PALMIERS

Palmiers are also sometimes called elephant ears. Not the big flat American version; the French Palmiers are small, tightly rolled, and almost cookie-like. You can use any number of fillings or flavored sugars, but the traditional Palmiers were just caramelized sugar and puff pastry. Here’s the book pic…..

Nothing but sugar, and puff pastry. No butter, no egg wash, no fuss. Just your rolling pin and some folded puff pastry, sprinkled generously with sugar. Here’s how mine turned out…..

Perhaps mine are a bit wing-like…and maybe they could have been left in slightly longer for better caramelizing….but all-in-all… pretty tasty. AND pretty easy.

VANILLA ROULADE

Remember the old fashioned “jelly roll”? Well this is the same sponge cake rolled up with real whipped cream. Easy. But like all easy things……not always. This is the pic from the book….

Beautiful. I thought I would time the making of this dessert to coordinate with my Mother’s Birthday. It was one of the first cakes she taught me to make. Here’s how it turned out…..

Turned out beautifully! After the disaster of the first one. I am a firm believer of Murphy’s law; or of the “don’t try a new recipe when you’re having guests” law. The first attempt cracked during the rolling…which is about all that can go wrong with this recipe. It tasted perfect, however, so I just used it as a practice run. It was vanilla bean with vanilla bean whipped cream. Classic. But try it with raspberry jam, or chocolate pastry cream…the options are endless!!!

BOSTOCK

Bostock is a twice-baked pastry. And it’s Fabulous !!! You start with day old Brioche slices….which, of course, I just happen to have, and which, I would even go out and buy just to make this recipe. You soak the slices in a simple syrup made with orange peel boiled with sugar. Then you spread the slices with frangipane….a sort of filling paste made of butter, almond flour, and powdered sugar. Sprinkle with sliced almonds , bake, and sift powdered sugar on top. Yum. Here’s how the book showed it….

Here’s how mine turned out….

All I can say is…B-I-G Hit !!!!! The orange syrup on the bread gets crispy on the edges, and the flavor helps cut into the sweetness of the almost cookie like almond topping. Again. Yum.

BRIOCHE NANTERRE

Most of you have tasted Brioche Bread. For those who haven’t ….because of the copious amounts of egg and butter, it is an incredibly rich and very tender bread. Almost cake-like. Nanterre refers to the form of this bread. Often baked in rolls, it can be baked in a regular loaf. Nanterre is where balls of the dough are put in a loaf pan, to eventually form a solid loaf that can be sliced or torn off in chunks. This is how it SHOULD look…..

The dough consists of yeast, eggs, milk, sugar, butter and flour. It’s a very sticky, soft, dough that needs refrigeration just to form it into balls. After proofing, the top is brushed with an egg yolk wash to make it shiny. THAT is where mine failed. The loaf rose just fine, but once I brushed the risen dough with the egg, it fell, and did not rise much after that. Here’s how mine turned out…

The dough balls definitely melded into each other! But I have to say…the texture was divine. Soft, and rich, and just slightly sweet. Almost like a Hawaiian bread . The next recipe I am attempting calls for day-old slices of Brioche, and I am sure it will be tasty using this bread.

PLUM RASPBERRY CLAFOUTIS

A Clafoutis is basically a custard baked with fruit. The “classic” Clafoutis is normally made with cherries, but this recipe called for plums and raspberries. Here is the pic from the book….

Looks delicious doesn’t it? Unfortunately….mine wasn’t. It wasn’t that it was bad. Just not as good as I had hoped. Especially since I made it for our Valentine’s day dinner. The meal was so rich and heavy, I thought a nice light dessert would be the finishing touch. Here’s how mine turned out…

Still looks good, eh? Well the problem was partly the plums. It’s hard this time of year to get really ripe plums around here, and although I thought they were ripe enough…..they were a little tough. The second problem I had involved timing. Even though I had set Alexa for the 50 minutes it took to bake, we had a cable technician ( YES…on Valentine’s Day! ) who interrupted our service, and without knowing it I lost the timer, so I had to guess at the time. The result was a firmer custard. It should be soft and silky. It’s a very easy recipe, calling only for your fruit , milk, eggs, butter, and vanilla. I will make it again, but not with plums …and I would err on the side of under-done.

