Entries from April 24th, 2007

Sugar High Friday #30: Rosebud Crème Brûlée

April 24th, 2007 · 31 Comments · Custards, Recipes, Sweet Spots

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I’m late to the SHF party! But when I saw the flower theme I couldn’t resist putting something together, even at the last minute.

This is a rendition of one of Citizen Cake’s signature desserts. Billed as the "pastry chef’s restaurant", Citizen Cake has reigned in San Francisco for years as both an elegant full-service restaurant and a top-notch pâtisserie. Cakes, pastries, confections, and ice creams come out of Elizabeth Falkner’s kitchen in a dizzying swirl, all classically based but with modern, playful twists: the popular Retro Tropical Shag is composed of layers of rum-soaked genoise filled with passionfruit mousse and vanilla buttercream and covered with coconut so it does, indeed, resemble those funky shag carpets. The charming Mocha Mi Su puts a spin on traditional tiramisu by mixing cocoa genoise with mocha mousse, chocolate ganache, and coffee buttercream.

Falkner’s composed desserts really highlight her penchant for wordplay and kitchen-play – sophisticated combinations of flavors and textures, with a clever little in-jokes for names. For example, one of the their current desserts is named "Wagashi 2010", wagashi being traditional Japanese confections such as mochi, but Citizen Cake’s rendition includes a dried persimmon mochi cake, crispy green tea soba, milk gelato, and a nori croquant. One of my favorite desserts the last time I went was the "Cha Cha Cha", composed of a tropical tamale with passionfruit crème brûlée and mojito paleta.

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Falkner’s rose petal crème brûlée is a staple on the menu; served with saffron-pistachio cookies, it’s a delicate, floral air-kiss of dessert. Crème brûlée, like chocolate mousse, is another one of those desserts that can seem tired or overdone on menus, but done well in the hands of an expert, you remember exactly why it’s so beloved.

As with all baked custards, the proof is in the baking – how you cook and supervise the custards will determine whether it achieves that delicate unctuous texture or it becomes tough and eggy. Custards need to bake evenly and slowly at a low temperature. This is why water baths are used – to help provide a gentle moist environment for the eggs in the custard to cook. I also place a towel on the bottom of the baking pan between the ramekins to further prevent any direct heat on the ramekins. Finally, if you want even more protection, you can always place a piece of aluminum foil over the top of the baking with some vent holes pierced in.

When the cooking time for the custards is done, check to see if the tops of the custards are set – they should shimmy slightly but the center should not move separately from the rest of the custard. You can also stick a thin knife into the custard (not in the center) and see if it comes out clean.

If they don’t appear done, close the oven and bake for another 6-7 minutes. Resist the urge to constantly check on the custards; every time you open the oven more heat escapes, so given the low baking temperature you could end up with the custards never baking.

Of course, the best part of crème brûlées is the caramelizing of the sugar. I never thought I harbored any latent pyromania but there is a definite thrill in wielding a blowtorch and watching sugar bubble and brown beneath your eyes, forming that perfect crystalline surface just waiting for that Amélie-like tap-tap-tap.

Crème brûlées take very well to infusions of flavor, from teas to fruits to spices. I particularly enjoy this rose-scented one: sweet and springlike, the custard melts like silk on the tongue, leaving a whisper of rose and orange. The crystallized rose petals add a pretty dash of color; it is spring, after all, and the flowers are definitely in bloom!

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Rosebud Crème Brûlée

makes about 6 servings in 4 1/2 ounce ramekins

2 cups heavy cream

1/8 teaspoon vanilla seeds, or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 ounces egg yolks (about 4-5 eggs)

2 ounces sugar

1/4 teaspoon Grand Marnier

1/2 teaspoon rose water

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Find a baking pan that will fit all of the ramekins you plan to use. The sides of the pan should be at least as high as the ramekins. Line the bottom of the baking pan with a towel.

Heat the cream and vanilla in a medium saucepan on medium heat until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat and let sit for about 10 minutes for the vanilla to infuse.

Whisk the eggs and sugar together in a bowl.

Slowly pour about a third of the hot cream into the eggs, whisking all the time to prevent the eggs from curdling.

Pour the tempered eggs back into the cream, whisking constantly until combined. Whisk gently to prevent bubbles from forming.

Strain the mixture into a clean bowl.

Add the Grand Marnier and rose water and let the custard cool slightly.

Arrange the ramekins in the baking pan on top of the towel. Using a ladle, carefully, pour the custard into the ramekins, filling just below the rim. Try to fill all of the ramekins to the same height so they will bake evenly.

