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The Weekly Banana Post

You were probably on the edge of your seat wondering what had happened to the weekly banana recipe! Fear not, I got one, just delayed by other baking activities over the weekend. It kept me busy but also took me away from the ripening bananas and today they finally met their fate. I decided that they should not be the only one getting a little treatment and when the grocer handed me a couple of bruised, very ripe pears saying "I know you’ll be able to do something with them, nobody wants them" I knew my bananas would not get toasty alone! I am not evil, I just love the flavors of pears and bananas together. It is kind of tropical, kind of fall. I got inspired by reading several recipes over the internet and combined the recipe for my banana tart with this one for pear tart. Thank you Anne for providing the background for the recipe. For the crust, I used Tuyau’s recipe posted a couple days ago, just look at that crust! Thank you very much Mesdames!

Here is the final result of all these combination:

Banana and Pear Almond Tart:
Crust: (adpated from C.Felder)
200 gr. flour
90 gr. butter, very cold
1 egg
2 Tb. sugar
1-2 Tb. water

Combine flour and sugar, cut the butter and mix with your hand until you have a crumbly texture. Add the egg and mix quickly, add water if you fill the dough is too dry. Act quickly, the more you handle the dough the tougher it gets. Refrigerate 30 minutes.

Filling (adapted from Anne and myself)
2 ripe pears, cored, peeled and sliced
2-3 bananas, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup ground almonds
1 -2 Tb Calvados or brandy
1 cup sugar
1/2 stick softened butter
1/2 heavy cream

In a food processor combine the almonds through cream and process until smooth.

Roll your crust and fill either a 9 inch pie plate or 4 individual tart molds. The ones I used were about 4 inches in diameter.
Whether you make a whole pieor individual ones: pour the filling in pie crust, alternate slices of pears and bananas and bake at 350 for about 30-40 minutes.

Et voila! Dessert tonight! If B. asked for a cookie I am just going to have to smack him! They smell so good, I want one right now, skip dinner!

Cheddar Crackers and BBM Part 3

Yes, this process will see an end! Given the personality of the blogger I have been assigned, I decide to include something salty to my package as I heard that one cannot survive on chocolate and sugar alone (wonder why…). After my take on the very Southern Benne Seed Wafers with Flo Braker’s Sesame Spice Chips, I wanted to add cheddar cheese crackers. I thought about purchasing them through the same company that makes the benne seed wafers here in Charleston and I was standing at the cah registers with a little package of cheddar coins when my ever baking alter ego decided that I could come up with my own at home. I like those littel coins, don’t get me wrong but I am not sure how well these butter loaded (not an insult in this case) morsels would travel to a far away place. After much browsing online I finally settled on a recipe from Martha’s site. Since she had not let me down with her Double Chocolate brownies, I figured this recipe would be a good option. As always I decide to tweak it a bit.

These crackers are a good addition to a cheese platters because you can slather on some good cheese on there and they hold their texture (obviously we tried! What one has to do for blogging purposes!). I would not eat them on their own as they tend to be a bit on the dry side, but nibbled with a good wine, they are good.

Here is my take on her recipe:

Cheddar and Oregano Cheese Crackers, adapted from this recipe by Martha Stewart,

Makes 20 crackers

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoons dried oregano
3 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup (2 1/2 ounces) finely grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon milk

Combine flour, salt, pepper, and oregano in the bowl of a food processor; pulse to combine. Add butter; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add cheese; pulse until combined. With machine running, add the milk; process until dough comes together and is well combined.
Transfer dough to a work surface. Shape dough into a 2-inch-wide log. Wrap with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 24 hours.
Heat oven to 325°. Slice chilled log into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Transfer slices to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake immediately, rotating sheet once, until crackers are golden brown and firm in the center, 25 to 35 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool. Crackers may be made a day ahead and kept in an airtight container at room temperature.

Now, I have to vacuum seal everything and send this baby off!

