts, emails and stories and there are so many people, places and things I discovered. Not to mention almost 100 recipes!

Without further ado, here is the first installment of the roundup, in no particular order. Peabody and I split the entries so you might have to go back and forth a little between our blogs. I tried to get it all done in one post but with mom being here, her departing adventures (she is sound and safe in France, finally) and life and work…I have to stop tonight (hmm 3am actually) and I will post the second batch tomorrow today in the afternoon.

Michelle from Culinography makes lovely traditional German jelly filled doughnuts, Berliner Pfannkuchen. Aside from the history tidbits about their origin, I love how the jam oozes from the doughnuts. Thanks for sharing such beautiful treats with us!

You have no idea how happy I am to have Brilynn from Jumbo Empanadas participate in our event. Not only is she a fellow Daring Baker and all over awesome blogger friend but I thought I would have to fly to Canada to make her brave her "no donut" mantra! Her Baked Donuts look wonderful in my eyes, and her post was as hilarious as their odd shapes. Thanks for being here!

Chez Denise Et Laudalino made a traditional doughnut, Malasadas. From the looks of these, I sure could inhale half a dozen of these! Thanks for sharing your story with us!

Theresa at Food Hunter’s Guide To Cuisine takes the event as the perfect excuse to make some fried desserts. These Lemon Ricotta Fritters are full of flavor with rum, chocolate chip, ricotta and lemon. Hmmhmmhmmm!!

Gretchen Noelle from Canela & Comino made these delicious Peruvian Squash Fritters, Picarones. They may not be exactly like the ones found on the street stalls in Peru but I am sure her rendition is just as good. Thanks for sharing a bit of your culture with us!

Caitlin from Engineer Baker makes Baked Doughnuts for the first time for the event… all 3 dozens plus 4 dozen doughnut holes! They look wonderful in their cinnamon sugar blanket and I know a few takers in my neighorhood if you still have some!

Cakelaw from Laws Of the Kitchen makes some scrumptious Apple Cider Donuts that taste as close as the one we can get in the green polka dot shot…Yippee! I love her addition of rhubarb to the batter. Thanks for taking part!

( McCreamy) Ivonne from Cream Puffs In Venice, the "Other Woman" as B. likes to call her (just because one year she made me a cake to seduce me…really…and it looked awesome!), is making my heart skip a beat with these beautiful Crullers all covered with melted chocolate. Thank you my dear friend for satisfying my cravings!

Tanna from My Kitchen In Half Cups is known in our house as the "Bread Elf"…always sneaking up on us with the most delectable bread creations. Now, if she says "brioche" I am there…if she adds "doughnut" I am coming back!! Go check these Brioche Doughnuts!

Ricki from Diet, Dessert and Dogs comes up with the brilliant idea to create Dogels, a cross between a bagel and a doughnut after a couple of failed attempts at baked doughnuts. Thanks for persevering Ricki!

Sabra from Cookbook Catchall makes another one of my favorites, Italian Zeppole. Her beloved version made me think o fried cream puff dough with a little extra: vanilla bean. The dough can e made in 10 minutes, refrigerated and the doughnuts fried fresh. Thanks for revisiting this recipewith us!

Stef from Cupcake Project tries her hand at Doughnut Cupcakes for the first time. They look mighty good all dressed up and glazed! Thank you for participating and I hope you try your hands at more yeasted baked goods!

Allison from Cinnamon Love tempts our tastebuds with Thai Doughnuts dunked in sweetened condensed milk…Sugar, Sugar, tadadadadada…Or is it an excuse to eat more of her favorite food?!! If you decide to make them again with yeast, please let me know, they sound delicious!

Isabel from Isas’s Cooking in Santiago, Chile takes friendship to a new level by making these doughnuts in honor of her friend Igna. Chocolate glazed with dulce de leche and plain ones with raspberry jam to be precise. Thanks for sharing your story with us!

Vegan Superstar, Hannah from Bittersweet found her donut "vertically challenged" and decided to put the to good use in donut sandwiches. How clever! Thanks for finding the time in your busy schedule to participate.

Steph from A Whisk and A Spoon (love that name), tried her hand at a Viennese treat, Spritzkrapfen, also known as Crullers. Moist, tender and glazed with rum. Yum! Thank you, but what are you going to eat after I am done with those three?!!

Lynn from Cookie Baker Lynn makes an old family favorite with these Spudnuts (love that name!) When you realize that the original recipe made 4 dozen doughnuts, I understand her desire to halve the recipe…looks like nothing in lost in reduction however. Thanks Lynn for such beautiful rings of fried dough!

