31.7.11

The End of Petit Fours

Our section on petit fours has sadly come to an end, but I had to update you all on what we did on the last two days.

We got to filling the pink macaron with a raspberry filling we made with fresh raspberries and raspberry puree. We also made the French meringue method for macaron...and they are chocolate...could it get any better?....yup! We made earl grey chocolate ganache to fill those babies. So fragrant and decadent.



On we went with making more mini tarts. Apple toasted almond and fresh fruit with pastry cream..


The apple tarts are filled with yup, apples, which we diced and sauteed with cinnamon, sugar and of course butter, just until tender and we top them with an almond streusel and bake...easy but so buttery, flaky and sweet. The pastry cream tarts are of course a sweet dough filled with a vanilla custard and topped with beautifully cut up fruit. Probably one of my favorite French staple desserts. We made them special by making a citrus candied zest as a garnish and as a pop of flavor.


The last treat we made was Almond Tuile, normally served as a garnish in multiple shapes and forms, but also served as a petit four in bakeries and pastry shoppes. It is a thin crisp sweet or sometimes savory cookie or wafer made with dough or sugar. Tuile, meaning tile in French and meant to resemble French roof tiles.
 





Sugar and Almonds? How could anyone not like them. Tricky little suckers to make....they have to be baked for just the right amount of time, just like so many French pastries...not to little, but not too much...just right! We dont want to under or over bake these tuiles because we want them to bend and shape perfectly once we pull them from the oven...but not as soon as they come out....just mere seconds after...definitely a product to keep your eye on.

Petit fours have been fun, and I think I am ready to step away and move on to breads and breakfast pastries for the next two weeks...Im ready to roll up my sleeves, whip out the muscles and get kneading and rolling!

Look for it....up tomorrow: blueberry muffins, brioche and toast bread!

-N

27.7.11

Reptition is key!

Hello all!

They really want to make sure that we try certain recipes multiple times so we can get it down to a sciene.

I am good with that....with that being said, today was filled with yummy meringues.

We made more macaron shells! Pink this time ( and hearts too) You totally can tell its a class filled with 17 women. We will be filling our macaron with a raspberry filling we will be making tomorrow...







We baked our yummy chocolate financiers in the shape of bouchons (corks)...they are little delights and delicious warm if I may add.




We also made almond cream which we filled our almond sable (tart dough) with to make little almond pear tartlettes. We topped them with small pieces of poached pears and once baked topped with a mirror glaze and chopped pistachios. They are yummmy and really cute too..
Myself and my partner  made ours into little boat shapes rather then the demo which was round.


If that was not enough we had to make meringue delight..again!
This time I was pretty happy with my mernigue and we learned some new piping techniques as well. 

-N

26.7.11

Opera et Macaron

Happy Monday and Tuesday!

The last few days have required quite a bit of prep.

We finally made French buttercream (the buttercream that include egg yolks)...I would say more buttery but less sweetness compared to the Italian buttercream we made last week. We even added an almond and hazelnut praline. yum yum..

So with that being said, we filled our macaron. Which now have to sit in the cooler for 2 days before we can mangia! The cream adds moisture to the dry almond cookie allowing the macaron to be one complete bite, we wouldnt want our cream filling shooting out as we go to take a big bite.

We assembled are Opera cake with the layers of joconde (almond cake) we made on Friday and added layers of coffee buttercream and chocolate ganache. A French version of the Tiramisu basically! This cake although a popular French petit four or petit gateaux is quite time consuming and let me say a pain in the ass to cut! Everytime you slice through the cake you have to wipe your knife in hot water for precise 1 x 1 inch sqaures. But I will say all the effort is worth it..they are beautiful once cut and make people smile:)



We went on to making chocolate espresso tartlettes. 
A chocolate sweet dough gets filled with an espresso filling, baked to set slightly and then gets enrobed in a chocolate shiny mirror glaze and we cant forget a garnish of cocoa nibs.
A nice balance on the palette, not to chocolate, not to coffee- all just very rich, dark and delightful.





Wow these last few days really were all about chocolate, nuts, and coffee- we even prepped financiers again. This time in chocolate flavor which we will be baking tomorrow- so come back soon to see those lovelies.

I hope your not salivating tooo badly at your computer screen, I promise only 5 more months until I can feed you all:)

Bonsoir!

-N

23.7.11

Little yum yums

I was a tad too tired after yesterday to blog the events happening in the kitchen, but rise and shine, here I am.

