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Monatsarchive: April 2008

Cardamom Tapioca Pudding, Roasted Rhubarb And Strawberry Syrup

Tapioca Pudding-Copyright©Tartelette 2008 I know my mom is going to say "Ah! Finalement" (Ah! Finally) when she reads this post. You see it is not uncommon during our phone conversations for me to say "Oh, by the way, I saw this really cool ingredient, gadget, linen, etc…on a French site and I am having it come to your house so you can bring it next time you come visit or pop it in the mail with the next care package. Hope it’s not too much trouble!" There is usually a pause, sometimes a sigh, followed by "where the heck did you find this? What don’t you sleep at night for a change?"

The explanation is easy: B’s muscles unwind when he falls asleep by severely twitching which provokes him to jerks and send his knee(s) in my ribs or his arm across my face. One black eye and a many bruises later we both agreed that it was safer for me if I let him fall asleep first and then sneak in the bed half an hour later. Most of the time, I turn the computer on and start browsing….and find things I "need" for baking. You’ve been there, "surfing" the Internet…How long is your baking wishlist now that you’re blogging?!! That’s how I found a bunch of cool syrups one night that I "wanted" for baking. Flavors like cotton candy, pain d’epices, candy apple, lavender, and this strawberry syrup I used with the Tapioca Puddings. A few clicks and a phone call to the parents and they were on their way.

Now that Sprig is in full swing, I can’t get enough rhubarb. Every trip to the store and a couple of pounds end up in my cart, it’s like I am on auto pilot. My preferred method of cooking is to cut it large cubes and cook it down over the stove and stop the heat when I can still get some chunks. I can’t describe the feeling of biting into it when it is cooked that way. The mellow bite of flesh that gives out on your tongue, while your taste buds are tickled by the sourness of the fruit quickly followed by a hint of sugar. I like sour tastes so I have a tendency to go light on the sugar when I cook the rhubarb down. I also took opportunity of the oven being on one night I was cooking the cheesecake for the Daring Barker challenge to cut large cubes of it and roast it with a sprinkle of sugar at 325F. The end result was allright, a little bit too "stewed" down for my taste…but who cares? It’s rhubarb!!

I like rice puddings a great deal but there was this little container of small bead tapioca left to be used and in an effort to organize the pantry (and I hate to throw away) I used it instead for the puddings adding a touch of cardamom to the milk while it was cooking. Some tapioca or rice pudding recipes call for an egg custard but that always seem a little too rich for me so I skipped that one. Once cooled down, I spooned into glasses, topped it with the rhubarb and added a splash of the strawberry pie syrup my parents sent me. I understand you may not have the same syrup I sued available but you can substitute you favorite syrup with these like grenadine, reduce pomegranate juice, blueberry, etc…Seemed like the perfect pairing, strawberries and rhubarb. We’ve been feasting on these for the last couple of days feeling pretty happy and virtuous after an insane amount of cheesecake chocolate pops!!

Tapioca Pudding-Copyright©Tartelette 2008
Cardamom Tapioca Puddings With Roasted Rhubarb and Strawberry Syrup:

For the puddings:

1/3 cup tapioca

2 1/2 cups milk (I used 2%)

1/4 cup sugar

6 cardamom pods, crushed with the back of a knife

1/4 cup fruit syrup

In a heavy saucepan combine the milk, and cardamom pods. Bring to a simmer, remove from the heat, let steep for 20 minutes. Strain the pods. Return the milk to the saucepan and add the tapioca, and 1/4 cup sugar. Cook over medium heat until the mixture thickens up, about 10 minutes, stirring every so often. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature, cover with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming.

Roasted Rhubarb:

2 cups diced rhubarb, large chunks (1 inch)

1/2 cup sugar

Put the chunks of rhubarb in a large roasting pan and sprinkle with the sugar. Bake at 325F until the fruit barely starts to give when you press your fingers in one piece, 30-45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Divide the pudding among 4 glasses or dishes and top with the rhubarb. Drizzle one tablespoon of syrup over each glass. Serve at room temperature.

Cheesecake Pops – Dunking With The Daring Bakers

Cheesecake Pops-Copyright©Tartelette 2008 I get excited every month about posting the Daring Bakers challenges. Actually it is more like an act in three part. On reveal day, I check our site in my pajamas like a kid waiting to open her Christmas present. I give myself a week or so to think about how I want to go about the challenge, baking, cutting, plating and photographing. Then, I usually get them done the second week and then I tend to lose the mood until posting day. That’s when it hits me, why I love it so much: it’s the sense of community, knowing that there is a bunch of us out there loving the same thing…baking and sharing the fruits of our labor. It may be more or less challenging for some of us each time but it gives me the opportunity to share my love of baking and eating with you all. I just realized my first challenge was on December 2006 with Biscotti, right after Lisa and Ivonne introduced the concept of a group baking session. Time flies when you are having fun!!

Since I have been in the States for over 10 years, I can’t say that cheesecake is new to me, having churned about 2-3 a day at work back in the days and a few here on this site However turning a cheesecake into a lollipop was something I had never done before but always wanted to try, ever since I had watched a show on a restaurant dunking big slices of cheesecake in chocolate and serving them as ice cream pops. But you know…so many recipes, so little time! That’s until Deborah from Taste and Tell and Elle from Feeding My Enthusiasms chose these Cheesecake Pops from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O’Connor. Thank you ladies I don’t know when I would have gotten around to making these bites but thanks to the Daring Bakers, now it was… (I know, not grammatically correct but you get it).

