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Madeleines de Commercy

Another rainy afternoon here. It is unbelievably hot throughout the day with bright blue skies above and when 4 o’clock rolls around so do the thunder, lightning and rain. The wind picks up, the clouds break in and it pours. Just enough time to bake and take a picture.
I felt like baking one of my comfort childhood snacks. My mom used to by them packaged from the store but once you have tasted homemade madeleines there is no going back.

A couple of years ago, my mom gave me this book at Christmas and I have made only a couple of the madeleines recipes in it. I have vowed to bake my way through the book, a couple of madeleines a week. The book is organized by season and month so as to make the best use of seasonal produce but nowadays items seem to be available year round (at least here in the US), which leaves you with complete baking freedom.

History behind these madeleines: in 1755, the pastry chef of Stanislas Leszczynski quit his job in the middle of the dinner service, taking with him all his cakes and pastries as well as the recipes. A young maid voluntered to bake the little cakes her grandmother used to make. This young maid named Madeleine, from Commercy, apparently saved the day!

Madeleines de Commercy, adapted from "Les Madeleines salees et sucrees de Sophie" by Sophie Dudemaine.

For 16 madeleines
2 eggs
130 gr. (4 0z) all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
130 gr. (4 oz) sugar
130 gr. (4 oz) butter

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Melt the butter either in the microwave or in a saucepan on low heat. Let it cool a bit.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip the eggs and the sugar until pale yellow. Add the flour and baking powder. Mix on medium high speed until everything is well incorporated, add the melted butter.
Pour one Tb. of the batter into the center of madeleine molds (I use silicone ones). Bake in the center of your oven for 4 minutes at 500, then lower the temperature to 400 and bake another 4 minutes.
Unmold as soon as they come out of the oven.

These are great with everything: jam, nutella, ganache, tea, coffe, milk….heaven!

My Little Secret

My idea of food heaven is raspberries, chocolate and whipped cream. I always look for ways to put them together and come up with total food porn. It was scorching hot today and while at lunch with my friend Sarah, we were devising plans on how to stay cool and fresh and the only thing that came to my mind was to eat a big bowl of fresh, plump raspberries…. we had to stop by the store on the way home and voila… 10 minutes top of baking and 1 hour later here it is:

Chocolate filled Raspberries and Cream:

I have to admit that I cheated for the crust and bought those mini graham cracker crusts. I brushed them with a beaten egg and put them in the oven for 10 minutes at 35o. I inverted them when they came out of the oven and let them cool completely. Tap the top gently until the crust falls from its aluminium case.

In the meantime:
Whip 1 block (8 oz) softened cream cheese with 1/3 cup sugar and zest of one lemon.
Whip 1/3 cup heavy cream to medium stiff peaks and gently fold into the cream cheese.
Spoon into the shells. Refrigerate until the cream gets a little stiff.

For the raspberries:
Prepare a simple ganache with 3/4 cup heavy cream heated up and stir in 1 cup chocolate chips. Let stand for 2 minutes and gently stir until all the cream incorporates in the chocolate. Refrigerate until of spoonable consistency. Fill a pastry bag with a plain tip and fil the cavities of some nice looking raspberries (1 pint was enough for 6 tarts). Let the ganache filled fruit get hard in the fridge.
When ready to plate position the raspberries on the cream and dust with powdered sugar.

I don’t want to know what these would be like with mascarpone…ok…I DO want to know!

Savory Recycling

You have probably figured out that I am all for food recycling. Well after Sunday Party, I had a load of mini grape tomatoes and mozarella kebabs left over, so I unrolled a sheet of pie crust (please don’t tell Martha) and got to work.

I marinated the tomatoes and mozarella in 1 Tb. olive oil, 1 Tb. balsamic vinegar and added one sliced vidalia onion, some black pepperput the mixture in the pie crust and let it bake at 350 for 45 minutes. It was great and easy dish with a side salad and scorching hot temperatures outside.

The Easiest Pie…Always

Here is my "to go/ no fuss/ never failed me" fresh fruit tart recipe.
Let me explain: when I was working full time at the restaurant, there were many a Saturday mornings that started with a light hangover, yes restaurant crews are known to enjoy the night life and then some… When you are faced with a busy weekend ahead, a headache and a load of creme brulees, nougat glace, chocolate mousses, apple tatins, cheesecake and others, a good fresh fruit tart has the tendency to be put at the bottom of your to do list, and it is quite a shame because a good fruit tart is just that: goooooood. It should be uncomplicated so as to put forth the freshness of the fruit yet interesting and bold in flavors so as to attract diners and gourmands.
I don’t know exactly how I came up with this one, after years of baking and reading magazines, cookbooks, one can develop, mix and match their own recipes and I am probably sure I came up with this one on one of my morning jogs (probably trying to sweat out some cosmos after a night out).
Long story short, you can use this recipe for every sort of fruit available. You can bake the layer of fruit on top of the tart with the filling, or lay unbaked ones once the ricotta mixture has cooked and cooled and the glaze on top can be made with any flavor of jam or jelly you enjoy. It is so incredibly versatile.