So I know you are all trying to guess what we made yesterday.

Here it is:

Macarons
Madeleines
Financiers

Like I mentioned the other day, the madeleine and financiers batters had to sit in the fridge overnight so the starches would release and thicken the batter.

Madeleines are a very small sponge cake with a distinctive shell like acquired shape from being baked in a pan with a shell shaped pan. Ours had an addition of lemon zest for a burst of flavor.

These were alot of fun to make, we got to watch the whole 7 minute process of them baking.
The madeleines have quite a story, they may have come from a 19th century pastry cook, Madeleine Paulmier but other sources have it that this same Madeleine was a servant for Stanislaw Lezczynski whose son in law, Louis XV of France named them after she made them for him.

None the less, they are delicious....soft, airy and you know always should be served day of because some claim there shelf life is 3-5 hrs after baking.

The financier is a small French cake as well, it is light, moist and similar to a sponge cake. Usually containing almond flour. The base like we discusses is a beurre noisette (brown butter), egg whites, icing sugar and flour. This little cake has said to acquire its name from the traditional rectangular mold, which resembled a bar of gold. It became popular in the Paris financial district because it was an easy, clean pastry business men could consume on the go. We added a frozen raspberry into each to add a burst of flavor and moisture to our little cakies. :)

Today is a big history lesson..im sorry but I cant help but be interested in the origin of all these little delights.

                                    Financiers

                           Watching those madeleine puff up

                                   Yum-o!
                                         Macarons!



On to the macarons, the beautiful and yummy little treat that has become the new trend all over North America. Each pastry chef trying to make the best to match up to the masters like Laduree or Pierre Herme. The sweet confection made with just egg whites, sugars, almond powder and oftentimes food coloring. The macaron is commonly filled with ganaches, buttercreams or jams to make a sandwiched cookie....but ohh so much better then a sandwiched cookie!

 Although predominantly a French confection, there has been much debate about its origins. Some have traced its French debut back to the arrival of Catherine de Medici's Italian pastry chefs whom she brought with her in 1533 upon marrying Henry II of France. These little guys are taking the world by storm and so many foreign countries have there very own additions or like creations of the macaron.

We made the shells today with no food coloring to get the basic skill under our belts. I have made these constantly at home with the French meringue method and although many times they have worked, I found no consistency. We made the meringue with the Italian method and found they were pretty consistent. We will be making more and more next week which will be good practice for sure. These little treats, so cute and yummy but yet very difficult and temperamental to make. .Our pastry chef teacher Chef Kristen says that "if your nice to the macaron and treat it as it should be, it will be nice to you"! lol

Well all, thats it until Monday! Enjoy...maybe I suggest you run out and fulfill your desires this weekend for a yummy treat..I think I have teased you enough...for just a few days at least.

Too-da-loo!
-N

21.7.11

Blueberry Streusel Tarts

Today was a pretty relaxed day....

We made the batters for Financiers and Madeleines which need to sit overnight in the cooler before they are piped and baked, so stay tuned until tomorrow to read all about there history and how they turn out.

One interesting note though was we had to make beurre noisette (brown butter) for our Financiers (brown butter cakes). The nutty flavor filled the room.

So how do we make beurre noisette?

The process:
We boil butter passed the point of clarification. The water solids evaporate and the milk solids sit at the bottom of the pot- full of flavor and a brown nutty color. A delicious addition to lots of cakes and breads.

We also made bluberry streusel tarts....perfect for the summertime.

Sweet dough lined mini 2 bite tarts filled with a fresh blueberry filling topped with almond cinnamon streusel and icing sugar.  They were quite simple just a few extra steps to make them spectacular!

Today was probably one of the hottest days of summer, but that did not stop me from coming home to make 2 delicious raspberry tarts. I took that left over sweet dough and pastry creams and whipped up to easy breezy desserts....my cousin is the lucky one who got to take those home!

I know your jealous...







Tomorrow should be a pretty happy day: madeleines, financiers, macaron and possibly apricot tarts!

Looking forward to a new day!

-N

20.7.11

Petit Fours

The answer to all your hearts desires, is the petit four!

Qu'est-ce que c'est un petit four? 

As most of you may know the petit four is a small confection eaten with a coffee or served as a dessert.
The name is from the Frencg term, meaning "small oven".