I made the pops for our weekly gathering with the neighbors and decided to make half the recipe. This turned out to be a little mistake since one of the couples present was celebrating their anniversary yesterday and he asked me if I could make some as party favors and a small box with heart sprinkles on them especially for her. I forgot about it until yesterday morning and I was still duking pops a few hours before the party a la Bridget Jones….read with curlers in my hair and a party dress on. I also almost walked into the reception room with one curler still on my head but that is another story!

Anyways….each half batch took about 40-45 minutes to bake which makes me think that the 55 minutes indicated for the full batch is very very conservative, and from what other Daring Bakers have reported throughout the month, it was more like over an hour of baking time. I went for the queen of flavors (just my opinion) for the cake, vanilla, scraping a whole bean into the batter and the cake tasted like vanilla ice cream. I thought about adding a blueberry or a raspberry into each pop but in the end I kept relatively simple. The result? Decadent pleasure…
I used good old store bought chocolate chips for the coating and it worked perfectly. The only problem with a recipe that calls for variance in temperatures like dunking the frozen pops into hot chocolate coating where I live is that within 20 minutes with the humidity and the heat around make the chocolate sweat. I notice that this morning when I was dunking the remaining bites and taking extra pictures. It was humid and hot in the room where I was and it made my pops go into thermal shock!! No big deal, they did not suffer long… Will I make them again? Probably but this time I want to cut bigger slices and put them on ice cream sticks, ahahaha!!!

Cheesecake Pops-Copyright©Tartelette 2008 Cheesecake Pops, (full recipe) adapted from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O’Connor

Makes 30 – 40 Pops (or more if you make them small like I did)
Printable Recipe

5 8-oz. packages cream cheese at room temperature
2 cups sugar
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
5 large eggs (I used 3 eggs when I baked half the recipe without a problem)
2 egg yolks
1 vanilla bean, seeded
¼ cup heavy cream

Thirty to forty 8-inch lollipop sticks
1 pound chocolate, chopped or in chips
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
(Note: White chocolate is harder to use this way, but not impossible)

Assorted decorations such as chopped nuts, colored jimmies, crushed peppermints, mini chocolate chips, sanding sugars, dragees) I also used cut chocolate transfer sheets.

Position oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. Set some water to boil.
In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, flour, and salt until smooth. If using a mixer, mix on low speed. Add the whole eggs and the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well (but still at low speed) after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and cream.
Grease a 10-inch cake pan (not a springform pan), and pour the batter into the cake pan. Place the pan in a larger roasting pan. Fill the roasting pan with the boiling water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Bake until the cheesecake is firm and slightly golden on top, 35 to 45 minutes.
Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and cool to room temperature. Cover the cheesecake with plastic wrap and refrigerate until very cold, at least 3 hours or up to overnight.
When the cheesecake is cold and very firm, scoop the cheesecake and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Carefully insert a lollipop stick into each cheesecake ball. Freeze the cheesecake pops, uncovered, until very hard, at least 1 to 2 hours.

When the cheesecake pops are frozen and ready for dipping, prepare the chocolate. In the top of a double boiler, set over simmering water, or in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, heat half the chocolate and half the shortening, stirring often, until chocolate is melted and chocolate and shortening are combined. Stir until completely smooth. Do not heat the chocolate too much or your chocolate will lose it’s shine after it has dried. Save the rest of the chocolate and shortening for later dipping, or use another type of chocolate for variety.
Alternately, you can microwave the same amount of chocolate coating pieces on high at 30 second intervals, stirring until smooth.

Quickly dip a frozen cheesecake pop in the melted chocolate, swirling quickly to coat it completely. Shake off any excess into the melted chocolate. If you like, you can now roll the pops quickly in optional decorations. You can also drizzle them with a contrasting color of melted chocolate (dark chocolate drizzled over milk chocolate or white chocolate over dark chocolate, etc.) Place the pop on a clean parchment paperlined baking sheet to set. Repeat with remaining pops, melting more chocolate and shortening (or confectionary chocolate pieces) as needed.
Refrigerate the pops for up to 24 hours, until ready to serve.

Cheesecake Pops-Copyright©Tartelette 2008Don’t forget to check out the other Daring Bakers' creations here and again thanks Lisa and Ivonne for your hard work this month setting us up with a brand new forum!!

Choux Beignets And Apricot Curd

Choux Beignets-Copyright©Tartelette 2008I don’t really like to start a post with a conversation but after trying different ways to write it up, I found that the accurate was to relate the conversation that took place between B. and myself last night before falling asleep. If you were to eavesdrop on the following conversation you’d think we lead the grand life:
B: what time is the cocktail party tomorrow?
Me: starts at 7pm. What time is the band playing?
Him: starts at 9pm.

If you know us a little better, then the rest of the conversation about our friends' party for their anniversary makes much more sense:
Me: I need to have the 300 cream puffs done by 10am at the latest, they are picking them up and the cake by noon.
Him: I’ve got to be at the party site by 6pm to hook up the PA system and practice some tunes with the guys. Well, at least we can have breakfast together. Anything special (with that look of "please, no more clafoutis")?
Me: what about some "choux beignets" with some of the leftover cream puff dough I am bound to have?
Him: I’ll fry!
Me: deal! (meaning I can shower, cook down some rhubarb and write a post all at once, the usual!)

What a breakfast! We were perched on our chairs like little kids enjoying their latest pranks! It has been a while since we had any sort of fried dough for breakfast, keeping it relatively healthy during the week while buttering some brioche on Sundays. I don' eat a lot for breakfast but I love baking breakfast items. The choux are what we call "Pets de Nonne" (Nuns' Farts) which always made me giggle as a kid, not so much as an adult about to eat them for breakfast. I paired the choux beignets with an apricot curd I had made the day before just because I was tired of starring at a lonely bottle of apricot nectar in the pantry. Worked perfectly for dunking! The choux are really fun to watch when you fry them as they puff like crazy and wobble in the oil and shrivel like little old ladies when you let them sit for a while. Bonus, these are a breeze to make: mix, scoop and fry…and eat!