Carefully pour hot water into the baking pan until it comes up about 2/3 of the way up the sides of the ramekins. Do not let the water get into the pan.

Carefully place the baking pan into the oven and bake for about 45 minutes to an hour until set. I checked at about half an hour and at 45 minutes, but don’t open the oven door too often or you’ll lose all the heat and the custards will not cook. You can check the progress of the custards by sticking a paring knife into the custard slightly away from the center. If it comes out covered in liquidy custard, it’s not done yet. Also, if you lightly touch the center of the custard and your fingertip comes away covered in custard it is also not done.

When the custards are done, they should shimmy slightly when you move the pan (careful not to spill water!) but the center should not move separately. If, however, it has set like Jello and there are bubbles forming on the top it is becoming overcooked and you should remove the custards immediately. If the custards start rising at any point they have become overcooked.

After you remove the baking pan from the oven and the ramekins have cooled enough to handle, remove the ramekins, cover them, and chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours before serving.

When you are ready to serve the crème brûlées, take one ramekin at a time and sprinkle the top with sugar evenly over the top. Using a hand-held blowtorch, carefully caramelize the sugar. Keep the flame at least 2 inches from the sugar to prevent burning the sugar. You can also caramelize the sugar under a broiler.

Let the sugar cool for a couple of minutes before serving. Do not brûlée the custards more than 20 minutes before serving or the sugar may melt.

Citizen Cake

399 Grove Street

San Francisco, CA 94102

415-861-2228

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A Spoonful of Sunshine: Maple Star Anise Mousse

April 20th, 2007 · 35 Comments · Custards, Recipes

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Mousse is a dessert full of fascinating contradictions for me: both rich yet airy, creamy yet fluffy, dense yet light. It is wonderfully easy for even the most novice of bakers to make, yet never fails to elicit oohs of appreciation at the dinner table. And, while its chocolate-imbued incarnation is comfort food at its most beloved, mousse can also provide a reassuringly familiar springboard into flavors new and unexpected.

Case in point: Kate Zuckerman’s elegant Maple-Star Anise Mousse, from her book The Sweet Life, featuring a combination of flavors I had never imagined. The two components are whirled into a delicate, sunshine-colored dessert that proves irresistible. (Does everyone else also quiver in mixed excitement and indecision, poised at the first spoonful, knowing you’re about to break the perfect pristine surface, that you can’t smooth it over like pudding or jam, but also anticipating the soft gliding scoop, the gentle frisson that feels not quite like spooning through soup or custard or mashed potatoes but exactly like swooping through clouds?)

It makes sense, after seeing other mousse recipes where you start by whipping hot sugar syrup with eggs, that Zuckerman would be inspired to use maple syrup the same way- combined with eggs and folded with whipped cream, the maple flavor is stripped from its treacly confines and rendered intoxicatingly light – almost like Ferran Adria’s foams. The addition of star anise tempers the sweetness of the maple and gives it a more complex edge: if you’re wondering how the dessert would taste like maple and licorice at the same time, it’s more like a flavor that is reminiscent of both but is, as Zuckerman puts it, "more than the sum of its parts." My rendition leaned more towards the maple than the licorice side; it’s possible to add in a few more star anise when infusing the maple syrup if you want the taste to tip the other way.

There are other equally creative combinations in Zuckerman’s book, such as Clove Caramel Mousse and Sesame Milk Chocolate Mousse. After tasting maple and star anise together, I’m convinced that they would all be just as delicious. But then, that’s the wonderful thing about mousses: as buttery smooth and meltingly luscious as they are, how could you not indulge down the last licked-clean spoonful?

Of course, this is also my contribution to this month’s Hay Hay It’s Donna Day, hosted by Helene of the spectactular Tartlette!

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Maple-Star Anise Mousse

from Kate Zuckerman’s The Sweet Life

makes about 6 servings

6 egg yolks

a pinch of salt

1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons maple syrup

4 whole star anise

2 cups heavy cream

Whisk together the egg yolks and salt in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment on medium speed.

Fill a small cup with 1/4 cup of cold water, and sprinkle the gelatin over it. Put the cup aside.

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the maple syrup and star anise. Bring the syrup to a boil over medium-high heat and let cook until it reaches 240 degrees F. The syrup should get very active and bubbly.

Take the syrup off the stove and remove the star anise carefully.

With the egg yolks still whipping, slowly pour the hot syrup down the side of the mixer bowl and let it combine with the yolks.

