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Coconut Creme Brulee And Coconut Sorbet

I am sure your holiday baking is full of cookies and cakes and after spending a lot of time in the kitchen, the last thing you think about is more desserts. Well, what if I were to bring you these two-bite coconut creme brulees and coconut sorbet? Do I see a sparkle in your eyes again? Granted you have to like coconut to begin with but knowing you can keep the cremes plain or flavored to your taste is always a good thing.

Since the weather had been so nice and it felt more like a cool summer day than early December, I brought these along to our weekly get together with the neighbors. We were trying to get in full Christmas mode decorating C’s trees (the party was at her house), drinking egg nogg while the kids were making sandmen instead of snowmen outside. Yet, no one was in the mood for fruitcake, pumpkin roll or chocolate cake. I had just finished a batch of macarons for gift giving and was facing an evil amount of egg yolks, so creme brulees were the obvious choice.

My dear B. hates coconut with a vengeance, not the flavor but the texture, what he calls those gritty shreds, while I on the other hand love it…and love seems like a small word: the scent, the texture, the flavor…everything! I will always remember the day my dad brought a fresh coconut back to the house, piercing holes in it, the juice dripping down our chins, and cutting it open chopping its flesh out…nothing like what you find at the stores in pretty blue packages these days. The opening of the coconut was something of a ceremonial, much like the day he brought home papaya, scooped the seeds out,drizzled it with lime juice and handed a half to each of us…the best moment in a girl’s life: eating with my hands, with juice and fruit all over and not a care in the world!

Back to the creme brulees though. Since I had some coconut texture haters in the group,I decided to infuse the milk with the flesh ad pass it through a sieve prior to baking. The only shred of shreds (no pun intended) is the toasted coconut on top of the sorbet which you can omit if necessary. I used what C. had on hand, sweetened coconut so I reduced the sugar in the creme brulee batter and since it has caramelized sugar on top, I think you won’t really miss it either. The sorbet is a simple syrup mixed with coconut milk and processed in a ice cream machine but you can achieve a nice sorbet by doing as follows: freeze the mixture for a couple of hours, take it out and whip it in your mixer with the paddle attachment or a hand held mixer. Repeat a couple of times.

Coconut Creme Brulee And Coconut Sorbet:

Serves 4

For the Creme Brulee:
1 cup egg yolks (between 6 and 8 depending on the size of your eggs)
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup grated coconut (increase sugar to 1 cup if you use unsweetened coconut)
1/4cup brown sugar mixed with 1/4 cup white sugar for brulee topping

Preheat oven to 350F. Place 4 ramequins inside a roasting pan and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until pale yellow. Add the coconut. Heat the cream until scalding hot. Slowly whisk it into the egg yolk mixture, mix well,but ot too vigourously or you will add toomuch air. Pour into a container and let cool to room temperature,skim off the top foam if necessary. Pass the mixture through a sieve to remove the coconut and divide among the 4 ramequins. Pour water to about halfway up the sides of the ramequins and put the pan in the oven. Cook for about 15 minutes or until the mixture appear almost set,it should stillwiggleabit in the middle. It is ok to remove the pan from the oven at that point as the custard will continue to bake and set.
Let cool to room, cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.
Right before serving: divide sugar on top of each custard and use a blow torch to caramelise the top or put the pan under the broiler.
A good creme brulee is hot on top, room temp in the middle and cold at the bottom.

For The Sorbet:
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1 can coconut milk

In a saucepan, heat the water with the sugar until the sugar dissolves. Add to the coconut milk.Let cool to room temperature and process in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions, or use the hand held or mixer method described above.

Cappuccino Creams And Chocolate Madeleines

For a mere couple of days last week, it did feel like Fall, cool and crisp, under a cloudless blue sky, and then "pouf" we were back to temperatures of 75F and higher….No wonder the leaves don’t change colors and fall and winter fashion is always on sale around our parts! Well, as you may know, even after many years in South Carolina, I still long for the temperate climate of France, yes, even the rain and the grey winters. I envy people up north for their nippy cold mornings and their weekends shoveling snow… and feel free to smirk at me : "let’s trade places for a few weeks and that might cure your problem Mrs. Tartelette"…I know, I know…"the grass is always greener on the other side". In the meantime, I am left to pretending it is finally chilly outside and one way to do that is by persevering in making fall inspired desserts even with the grill working overtime for dinner.