I am sorry if I have to leave you on this short post but I have got to finish some stuff for the party favors and there is a wild baking weekend coming up. I want to get some stuff done ( not to mention cleaning up a bit and organizing) before Marce from Pip In The City comes on Tuesday. She is staying for 5 days and beside her request to have me teach her macarons, I plan on the two of us having a fun time on the town! I have got the camera ready!!

Choux Beignets-Copyright©Tartelette 2008 Choux Beignets and Apricot Curd:

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
canola oil for frying

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.
Heat the oil to 360F in a medium pan (I use a 8 inch cast iron) and scoop small rounds of dough that you drop into the oil. Fry until golden brown on each side. Drain on paper towel, serve with the apricot curd if desired.

For the Apricot Curd:
1 cup apricot nectar
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp lime zest

Combine the zest, sugar, nectar in a saucepan, and bring to a simmer. In a small bowl, beat the eggs until light. Beat some of the apricot mixture into the eggs to temper. Scrape the mixture back into the saucepan and cook stirring constantly until it thickens up, about 5 minutes. Let cool to room temp and use to fill the cake.Strain and refrigerate, covered with plastic wrap until ready to use.

Choux Beignets-Copyright©Tartelette 2008

Macarons 101 In Desserts Magazine

Desserts Magazine #2 – Macarons 101 (click)

To say that I love Vera, the editor for the digital Desserts Magazine is a small word! She asked me a while back if I wanted to contribute a picture and recipe for their first digital magazine (The Creme Au Nutella) and we have been chatting almost daily via emails. When she asked me if I wanted to write a macarons tutorial for their second edition with step by step pictures, I immediately jumped on it given the numbers of emails and questions I kept getting from readers…and you know that nothing makes me happier than to give back the love and support you all show me day in and day out.

Voila! It’s out! A whole 8 pages (36-43) full of guidelines, tips and pictures to help you on your macaron quest! I am laughing at the way I am holding the pastry bag….ehehe but between the making and taking the pictures on timer my brain lost track!! For the article I focused on the French meringue based macarons but my French buddy Mercotte wrote a wonderful tutorial on the Italian meringue method a few weeks ago. Now, you can’t say we don’t have you covered, can you?

Macarons-Copyright©Tartelette 2008
Now, go look at that magazine and get inspired by all the wonderful recipes and pictures that favorite bloggers of mine have contributed, starting with my favorite painter Carol who did the cover and also JenJen, David, Peabody, Molly just to name a few!

I am looking forward to upcoming issues where I will be contributing a few more things and not only recipes! I am looking forward to talking shop with Vera every day as they share the same love for good food, good styling and professionalism. Great job guys!
Now, if you’ll excuse me I have got some reading to do…and I think she knows I get a giggle when I hear that "swish" sound whenever I flip the digital page!

P.S: I am passing along to Vera all your comments about zooming and Firefox and others. Thank you for the feedback!
Update: zoom feature is working!

Chocolate Mocha Cake

Choco Mocha Cake-Copyright©Tartelette 2008
Because we both work odd hours and often during the weekend, some Mondays offer the luxury of a quieter day. A day I like to spend outside or in my favorite room in the house, the guest bedroom. When we built the house, we designed the entire upper floor ourselves and B. did an amazing job at it, it really feels like a separate apartment complete with a reading/library space, office and large bathroom. We like it so much that we sometimes sleep upstairs and it does feel like a mini break. I set up a little photo studio up there and with views of the trees and the water ahead, it s very soothing for the soul and the spirit. Last Monday, we decided to shut away from the world for a little while and recharge our human batteries by taking a nap upstairs. He woke up before I did and when I opened my eyes, he was sitting at the desk, reading old books, savouring the warmth of the three o’clock sun entering the room. I went downstairs, made us a pot of coffee (we both at gigs that night) and cut a few slices of the Chocolate Mocha Cake I had made on Sunday night. I set both in front of him, sat on the bed with my book and we both smiled.

We had managed to shut the world away for a few hours and take a mini vacation, complete with reading, cake and coffee. Moments like these are truly a blessing, don’t you think? We are in full speed again as the week goes on and weekend draws near but all week long I knew we both thought about those couple hours stolen away from the hustle and bustle whenever we felt a moment of stress and anxiety. Spring in the South is truly a moment to be savoured and taken advantage of because it won’t be long before you feel the wrath of heat and humidity that makes you feel all sticky and slow all day long. I know, I know, with the bounty of fresh strawberries, watermelons and other produce out there right now, I could have gone a lighter route, but there is nothing like chocolate cake to enhance a feeling of comfort and well being.

The making of the cake started kind of backward, with the buttercream actually. In one of our many French tutoring Sunday mornings, Veronica and I were discussing the many different kinds and virtues of buttercream (I told her my theory that Ina Garten’s perfect camera glow comes from buttercream). I told her I was addicted to Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Mousseline Buttercream and she told me she was addicted to her egg yolk buttercream. As often, our phone conversation ended with an email swap of recipes, and I filed the buttercream recipe away…until Sunday night. I made it without a precise dessert in mind, thinking I would find something during the week to use it with, and I realised after tasting it that it’d better be sooner than later or there would not be a whole lot left given the way we were digging our spoons in it! I agree with Veronica that the addition of a good dose of vanilla bean paste really makes it taste like soft vanilla ice cream.