Double Ginger Cookies & BBM Part 2

These are going to go into my BBM partner’s package…if I can hide them long enough from the Cookie Monster. I have been making these since I first saw them in Cooking Light Magazine in 2001. Back then I had just realized what cookie fanatic I had married, and I had decided to come up with healthier version of his favorites if I was going to bake that much. If he does not get his cookie fix, I have all the pencils heads chewed up! I bake this about once a week and yet I had never blogged about them before. So here they are, with my changes.

Double Ginger, adapted from Cooking Light

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

3/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger (I use 1/3 cup)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 1/4 cups sugar, divided

1/2 cup applesauce

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon grated lemon rind

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine flours and next 5 ingredients (flours through ground ginger); stir well with a whisk. Make a well in center of mixture. Combine 1 cup sugar, applesauce, and next 4 ingredients (applesauce through vanilla). Add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist; cover and chill dough at least 1 hour. I skip this step and add 1 Tb of water to the dough.
Preheat oven to 350°.
Lightly coat hands with flour. Shape dough into 24 balls (about 2 tablespoons each; dough will be sticky). Roll balls in 1/4 cup sugar. Place balls 2 inches apart on baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool 1 minute on pan. Remove from pan; cool completely on wire racks.
Note: These freeze well. Place cooled cookies in a heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag; store in freezer for up to 1 month. Thaw at room temperature.

I usually get more cookies, 30 – 32.

Note: You probably have noticed a change on this blog. I have decide to add Google Ads, not because I hope to make a buck with this blog, but because I have recently stopped my management position at the gym and teaching classes alone are not enough to finance my baking addiction ot my upcoming vacation to France. As Sarah from The Delicious Life says it : because sugar daddies don’t grow on trees.

Sesame Spice Chips & Blogging by Mail Part 1


When I decided to participate in this month’s Blogging by Mail, I had no idea how difficult it would be to come up with an interesting care package for the blogger I have been assigned. Duh! I don’t know anything about her/him and although it would be easy to throw a bunch of things together and mail it off, I want to be able to relate to her/him, their blog/writing/experiences. I want to peak her/his interest, broaden her/his horizons, appeal to her/his senses. It has been a very interesting adventure to say the least! I decided to include in my package some things bought and somethings made, hoping that everything arrives in one piece. I have not sent it off yet but should be able to do so by the end of the week.
One of the items I decided to include is a beloved treat at my house, Flo Braker’s Sesame Spice Chips.
When I first opened her book, Sweet Miniatures, some years back I knew I had struck gold. It is a pure gem for the avid baker, caterer or fervent holiday/function cookie maker. All the recipes have worked remarkably well for me and all her instructions are really clear and well written.This particular recipe comes together in a flash, makes a lot and the dough is piped rather than scooped.

Sesame Spice Chips, adapted from Flo Braker.
Makes 8 dozens (OK so we already had a few before mailing!)

2 cups unsifted all purpose flour (240 gr)
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. each ground ginger, allspice and salt
6 oz (1 1/2 sticks) butter, room temp
1 cup (200 gr.) sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup light molasses (I used honey)
5 oz. sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 35o degrees. Line as many baking sheets as you have with parchment paper.
Sift together the flour, soda, cinnamon and spices. Set aside.
In bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar and beat until creamy. Add the egg and incorporate well. Add the molasses and finally the flour/spices until thoroughly combined
Using a 16 inch pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch plain decorating tip (in a pinch, a freezer bag works fine), pipe half teaspoons of dough 1 inch apart on the baking sheets.
Using a damp pastry brush (or wet fingers slightly) flatten the cookies a bit. Sprinkle the sesame seeds over them. Bake for 8 minutes until they are flat, and dark brown.
Stack in an airtight container and store at room temp. up to a week.
Note: they freeze also really well.

Ok, so the recipe is not a fast one but as Monisha said before fast food is not necessarily one that is made fast, it is just eaten that way.
Trust me, these cookies are delicious!