The gelatin should be a solid mass in the cup. Scrape it out with a rubber spatula and into the saucepan you used to cook the syrup. The heat of the pan should melt the gelatin into liquid.

Pour the gelatin into the mixer bowl as well and let whisk together until the mixture has cooled down to tempeature and looks like it has tripled in volume – it should have a thicker, more puddinglike consistency and no longer seem as liquid.

Pour out the mousse base into a large bowl. Either clean the mixer bowl thoroughly, or if you have another mixer bowl, whip the heavy cream until it has soft peaks (do not overwhip).

Scrape the whipped cream out onto the mousse base. Using a spatula or bowl scraper, carefully fold the whipped cream into the mousse base, trying not to deflate the whipped cream too much.

At this point, you can cover and place the mousse in the refrigerator for about 2 hours to let set, and then scoop out portions onto dishes to serve. Or, you could divide the mousse into individual dishes and smooth off the tops before you chill them so they have a nicer presentation. A third alternative is to place the mousse in a piping base and pipe out into dishes before chilling them. In any case, you should let the mousse chill for about 2 hours before serving.

The mousse will keep in the refrigerator for about 3 days, covered.

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Puff Pastry Dreams

April 13th, 2007 · 20 Comments · Fruit, Pastry, Recipes

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After last week’s adventure with the apple and almond tart, I still had some puff pastry left over. Anyone who’s made (or eaten) puff pastry knows it would be a crime to let this airiest and most wonderful of doughs go to waste. Therefore, some suitably scrumptious uses were quickly scrounged up. These recipes were adapted from Sherry Yard’s excellent The Secrets of Baking; she has a very complete and elegant chapter on laminated dough, puff pastry included.

The first, one of the most fabulous uses of puff pastry, was a batch of sugar crystal-encrusted, meltingly flaky palmiers. Making palmiers is like making that little origami box that magically unfolds into a sphere when you twist it the right way. You make a few folds and presses with your puff pastry dough, being sure to liberally sprinkle sugar whenever possible, cut slices off the accordianed log, and watch as they bloom and unfurl in the oven into delicately caramelized flowers. If you love puff, this is the way to enjoy it: no fillings or embellishments to get in the way, just layers and layers of crisp, buttery bliss.

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Mille-feuille with Pastry Cream and Strawberries

A very classic use of puff pastry, the mille-feuille, or napoleon, which alternates layers of the crisp pastry with a creamy filling of choice, usually pastry cream. Like a sonnet, the strict form of the mille feuille along with a certain flexibility regarding the components allows for wonderfully wide and varied interpretations: the fillings have ranged from whipped cream to chocolate ganache to fruit, and the puff pastry itself has been flavored with chocolate or other flavors more exotic. Now, I see "mille-feuille" quite commonly used to refer to any dish consisting of alternating contrasting elements, savory or sweet – I think it appeals to the architect in all of us when presented with these tiny, carefully constructed towers of crunchy, smooth, juicy, velvety. My mille-feuille uses a traditional pastry cream lightened with whipped cream, along with some of the season’s first strawberries.

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Apple Turnovers

Okay – this is worth making a batch of puff pastry from scratch, if you haven’t any scrap lying around. This is breakfast on a chill, robin’s egg-blue morning, or dessert with vanilla ice cream on a cozy, curled- up-on-the-couch evening. Or any time you want hot flaky pastry enrobing tender, cinnamon-vanilla apples. With sugar on top. I loved making these – the apples were quickly sautéed in a pan with butter, cinnamon, and sugar to soft caramelized perfection. Rolling and cutting the puff pastry into squares, and then spooning in the filling and folding the pastry over into a neat triangle. was reminiscent of all the times I spent making wontons with my mother.

And watching the turnover bake is a pleasure, just as is any project involving puff pastry. Seeing the little triangle slowly puff and expand exuberantly, the individual layers becoming crisp and distinct – it’s like a clarion message from the pastry saying, "Yes, I am becoming delicious!"

Making puff pastry, or any laminated dough, is by necessity an investment in time and effort, with rewarding results. For those without the time, you can make blitz puff, which is a shortened but in my experience quite satisfactory alternative to the entire puff pastry process. Instead of a détrempe (dough) and beurrage (butter block) that are layered, folded, and turned, the butter is simply cut into the flour much like with making pie crust, and then the dough is folded over several times, creating the layers that puff up just like with traditional puff pastry. While it will of course not have as many layers and thus not rise as high, blitz puff is just as buttery, flaky, and delectable as its more refined cousin.

