Croissants

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I have been attempting (key word, attempting) to make puff pastry for the past three months now. Each time, it has been a huge failure. Either the butter melted out of the pastry while baking or the dough failed to rise or the butter snuck out of the raw flour mixture while rolling. Once, I got so fed up that I stuck balls of ruined dough into a muffin pan and baked them. They turned out tasting like croissants, but looking like muffins. Muffants, anyone?

Okay. Muffants aside, I was on a mission. Make and bake real croissants. Being stubborn came in handy because at my fourth attempt, I made it.

 

The 2 keys to achieving puff pastry:

  • Keep all ingredients very cold.
  • When you incorporate the butter disc into the dough, pinch the sides to lock the butter in and don’t over-roll.

 

 

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Ingredients

1 ½ tsp granulated yeast

2 tbsp sugar

1 + 2 tbsp cup warm water

 

1 ½ tsp salt

2 tbsp salted butter, melted

3 cups flour, plus more for working

1 cup cold unsalted butter

 

1 large egg, beaten

 

 

 

Instructions

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, dissolve the yeast and the sugar in the warm water. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the salt and the melted butter to the yeast mixture and 1/2 cup of the flour, and mix until blended. Gradually add the remaining flour and beat until the dough comes together in a sticky ball.
  • On a clean, floured surface, roll out the dough into a rectangle about 1/2 inch thick. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 40 minutes.

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  • While the dough is chilling, put the remaining cup of cold butter in a Ziploc and pound with a rolling pin until flat and rectangular (1/3 of the size of the rectangular dough). Place the butter in the fridge to harden (about 40 minutes).

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  • Take your dough out and place it on a lightly floured work surface. Put butter disc in the middle of the dough. Fold one side over the butter, then the other and pinch the sides so that the butter is locked in.
  • Roll it out into another rectangle and place in the fridge 30 minutes to harden.
  • Take out of fridge. On a lightly floured surface, fold the sides up like a letter again and, with the short side facing you, roll out into another 16 x 10 inch rectangle. Fold the ends up like a letter.

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  • Turn dough again so the short side is facing you, and use the rolling pin to press down into a third 16 x 10 inch rectangle. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in the fridge to chill for at least 4 hours or overnight.

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  • To form the croissants, cut the dough in half and place one half in the fridge while working with the other half. Roll out into a long but not wide strip. Using a sharp knife, cut into triangles.

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  • Using both hands, roll starting at the wider side and tuck the ends together to form the crescent shape. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the croissants on the baking sheet about 2-3 inches apart, cover with a kitchen towel and set to rise in a warm place for 2 hours.

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  • Preheat to 425 degrees F or 200 C. Whisk the egg and with a pastry brush, brush the shaped dough. Bake 18 minutes or until golden brown.

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Optional: To freeze the croissants, after shaping them and placing them on the lined baking sheet, cover and freeze for 2 hours. Remove the pan and place the croissants in a freezer safe bag and seal. Immediately place back in the freezer. To bake, allow the croissants to thaw overnight in the fridge and then bake as directed.

Honeyed Almond Tart

Hello, everyone! I’m back. Finally… I’ve been so busy with writing and editing my book that it has taken a toll on my baking. I have a whole slew of recipes to add. I’ll begin with this yummy and super simple almond tart.

 

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I found the recipe on David Lebovitz’s website. It is extremely simple to make and incredibly delicious. I made mine without the egg (by mistake), and it was delicious and held together. In our world where everyone is allergic or intolerant to something, this dessert is great because it can easily become a vegan option (you just have to replace the butter with margarine).

 

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Sweet Crust
½ cup almond powder
¾ cup + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
3 tbsp sugar
¼ tsp salt
90 g butter, chilled and cubed
2 tbsp cold water

 

1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF or 200ºC.
2. Line a round baking pan with parchment.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the almond powder, flour, sugar, and salt. Add the butter and whisk until crumbly. Pour in the water and whisk until it just comes together. Ball up and press onto the parchment.
4. Bake for 12 minutes or until golden.
5. Remove from oven but it keep the oven on.

 

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Caramelized Almond Topping
60 g salted butter
¼ cup brown sugar
2 tbsp liquid honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup raw sliced almonds

 

1. While the dough is baking, make the topping by melting the butter, sugar, and honey in a saucepan until the sugar has dissolved (1-2 minutes).