So I had the buttercream, I needed cake right? It was now, Sunday night past 11pm and B. had already retreated to the bedroom, so no option to use a mixer at that point. I fixed my easiest one bowl, no mixer cake recipe and proceeded to make a Swiss roll type cake. Once baked and cooled, I filled it with the buttercream flavored with coffee, covered it with a milk chocolate glaze and showered it with chocolate sprinkles. After a night’s rest in the fridge, the cake was ready for our little break at home Monday afternoon. The buttercream is not cloyingly sweet and the cake batter makes a very light spongy cake, perfect for a snack or to feel somewhat virtuous about a little coffee break!

Choco Mocha Cake-Copyright©Tartelette 2008
Chocolate Mocha Cake:
Serves 8-10 (Makes 2 medium or one long)
Printable Recipe

For the cake:

1 stick butter

2 tsp instant coffee

3/4 cup water

100 gr. chocolate

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1 1/4 cup all purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

2 Tb cocoa powder

In a large saucepan set over low heat, stir together the butter, instant coffee, water, chocolate and sugar until smooth. Remove from the heat and let cool 10 minutes.

Whisk in the egg, flour, baking powder and cocoa powder until incorporated.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, lightly coat with cooking spray. Pour the chocolate cake batter in the baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes at 375F. Do not overbake or it will crack when you roll it. Check after 12-15 minutes, if it springs back when you touch it, it’s done.

Remove from the heat, cover with a towel and let cool a few minutes.

Cover with a sheet of parchment paper and unmold on the kitchen counter. Peel the bottom parchment layer that is now your top, roll the cake without filling with the parchment paper from the long side to give it some form and elasticity for when you fill it with the buttercream. Let cool completely.

Mocha Buttercream:

6 large egg yolks

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

4 sticks of butter (don’t roll your eyes, you won’t feel it:))

Butter should be soft but nor mushy (65F)

1 Tb vanilla bean paste

2 Tb instant coffee dissolved in 1 Tb hot water

In a stand mixer or with a hand held one, whip the egg yolks for a minute.

Boil water and sugar until the temperature reaches 238F on a candy thermometer.

Slowly pour the hot sugar syrup over the egg yolks on a steady stream, continue beating the yolks until pale in color and cooled. Beat in the softened butter until the buttercream is smooth a

and together. Add the vanilla bean paste and the coffee, beat a few extra seconds until incorporated.

For the ganache:

300 gr milk chocolate

3/4 cup heavy cream

Bring the cream to a boil in a heavy saucepan. Pour over the chocolate. Let stand a couple of minutes and then stir carefully until it is incorporated and smooth.

To assemble:

Unroll the cake from the parchment paper, fill with the buttercream (you won’t use it all). Reroll the cake, cut it in half (so it does not seem like a Yule log, but more like a Swiss roll). Set each half on a wire rack set over a piece of parchment paper. Cover with the ganache and douse with chocolate sprinkles. Refrigerate to set.

Choco Mocha Cake-Copyright©Tartelette 2008

Warm Berry Crumbles And Fromage Blanc Ice Cream

Berry Crumble-Copyright©Tartelette 2008
I meant to post this yesterday but I found out that home improvements seriously interferes with blogging. Noting like holding crown molding with one hand and typing with the other, right?!! We decided to tackle the little things we skipped when we built our house (and I mean "we" as owner/builder), exhausted after 15 months spent on a dream and ready to relax on the sofa with a book and a cup of tea. In that spirit, it looks like my friend Inne from Vanille & Chocolat might be coming to the end of her DIY home improvements and share with us this lovely Lemon And Lavender Cake. I am mentioning this, because in the world of food blogging, two things that will never cease to amaze me in the awesome sense of community and incredible friendships that we create. We take notice when somebody does not update for a while, we inquire about certain recipes and enthusiasm and support are kings! Having this cookbook giveaway this past weekend was a way for me to pass on the goodwill and tell you how much I appreciate your support and readership. two things that push me to improve in all aspects of life.
With this said…I am happy to announce the winner of the Nestle dessert cookbook: Congratulations to Kelli from Life In General, in Texas! Send me your mailing address at marinette1 @ comcast . net and the book will be on your way! Thanks to all that participated, it was really great to read about all your favorite cookbooks and I have since added a few to my wish list.

This weekend was what I consider typical April weather, well the kind of days I grew up with, and that makes me very nostalgic about home and my family. Sunny and windy, warm and inviting, with fresh and fragrant smells of blooming trees. The kind of weekend that makes you want to kiss the familiar comfort of winter goodbye and embrace the warmer days ahead. When C. called to get together as we do on most Saturdays (oyster roasts, bbqs, etc…) to ask what I was bringing for dessert, I said "I have got ice cream churning, still figuring out the rest"…which was a complete lie but I don’t like telling her what I am bringing ahead of time, spoils the fun of having dessert, don’t you think?

This Warm Berry Crumble With Fromage Blanc Ice Cream was completely in sync with the day itself and inspired by one of my favorite cookbooks, the "Larrousse Des Desserts" by Pierre Herme (I know, I know…him again). No oven was turned on and yet it sent us back to the few colder days we had: the berries are cooked on the stove with a splash of olive oil, white balsamic vinegar and a dash of cracked black pepper, the crumble part is just crushed ginger snap cookies (crumbled graham cracker sheets work great too). I used a mix of strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries, basically whatever I had in the refrigerator that day that needed to get used pronto. Next time I might add a bit of rhubarb to it, it is so beautiful this time of year and I go through pounds of it like mad in April and May.