Gourmandise…


I think I just got lucky this summer. It was my first summer in our new house and I felt lucky to spread my ingredients, doughs, batters on new countertops, play on the cooktop or admire the new convection oven capabilities. Despite of a very humid and hot summer my breads, rolls, tarts and sugar creations came out great. I was knocking on wood everytime though. Apparently I did not knock hard enough. Everything I made yesterday turned out to be a failure. I weighed, measured, stirred, sifted, followed recipes, did not disturb science and chemistry and yet everything failed in one way shape or form. Let’s see, first my donuts did not rise, my croissants got blah, my brownies tasted bland, my bread had an identity crisis…. I am telling you! A baker’s hell!
Allright, so maybe it was a sign that we did not need anymore sweets, that maybe my mojo had taken a vacation. Nevertheless, I am "une gourmande" and I have to end the day with something sweet. In desperation I started to make fruit salad, and that alone made me feel terrible: even with a splash of booze, it is nothing to write home about. I was about to cut up an orange when my eyes wandered onto the stack of recipes next to the fruit bowl and there it was, "The sign from the Pastry Gods": Anne’s recipe for an orange and almond cake that looked quite appealing at that precise moment. Everything looked pretty straightforward, no major pastry prouesse but in my state of being that was not a bad thing to attempt!
I toyed with the idea of following the recipe "a la lettre" (to the T), but I felt bold enough to defy my streak of bad luck and changed a couple of things.

Here is the original recipe and my changes in ( ).

2 oranges (mine were big so I only used one)
65 gr. butter
200 gr. sugar
5 eggs
150 gr. ground almonds ( I used half almonds, half semolina flour)
2 tsp. baking powder

Syrup:
200 gr. sugar
125 ml
water
1 orange

Wash the oranges. In a saucepan, put the oranges and cover with water. Cook on medium heat for 45 minutes. Take them out of the water, cut them in half and put them in the bowl of a food processor and puree them, skin and all.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Beat the butter and sugar until creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, the baking powder, the almonds and the orange puree.
Pour into a 9 inch cake plate and bake for about 45 minutes. (I put mine in 8′ square one)

For the syrup: put all the ingredients into a saucepan and reduce on low heat for about 20 minutes.
Pour it on top of the cake when you take it out of the oven.

I decided to skip this step as the cake seemed to be plenty moist. The result is an incredebly fragrant cake great to end a light meal or to start the day.
I seemed to have gotten my bad luck episode. We’ll see tomorrow!

La Festa Al Fresco


Two of my favorite bloggers are throwing a party and we are all invited! Yvonne from Cream Puff in Venice and Lis from La Mia Cucina wish to celebrate the end of the summer and are inviting everybody to participate by making a dish using one or more fresh summer ingredient(s).
While at the market today I found small plums, also known as prune plums or Italian plums and I fell in love with the way they felt in my hand. They were perfectly ripe, smelled wonderful, their skin was soft yet still resilient as if they did not wanted to let go of summer.
I did a really broad search for plum recipes and I finally settled on a plum crumble. What better way to say farewell to summer and get ready for the fall than with a crumble? I have a tendency to only make them in the winter or fall, because I do not really like cooked summer fruits. They are usually so good on their own that they never need much handling. I finally reconcialted my dislike of cooking summer fruit with this recipe. It is incredibly fragrant, yummy and oozing of plum juices. I found the recipe in the archives of the New York Times online, you can see it and the whole article here.

Plum Crumble, adapted from the New York Times.

12 Italian plums
2 Tb. brown sugar
1 1/2 Tb. plus one cup flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
2 Tb. finely chopped candied ginger
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 egg, well beaten
1/2 cup unsalted butter

Heat oven at 350 degrees. Mix together the brown sugar, 1 1/2 Tb. flour, cinnamon, ground ginger, and candied ginger. Add the plums and mix well. Arrange the plums, skin side up in pie plate, baking dish or your favorite dish.
Combine remaining sugar, baking powder, flour. Mix well. Stir in the egg. Use your hands and mix thoroughly to make little particles. Sprinkle the whole thing evenly over the plums. Melt the butter and drizzle over the dish.
Bake for 30 minutes or until brown on top. Remove and let cool. Serve ith ice cream with desired.

