Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Ginger Crème Brulée

Rainy days had come more than a fortnight ago and apparently they won't drop off soon. The sky opens its womb and pours itself furiously day after day. Heavy drops of water are performing wild dances of crop massacre. When I left Vetren last week the garden was already looking like marshland and I don't even want to imagine what it's like today – strawberries rotting on the ground while still green, courgettes drowned in mud, weeds prospering, roses weeping musty petals. I hope the weather would prove me wrong, but I've already stricken off strawberries and cherries from my baking plans. I'm keeping my fingers crossed there would be at least something left of the apricots, raspberries and tomatoes – the holy summer trinity for me.

Till better times for the garden produce come I'm beating the rainy melancholy and the drenched mood with ginger, which also is a great warm-me-up for the soaking wet days. And I was just looking for an occasion to use the blow torch. Usually it's always Ivan who has all the fun with the blow torch but this time it was my turn.

Ginger Crème Brulée Recipe:
Makes 6 small ramekins 6x3cm
  • 200 gr heavy cream;
  • 70 gr milk;
  • 3-4 cm ginger;
  • ¼ vanilla pod;
  • 35 gr sugar;
  • 3 egg yolks;
  • sugar for caramelizing on top.
Preheat the oven to 150ºC.

Cut the ginger into thin lamellas. Combine cream and milk into a heavy bottomed saucepan, add in ginger and vanilla pod(cut lengthwise and seeded), bring to a boil. Turn off the heat, cover the saucepan and let infuse for half an hour, then strain and discard the ginger and vanilla pieces.

Whisk the egg yolks together with the sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the infused cream-milk mixture. Divide amongst 6 small ramekins(6x3cm).

Place the ramekins into a baking dish and pour enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins, just take care not to pour water into the ramekins. Bake until the crème brulée is set but still trembling in the center, around 25-30 minutes. When cooled down, refrigerate the crème for several hours.

Before serving sprinkle an uniform layer of sugar on top of the crème and caramelize it with a blow torch.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Raspberry Financiers

Tea makes great part of our life. On our way back from Paris both of our suitcases were packed with tea and teaware. (Of course there were also 3 kilos of chocolate couverture, a kilo of cocoa butter, sac of 50 vanilla beans, small packet of tonka beans, a jar of malted almond spread, black sesame paste, spices and more chocolate.)

My catalogue booklet from Le Palais des Thés became worn out with my notes and remarks in it since I was bringing it alongside all the time just in case we pass near one of their shops and have the stir for tea which of course happened to be almost every day. Other tea shopping stops of ours were Jugetsudo, which is especially good place for buying reasonably priced pastry grade matcha tea, and a couple of shops in the Chinese neighbourhood for teaware acquisitions.

And since we've been avid tea drinkers for over 6 years, but there are no other tea lovers amongst our friends, we decided to share our tea passion with you. I really don't know why we haven't done this till now.

Making a state I must say that we rarely drink tea with the main course, wine goes better there, while for us tea is to be enjoyed with desserts or just on its own. We'll be happy if you join the tea-desserts topic with us, all ideas and suggestions are very welcome.

Financiers are easy and quick to make, besides we always have egg whites in abundance, so this is a good way to put them in use. And raspberries make the whole thing even better with their strong flavour and tangy notes.

Tea – when there are red fruits and especially raspberries involved, Japanese tea comes at once to the mind and Tamaryokucha tea was our choice on the spot.

Raspberry Financiers Recipe:
Makes 15

  • 135 gr egg whites;
  • 90 gr sugar;
  • 65 gr almond meal;
  • 45 gr all purpose flour;
  • 100 gr butter;
  • sometimes we add 15 gr of desiccated coconut for chewiness, but omitted it this time;
  • fresh or frozen raspberries.
In a small saucepan brown the butter until fragrant and nutty. Leave it to cool down.

Preheat the oven to 180º C.

In a bowl, sift together almond meal and flour, add in coconut shreds, if using.

Beat egg whites and granulated sugar to firm, glossy peaks. Fold in the dry ingredients, then fold in the browned butter.

Divide the batter amongst 15 silicone moulds. Top with several raspberries.

