CtBF Paris Paris

There are a few pastries with the name Paris…something. This time, these are supposed to be eclair shaped choux pastries with hazelnut praline pastry cream. Oh, and a little chocolate glaze.

This is really 4 different (relatively simple) recipes combined to create something more than the sum of their parts.

So. Hazelnuts. They are not my favorites, though iconically French. I was tempted to swap them out. Macadamias! Pecans! And truth be told, part of it is peeling them. Do not like. So messy!

I looked up methods online. Apparently, Alice Medrich showed the process to Julia Child, and it works!! A little disconcerting with the boiling and coloring, and while still time-consuming, it worked perfectly. Boil water with some baking soda, add hazelnuts, cooking for about 3 minutes, into a cold water bath, and then peel away!

The water gets purple! And it’s still a little labor intensive. But! As it turns out, the hazelnuts for our recipe were not supposed to be toasted, so this was perfect! Kismet. Needed to let those hazelnuts dry, so onto my choux paste.

I have been making (cream) puffs practically my entire life. But not these ones. My mom and dad hosted plenty of business dinners and fun parties in our small town in Michigan. It was back in the day when home entertaining for business was more prevalent. Plus living in a town with one small restaurant that today might be considered a coffee shop? Well, we had quite a number of guests from Europe and around the country. So my mom hosted many parties. One of her favorite appetizers (that I happily got to pass) we’re savory cream puffs. In fact, I’m sure I was an adult before I ever had sweet ones. Probably why I love, love gougeres of all kinds.

OK, so, while I might not be an expert, I still think choux puffs are easy. The biggest trick for me was the timing for baking. Finally I got it done. Butter, water, salt and sugar brought to a boil. Flour is added, and then cooked until it comes together and cleans from the side of the pan. Then eggs are added to the dough. I piped my puffs the easy way, though to be fair, even a teaspoon will work. The tricky thing was timing. At the end, I baked my mini-puffs as long or longer than noted for the larger eclairs in the book. Eventually they were nice and crisp. So. Next up. Hazelnut praline. Sugar is slowly caramelized. Once it’s caramelized, chopped hazelnuts are added, then cooked until nicely toasted, then dropped onto a prepared pan to cool and crisp.

Pastry cream? Did I say that I originally planned to divide this recipe? Since eggs for different recipe were 3, I would make a third. But none of the recipes were huge, so I made the full amount. This was ok. Maybe should have cooked longer. But the cream is made, then chilled covered closely. Next? The praline gets chopped in the food processor, a bit of the pastry cream added, then all folded together. The final component is a a chocolate glaze made with cocoa powder and confectioners sugar. The trick getting the right consistency. All that remained was assembling the Paris Paris puffs! I also used the ziploc bag trick to fill them. Then swathed in chocolate, the 36 puffs were done!!They needed to be chilled for an hour or so before serving.

So. The result? Initially, they were pretty sweet. Too sweet. And since hazelnut is not my favorite favor, well.. but. We shared with friends, and they were mesmerized. And the next day, not so sweet. Pretty delicious. I think oftentimes I’m overly critical. Over the few days that we’re told these will last in the refrigerator. Amazingly, they have disappeared!!

What I really am inspired to do is to make these again. Both sweet versions (pastry cream with fruit!!!) and revisiting savory varieties. Choux paste is so very fun. Mini servings are charming. And oh, I have more peeled hazelnuts tucked away, so it’s a bit easier to add them in. I

So many options, and this was a wonderful reminder of how wonderful choux puffs can be!

Visit the Cook the Book Friday’s link, to see what others thought about this recipe!

Chocolate and dried cherry fougasse

When we made a more traditional savory fougasse a few years ago, really enjoyed it. This version has been at the back of my mind since I opened the cookbook.

I enjoy baking bread, so I thought it would be a fun challenge. Like David, I love dried cherries. Chocolate of course, is nice. I swapped toasted pecans for the hazelnuts since that’s what was on hand. And of course there was orange zest that really brightens the other flavors.

This bread uses a more old-fashioned method of starting the yeast with flour and water, plus a bit of sugar, then allowing that to rest for 15 minutes.

The remainder of the flour and a bit of salt are added and the dough gets kneaded before adding the flavorings.

The flavorings get added, but I thought it needed a bit more kneading, so did a few turns by hand. Then the dough rests and rises. My house was a little chilly when I made this, and with all of the additions this didn’t rise until really fluffy.

Once risen, it gets rolled into its iconic leaf shape. Then rises again. Before putting in the oven, a little more olive oil and some gray salt.

The fougasse gets baked until golden.