I am so excited about having this for dessert tonight!!

Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Cupcakes aka Heaven on a Plate


See, Mr. B has an issue with bananas: he only eats them if their skin is green, pale yellow or with very few blacks spots. He won’t touch them if they are getting soft or old. Even if I go to the store rather regularly, I usually grab 4 or 5 for the week instead of one each time and by the end of the week there are always 2 left that the man won’t eat. Although he likes my banana pie, I try to come up with other recipes. I did not want to make banana bread or banana muffins, I wanted to find a decadent cupcake recipe. I don’t make cupcakes often, but this time I had an audience (the husband, the neighbors, their boys….almost everybody on the block!). I decided to go to one of the best cupcake resources I know of in the blogging world, Chockylit at Cupcake Bakeshop. I did a search for bananas and found the recipe I wanted: Peanut Butter and Banana Chocolate Cupcakes with Caramel Frosting. Just the title makes me salivate! Since I can’t do everything exactly the same and since I had half a block of cream cheese leftover I decided to make a cream cheese frosting instead of her caramel one, but I am willing to make these again with the caramel! They are out of this world. Fudgy, dense, peanuty, just plain decadent! I made the cupcakes in the afternoon and frosted them the morning after. I left a bundle on the neighbors (3 houses) doorsteps.

You can find the original recipe here (scroll down, it is the second recipe) and visit her blog at the same time. I drool at her recipes, pictures and creativity. She is my cupcake hero!

Peanut Butter and Banana Chocolate Cupcakes

Peanut Butter Filling:
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup peanut butter
1 egg
Mix in brown sugar, peanut butter and egg in a small bowl and set aside.
Cupcakes: 24 cupcakes, 350 degree oven
11 Tbs. unsalted butter
9 oz best quality semi sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
5 oz best quality bitter sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 1/3 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 pinch salt
1/2 cup mashed banana (from 1 medium banana) (I used 2)
Melt butter and both chocolate over bain marie. Whisk together eggs and sugar. Add flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Mix to combine. Add melted butter and chocolate. Mix to combine. Stir in the mashed banana(s).
Fill cupcake tins about 1/3 full, drop a tsp. of peanut butter filling into each tin, top off with cupcake batter to about 2/3 full. Bake for 2o minutes or until a crust forms on the cupcakes.

I am not going to copy the caramel glaze recipe, but will give you mine for the cream cheese frosting:
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 stick butter, softened
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
milk if necessary to make the frosting to your desired consistency
Whip cream cheese and butter together, add powdered sugar, mix well and add milk if needed.
I have to admit I usually wing that one because I make it so often.
I notice that Cheryl makes it the same way.

These were made yesterday and they are gone! I found a straggler this afternoon
and into my belly it went (ah the joys of blogging, I am going to have to start running again!)

KKVKVK #12

KKVK what? It is the name of a blogging event held over by French blogger. Originally created by Manue, it is held this month by Ninnie of Mitaine Ecarlate. The theme this month was cheesecake.
I decided to go with individual cheesecakes because I could not decide on one flavor. There were too many I wanted to bake!
The KKVKVK is a fun game in which a theme is chosen for the month and awards given to the most tempting, good looking, downright good desserts. As with any blogging game, the interest (at least for me) lies in the joy of making something with the theme or ingredient given.