Whichever way you make your puff, you really can’t go wrong – you’ll have a marvelous base for any of these desserts – and probably an urge to go get more butter so you can make more pastry!

Blitz Puff

makes (4) 9" circles or about 8 turnovers

10 ounces all purpose flour

10 ounces unsalted butter, very cold, cut into 1-in pieces

3/4 tsp salt

90 ml water, ice cold

Combine the flour and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix the ingredients together on low speed  until the mixture is shaggy and resembles cornmeal, with visible pieces of butter still. Do not let the flour and butter turn into a solid ball of dough – if the components are completely mixed you will not have the layering of flour and fat needed to form the flaky layers!

Add the salt to the mixture. Pour in the water and mix on low speed just until the dough starts to come together; again, don’t let the dough turn into one solid lump. There should still be little pieces of butter and the dough should be sticky.

Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and form into a square. If the kitchen is warm and the dough is very soft and sticky, place it on a sheet pan and chill in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes until it firms up enough to work with.

Using flour as necessary to keep the dough from sticking, roll out the dough about 1/2 inch thick and in the shape of a rectangle. The dimensions are not important – a roughly rectangle shape is fine, but try to keep the edges straight and square with each other so when you fold the dough over the edges will line up evenly.

To do a single turn on the dough, imagine the long side of the rectangle divided into thirds. Fold one end third over onto the middle third, then fold the other end third over on top, making a trifold. Make sure the edges are lined up as evenly as possible.

Roll the trifold out again to about 1/2" thickness and in the shape of a rectangle, switching the directions of the long and short sides – in other words, the folded sides of the trifold should become the long side and the open sides should become the short side.

Do another turn (trifold) with this rectangle.

Repeat this process one more time so you have done a total of three turns. If at any point the dough starts becoming very soft or rubbery, let it rest in the refrigerator for a little bit before working on it some more.

Roll the dough out into a rectangle. This time, do a double turn – imagine the long side of the rectangle divided into fourths. Fold both end fourths over onto the center fourths, then fold the two sides together again so all four layers are stacked on top of each other. Wrap the dough up completely in plastic and refrigerate until ready to use.

Apple Turnovers

adapted from Sherry Yard’s The Secret of Baking

makes about 8 turnovers

3 apples (I used Fuji), peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4-in cubes

1/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 cup lemon juice

3 Tbsp unsalted butter

1 recipe Blitz Puff

1 egg for egg wash

Turbinado sugar

For the filling: Toss together the apples, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, and lemon juice in a large bowl.

Melt the butter in a sauté pan until it golden and starting to brown.

Add the apples and sauté until the apples have softened and are caramelized, about 10 minutes.

Remove the apples from heat and let cool completely.

To assemble the turnovers: Take the blitz puff dough and roll out to 1/4" thick.

Use a ruler and a knife or pizza cutter to divide the dough into 4 1/2" squares – you should get about 8.

Make an egg wash with an egg and about a tablespoon of water whisked together.

Brush the four sides of a pastry square with the egg wash.

Place a spoonful of apple filling in the center of the square. Be careful not to overfill or you won’t be able to close the turnover.

Fold one corner of the pastry over to meet with with opposite corner. Press the edges together, using a fork to make a seal.

The turnovers can now be wrapped and stored in the freezer for about a week. If you want to bake them off, I suggest you still place them in the freezer for about 10 minutes to help them bake up better.

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place the turnovers on the prepared sheet. Brush the tops with egg wash and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.

Bake the turnovers for about 10 minutes, then rotate the pan, turn the oven down to 350 degrees, and bake for another 10 minutes or so until the turnovers are puffed and golden brown.

Remove from oven and let cool slightly before serving. You can store them in an airtight container for up to 24 hours.

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{SF} Pâtisserie Philippe – A Bit of Paris in San Francisco

April 11th, 2007 · 11 Comments · San Francisco, Sweet Spots

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While I’m dreaming of my next trip to Paris, a little piece of Paris has come to San Francisco: Pâtisserie Philippe.

This beautiful jewel box of a bakery takes me right back to the City of Light, with its gorgeous vintage lamp fixtures, opulent mirrors, and marble counter covered with every classic of the pâtissier’s repertoire. Croissants and brioches spill out of baskets, fruit tarts and cakes gleam enticingly from trays, a ethereal bouquet of rose petal meringues each as big as my hand beckons from its airy perch above the display cases, and little bags of sablés and sugar cookies beg to be taken home and nibbled happily.