So. The results? When we first tried this, kind of mixed. Intriguing, but not a favorite. Were told to eat it right after baking, but I took what was left to my book club the following day. I liked it better. My friends liked it! I sent the rest home with them.

I still love the savory version. But I may have to try this again sometime. Maybe a tweak. Maybe not. The texture might have been better if I’d had time to let it rise longer.

But this was very fun to make!! Excited to see what others thought about their breads.

CtBF – Salted Butter Caramel Chocolate Mousse

Anyone who knows me, or follows my blog, knows that I sometimes don’t always read things thoroughly before I start (back in the day, I would fly into a city to do a 1st site visit without having the address – this before smartphones and GPS – just pick up a map at the rental car counter “I can find it”… with about 2 exceptions of 150 at that job – it worked!). This was no different. When I read about the 2 June recipes, I transposed the dates. So… I did not get this made in time, and though I had purchased the ingredients, was not worried about not making the dessert when I made said purchase… um.

Well, all of the bloggers at Cook the Book Fridays seemed to love this. I saw notes about someone(s) making it several times in a week! Well – could not miss out on that!

I hosted by book club  (GOBC) in Sedona last Sunday. It was incredibly nice of my friends Teri and Kate to come up – their significant others (including kids!) helped them make a day of it. And no – I don’t have pictures – I get sidetracked at events. Anyway, I thought that it would be a perfect time to make the mousse. I had decided on making a grilled soft-taco lunch – steak, shrimp, fresh salsa, guacamole, tortillas, beans… chocolate would be a perfect ending to that!

While I was deciding what to make, I had the Food 52 Genius book out. I kept going back to that blueberry pie! Anyway, the mousse is fairly straightforward. As a fun treat, I decided to use my grandmother’s little “ice cream” dishes – perfect for this!

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The big difference with this recipe is the caramel. I wanted mine to be fairly dark to add some different notes to the mousse. I actually am fine with making caramel. Have I ever taken it a bit to far? Sure. But it’s not that big of a deal. Seriously. You just can’t step away from it.

Once the caramel is the color you want, you whisk in the butter, and then the cream. The cream will make the caramel harden, so it takes quite a while to melt – but it will!

This mixture gets cooled, the egg yolks added to the chocolate, and then the whipped whites get incorporated (per usual, about 1/3 to loosen the mixture, then the remainder).

This actually made a perfect amount to fill 6 of my glass dishes. These get chilled in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours.

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Do I have beautiful photographs of the mousse as it was served? Um, no. So very typical, I just got sidetracked with my friends.

Did we like it? Yes. But seriously, I could only eat about 1/2 at a time (though Mom had no such problems when she had hers!). This is a serious chocolate dessert. The texture is beautiful and I enjoyed the additional flavor of caramel. I’d used gray salt for my salt in the dish, and liked it – I could have added a few grains on top (or maybe some smoked salt).

But, remember that blueberry pie? I couldn’t resist. I had some blueberries, and they had loads of them at the market. The photo in the book was just gorgeous (!) and when I read the recipe, it’s very much like a strawberry pie that my grandmother made when I was growing up. The crust is baked, and the filling is added. I didn’t make the incredibly complicated crust from the book – used the butter crust from KAF.

The filling is made by cooking a bit of the fruit with a little sugar and water, then adding cornstarch for thickening. While that’s still hot, the remaining fresh blueberries are added, mixed well and the put into the crust. That’s it. Let it cool. Eat it. Be amazed.

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The filling worked perfectly, and as you can see – the pie holds its shape – makes for a beautiful slice (not that I have pictures of an actual slice, mind you).

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Truth be told, I served both for my book club. Like my friend Betsy, I’m not the chocoholic in the house, so I really loved the pie. Seriously. But I will say that both desserts were a hit – just oh so different. Given all of the flavors at the gelato spot – I never pick the chocolate. So, I would definitely serve this again (think of all of those gluten-free folks!), and if I were not worrying about gluten, I think this would be fabulous in mini tart shells – how wonderful on a mini-dessert tray? Or the dessert shot glasses that were so popular a few years ago. The chocolate is such a rich blast of flavor – that would be a super-fun way of serving it. Oh, and I did not include whipped cream on either – though it would be good. Just more. Neither actually needed it.

The mousse can be found on p258 of My Paris Kitchen, and you can find out what other bloggers in our group thought of the recipe here. The pie can be found on pp204-207 in Genius Recipes (Food 52).