The promise of warmer days called for some ice cream to top the crumble with, and I went for one of my new favorites, fromage blanc ice cream. One of the things I miss the most about home is having "fromage blanc" at the end of a meal with a fruit (typical dessert in my family) or in the morning with some granola on top. You can find it at nicely stocked health food stores, or even online, but it can cost an arm and leg (money I’d rather save for the increasing price of flour lately). Thus, I started making my own at home following this recipe, and keep it well covered in the refrigerator. In a pinch, I found that Greek Yogurt works great for the ice cream, both have similar texture and taste, and I realise that not everybody is considering buying a cow and a goat like I am sometimes so I could have all my favorite dairy product readily available.

Beryy Crumbles-Copyright©Tartelette 2008 I already talked about how cancer affected my life by taking away family members and friends, but one thing occured to me while I was making these: they are packed of wonderful nutrients and essentials vitamins and minerals. Berries are natural superfoods, full of radical fighting agents and the yogurt or fromage blanc is packed with digestive building bacteria, all crucial for healthy living. I hope that Chris from Mele Cotte will agree and include these in her Cooking To Combat Cancer Event.

Warm Berry Crumble With Fromage Blanc Ice Cream:
Serves 6
Printable Recipe

For the ice cream:
400 ml water
240 gr. sugar (about 1 cup)
zest and juice of one lemon
350gr. fromage blanc (or use store bought or Greek yogurt)

In a large and heavy saucepan, bring the water to a boil with the sugar, zest and juice of the lemon, until the sugar is dissolved. Let cool completely. Add the fromage blanc and and whisk until well blended (it is ok if it appears to separate, it will come together in the ice cream process). If you have an ice cream maker, freeze and process the mixture according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
If you do not ave an ice cream maker: freeze the mixture for a couple of hours, take it out and give it a good whip either with a stand mixer or a hand held blender, repeat the process a couple of times, every two hours.

For the crumbles:
1 – 2 cups coarsely crushed ginger snap cookies or graham crackers (amount will vary according to the size of your dishes and how "crumbly" you want to get versus the amount of fruit)
2 cups mixed red berries
1 Tb olive oil
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tb white balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp cracked black pepper

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat, add the berries and cook just until they start to soften. Remove from the stove and add the vinegar and black pepper.
Sprinkle some cookie crumbs at the bottom of your glasses or dishes, divide the berries evenly on top, add some of the juices too. Top with some more crumbs of desired and a scoop of ice cream.

Berry Crumbles-Copyright©Tartelette 2008
What next? I am off to check out my two adoptee bloggers, because I have been a bad godmother and need to see what delicious goodies they have made lately!

Ispahan Cupcakes And A Cookbook Giveaway

Ispahan Cupcakes-Copyright©Tartelette 2008
Before I talk about these cupcakes, I need, I have to, I must and want to thank you all who visit this site and leave fun and thoughtful comments. I am overwhelmed each time you wish to share something with me. I try my best to visit as many bogs as I can but I always seem to run out of time. I apologize if I am sporadic in my visits on your sites. I try to give, share and support and I just wanted you to know that I am sorry if you don’t always see me around in a timely manner. You guys are the best!

The cupcakes? Oh, yes….I did say in my last post that the next one would be about cupcakes, didn’t I? For the cookbook giveaway, you have to either read this until the end or scroll down to the bottom.

One of my friends just had a baby a few weeks ago, a little preemie named Rose. Now that mom and baby are back home and settling down into their new routine, we decided to throw them a very special "Welcome Home" since the birth and following days were rather traumatic for the both of them. A soon as her husband called me to ask if I could take care of the dessert table, I knew I would have to make little Rose, Ispahan cupcakes, inspired by Pierre Herme famous macarons dominated by flavors like rose, raspberry and lychee, and that he now spreads to a whole array of creations.

Rose is a precious baby in all aspects of the word, and since she is a preemie, her parents decided to have a donation box by the dessert table to contribute to the amazing work done by the March Of Dimes foundation. In my case, I am virtually sending these to Holly who graciously shared her story with us to spotlight this foundation by organizing a Little Wonders Event. Holding Rose in my arms was a very emotional moment for me, that little wee bittie girl fighting so hard to be part of this world just made me melt and the least I could do was to try to make it a comfortable place.

Back when my mother was here in February I baked his Ispahan Cake from his latest book "Confidences Sucrees". The cake was so good it was gone before I could take a picture, which in a way was not that bad since I had to use a bright pink colored rose extract that made the cake a little too fashion forward for my taste. For the cake a mix of rose water and rose essence works best so as soon as my new stash arrived I put the idea of making the cake into cupcakes into action. If you can’t find rose essence, add more rose water which you can find in health food stores or Asian grocers. The cake recipe was great but not fit to be used as is into cupcakes, instead I use a basic white cupcake batter to which I added almonds and a good dose of rose flavor. Hidden inside the cupcake is a whole lychee to stay true to the original Ispahan macaron and the frosting is my tried and true cream cheese frosting enhanced with raspberry puree to keep up with the whole rapsberry-rose idea.

I understand that not everybody like lychees as much as I do, and I understand it is an acquired taste and texture but if you can find fresh ones, go ahead and use these, the canned ones are awfully sweet. For the cupcakes I had to use canned lychees which I rinsed off a couple of times under cold water and patted dry before incorporating to the cupcakes. Same things with the raspberries, use jam or preserve instead of fresh but reduce the sugar in the frosting a little. I just loved these and given the empty box I came back with, I think they went quite well! I can’t wait for Rose to be old enough to have one instead of watching a bunch of adults passing these in front of her nose!!