The patisserie is a dream realized for chef and co-proprietor Philippe Delarue, who began his career back in France in some of the noblest houses of pastry like Lenôtre, and who at one time had as his commis none other than a certain Pierre Hermé. Delarue gained many adoring clients in San Francisco who loved his traditional French pastries and elaborate wedding croquembouche.

Now he finally has a place where everyone can visit and have some of his dreamy éclairs, macarons, and breakfast pastries. It’s hard, when faced with six different kinds of croissant and brioche and about twice that many types of mousse cakes and tartlets, to not want to just camp out in the shop until one is able to try everything.

Delarue also offers an extensive savory menu, so you are able to munch on everything from a tomato and mozzarella salad to a fabulous flaky quiche Lorraine to some earthy pâte de Campagne. Tucking into a classic ham and cheese panino made with a chewy baguette, I could imagine myself in any of those inimitable cafes strung along the Parisian boulevards.

Pictured are a couple of the treats we made off with one weekend afternoon, a mere tickle of the pleasures Philippe’s has to offer: top of page, a pear frangipane strip, with sweet slices of pear on a gloriously fragrant frangipane nestled in a perfect-crisp crust. Note the thin layer of raspberry jam on the bottom of the frangipane.

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A palm-size Paris-Brest, with delicately airy rings of choux sandwiching a sweet, intense hazelnut filling.

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Sablés Bretons – those wonderful, toothsome butter cookies – crumble perfectly under the bite and are utterly addictive.

So while I’m waiting for my next visit to Paris aka Pastry Heaven, I’ll be soothing my longings at Philippe’s very charming and very delicious pâtisserie. If you’re anywhere near San Francisco, you shouldn’t miss it!

Pâtisserie Philippe

655 Townsend Street

San Francisco, CA 94103

415-558-8016

info@patisseriephilippe.com

Open M-F 8-6, Sat 8-5

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Beauty in Transience: Spring Desserts

April 3rd, 2007 · 32 Comments · Fruit, Ice Cream, Pastry, Recipes

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One of my most favorite and anticipated yearly sights is when the trees begin to sing their song of spring and bring forth their blossoms, covering winter-stripped branches with fluttery frocks in the most delicate and covetable of pastel shades (Have I mentioned that I love the color pink? although surely the astute reader could guess from seeing the scheme of my page. Right now the clothing stores are particularly dangerous for me – I walk in and I want things not because of their fit or function or even my need for them, but because they are all in whispery soft, flowy fabrics in shades of apricot and daffodil and lilac and periwinkle. I already have about 10 pink shirts in my closet. I must stop.)

I love leaving the urban concreteness of San Francisco and driving to Berkeley, where greenery is entwined into the city, from the huge old magnolia trees bursting with fuchsia blooms to the poppies blazing around wooden fences to the flowering almond trees that shower petals with every breeze.

Right now the sunshine is warm and welcoming, a gentle balm from a dreamy blue sky, not yet the languorous heat of summer. The fruits at market are perfect and sweet, a farewell to winter and a harbinger of harvests to come. I am always struck, at these jewel-like moments of beauty and pleasure, by a sense of mono no aware – that very Japanese concept created by the Japanese. Mono no aware translates roughly into "the pathos of things", and defines a gentle sadness at the transitory nature of the world, coupled with a desire to appreciate these transitory moments now. 

Mono no aware is quite appropriate to spring, of course, as perhaps one of the quintessential examples of this sweet melancholy is the viewing of cherry blossoms in Japan – crowds of people gathering at hanami – cherry blossom viewing parties – to celebrate the brief beauty of the pink and white flowers as they bloom for a few short weeks. There a beauty in their brevity, a recognition that their impermanence adds to their loveliness.

I think we all identify with this concept, even if there isn’t a direct English translation. Think of when you’re picking ripe fruits from a tree, knowing the tree will only produce so many of them and then it will be bare and empty for the rest of the year. Think of when you were graduating from high school or college, knowing that you and your friends were about to scatter off to your new lives and you would never be in this same place experiencing the same things again. Think of a perfect Sunday afternoon at the beach, with the ocean at your feet and the sun on your back, knowing that next day it will be cloudy and you’ll be back at work.

I think food is also a perfect illustration of this pleasurable sadness – what is more impermanent by nature than food? We labor in our kitchens, working with knives and mixers and ovens, plate and decorate the finished product so carefully, photograph them from the perfect angle – and yet the whole time we know eventually what we make will be eaten – devoured. But we take pleasure in knowing what we make will bring happiness to others. There is that instant when you’re looking at the end results of your work, at the perfectly composed meal on the perfectly set table – before you call everyone else in to bring an end to the moment.