I was really turned on by this month theme, cheesecakes. Since I discovered this delicacy I cannot stop coming up with new flavors and twists on such a classic. At the restaurant I have an awesome basic recipe which allows me to change the fillings at will and come up with great stuff, like an upside down pinneaple cheesecake or a Tarte Tatin version. But this time, I could not make up my mind. Anybody who knows us would tell you that is no news (which explains why we can never decide on a restaurant and always end up with me at the stove, but that is another post).
There were only a few solution to my dilemna: bake 6 different cheesecakes and use one slice of each to make a sampler type cheesecake or make individual one with different flavors or toppings. I opted for the latter. Knowing that the batter would rise but fall upon cooling, I decided to leave them plain for the baking phase and top these ugly (really) yummy craters with various flavors: from left to right: homemade pecan praline, homemade lemon curd, fresh strawberries, chocolate ganache, honey roasted banana, homemade blackberry jelly.

Individual cheesecakes are great when you have a dinner party planned , an end of the summer picnic, or friends who know it’s 5 o’clock and you will certainly have something coming out of the oven.

Here is the recipe for the plain ones, be creative with the toppings. Don’t worry so much about the fillings because these shrink and sink after they come out of the oven, and you will be more preoccupied about "fixing them pretty", as S. says.

Individual cheesecakes, adapted from Gourmet Magazine

12 Vanilla wafers
2 (8 oz) pkges cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla

Lime a 12 cavity muffin tin with cupcake liners. Place 1 vanilla wafer in the bottom of each. Cream together the cream cheese and sugar, add eggs, one at a time and vanilla. Fill muffin tins 3/4 way full. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Let cool completely before removing paper liners.

Have fun with the toppings!
————————————————————————————————
Bon voila pour les ricains, maintenant pour les froggies.
Pour toutes celles/ tous ceux d’entre vous qui viennent sur mon site pour la premiere fois, "Bienvenue". J’habite aux USA depuis 10 ans maintenant, mariee a un Americain depuis 8 ans, et je sympathise bien avec Estelle quand on lui pose la question "how do you like it here?".
Ce blog, Tartelette, c’est pour me faire plaisir. Je fais de la patisserie professionellement et j’en fais encore durant mes jours de conge. Et oui, je suis tombee dans le chaudron quand j’etais petite! J’adore la patisserie, et puisqu’on est que 2, les voisins en profite, les copines et tous ceux qui m’entourent.
J’adore aller lire les blogs francais car ils me permettent de garder un lien avec mon patrimoine, que je me vois de plus en plus revendiquer plus mon temps ici s’allonge, bizarre comme la nostalgie vient nous envahir! Je vous lis regulierement mesdames/messieurs meme si je ne mets pas forcement de commentaires.
Depuis que je vois ce petit jeu du KKVKVK, je me dis que ej dois bien finir par me bouger ety participer, et quand j’ai vu le theme des cheesecakes, je me suis dit "yippy! J’en fais tout le temps, j’adore et j’ai des millions d’idees!"Nature, chocolat, noix, caramel, fruits, dessus, dessous, dedans, dehors, Tatin ou pas, le cheesecake se prete a desd myriades d’interpretations. Et la croute! N’oublions pas les 31 facons de faire la croute! J’ai gamberge comme une deratee et je me suis enfin decide a faire des petits cheesecakes individuels car je pouvais ainsi les couvrir avec les ingredients que j’avais sous la main.Voila ma recette, adaptee de Gourmet Magazine.

12 petits biscuits vanille (genre palets bretons, ca marche bien)
500 gr. cream cheese, mou
2 oeufs
175 ml. sucre
extrait de vanille
Dans le bol d’un mixer electrique melangez le cream cheese et le sucre. Ajoutez les oeufs et la vanille et melangez bien mais pas trop longtemps pour ne pas incorporer trop d’air.
Prepare des moules a muffins, en mettant des caissettes en papier dans chaque emplacement, mettez un biscuit dans le fond de chaque caissette et repartir l’appareil a cheesecake sur chaque biscuits.
Faire cuire a 189 degree celsius pendant 20 minutes environ et laisser refroidir avant de demouler.
J’ai chapaute les miens avec (de gauche a droite): praline au noix de pecan, lemon curd, fraises fraiches, ganache au chocolat, tranches de banane roties au miel, et confiture de mure.
Et voila! Ma premiere participation, et je l’espere pas la derniere!
A bientot de vous lire et de vous rencontrer peut etre un jour!