2. Remove from the heat, and add the vanilla extract and the sliced almonds. Stir until the nuts are perfectly coated with the honey caramel.

3. Scrape the mixture onto the baked crust. Spread evenly.

4. Bake for 12 minutes until the whole tart is golden.

5. Let cool before slicing.

 

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Salted Caramel Ganache Tart

Last night, I organized a small get-together at my house. I wondered what to bake that was going to be a crowd pleaser and that would be more refined than a cupcake (although I do adore my cupcakes). There are many to come since this month is full of babyshowers…

But before I start whipping up some fluffly clouds of frosting, I decided to melt chocolate and sugar and make a delectable tart. This recipe is really an ode to fleur de sel, which is a flaky, delicate salt used in either baking or cooking. I nearly only buy this sort of salt because the flavor it imparts on everything is well-balanced and adds a delicate crunch to desserts.

 

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The only thing I would do differently is chill my dough in a ball and roll it out to make the crust a little thinner. However, pressing it in does make it a heck of a lot faster and easier, and honestly super good as well!

Recipe inspired by Jamie from her blog, My Baking Addiction

 

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makes 6 small tarts or 1 large one

 

Chocolate Crust

1 1⁄2 cups flour 1⁄4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 10 tablespoons salted butter, cubed and softened 1⁄2 cup confectioner’s sugar 2 egg yolks 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, and salt, and set aside.
  2. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy; mix in yolks and vanilla.
  3. Add in dry ingredients.
  4. Divide dough into 6 equal portions or into 1 and press each portion into the bottom and sides of your tart shell. Choose one with a removable bottom. Makes it much easier to pop out once it is done.
  5. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F or 180 C.
  6. Prick the tart shells all over with a fork. Bake until cooked through, about 13-15 minutes.

 

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Salted Caramel

1 1⁄2 cups sugar 1 tsp fleur de sel ¼ cup + 2 tbsp water ¼ cup + 2 tbsp unsalted butter ¼ cup + 2 tbsp lightened cream 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  1. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, melt sugar, salt, water, and butter.
  2. Bring to a boil and cook until a candy thermometer inserted into the syrup reads 340 F or 170 C. If you don’t have a thermometer, just cook for approximately 5 minutes or until the sugar has melted and the caramel has turned a light blond color.
  3. Remove pan from heat and whisk in the cream and vanilla (the mixture will bubble up).
  4. Pour the caramel into the tart shell and refrigerate until firm, about 1-2 hours.
  5. Be super careful not to burn yourself when you place the tart shell in the fridge.

 

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Bittersweet Ganache

1⁄2 cup lightened cream

115 g bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

1-2   tsp Fleur de Sel for garnish

 

  1. Place the chopped-up chocolate in a large bowl.
  2. In another bowl, pour the cream and warm it up 1 minute in the microwave.
  3. Drip the cream over the chocolate and stir with a rubber spatula until smooth.
  4. Spoon the ganache over the chilled caramel filling and refrigerate until set, 1-2 hours.
  5. Sprinkle tart with sea salt and slice. Serve cold.

 

Chocolate Tart with Chocolate Graham Cracker-Hazelnut Crust

Chocolate Tart with Chocolate Graham Cracker-Hazelnut Crust

This post is really about the crust. The filling is the same as the original chocolate tart I posted about a while ago, which I will reiterate for you here. But the crust on this one, well, let’s just say it may have been a stroke of genius on my part, no biggie. 😉 Basically it came about when I was browsing the flour aisle at the supermarket and found ground hazelnut meal/flour. Now I’ve long been a fan of almond meal but have never seen hazelnut meal before, so of course with absolutely no idea of what I would do with it, I just knew I had to get some. Then yesterday, while planning the menu out for a little ladies’ night get-together I was having, I had my eureka moment. Nutella (chocolate + hazelnut) = delicious so Chocolate Graham Cracker-Hazelnut Crust = amazing! There you have it. The infinitely unimportant story behind my crust. Now on to the important part, telling you how make it. Thank me later!

Recipe:

Chocolate Tart with Chocolate Graham Cracker-Hazelnut Crust:

Serves 8-10 (depending on how generous you’re feeling)

Crust:

3/4 cup finely ground chocolate graham crackers (or other chocolate cookies)

3/4 cup hazelnut meal (alternatively, you can grind your own. Remove the skin on the Hazelnuts first though by rubbing them in a towel.)