Michelle from Life In The Pink Kitchen, also braves her fear of yeast by producing these gorgeous Dough-Nots…along with a very fun post to read. Thanks Michelle for your adventurous spirit. Your mom can be proud!!

Natalie, fellow sheltie lover and Daring Baker partner, at Gluten A Go Go, always amazes me with her gluten free renditions of baked items and these Chocolate Chestnut Doughnuts are downright a success! Thanks for taking part in our little fry fest!

Dear to my heart Jasmine, from Confessions of a Cardamom Addict made those lovely Dutchies, "the quintessential Canadian doughnut". Better have the fresh from the fryer I am told…She also threatened me with a day old Dutchie bread pudding…I am waiting *tap*tap*tap*(foot stomping). Thanks for spreading the donut love, they are scrumptious!

Coco from Coco Cooks makes a traditional South African favorite, Koesisters, to help us celebrate the fact that there is ne-ver enough donuts in this world! Thanks Courtney for not listening to the little voices inside your head!

Nemmie from Cast Sugar appeals to the historian in me by making these jelly filled doughnuts, Berliner Pfannkuchen. Thank you for those perfect bites of sweetness!!

Karolina at For The Body And Soul keeps true to her New Year’s resolution to cook more Polish food with these gorgeous Paczki enhanced with one of my favorites, rosehip jam. Thanks for sharing a traditional pastry with us!

Arfi from Homemades in New Zealand made one of my favorites, Baked Donuts. Thanks Arfi for watching over our waistlines!

Stephanie from Cupcake My Love sends these original Maple-Glazed Sour Cream Doughnut with Sugared Walnut Streusel. Thanks for braving your fear of yeast, they turned out wonderfully!

SuperMom and blogger Kristen from Dine and Dish, almost forgot to make her donuts but put her bread machine to good use! Seriously folks, how can we say no to such tempting fried rounds? You’re right, we can’t! Thanks Kristen for rushing a few to my house!!

Ulrike from Kuchenlatein in Germany makes a traditional donut called Quark Balls or Quarkbällchen on stormy day! Thanks for warming us up with such a comforting entry!

Laura Rebecca takes pizza dough to another level by frying it and making little donut holes and beautiful glazed donuts. Simple and statisfying Italian donuts! I am thinking those double crust pizza dough recipes have an ulterior motive: frying!

Elly from Elly Says Opa! in Chicago made a traditional Greek fritters, Loukoumades, going past her fear of yeast and frying. Thank you for braving your doughnut demons…the fritters are mouth watering!

Allen from Eating Out Loud is trying to correct my evil ways by making his mom’s baked doughnuts. Sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon and good for my waist line? He might make a believer out of me!

Cheryl at Gruel Omelet got a little behind with a bad case of stomach flu, but how could we refuse a basket full of these wonderful Baked Donuts. The toppings are un-healthy enough to make me happy…ahahah!!!

Doughnuts For My Valentine

Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you! Whether you have a special somebody in your life, today is the day to celebrate all lovers out there. We don’t do outrageous things on that day Mr.Tartelette and I, but we do get caught up in all the cutsie cards out there and exchange a couple over the course of the day.

We live down the street from a Krispy Kreme and a Dunkin Donut (I love America!) and when we were driving home from taking mom to the airport yesterday, he turned to me and said "You know that Krispy Kreme came out with a heart donut for Thursday?" Me "Well, that’s nice…" We went back to our thoughts until a couple of minutes later he added "Could you make a copycat if I get you an original to compare?" Me to answer in my best smartie pants tone "If you get an original form the shop, eat it, don’t ask me to make a copycat!" Well, I did anyway, because he is a cool guy! I took out the deep fryer for that and they turned out awesome. He thought they were better than the originals as they did not have that overpowering sugar-oily coating on them.