Ispahan Cupcakes-Copyright©Tartelette 2008 Ispahan Cupcakes:

Makes 24
Printable Recipe

1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup ground almonds
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup rose water
1 tsp rose essence (if available)
24 whole lychees (or 24 halves if they are big)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 24 cupcake liners with cooking spray and set them on a baking sheet.
In a small bowl, combine the flours and set aside.In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the milk and rose water. Do not overbeat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended. Carefully spoon half the batter into the liners, place one lychee int he center and top with the remaining batter, leaving a two inch space to the top as the cupcake will rise. Bake for 20–25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 cup raspberry puree (run enough fresh raspberries in the blender to make up 1/2 cup)
or use 1.5 cups powdered sugar with 1/2 cup raspberry jam.

In bowl of electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter, on low speed, until very smooth with no lumps. Gradually add the sifted powdered sugar and beat, on low speed, until fully incorporated and smooth. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip with the frosting and pipe on the cupcakes. Top with a fresh raspberry.

Ispahan Cupcakes-Copyright©Tartelette 2008
Now…..The cookbook giveaway I mentioned at the beginning. I find myself with an extra copy of this book and thought to share it with one of you. It is full of great recipes for cakes, pies, cookies and brownies made famous by the folks at Nestle, both American and International.

All you have to do is leave a comment (and why not tell me about your favorite cookbook at the same time) and I will let the random generator pick the lucky winner, anywhere in the world by Monday night.

Coconut Pana Cotta – Warm Lemon Poppyseed Cake, Yuzu Mandarin Sauce

Coconut Panna Cotta-Copyright©Tartelette 2008 In both my jobs, I work freelance, which means that on Sunday night, the upcoming week on the calendar looks one way and by Tuesday night all the little blocks are filled, scratches and arrows everywhere. By Wednesday morning one side of the fridge (B. has an aversion for magnets and other knickknacks on the front) is completely covered with "production sheets" such as menus, sitting charts,plating,order forms, invoices,…. One could say that my fridge is my office. Where am I going with this?

On Sunday night I looked at the calendar and thought this week would be nothing as busy as the week before, which left me a little uncomfortable. I get paid by the event, the gig, the class, the training, which means that a slow week gives me some rest but does not help the pocket book. I admit, I needed a break, it helps regenerate the creative juices and there are a ton of household things awaiting my attention. I am also trying for some extra greens as I have a certain VIB (Very Important Blogger) coming to visit in a few weeks and I want to be free to spend on foods and shopping while she is here. I looked at the schedule and said out loud "now is when I need that one easy high paying dinner party…Oh a girl can dream!" That sort of things never happen to me usually, well, maybe once or twice, like when Andie McDowell had dinner at the restaurant and left the staff a huge tip for the "exquisite" (her words) meal she had…and that was years ago! Let me tell you, men and women alike in the restaurant were in awe of her beauty…gosh that hair!!

Anyway,back to this Coconut Pana Cotta-Warm Lemon Poppy Seed Cake and Yuzu Mandarin Sauce. Quite a long title I know, and not something I would make for us during the week unless I were working on a project, which I was by Monday night. I got a call from one of my favorite clients who decided to celebrate his and his wife 25th wedding anniversary with a dinner for 30 under the theme "East Meets West", as he is American and she is Vietnamese, and would I want to take care of the desserts? I love working at their house, big, equipped to the ceiling, modern yet cozy and rarely used because they eat out more than anything. They are also very generous and fun which made me look at the sky, say "Thank you Big Guy" and promptly accept.

Two minutes afterwards, I started getting a little anxious: I don’t know that much about Asian desserts, I read a lot of Asian blogs, I know Asian flavors but I had to incorporate Eastern ones with it, and hopefully do it tastefully. Instead of marrying one dessert of each continent on a plate and hope for the best, I drew my inspiration from flavors and textures. What you see in this pictures is what will be served Friday night and after the initial test run with B., the client, and the other chef working the main, I think we are on track. If I could put my hands on fairy floss, I would use it to decorate the top of the panna cotta but no such luck here.

I realised at the same time that the dessert fits in with the latest Sugar High Friday, themed "Asian Sweet Invasion" hosted by Amrita from La Petite Boulangette. On with the recipe…

Coconut Panna Cotta-Copyright©Tartelette 2008 You can make all the elements separately and eat them as such, and although it seems like a lot to do for desserts, they come together quickly and you can spread your work over a couple of days if you want. The pana cotta is a cinch to make and I let the coconut milk infuse with a bag of white tea for extra flavor and one chopped lemongrass stalk. The lemon poppy seed cake is made with a mix of all purpose flour and semolina which gives it a nice crunchy bite. The sauce is puckery and sweet at the same time with extra poppy seeds which soaks into the warm cake making sure you get a soft bite and not a mouth full of cake against the panna cotta. Yuzu juice is not difficult to find online and goes a long way but you can substitute a mix of lemon and lime juice for it. If you want to read more about Yuzu, go check the article Kalyn wrote for Blogher a couple of days ago. The panna cotta rests on a peach chip since I had leftover peach puree from the peach ganache for the macarons I made the other day. For the technique to make fruit chips, read this post where I made raspberry one the exact same way.

Coconut Pana Cotta-Warm Lemon Poppyseed Cake and Yuzu Mandarin Sauce:
Serves 8
Printable recipe

For the Pana Cotta:

2 cups coconut milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup sugar
zests of 1 lemon and one lime
2 stalks lemongrass, roughly chopped
1 teabag white tea
4 teaspoons powdered gelatin bloomed in 1/4 cup water (means to pour the water over the gelatin and let it sit while you prepare the panna cotta)

Combine all the ingredients, except the gelatin, in a saucepan over medium high heat and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and let the cream to steep for 20 minutes. Pass the mixture through a sieve or a chinois, heat the gelatin in the microwave for 15 seconds and quickly stir it in the cream mixture. Divide it evenly among small dishes (I used brioches molds). Refrigerate and allow to set at least 3 hours or overnight. To unmold, dip the bottoms in hot water for a minute and invert to unmold onto a piece or parchment paper, they will be easier to scoop.