4-5 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Filling:

1/2 cup heavy cream

3/4 cup milk (I used 1% milk with great success)

9 oz bittersweet chocolate (not more than 65% or the tart will be extremely bitter)

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 large eggs

1/4 tsp salt

  1. Preheat your oven to 350˚F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the ground graham crackers, ground hazelnuts  and butter. Stir together until they are fully combined and the crumbs look very wet.
  3. Press the mixture into a 9-in round tart pan (preferably with removable bottom).
  4. Bake for 10 minutes and allow to cool for  15-20 minutes.
  5. In a small saucepan, combine the cream and milk. Bring to a boil.
  6. Pour the hot mixture over your chocolate and stir until the chocolate is fully melted.
  7. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla and salt. Add a couple tablespoons of the hot chocolate mixture to your egg mixture, whisking vigorously to temper the eggs.
  8. Pour the tempered eggs into the chocolate mixture and whisk.
  9. Pour the filling into the pie crust.
  10. Bake for 20-25 minutes. The filling will remain wobbly and will firm up as it cools.
  11. Serve room temperature with a simple whipped cream on the side. This pie is best enjoyed the day it is made!

US or EU (no flour used)

Pecan Pie with Agave Nectar

I’ve been holding onto this recipe for a very long time now with every intention of whipping it up and posting it. Thanksgiving was the perfect time for me to make it so now I have pictures to accompany this fantastic and slightly original pie recipe.

 

 

Agave nectar, for those of you who are not familiar with it, is sugar that comes from the Cactus. The nectar is slightly thinner than honey, 1 ½ times sweeter than sugar, and has a lower glycemic index. So, all in all, it’s great to have around your kitchen.

Now let’s talk pie dough. There are lots of recipes out there and most consist of the same ingredients: water, butter, and flour. This one though, has the added kick of vodka. I read about this recipe a while ago in a Better Homes and Garden. It said the vodka would make the pie flaky. IT DID! Greatest culinary trick I’ve learned in a long time.

 

 

Tart shell

1 cup (250 g) cold butter, cut into pieces

1 tbsp sugar powdered sugar

2 cups flour

1 tsp salt

¼ cup cold water

¼ cup vodka (I used Absolut)

 

  1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, the sugar, the salt, and all the pieces of butter. Process until the mixture is crumbly.
  2. With your fingers, press it into a ball and wrap it up in plastic wrap.
  3. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  4. Take your dough out 30 minutes before rolling it out. Sprinkle a sheet of wax paper or your work surface with flour and place your dough on top of it. Roll it out so that it fits your round tart shell.
  5. With the extra pieces of dough, you can cut them out to either make cookies to eat or decorate the top of your pie with.
  6. Place the sheet of wax paper directly into your pie mold and cut off the excess dough and paper— leave about ½ inch of overhanging dough. Prick the bottom with a fork and refrigerate until your filling is ready.

Pecan Topping

6 tbsp (95 g) melted butter

¾ (105 g) cup packed brown sugar

½ cup agave nectar

2 tsp vanilla extract

½ tsp salt

3 eggs

2 cups raw pecan halves or pieces

 

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 F or 180 C.
  2. Melt the butter in a saucepan with the brown sugar and agave nectar until the sugar is completely dissolved.
  3. Let mixture cool off for a few minutes, then whisk in the eggs, the salt, and the vanilla extract.
  4. Pour into the tart shell and place it in the oven for 45-50 min or until the pie dough is golden and the filling has set.

EU

 

Maple-Pecan Crustless Pie

Oooo have I got a recipe for you! Three words: easy, delicious, maple! Are you convinced to read on? Okay, good. Because you won’t regret it. The other day I was craving pecan pie and maple squares. Mmmmm… But I didn’t have the energy to make either one. So I came up with the next best thing, maple-pecan crustless pie. How does it all hold together without a crust you ask? Good question. The maple and eggs cook together and firm up beautifully. You can serve it up just like a tart! I highly recommend baking this in a 9-inch glass pie dish. And the prep takes all of 5 minutes. Seriously. So stop reading my babbling and start making this right now! This might just become a new favorite of yours. It certainly is one of mine!