Well, given the events of last night, I had plenty of time to make one more batch of donuts for our "Time To Make The Doughnuts" round up tomorrow. See, my mother’s flights to Newark then France got cancelled due to bad weather. She got re-routed on another airline through Atlanta. She would have made her connection if the flight out of here had left on time, but they sat on the plane and she got an hour late to Atlanta and no more flight to France. So poor mom found herself stranded overnight in a hotel room by herself. I know she is fine, but she my mom, she’s the bestest and the sweetest in the world….. No change of clothes or toileteries, and a diabetic on a pump. I was screaming in my head!! Her English is allright, she understands faster than she speaks and she has traveled many times but always with my dad or a group. Thankfully she has the kind of personality that makes people be nice and helpful towards her. She has a good aura…

Please, think good thoughts and send good vibes that she gets on that plane this afternoon with all her stuff. When I called my dad last night to tell him, he said "Well, that sucks but the flowers will be ok in water one more day and the bracelet I got her will be here when she get here". Isn’t that sweet?!! When I spoke to her this morning, the only things she was concerned about is that we had gotten some sleep and found the Valentine card she had left for us. Mom, you are the best! I love you and I hope that you and dad get to spend some quality time together, albeit a day later.

See, Valentine’s day is not only about lovers, it’s about fuzzy feelings, families and just good all around feelings. No, we don’t need a special day to hug somebody but it sure is great to be reminded never to take anybody ir anything for granted. We all need a little bang on the head sometimes. There are some special people I am going to think about today, especially the ones who can’t give or receive that special hug and I will keep them in my thoughts and wish that they find peace of heart and mind.

Copycat Krispy Kreme Donuts:

2 pkgs. yeast
1/4 cup water (105-115 degrees)
1-1/2 cups lukewarm milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1/3 cup butter
5 cups all-purpose flour vegetable oil

Glaze: 1/3 cup butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1-1/2 tsp. vanilla
4–6 tbl. hot water
colored sprinkles if desired. I asked the cashier to sell me a half coffee cup full of the ones they use on their heart donuts.

Dissolve yeast in warm water in bowl of your stand mixer. Add milk, salt, eggs, butter and 2 cups flour. Beat on low for 30 seconds with the paddle attachment, scraping the bowl if needed. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Stir in remaining flour and mi untilsmooth until smooth. Cover and let rise until double, about an hour. Turn dough onto floured surface and roll dough 1/2-inch thick. Cut with floured doughnut cutter. Cover and let rise until double, 30-40 minutes. Heat vegetable oil in deep fryer to 350 degrees and fry until golden brown, about 1 minute on each side. Remove from the oil and drain them on paper towels for a minute. Dip the doughnuts into the glaze and set them on cooling racks over paper lined baking sheets (easier to clean up).

Heat butter until melted over medium low heat and remove from the stove. Stir in the powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth. Stir in the water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency.

Herme’s Miniatures

I am going to keep this weekend post short and calorie free….A first on this blog and I hope you won’t hurt too much while in sugar withdrawal. Thankfully for your (and mine) sweet tooth, there will be plenty of chocolate and butter to be blogged about next week!

Call me obsessed with the man, or just a fervent admirer of his talent and creations (although I will tell you about my newest pastry God next week), but I have been wanting these miniatures the day I saw them on Carol’s Paris Breakfast blog. Not only did she photograph them but she also painted them with exquisite accuracy. She included various sources to order them and I clicked away that very minute. I was "that" close to getting the Visa out when my little angel of reason perched itself on my shoulder and whispered "You don’t have money for futilities right now Tartelette…put the card back!" I could hear the little pastry demon on the other shoulder whisper "But you want them…go ahead…." I closed the computer screen and walked away, but the miniatures remained on my mind for a couple of days while the pastry demon and angel were going at it over my head….Arghhhh!!! I decided to email the link to my mother and see what her reaction would be, she always steer me in the right direction. She emailed back something along the lines of "These would be perfect for the display box I am building!"….Didn’t I tell you she would help?!! Not only does she frame beautifully but she also builds shadow boxes and displays for people’s collectibles.

I got these the other weekend and within an hour, all eight sets of Pierre Herme’s miniatures were assembled. Trust me when I say they are tiny (twizers were required for some parts), but aren’t they just amazingly real looking and adorable? I love my family: as soon as they were all assembled and photographed my husband and his "belle-maman" (mother-in-law) both said "Now you got to make them real life and do a side by side…and we get to taste!" Well, if you look closely I already made one…and there is another one to come next week.

Yep…now you can call me weird!

In other news: thank you for all of you who voted for me in the Death By Chocolate contest, but I won’t be going to Napa just yet. Congratulations to Cathy of Eating Out In New York, the lucky winner who will attend the Chocolate Festival held there. I had a blast participating and felt extremely honored to be among such fabulous finalists! Way to go ladies!

Sorry folks for the short post but there is a gazillion things to get done before my mom leaves, especially pick her brain about savories, since it is her field of expertise.