CHOCOLATE TORTE

This Chocolate torte is made with no wheat flour and only 1/4 cup of Almond flour. It is mostly made up of eggs, sugar and A LOT of chocolate ! Oh yeah, and some coffee liqueur. Can’t forget that. Here’s the pic of how it should look….

Think rich, dense, brownie. You beat the egg whites and sugar till they form a meringue, then fold in lots of melted dark chocolate. When it bakes, it puffs up slightly although there are no leavening agents added to make it rise. Consequently, while it cools, it deflates. Here is mine right after baking…

Then, this…

The top is covered with sifted dark cocoa, and served with whipped cream. Very easy recipe. Too much chocolate for my taste, but the men (chocolate lovers, every one of them!) I served it to LOVED it !

Creme Brulee

Creme brulee is one of the easiest and yet most decadent of the French desserts. This recipe almost felt like I was cheating ! Made only of heavy cream, egg yolks and sugar, with a little vanilla, it takes mere minutes to make. Here is a pic…

The custard is baked. There is a layer of caramelized sugar on the top of the custard that should give a satisfying crack when your spoon first enters the custard. I have heard of this caramelizing being done in the broiler, but this recipe called for a small blowtorch passed over the sugar sprinkled over the top. Unfortunately, my caramel layer got a little too thick, and too dark. Still delicious, but not as pleasing to look at. Here is how mine turned out….

I will definitely make this again , especially since I very seldom have an excuse to use my kitchen blow torch. A very rich and very fun recipe.

TARTE AUX POMMES

“Tarte Aux Pommes” is just a fancy way of saying “apple tart”. In fact, in a by-line the recipe states that you can make a free form tart by simply omitting the tart pan. The recipe starts with “Pate Brisee”……the crust. It’s similar to a regular pie crust but with 2 whole sticks of butter. Since the recipe for the crust made so much…..I made both the tart and the free form tart. Here is the picture from the book….

After making the crust , you just arrange apple slices that you have soaked in fresh lemon juice, dot it with 3 tablespoons of butter, and sprinkle with half a cup of sugar. after baking, you brush the tart with strained and heated Apricot Preserves. Pretty simple. Here’s how mine turned out…..

And….

Pretty simple ! And mighty tasty. I took the tart to Sunday dinner at my sisters, and with some vanilla ice cream, it was a major hit! Surprisingly rich, which I think is due to the VERY buttery crust. I would definitely make again.

NEW BOOK ! French Pastry 101

Well guys….it’s been awhile, but I’m back. And I found a whole new project to teach me this insane art of French Pastry ! I swear sometimes I think I am a glutton for punishment. But then I stop and realize how much I need this. Between the old age, and the pandemic, and all the turmoil around me…..baking is saving me. It’s controlled (sometimes), precise, disciplined, and oh so rewarding. So here’s the new recipe book….

Unlike the last book…MODERN French pastry… this book isn’t all about the presentation. No fancy molds, no mirror glazes, no 5 hour techniques. These recipes concentrate on taste. The classic recipes that every pastry chef should learn. I feel like I kind of did things backward…but hopefully I will have a leg up on these more basic recipes. Since this book’s recipes are not graded by difficulty, but instead are grouped by categories such as cookies, cakes, tarts, etc…..I will try to mix them up for varieties sake. So we get what we get as far as difficulty ! So join me in my journey…My first recipe is Tarte Aux Pommes, and I will be reviewing it on Monday.

6th Adaptation: Confetti

Remember this?

These Pate a Choux balls were served on a sweet tart crust with a mint pastry cream. I thought they looked so festive when I made them for the tart….so this time I just filled them with a little raspberry jam and made them solo.

They maybe aren’t as vibrant as I would have liked …but cute ,and I’m thinking about putting silver luster dust on a mini marshmallow, and attaching it. Christmas Ornament??? Well maybe not one of my best ideas….