Recipe:

Maple-Pecan Crustless Pie:

7 oz ground cookie crumbs (I used LU Le Petit Beurre)

3 large eggs

1 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed

1/4 cup salted butter, melted

1 1/2 cups pecans

  1. Preheat your oven to 350˚F.
  2. Line the bottom of your pie dish with the cookie crumbs.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, maple syrup, sugar and salted butter.
  4. Add the pecans and stir.
  5. Pour the mixture over the cookie crumbs.
  6. Bake for 35-40 minutes until puffed and set.
  7. Allow to cool on a cooling rack. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream!

US or EU

Chocolate Tart

This chocolate tart is the easiest, most delicious chocolate tart ever! Seriously, this tart inspired the expression: “easy as pie”. Ok maybe it didn’t. But it seriously is that easy. Oh and did I mention how delicious it is? This is the tart dreams are made of. A velvety chocolate filling in a chocolate graham cracker crust… Mmmmmm This recipe was adapted from Gourmet’s seriously gorgeous Chocolate-Glazed Chocolate Tart. My version isn’t quite as pretty and shiny but it’s a lot lighter in calories. I left off the glaze (don’t worry you won’t miss it at all!) and I cut the cream in half in the filling (again, you won’t even notice the change!). Now go make this tart and thank me later 🙂 !

Recipe:

Chocolate Tart (adapted from Gourmet’s Chocolate-Glaze Chocolate Tart):

Crust:

1 1/4 cup chocolate graham cracker crumbs, finely ground (Tip: Can’t find chocolate graham crackers? Try Chocolate Teddy Grahams or alternatively you could try a chocolate wafer cookie)

4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted (Tip: if your crumbs seem to dry, add an extra tbsp of butter)

Filling:

1/2 cup heavy cream

3/4 cup milk (I used 1% milk with great success)

9 oz bittersweet chocolate (not more than 65% or the tart will be extremely bitter)

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 large eggs

1/4 tsp salt

  1. Preheat your oven to 350˚F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs and butter. Stir together until they are fully combined and the crumbs look very wet.
  3. Press the mixture into a 9-in round tart pan (preferably with removable bottom).
  4. Bake for 10 minutes and allow to cool for  15-20 minutes.
  5. In a small saucepan, combine the cream and milk. Bring to a boil.
  6. Pour the hot mixture over your chocolate and stir until the chocolate is fully melted.
  7. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla and salt. Add a couple tablespoons of the hot chocolate mixture to your egg mixture, whisking vigorously to temper the eggs.
  8. Pour the tempered eggs into the chocolate mixture and whisk.
  9. Pour the filling into the pie crust.
  10. Bake for 20-25 minutes. The filling will remain wobbly and will firm up as it cools.
  11. Serve room temperature with a simple whipped cream on the side. This pie is best enjoyed the day it is made!

Christophe’s Cherry Clafoutis

Another French dessert I made last night for my brothers-in-law and my husband who are somewhat of clafoutis-aholics. I got this recipe from Christophe who is probably the best chef in the world (no joke). It is super easy to make and adaptable to infinity (i.e. you can make it with any fruit). I hope he won’t be mad at me for sharing his family recipe but it is just the best. Trust me!

80 g white sugar + 2 tbsp sugar (to sprinkle in the baking dish)
1 packet of vanilla sugar (approx 10g)
½ liter light or normal cream
150 g 2% milk
1 tsp fine sea salt
110 g all-purpose flour
4 eggs
40 g butter, cut into little pieces
500 g pitted cherries (or other fruit)
Extra butter for greasing the clafoutis mold

1. Preheat your oven to 350°F and grease a glass, porcelain, or ceramic pie mold like this one (http://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/apilco-porcelain-quiche-dish/?pkey=cpie-pans-tart-pans ), then sprinkle it with the 2 tbsp of sugar.
2. In a small baking dish, deposit cherries (or cut up peaches, or raspberries…) and bake for 10 minutes in your 350°F oven. Drain them and discard the juice. Place them on the bottom of your pie mold in one layer.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the eggs and the remaining sugar until the mixture whitens. Add the flour, the salt, then the cream and milk.
4. Pour the mixture over the cherries. Dot the top with the cubed butter and bake for 30-35 minutes or until flan is golden brown.