Petit Fours are divided into 2 categories:

Including Petit four secs (meaning dry) including desserts, such as baked meringues, macarons and puff pastries. 
Petit four glac├ęs (meaning iced) are iced or decorated, such as small cakes covered in fondant icing, 2 bite eclairs, and tartlets. 


So lets get started....


Whats on the agenda for the first week of petit fours.....
1. Eclairs
2. Chouquettes
3. Salambos
4. Blueberry streusel tartlets
5. Macaron
6. Dacqouise 
7. Madeleines
8. Financiers 
9. Paris brest
10. Pear almond and apricot tarts



wow thats a mouthful...



                                           Dacqousie

                                Dipping those eclairs

         Salambos dipped in dry caramel and topped with an almond 
                               Chocolate filled chouquettes

                                  PARIS BREST-YUM!


That lovely pate a choux we made last week is definitely back to stay.
It will be the base for our eclairs, chouquettes, salambos and paris brest- which you will see photos of above.  The yummy mixture as you see piped is dry once baked, hollow in the inside (ready for a burst of cream) and topped in some cases with sucre gran (large sugar granules and toasted almonda) or  fondant glazes...oh or dry caramel! 


Now onto the Dacqouise...a petit four or a dessert cake made up of layers of almond and hazelnut meringue. In the photo you will see our birds beek meringue ready for folding with the nut powders. The mixture is then scraped through a silicone stencil to get there shape. They bake and voila! We then made a filling with pastry cream, butter and walnuts. 


My new favorite are the paris brest ( created in 1891 to commerate the Paris to Brest bicycle race.
This is a love I never even knew I had! Pate a choux pastry piped into a circular shape which is representative of a wheel then filled with a filling that is a combination of vanilla pastry cream, vanilla Italian meringue buttercream- and if that doesnt already get you then this will.....hazelnut paste. It is delicious...my fellow students were squeezing it into their mouths for how much we are all in love.


I am truly excited for this section in the course because I just love little pastries that are full of so much flavor. You dont have to choose anymore! You can have one of everything!....
well maybe not everything...not in one seating at least.

Thats it for tonight all...tomorrow is a new day. Come on back for some more...
I know you taste the sweetness.

-N

15.7.11

Back to Basics

This week was our first week in the kitchen and I could not be happier to get out of the classroom and into the groove of things.

What was on the menu?
The Basics.

Egg wash

Piping butter techniques-
some of the girls, including Jessica cannot get enough! She goes home and practices for hours...all the power to you girl! She will be better then all of us one day I am sure:)

Pastry cream
Almond cream (frangipane)
Pate a choux
Sweet dough
Italian buttercream
Meringue delight

Today was the only day I documented photos from because the others seemed to be too simple.


Chef Dimitri showed us all he's got and at times frustrated with the recipes in the book, would do things his way! "non non non....se impossible" haha Sounds good to me.

Things to note: don't waste product, stay relaxed and be clean! 
                
                         Chef Dimitri demonstrating Pate a choux!


            A little looser then I normally make em...but still pretty!

                 How cute...I need to get that pastry cream in there!


Pate a choux and Meringue delights! How Exciting.

Pate a choux is a light pastry dough used to make profiteroles, croquembouches, eclairs, St.Honore cake and the list goes on. ooo..and ice cream would be delic inside these babies.
It is definitely a staple recipe for the French.

Made from just milk, water, flour, a pinch of salt and sugar, flour and of course eggs.
The process is quite interesting and I always thought they would be more difficult to make then they are, but of course each recipe requires attentiveness and some good TLC.

Onto Italian Meringue Buttercream, although I have made it this way before, I always stuck to the Swiss Meringue Buttercream for its efficiency and consistency. The Italian meringue, is the same ingredients with just a different process. You cook your sugar and water to 120 degrees c and add it to your whipped egg whites then incorporate the butter. Still tasty but I found it a little more airy, which is always nice in a cream.

Above I have attached some photos of myself and my partner, Rodney's goodies.  Go figure the only guy in my morning stream got stuck with me for 3wks! Poor guy lol
23 anticipating weeks to go....whats next?
Petit Fours!

Keep coming back for more pastry love and mouth watering imagery.
Night fans!

10.7.11

For the love of pastry


Stay tuned all!

I have moved to Chicago and will be attending pastry school here for the next six months!

I plan on blogging my way through school, so continue checking out my blog to see what I will be  whipping up.

Check out some photos above of my new 11 x 16 ft studio apartment.
Not to worry though I have all intention in continuing the series of paintings I have been working on the past 9 months. Small room and all!