I was organizing (well, at least I was trying to) my pile(s) of "must-try" recipes, when I came across one called "Coffee Pots" from Alana from Kitchen Parade. I already loved her savory dishes and sides so I figured her desserts would be winners too… and the creams were heaven. I had a bunch of egg yolks left over from a macaron baking session for a bridal shower and the recipe came in very handy as it requires just those, a bit of sugar, coffee and some liqueur. For the coffee, I have the bad habit to leave the coffee machine on as I head out in the morning resulting in triple thick mud by the time I come home in between training sessions. If you don’t have access to Tartelette’s Mud-So-Thick-Your-Spoon-Stands-Straight-In-It (C’s words, not mine), make a good cup of espresso or very strong coffee otherwise the coffee flavor will get lost in the baking process. Why did I name mine Cappuccino Creams? Simply because of the dollop of whipped cream and a dusting of cinnamon on top…and because B. seemed to respond to the name better and that would help me in not being left to eat the entire thing by myself (darn skinny jeans!).

I love a little cookie or piece of cake with my cream desserts (another reason why I loved the Bostini Cream Pie last month!) and made some really easy but very flavorful dark chocolate madeleines from the Queen of Madeleines herself, Sophie Dudemaine, to go along with the cream. Think deep dark fudgy buttons with a fancy names (oh yeah I love that Glade commercial… "haven’t you heard of Gladay?"!!) I wish they’d translate that book in English because it is demystifies the whole "madeleines are difficult cookies" idea that foreign cooks seem to have. The recipes are organized by season, relying on fresh and available produce, with sweet and savory madeleines. Some bakers will use some pretty intricate method to achieve that traditional madeleine bump, and I guess I never really paid attention to that fact, (much like when I made macarons for the first time), and I end up with bumps all over the place following her recipes. I know it may sound blazay or snotty what I just said, ( and believe me it is not my intention) but I firmly believe that a lot of mishaps in the kitchen are the results of unnecessary pressure that home bakers put on themselves. If you know the difficulty and think of it constantly, things won’t work as well as if you are aware of it, but shrug it off with a simple "What is the worst that can happen? Fiddo will eat it…" Trust me, baking is not rocket science…or I would not be doing it for a living!!

Cappuccino Creams And Chocolate Madeleines, adapted from Alanna and Sophie Dudemaine:

Serves 5

1 cup low fat milk
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 cup triple-strength coffee
5 egg yolks
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons Kahlua
whipped cream and cinnamon (optional)

Combine the milk, half and half and coffee into medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, but do not let it boil. Meanwhile, whisk yolks and sugar until they are pale yellow. Add liqueur and combine well.
A little bit at a time, add scalded milk to yolk mixture, whisking continuously. Arrange five ramekins in 9×13 baking pan and fill with milk mixture. Place pan in oven. Carefully pour very hot tap water (or boiling water) into pan until it reaches about halfway up sides of ramekins. Bake 30 – 45 minutes at 325F until just soft in center. Remove cups from pan, bring to room temperature, then refrigerate until cold and firm. To serve, add a dollop of whipped cream and a dusting of cinnamon to the tops.

Chocolate Madeleines:

Makes 16 cookies

2 eggs
80 gr. all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsps. baking powder
80 gr. sugar
80 gr. salted butter
15 gr. cocoa
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 425F.
Melt the butter in the microwave or over low heat. Let cool slightly.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar and cocoa. Separate the egg yolks from the whites. Add the yolks to the flour/cocoa mixture and whisk with a spatula. Break the egg whites with a fork, without making them foam. Add them to the flour/cocoa/egg mixture. Add the melted butter and vanilla extract. Whisk vigorously to incorporate everything.
Butter madeleine molds (I use dark silicone ones), and pour about one tablespoon of batter in each.
Bake at 425F for 4 minutes, the turn the oven down to 375F and bake for another 4 minutes. Let cool slightly and unmold. Repeat with the remaining batter.

Deconstructed Coconut Cream Pie For A Special Friend

I wanted to post this yesterday but somehow I kept starting over and over again, never satisfied with the angle I chose to tell you the story behind this dessert….the post itself is as deconstructed as the dish itself, much like the great story that goes along with it. So forgive me if this post has "ni queue ni tete" (literally "no tail nor head").