Bake for 18 – 20 minutes or until done.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Pastry Adventures in Paris – Part II

hot chocolate at Un Dimanche à Paris

We had the luck of having spring sunny smiles all the time we were in Paris, except for one Sunday when we went picnicking and it rained all the day but that didn't deter us from keeping to our intentions.

But good weather has its downs, it's not that I'm complaining of the sun, not at all, but when it's warm there is no hot chocolate. I don't get it – what has the weather to do with one's desires for a potent, flavourful, pungent cup of hot chocolate. It gives warmth when it's cold but it's a great pick-me-up for the hot days too.

Fortunately Un Dimanche à Paris helped us to struggle with the hot chocolate abstinence. First we went there for a take away hot chocolate, but they serve it in tiny paper coffee cups – it was strong and smooth, and velvety, and... oh, so good, but the cups were so small that left us only longing for more. So the next day we returned for a new dose of mighty chocolate intoxication.

The Opera entremet just made it further more decadent.

Choux Pistache - Fruits Rouges
was a true taste bud pleaser – fresh, light and memorable.

Considering that before going to Un Dimanche à Paris we went to Pierre Hermé for a couple of pastries and snagged some croissants on the way, I daresay we had a busy day. Of course we headed to the Luxembourg garden – our favourite place for munching on pastries.

Tarte Infiniment Vanille appeared to be very hard to photograph especially with the bright sun and me drooling over it, but we both liked it very much, but of course this was predictable.

However, Plentitude was really surprising piece - it wasn't an ordinary chocolate pastry since the chocolate on top was salted and this gave the whole entremet lovely tangy notes.

I just saw that the recipe for Plentitude is published in Pierre Hermé's Larousse du Chocolat so we're making it soon.

Adam from one of my favourite Paris related dessert blogs – Paris Patisseries mentions a lot Jacques Genin and actually this is the only patisserie he has never criticised. So we headed there. This place proved to be super cool. It even exceeded all our expectations. Monsieur Genin's creations are simple but so tasteful. One of the desserts we chose was Millefeuille Vanille-Framboise. I haven't even thought one could tuck so much vanilla into pastry cream. The flavour was irresistible. And look at that puff pastry – it's my new measure for the perfection.

Ephémère marron was our second choice – again it was fully packed with flavour. I didn't suppose I would like so much a chestnut entremet.

Oh, I forgot to mention Jacques Genin's caramels which were a true killer, especially the mango and ginger ones.

this is how the cold drip coffee is being extracted

Till now I'd always found Paris isn't the best place for coffee afficionados. But things have changed with the opening of Coutume Café. We went there early in the morning( ah... ok then, it was around 10.30 am, but I told you we were on foot, besides we've never been early birds) in order to catch their cold extraction coffee, also known as cold drip, 24 hour drip or Kyoto style coffee. It has nothing to do with the espresso coffee.

In fact, we both found, the cold drip has more in common with coffee liqueur but without the alcohol boost. Shortly, it's not your ordinary coffee. And apparently the caffeine content is higher because both Ivan and I were overexcited afterwords.

inside La Pâtisserie des Rêves

Apparently our early going to Coutume was not early enough because there were no croissants left for breakfast. We both needed something to eat to neutralize the caffeine impact so we headed to La Pâtisserie des Rêves which was nearby.

We left the pastries for another day, which unfortunately never came, and took a couple of croissants, brioche (which was the same as croissant but in different shape) and kouign amann. At the look of the futuristic interior I just couldn't restrain myself of snagging a couple of photos.

The only disappointment we had during our hilarious pastry binges was at Carl Marletti. Not only both of the pastries we tried were stale but the heavy cream was in such an abundance that made them really ecoeurant.

Paradis Latin was way beyond it's shelf life since some of the red fruits inside were mouldy.

And the Lily Valley – we would actually have liked it if it were fresher, since the violet notes are pleasingly tangible, but unfortunately it was not.

On the other hand, we felt in love with Hugo et Victor. We tried the Hugo and the Victor versions of Passion. The sugar content is extremely diminished but the flavour is utterly strong. I dare say that Passion Hugo even tends to be on the sour side but it was delectably refreshing.

Shortly(or not so) these were the pastries we ate in front of the camera.


Related Posts with Thumbnails