I like to think that moment is what we’re all capturing in our pictures.

I was pleased to find this article in a past issue of Donna Hay’s magazine, a collection of gorgeously delicate and springlike desserts to celebrate the ephemeral loveliness of the season.

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Orange Blossom Buttermilk Sorbet

The combination of orange and buttermilk might seem a little odd, but it turns out wonderfully: the tang of the buttermilk complements and accentuates the floral citrus notes of the orange blossom water, making it a perky, not too sweet accompaniment to the desserts below.

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Roasted Strawberry Meringues

Perfection in simplicity – Crisp clouds of meringue pillowing sweet strawberries roasted in the oven, topped with a kiss of whipped cream. Although I’m not much of a jam-maker, I can appreciate the magic behind the commingling of fruit, sugar and water – roasting strawberries is a little bit like a preface to jam, and nearly as delicious.

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Apple Almond Tart

This is the recipe that forced me to finally get a mandoline, as one look at the paper-thin slices of pink lady apples lying as tenderly on the tart as fallen petals persuaded me that I had to reproduce the creation. The tart is made of a gloriously puffed round of puff pastry filled with a rich frangipane studded with walnuts and pistachios, topped off by sweet slices of apple. I hadn’t made puff in quite a while – watching it expand exponentially in the oven is certainly one of pastry’s most thrilling experiences!

Orange Blossom Buttermilk Sorbet

from Donna Hay magazine

makes about 1 quart

1 cup water

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon orange blossom water

1 teaspoon finely grated orange rind

2 1/2 cups buttermilk

Combine the water, sugar, orange blossom water, and orange rind in a small saucepan. Cook over low heat on the stove until the mixture comes to a boil.

Let boil for 1 minute, then remove from heat and let cool completely.

Add the buttermilk and stir to combine. Place mixture in the refrigerator, covered, overnight to chill.

Chill in an ice-cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Roasted Strawberry Meringues

from Donna Hay magazine

makes about 15 meringues

75 ml egg whites (about 3 eggs)

1/2 cup sugar

8 strawberries, hulled and halved

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup whipped cream (for serving)

Preheat oven to 390 degrees. Place the strawberries in a baking dish and sprinkle with the sugar (you may not need all of it depending on your taste).

Roast strawberries in the oven for about 10-15 minutes or until the strawberries are soft and syrupy – you will be able to smell the fruit.

Remove from oven and set aside.

Lower the oven to 250 degrees. Beat the egg white in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment until stiff peaks form.

Add the sugar and whip to incorporate until the mixture is thick and glossy.

Prepare two baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpats.

Spoon the meringue onto the prepared sheets by round spoonfuls. Use the spoon to make a dent in the center of each meringue.

Bake for about 25 minutes or until the meringues are crisp on the outside. Then turn off the oven and let the meringues dry in the oven for another 30 minutes.

When you are ready to serve, spoon some roasted strawberries into the center of each meringue and top with some whipped cream.

Apple and Almond Tart

from Donna Hay magazine

< em>serves 8-10

(2) 10-in prepared butter puff pastry sheets, thawed (this is from Donna Hay magazine; I made my own puff pastry but I’m going into puff pastry making details in another post!)

1 cup almond meal

1/4 cup sugar

35 g unsalted butter, melted

1 egg

2 tablespoons honey

1/4 cup chopped pistachio nuts

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

2 cups water

2 cups sugar

4 pink lady apples, thinly sliced

For the apples: Combine the water and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat on the stove.

Let mixture simmer for 10 minutes and then remove. Let cool completely.

Place apples slices in the sugar syrup and set aside.

Preheat oven to 355 degrees.

For the filling: Combine the almond meal and sugar in a bowl. Add the butter, egg, and honey and stir thoroughly to combine.

Fold in the pistachios and walnuts. Set the mixture aside.

For the tart: Cut out two 9" rounds from the puff pastry sheets. Cut out a 7 1/2 in round from one of the circles to create a border.

Place the border on top of the second puff pastry round. If you like, you can egg wash between the two pieces to help them stick together, but don’t get egg wash on the edges or the puff will be unable to expand.

Place the tart shell on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Spread the filling over the center of the shell. You may have some filling left over.

Bake in the oven for about 20-25 minutes until the puff pastry has puffed up and is golden and the filling looks firm.

To serve, remove the apple slices from the syrup and arrange on top of the tart.

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