For the Lemon Poppy seed Cake:

1 cup semolina flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 Tb baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup egg whites (about 3-4)
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup lemon juice
grated zest of one lemon
1 Tb poppy seeds
1/2 cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 300F. In a bowl, combine all the ingredients for the cake, except the butter. Mix with a whisk until smooth. Add the butter and nix until it all comes together. Pour the batter into 8 small buttered molds, or 3 inch metal tart shells. I used scalloped silicone cake forms. Bake for 20 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes back clean. To reheat before serving, pop them in the microwave or back at 300F for 5 minutes.

For the Yuzu Mandarin Sauce

1/2 cup Yuzu juice
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp poppy seeds
1 Tb butter
1 cup mandarin section (although I used fresh, you can sub. canned if you wish. Grapefruit or tangerine sections work nicely too)

Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil for 10-15 seconds and remove from the heat. Add the mandarin sections. Use at once. Make it at the last minute and serve it hot with the dessert so that you get a wide spectrum of temperature.

To Assemble:
Pour some sauce at the bottom of each plate, place a warm cake in the center, top with a peach chip, top with a pana cotta and decorate with a mandarin section if desired.

See, it looks a lot more labor intensive than it really is, which works great for me when I make 30 for my client’s "intimate dinner" (!) or 8 for us and a few friends. Ok, so next post will be cupcakes…just because I don’t want to scare you away!!

Coconut Panna Cotta-Copyright© Tartelette 2008

A Taste Of Yellow 2008 – Tropical Fruit Verrine and Peach Macarons

Verrines and Peach Macarons. Copyright©Tartelette-2008 There are many events I like to participate in but there is one I would not miss for the world: LiveStrong Day With A Taste Of Yellow launched and hosted by Barbara from Winos and Foodies . Last year 149 bloggers from all over the world answered her call to celebrate life, remember our loved one who passed away from cancer and this year I have no fear that more will rally on May 13th to support the LiveStrong Foundation. I have previously talked about my brother passing away at an early age from cancer and then my grandmother a few years later. There is not a day that goes by without their memory influencing my thoughts, my choices and my attitude. I laugh more, I try not to sweat the small stuff (does not mean I succeed all the time) and I live and love stronger, for me and others. I tried to write this post all weekend long but everytime my eyes got cloudy and my heart heavy, no exception this very minute. I miss Thierry, I miss Mamie Paulette. I wish I could write a more eloquent post to their memory but I can’t even write the word cancer without hurting. The anger and disbelief has given way to sadness but last year I did manage to write some about it which you can read here.

Instead I want to focus on the woman behind the event, Barbara. Although I have never met her in person, I like to believe that we would be good friends if we were neighbors. I first "met" Barbara when I sent her a package during one round of Blogging By Mail….all the way to New Zealand! We kept in touch through emails, we discovered more about each other as the months went by and she is in my thoughts just about everyday. She has her own battle with cancer to fight and yet she never cease to amaze me by dropping me a line or sending me a little package when I come here and open up about some of my "mishaps". Thank you for being here, for being fierce, for being strong, for being such a support when I needed a little boost.

When she launched Taste of Yellow this year, she added a little photo contest opportunity with the request that our picture had to feature the yellow cancer wristband. Name your color, I got it, but in this case when I went to get mine wrapped around Teddy The Mini Bear I discovered that this ferocious beast had a field trip with the bear and the bracelet. I got online and figured I would order a bag of 10 and give them out to friends and family and right after I hit "buy", an email from Barbara came in reading that she had some and would I like her to send me one (from Australia this time, because she moved) Yep, Ma’m! I gave the whole bag I purchased away and kept hers for the photo shot and away from the beast of the house! Thank you my dear, macarons look great wrapped in yellow! The "funny" thing this year is that LiveStrong day falls on my birthday, a date my brother never missed although he was completely in his own world when it came to dates and celebrations. Life has a way to remind you of the big things doesn’t it?

Allright, what about Barbara’s event and the food…. It has to be yellow for one and since it has been in the 80sF around here lately I decided not to turn the oven on too long and make something refreshing. A tropical "verrine" of mango, fruit salad, and whipped Greek yogurt with peach ganache macarons…yellow, yellow…Of course I had to stick a macaron in there..eheheh!! That went down so easy last night as we were sitting on the porch, reminiscing about the first time B. met my bother in Montmartre in front of a big bowl of spaghetti and the first time he met my grandmother at her house in front of one of her famous tarts and a cup of tea. Great memories…the best (someone pass me a Kleenex).

I need to add after reading several comments that you do not need a yellow wristband to enter the event, it is just to take part in the photo contest. However, purchasing one or several through the Lance Armstrong Foundation will help fight this nasty disease.

Verrines and Peach Macarons. Copyright©Tartelette-2008
Tropical Fruit Verrines With Peach Macarons:

Printable Version

For the verrines (serves 4)

2 mangoes

2 Tb lime juice

1 pint fresh raspberries

1 cup diced fresh pineapple

2 kiwis, skinned and diced

1 bananas, skinned and diced

1 cup Greek yogurt

1 cup heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks

For the bottom layer, peel the mango and cut in rough chunks, run them through the food processor with the lime juice until you obtain a fine puree. Divide it evenly among four glasses or dishes.