4 X 4


No, I did not start a construction business! I am just regressing in pure childhood memories and tastes. It must be the end of the summer that makes me nostalgic and longing for homely desserts. This season flew by. The particular name of this cake is the "Quatre Quarts". Each major component, butter, flour, eggs, sugar have to weigh the same and all four equal parts come together to make a whole of goodness. It is lighter than the American pound cake although the one my mom used to get at the store was close to an etouffe chretien, something so dense it could have "choked a Christian".
This recipe comes out of ones of the first cookbooks I received as a child, and pictured above. It was really neat to be able to see the dancing egg on the pages transformed into a talking character, helping me to whip up some goodies for the family. Some of desserts are quite daunting for a child, like cream puffs or genoise. This cake is really easy to come together and is a staple of most French household I know, much like the Yogurt Cake we learn to make early on. It is traditionaly baked into a loaf pan, but since I can never do everything like everybody else and I have a tendency de n’en faire qu’a ma tete (do things my way)

Here is the recipe from the book "Desserts en Dessins, la patisserie en bande dessinee"

Quatre Quarts

3 large eggs
same weight in flour
same weight in sugar
same weight in butter
1 tsp. baking powder

In a bowl, cream together the butter and sugar, add the eggs one at a time, and mix until the whole thing is pale white and very creamy. Add the flour and baking powder. Mix thoroughly. Pour into a 9 inch baking pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 40-45 minutes.
Note: add a tsp vanilla, or other flavoring of your choice. That day, I used coconut extract to celebrate summer.

Even my husband could make that! Yeah well, he probably does not because the kitchen is my terf!


Feeling Just Peachy!


Yesterday was just the kind of sundays we need once in a while. We got up late, had brunch, worked in the yard went to the movies and tried a new tapas restaurant. Needless to say I stayed in my pjs as long as I could…just because I could!
I took the time to read a lot of blogs, but on the weekend, when my brain is more at ease I really enjoy reading French blogs. I revel in the words, the phrasings. I laugh at expressions and idioms I have not heard in a while. I make notes of new ones. I feel these blogs keep me up to date with what’s going on in the food world over there, the latest food trends, restaurants, chefs, etc… but it is also a way for me to claim my territory, to expand people’s taste around me. Some blogs out there are also an inspiration for me to broaden my cooking horizons. I mostly blog about pastries and desserts but the world of bloggers inspire my daily to cook meals with an Asian, Australian, Russian, Italian, Spanish, German flair. French bloggers like to expand their own horizons also and cook some American influenced meals and pastries.

I found this particular recipe on one of my favorite blogs, Eggs & Mouillettes. A "mouillette" is a thin stick of bread that people use to dunk into their soft boiled egg. A bread fry if you want.
I like this recipe because it comes together in a pinch and can be easily adapted to any combination of fruit and spices. Once you have the base, the rest is really up to your imagination!

Peach and Cinnamon Muffins ( adapted from Fabienne)(I used peaches and cardamom)

2 eggs
100 ml milk
10o ml yogurt (I used all yogurt)
4 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla
4 peaches
300 gr. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp cinnamon
100 gr. brown sugar

Preheat oven to 360 degrees. In a bowl, combine the eggs, milk, yogurt, oil and vanilla. Add the brown sugar and mix well.
Dice 3 peaches, and cut one in thin slices that you will use to decorate the top.
Together, sift the flour, baking pwder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon. Add to the wet ingredients and add the peaches. Don’t overmix, it’s ok if it looks a little lumpy.
Pour into muffin tins and bake for 20 minutes.
I added a Tb. of wite sugar on top of each prior to baking to add a little caramelizing action.

These were easy, delicious and made good use of fine local Southern peaches.
Thank you Fabienne!