EU & US

 

For 12 slices: 223 calories per slice

Apricot and Lime Crumble Tart

I went to a farmer’s market the other day and picked up 6 pounds of fresh apricots. A person can only eat so many so, before they softened up too much, I made a pie. The tartness of the stone fruit is sweetened by the crumble mixture on top. You can add raw slivered almonds before sliding the pie in the oven if you’d like, or crushed hazelnuts. Delicious…



Tart Shell

200g cold butter, cut into pieces
60g powdered sugar
330g flour
1 tsp salt
¼ cup cold water (more or less)

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and prepare a pie mold by lightly misting it with cooking spray.
2. In a bowl, combine the flour, the powdered sugar, the salt, and all the pieces of butter. Beat until the mixture is crumbly, then slowly pour in the water one tablespoon at a time until your dough comes together. If it becomes sticky, add more flour; if it is too dry, add more water.
3. Make a ball and wrap it in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 min and up to 1 hour.
4. Sprinkle a clean surface with flour and place your dough on top of it. Roll it out so that it fits your round tart shell. Place the rounded flattened raw dough into your pie mold and cut off the excess dough with kitchen scissors.

Apricot Topping

2 lbs apricots, quartered
½ cup sugar
1 lime (juice and grated rind)
¼ cup cornstarch

1. Place all ingredients in a bowl and let sit until the sugar dissolves completely. Approximately 15-30 min.
2. Spoon your apricot mixture onto your raw pie dough.



Crumble

½ cup brown sugar
½ cup flour
½ cup cold unsalted butter, cut into little cubes
½ cup rolled oats
1 tsp salt

1. Combine all ingredients until batter is crumbly.
2. Scatter pieces of dough unevenly over entire pie and bake for approximately 40 minutes or until your pie is golden and the apricot mixture has turned glossy.

EU

Tarte Tropezienne

After a weekend in St Tropez where I ate way too many Tartes Tropezienne (a brioche filled with vanilla pastry cream), I came back home and decided to try and make it. I dedicate this dessert to my friend Megan who lived and breathed this stuff the entire weekend. I think she still dreams of it a week later…

Brioche

300 g of all-purpose flour

4 g of salt

20 g of white sugar

3 eggs

15 g of yeast (not instant – the real baker’s stuff)

2 tbsp of warm milk

100 g room-temp butter

100 g of rock sugar

  1. In a small bowl, mix the yeast, the white sugar, and the milk, and let stand a few minutes.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment, pour the flour, the salt, the yeast mixture, the eggs, and the butter. Beat on medium speed for 3 to 5 minutes until your dough is glossy and elastic.
  3. Make a ball and place it in a clean, lightly oiled bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 1 ½ to 2 hours or until doubled in size.
  4. Place it in a tart mould and flatten it out with damp fingers. Let rise again for another hour.
  5. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Sprinkle the top of the brioche with all of the rock sugar. Bake for 10 minutes (you don’t want your brioche to brown – mine was too brown), then cover the top with foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes.
  6. Let cool before slicing in half.

 

Vanilla-Bean Pastry Cream


1 liter of 2% milk

1 vanilla bean, sliced in ½ lengthwise

200 g of white sugar

8 egg yolks

140 g of all-purpose flour

200 g of room-temp butter

1 tsp of salt

  1.  Scrape the vanilla bean and place the seeds and the pod in a saucepan with the milk. Warm over medium-high heat until the milk simmers. At that point turn off the heat and cover with a lid to let the vanilla infuse.
  2. In another bowl, beat the yolks and the sugar until the mixture whitens. Add the flour and the salt, and beat until well incorporated.
  3. Rid the milk of the vanilla pod, then slowly pour it over your yolks all the while whisking. Don’t stop whisking or you might cook your yolks! When your mixture is smooth, pour it back into the saucepan. Heat to medium-high without ever stopping whisking. You most probably will experience a mild arm cramp by this point but you must not stop beating the cream. It will thicken in approximately 2-3 minutes. The result will be worth the pain. 🙂
  4. Take your mixture off the stove and let it cool down. Then add the butter, piece by piece. If the cream separates, refrigerate for an hour then whisk again.

 

To assemble:

  1. Slice the brioche in half. Place all the pastry cream (or nearly all – you can use the extra to ladle on a cooked tart shell which you could then cover with sliced strawberries) on the bottom layer, then cover with top layer.
  2. Refrigerate for at least an hour before slicing. It is completely normal that some pastry cream leaks out when you cut through it.
EU
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