Peel and dice the remaining mango and mix it with the other fruits to get a nice fruit salad, add a couple of Tbs of lemon juice to prevent the fruits from turning brown if you want. Divide on top of the mango puree evenly among the glasses.

Mix the Greek yogurt and the whipped cream and top each glass with it. Sprinkle with crushed sugar cookies if your desire. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

For the Macarons shells:

3 egg whites (I like to use 1-2 day old egg whites)

50 gr. granulated sugar

200 gr. powdered sugar

110 gr. ground almonds

1 drop yellow food coloring

1 drop red food coloring

For the whites: the day before (24hrs), separate your eggs and store the whites at room temperature on 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 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 combine your almonds with it evenly. Add them to the meringue, give it a quick fold and remove some of the batter that will remain uncolored. Add the food colorings to the rest and 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 baking sheets. Preheat the oven to 300F. Let the macarons sit out for an hour to harden their shells a bit and bake for 8-10 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. Pipe or spoon some ganache on one shell and sandwich with another one.

If you use fresh whites, zap them up in the microwave on medium high for 20 seconds to mimic the aging process.

For the Peach Ganache:

150 gr good quality white chocolate

1 peach

75 ml heavy cream

Bring a small pot filled with water to a boil on the stove and cook the peach in it for a couple of minutes. Remove from the water, let cool, peel and chop into rough chunks. Run them through the food processor until you get a fine peach puree. Set aside.In a bowl set over a pot of simmering water, melt the white chocolate until completely smooth. Remove from the heat and add the heavy cream and peach puree. Gently incorporate all the ingredients together until your ganache is smooth. Refrigerate until of piping consistency and fill the macarons shells with it.

Ice Cold Lemon Strawberry Fraisier

An abundance of gorgeous strawberries and extra Grand Marnier Mousseline led me to create this little thing. I called it a Fraisier because it looks like one but that’s where the resemblance stops….although by taste it was just as good. Like the choux, a Fraisier is one of my favorite desserts, one I would push my mother to buy for Easter it looked so Spring-like. It usually is compose of a genoise, pastry cream, strawberries and topped with a thin layer of marzipan. Rich in composition and ingredients but light in texture like most French desserts tend to be. It seems like we have a knack to pack a million calories in a bite that seems as light as air!!

Here I was with the strawberries, the mousseline cream and no base but a serious hunkering for Meyer lemon. Lemon genoise? Lemon meringue?….hmm…decision, decision, hesitation….That was until I remembered a recipe for "The Best Damm Meyer Lemon Pound Cake" on the Saveur Magazine website. With a claim like that I had to check it out for myself!! I made the cake, patiently waited for it to cool so I could cut slices and then rounds to fit into pastry rings to build the cake, and then a very common thing happened: we started cutting into it like mad and before I knew it half of it was gone!! I managed to sneak it away from Mr.Tartelette promising an even better dessert made with it (better not mess up, right!). I have to tell you that in itself, the cake is indeed pretty damm good, and the Meyer lemon really made a difference from usual lemon pound cake but my favorite still is The Ultimate.

The weather has been really quite hot and humid lately thus I decided to go for a very cold, icy cold really, version of my beloved dessert with the ingredients I had on hand. To build the dessert I used my trusted 3 inch diameter pvc pipe rings lined with parchment paper, and all I had to do to unmold them was to slide them out and let them sit, covered, on the countertop for 20-30 minutes. It is indeed best to take them out of the freezer ahead of time so the cake has time to soften up a bit and you don’t chase your dessert around trying to break into the ice. The mousseline was perfectly thawed but still icy cold and holding its own while the cake was at the right consistency for you not to break your spoon on it.

I am sending this to Meeta’s Monthly Mingle, Spring Fruit Sensations, hosted this month by Abby of Eat The Right Stuff. Once you have the Meyer lemon pound cake and the Grand Marnier Mousseline then it is just a matter of assembly.

Ice Cold Lemon Strawbery Fraisier: Serves 4

8 thin slices from the Meyer Lemon Pound Cake
1/2 recipe for Grand Marnier Mousseline
1-2 cups sliced strawberries

Using the 3 inch rings or cut pipe as a guide, cut 8 rounds from the lemon cake. Line your ring with parchment paper, place them on a parchment line baking sheet, put a slice of cake in each ring at the bottom. Line the walls if the rings with the sliced strawberries. Divide the mousseline in half and divide one half evenly among the rings and tap the sheet on the countertop to make sure it settles in the rings. Top with another slice of lemon cake, pressing gently on the cream, top with the remaining cream and freeze.
To serve, take the rings out of the freezer, slide the cakes with the parchment paper out, remove the paper gently and set the cakes to thaw for 20-3o minutes. Decorate with cut strawberries (I added some coconut when B. was not looking)

Fraisier-Copyright Tartelette 2008
I also wanted to thank the judges in the March edition of Does My Blog Look Good In This, hosted by Sabra of Cookbook Catchall for awarding this picture (just to clarify, not the one above, click on the link to fnd out) with First place. I am amazed, happy beyond belief given the gorgeous photographs that were entered in the contest. Go check out the other winners, pretty nice eh?!! Thank you, thank you….I take great pleasure shooting the desserts I feature here and I constantly learn from all the amazing talents out there 🙂

Last thing before I forget again: a lot of you email me everyday about baking and lately a lot about macarons. I am not holding back on purpose but a tutorial with tips and steps by steps will be available soon. This is one of the trickiest item to trouble shoot through a computer screen and although I have helped already a few of you out there with those and other desserts, I wanted you to know that I appreciate your patience. You guys make my day!