 

 

ffwd – Happy Birthday Dorie! World Peace Cookies

I have been wanting to make these cookies for a very long time, but just haven’t gotten there. So, for Dorie’s birthday, as I thought about what recipe to make as a treat for her celebration, I thought about these cookies. Cookies, as opposed to other treats, seem to be a good fit, since Dorie bakes cookies with her son Joshua and I imagine her wonderful husband enjoys them too! In my family, birthdays are all about celebrating, especially with family, along with wonderful friends – so it made sense to me! And what others are more iconically “Dorie” than these World Peace Cookies?

Now surely, there are other wonderful Dorie cookies – so my debate included Salted Butter Break-ups )a serious favorite), Speculoos and even cookie-ish Madelines. But I wanted to try something new.

Of course, these needed the dough to refrigerate. So, at about 6:30 am, without any coffee, I started making them. At that time of day, I’m not really with it – so I completely forgot that I was blogging about these – so my pictures begin….well, in the middle.IMG_1995

At that time of day, I also (apparently) don’t follow recipes that well. I dutifully put the kitchen towel over the bowl to ensure that the flour didn’t go everywhere (it didn’t in any case), but left it on the lowest setting of my kitchenaid while I chopped chocolate. Well, that really wasn’t what the recipe called for, but it worked. Just fine I might add. Here you can see the aforementioned chocolate stirred in.

The next step is to form the dough into a couple of logs and chill for at least several hours. IMG_1996

Once chilled, the dough is sliced in 1/2″ (!) slices, placed on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and baked in a 325 degree oven for 12 minutes.IMG_1997IMG_1999

These turned out perfectly. I’m not sure that I can decide between warm (where the chocolate is oh-so melty) and cooled, where there’s a different texture difference. I’d read lots of comments about these, so wasn’t completely sure. And in the spirit of complete disclosure – you should let them sit for a bit before trying to remove them to a rack…IMG_2001But let me tell you. They are delicious! I should make more and put them (unbaked) in the freezer. Thank goodness I didn’t bake them all, because I’m not sure that sharing would have ensued. As usual, Dorie’s baking magic has happened again. I enjoy many of her scrumptious baked goodies, but this is definitely a keeper. And I’m sure these would inspire peace among friends, family and strangers as well. Delightful!!IMG_2004

Happy Birthday Dorie! Hope your day is wonderful, and that you feel all of the affection of your Doristas around the world!

Since the recipe can be found in plenty of locations, I’ll go ahead and provide it here:

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 stick plus 3 tablespoons (5 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel or 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chip-size bits

Cooking Directions

Sift the flour, cocoa and baking soda together and keep close at hand.

Working with a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until it is soft and creamy. Add both sugars, the salt and the vanilla extract and beat for 2 minutes more.

Turn off the mixer and add the flour. Drape a towel over the mixer (to protect yourself and your kitchen from flying flour) and pulse the mixer at low speed about 5 times, a second or two each time. Take a peek – if there’s still a lot of flour on the surface of the dough, pulse a couple of times more; if not, remove the towel. Continuing at low speed, mix for about 30 seconds more, just until the flour disappears into the dough – for the best texture, work the dough as little as possible once the flour is added and don’t be concerned if the dough looks a little crumbly. Toss in the chocolate pieces and mix only to incorporate.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface, gather it together and divide it in half. Working with one half at a time, shape the dough logs that are 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate them for at least 3 hours. (The dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months. If you’ve frozen the dough, you needn’t defrost it before baking – just slice the logs into cookies and bake the cookies 1 minute longer.)

Getting ready to bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.

Working with a sharp thin knife, slice the logs into rounds that are 1/2 inch thick. (The rounds are likely to crack as you’re cutting them – don’t be concerned, just squeeze the bits back into each cookie.) Arrange the rounds on the baking sheets, leaving about 1 inch between them.

Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 12 minutes – they won’t look done, nor will they be firm, but that’s just the way they should be. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack and let the cookies rest until they are only just warm, at which point you can serve them or let them reach room temperature.

Serving: The cookies can be eaten when they are warm or at room temperature – I prefer them at room temperature, when the textural difference between the crumbly cookie and the chocolate bits is greatest.

Storing: Packed airtight, cookies will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days; they can be frozen for up to 2 months.

Recipe courtesy of Dorie Greenspan. Adapted from “Baking From My Home to Yours,” Dorie Greenspan (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt),

ffwd – top-secret chocolate mousse

I’ve been waiting to make this recipe since getting the book Around My French Table. I’ve even been a bit surprised that we haven’t tackled it before. But it was a good choice for a busy week, particularly when I was going to have people over for dinner.