In this case it was a White Peach and Ricotta Tart with Blackberry Glaze

1/2 recipe Pate Sucree

For the ricotta filling:
1 container (16oz) whole milk ricotta
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
juice and zest of 1/2 lemon

For the fruit filling:
Your favorite fruit!
Here I used white peaches (about 5 medium ones, peeled, cored and cut into slices)

1 cup of your favorite jam or jelly heated for about a minute (microwave works fine)
Here I used blackberry.

You can do this pie 2 ways:
Pre bake the tart shell at 350 for about 10 – 15 minutes.
While it cools a bit, pour the ricotta in a big bowl, add the sugar, lemon juice and zest. Mix well. Add the eggs and whip until fully incorporated.
Layer the fruit on top and bake for about 45 minutes or until almost set (the center will still wiggle a bit, but will firm up in the fridge). Let the pie cool down for 30 minutes and pour the heated jelly on top. Refrigerate until completely cooled.

If you want to use fruits like kiwis or fresh berries, you can bake the ricotta filling first, let it cool completely and then layer the fruits on top, ending with a glaze like apricot, apple or orange jelly.

We have forked through 1/2 of it already….. I think the neighbors won’t get to try this one either…Sorry!

What a Party!

The party is over bu man did we have fun! There is a ton of food leftover. We had a lot of finger foods, the 2 grills were going full blast too. Beside the cake, I added a pan of fudgy brownies and some chocolate dipped strawberries. Seems like everybody had fun. It is our second home and our first housewarming party. Not that we live like hermits or anything but Mr. B was really rpoud to be able to show off his work and craftsmanship (I am proud of him too). I love birthdays and this was the best occasion not to miss his 50th.
Overall, I am tired but happy.

At Home…Catering…

for our home… Explanation: we are having a big party on sunday combining a housewarming party and a birthday. Our long time friends know champagne will flow for the hubby and our new friends will toast to the new house. We open our doors at 3pm, until… We have invited about 30 -40 people total. Therefore, I am catering my own party! Which is why you won’t see me much until next week. The party is Sunday, but I am doing a lot ahead of time like sundried tomato goat cheese turnovers, lemon shrimp canapes, wonton spinach quiche, spinach artichoke dip, chicken pate, salmon mousse in cucumber cups, Brie in puff pastry, different meats to go on the grill, and veggie sides…and finally Mr. B wanted a Red Velvet Cake with White Chocolate Frosting for his birthday.
I will try to take as many pictures as possible.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Cake

Here it is: cut, shared, eaten, almost gone. Layers of the lightest banana rum cake, peanut butter filling and dark chocolate ganache.

every recipe from Marcel Desaulnier’s book has been a delightful journey into chocolate bliss. Textures, flavors, combinations. Some recipe may sound heavy, like this one, and I was rather curious regarding the result, but it came out light and slightly tropical thanks to the rum. Definitely best served at room temperature.

Sugar Blurr

Is it the cake that makes the book or the book that makes the cake?
I got inspired to make Marcel Desaulnier’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Cake yesterday, and when I went to take a picture, my blood sugar content was probably so high that the paper and live items kind of melted together!

Weekend Dog Blogging

Tippy does not look convinced that we can get this whole new computers set up done right! I already gave up and wait on the Husband to get it. I took refuge in the kitchen to take care of some ripe bananas (again!)

Head over to Sweetnicks later on today for the latest Weekend Dog Blogging round up.

This and That

Sorry if I have not posted much lately but we are getting a whole new computer installation set up here and it is taking me a while to get acclimated to it. Needless to say that the current heat wave has not been conducive to baking and cooking either. But I did come up with a little dessert one night that I was staring at some fresh apricots starting to wilt and wrinkle.

Apricots and Almond Mousse:
Serves 2/3

For the Apricots:
Puree 4 apricots with a Tb of lemon juice and 2 Tb of sugar.
In a separate dish dissolve 1 1/2 tsp. powdered gelatin in 1/4 cup cold water.
On medium heat, warm up the apricot puree. Off the heat, stir in the gelatin until dissolved. Let it cool a few minutes before pouring into dessert dishes.

For the Almond Mousse:
Heat up 1 cup of almond milk over medium heat. In a separate bowl, dissolve 2 tsp. powdered gelatin. When the milk is hot, stir in the gelatin.
Let cool to the consistency of unbeaten egg whites.
In a separate bowl, whip up 1/2 cup of heay cream until slightly stiff. Gently fold this in the cooled almond milk.
Pour over the apricot gelee and refrigerate 1 hour. Decorate with fresh berries if you want.

This was nice and light for dessert under the heat!