How did this dessert come about? If you have been following this little blog of mine this summer, you have read me say that the house was constantly filled with guests, good times, laughter, good eating and of course good drinking. The hotel Tartelette is now empty and it feels somewhat strange to have an evening by myself, starring at the dog who has been spoiled with so much petting! Our last guest was my very bestest friend Tim, aka Trouble coming to enjoy the last bit of sunshine before he’d have to face the cold weather of Cincinnati. We met while working at the same restaurant downtown. As the pastry chef, I always had the waiters try the special dessert of the day or refresh their memory with an item from the current menu. The rest of the kitchen crew used to love to butthead with them and I figured I could bring a little TLC with a bite of chocolate cake. Well, under Tim’s lead, there were a few of them endlessly coming back for seconds, which always resulted in getting me in trouble with the rest of the kitchen crew, hence his nickname. They were worse than a group of women on Midol with their sweet tooth, but what was I to do in front of killer smiles and batting eyelashes?!! We became instant friends, that was over 7 years ago and we have remained thick as thieves ever since. He’s seen me happy, in love, upset and has always lifted my spirits up. The first time I met him, I found him rather… can I say?…"deconstructed"? He thinks a million thoughts a minute, has many interests in completely unrelated fields, he’s been all over the place, and it seems that between the two of us, we are making a point at trying every job under the sun!! I have to add that it seems that we are both growing up lately and "deconstructed", although never a derogative term for him, is less of a personality trait these days.

As a "thank you" for putting him up for the weekend, he took us out to a renowned restaurant in town, Tristan. It was late Sunday evening so we were the only table in the dining room and enjoyed the spa treatment given by our waiter and hostess(es). Upon perusing the extensive food and wine menus we opted to have a table covered with appetizers as they sounded far more interesting and researched than the entrees and enjoyed a selection of 8-10, plus wine (both bottles made my hiney tingle…it was that good!). Hickory smoked lamb ribs with barbecue chocolate sauce, foie gras with pear and brie panini, Point Reyes cheese and huckleberries preserve, veal sweetbreads in perigueux sauce and truffle crust were among my favorites. But you know by now that I was really dying to sample the desserts! I was really dying to try the Spiced Beignets with coconut emulsion, Chinese five spice and passion fruit curd, but they were sold out…hmmmhmm. We combined our penchant for sweets and ordered the Warm Black Forest Cake with Kirsch spiked chocolate sauce and sour cherry chutney and a giant Citrus Panna Cotta on top of lemon curd and drenched in fragrant lemon-basil oil. I think this one never left my sight and I left the two boys with the chocolate. I am telling you…give me lemon and cream and I am happy!! Best panna cotta ever….

Ok, still nothing that relates to the Deconstructed Coconut Cream Pie of this post…well…Now I am getting to it. Between the appetizers and desserts, our waiter brought us a little palate cleanser: a tiny scoop of strawberry-kiwi sorbet….plated in the same cups you see in the pictures. All our dishes were brought forward in the most beautiful, so-great-for-blog-posts dishes that I wanted to keep several. I hung on tight to my little sorbet dish (per Trouble suggestion) thinking the waiter would forget about it but alas he removed it when I reached for my wine (darn French me!)….B. suggested we asked if we could purchase a couple for my blog, pictures, etc…brilliant! I asked how much they would charge me for one set and when I heard "5 bucks a piece", I exclaimed "Pack me up 3 please!!". Since Tim almost got me in trouble (I am telling you) for keeping one, he bought these for me as a hostess gift and a pack of Haribo strawberries for B. for almost putting his lovely Tartelette in jail!!

To properly thank Mr. Trouble for making my blog look good, I wanted to make one of his favorite desserts, coconut cream pie using my new dishes and I thought a deconstructed version would work best in this case. I did not have the chance to do it before he left, so it is a virtual taste for him, sorry! The recipe makes more than my three little dishes, so I assembled a larger one and took it over to the neighbours. If you know me a little from this blog, you have read me mention that B. can’t stand coconut, the shreds, not the flavor….so guess who was left to enjoy these….me, once again getting me in trouble with my skinny jeans and my love/hate relationship with the treadmill. Sheeesh…!

So after what is the longest post in the history of Tartelette, I give you Tim’s Deconstructed Coconut Pie…Enjoy!!

Deconstructed Coconut Cream Pie, inspired by this one:

Serves 8

3 cups half-and-half
2 eggs
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup flaked coconut, toasted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 portion of Martha Stewart Pate Brisee ( I make the whole thing and refrigerate the other portion for other tarts or quiches)
2 Tb. sugar

In a medium saucepan, combine half-and-half, eggs, sugar, flour and salt. Bring to a boil over low heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, and stir in 3/4 cup of the coconut and the vanilla extract. Pour into serving dishes and chill 2 to 4 hours, or until firm.
In the meantime roll out the dough to 1/8 inch thick, with cookie cutters , cut out different shape. Lay them flat on a parchment lined baking sheets, sprinkle with the sugar and bake at 350 F. until golden brown (10 minutes). When ready to serve, sprinkle the remaining coconut over the dishes and stick a couple of dough shapes in them.