I have to say, this wasn’t my very best effort. I expected the recipe to be an easy one, and it is – but not so sure about my results (not that it wasn’t delicious). I’ve made mousse before, so wasn’t too concerned. With only 4 ingredients, how hard can it be??

Since Dorie’s story goes that this recipe came from the back of a bar of chocolate, I can’t imagine that I’ll get in too much trouble by providing you the ingredients here: 3.5 oz of bittersweet chocolate, 3 eggs, pinch of salt and 1.5 t sugar. I thought – wow, so simple, and really not that bad for you (if you subscribe to the idea of dark chocolate being a super-food).

The first step is to melt the chocolate. I always just use the microwave.

Once the chocolate was melted, the eggs get divided, and then it’s only a few minutes to having the completed mousse. I was quite proud of my melted chocolate – not too hot. but don’t know if that’s where I went wrong. Also, the room-temperature eggs were significantly more difficult to separate – good thing I had some extras!

The yolks get mixed into the chocolate. Then that mixture is lightened by the whipped egg whites (to which the salt and sugar have been added). My chocolate really seized up when I added the egg yolks, that made it difficult to fold in the whites.

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It seemed that the mixture really reduced when I folded the whites in. It wasn’t as fluffy as I’d hoped. I may have over-whipped the egg whites, but I think it was really the thickness of the chocolate mixture. Once this was complete, the mixture was spooned into individual serving dishes.

I made mine a bit ahead, so put the dishes in the refrigerator. I was worried that there wasn’t much mousse for each person.

Not the best photo, but you can see – presented with just a bit of whipped cream on top. The consensus was that it was delicious. A very decadent shot of chocolate. I still think it could have been a bit lighter, but it was a great ending to a simple meal.

TWD – Chocolate Truffle Tartlets

I’ve been making a bittersweet chocolate tart for years – my go-to extreme chocolate dessert. Never fails, deceptively simple, and always a hit. Very similar, it has a chocolate cookie crust, and a bitterswet truffle filling. Finished off with a decorative sprinkle of cocoa.

This recipe is a bit different – and more complicated. Similar crust, but the filling has egg yolks and is baked rather than just chocolate and a bit of cream. Also, the suggestion is to have crushed biscotti and white (and milk) chocolate incorporated into the filling, prior to a quick bake. I might have not been as interested before, but I had an amazing ‘chocolate creme brulee” with some goat cheese sorbet in San Jose – I kind of hoped that the filling would have a similar texture…

So, to begin, the chocolate tart dough is made. There are a number of steps, whirling the dry ingredients in the food processor (no, I’m not making this by hand), then adding the butter, and finally an egg yolk mixed with some ice water.

Generally, this ends up all squished together. This was much dryer than I was used to, but eventually, it ended up all in a ball, then I divided it into 6ths to prepare for it’s “rest and relaxation in the freezer” to chill.

The recipe says to roll out the dough, and place it in an oiled tart pan. The oiled part – ok. The rest…. well, you’ll see.

The first one – sure! But after that, it went downhill. I could have frozen every piece and then put it in the tart pan, but that wasn’t really happening. In my normal version – I just put the dough in the pan, and form it – I think it works well enough. I forgot to mark the one that was done “correctly”, so I may never know. It gets another chill after the tarts are formed.

While that’s all chilling and baking, it’s time for the filling. The recipe says to melt the chocolate over simmering water. Well, I decided – microwave! Since there was a lot going on, there was no hurry, but it really just took about 1 minute, since It had time to hang out while I was doing other things.

Then, about a zillion egg yolks (ok, 8) are whisked together, then sugar added. Then about a third of that’s added to the chocolate, then it’s all folded in together to make the filling base. For some of the tartlets, I folded in some of the requisite additions – namely white chocolate chunks (the recipe says milk chocolate too) and crushed biscotti. I was a bit reluctant – so reserved a couple without all of that.

The tarts get filled. I had just received some different salt (and I love, love chocolate with sea salt), so decided to mix things up. For the “plain” tartlets – a sprinkle of Hawaiian pink salt, for one of the tartlets with the white chocolate and biscotti – a bit of hickory smoked salt. The other two – I left the “classic”.

Then they were baked for a short time – only 12 minutes to set the eggs. Unfortunately, the special salt didn’t stay as pretty, but that’s ok. They still look beautiful!

In the end, for me, it was a bit of a toss-up. The plain chocolate with the salt finish was quite wonderful. The additions of the white chocolate and the biscotti made it sweeter, and maybe a bit more rich. Both were versions I would not turn away!! The smoked salt along with the additions… hard to say, but that might have been the favorite. Whichever way – a fantastic dessert!