Chocolate Cream Puffs with Mascarpone Filling

cream

WordPress is telling me this is my 160th post!!  What??  I find it just crazy that I have baked that many things with you all.  What a great adventure it has been, and continues to be!  I just love it!

This recipe was met with plenty of excitement from my tasters.  They just knew they would love them…and they did!  What I loved about them, was how indulgent and fancy they looked…and yet they weren’t really that hard to make.   These would make a fantastic addition to any gathering.

Definitely a keeper 🙂

 

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Gâteau Basque Fantasie

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Just a little background I learned about this recipe.  If something isn’t made following  strict, French culinary rules, it might be called “Fantasie”.  A traditional Gâteau Basque is made of a sweet crust fitted into a cake pan and filled with pastry cream or jam and then topped with another layer of crust.  It is hard not to call it a pie or tourte, but it is called a gâteau because of its classic cake look. (I think mine looks more like a tart because it was too difficult to fold the sticky dough over and behind the bottom crust.  I just placed it on top of the bottom edge and pressed down to seal it up.)

Instead of the classic pastry cream or jam filling we were creating one with fruit…therefore getting the “Fantasia” attached to the name.   We were to use orange juice, apples, grapes, raisins, and nuts…or any version of that with what you had on hand. You simmer the fruit down in sugar water until there is almost no more liquid.  Pretty easy.

The crust I will say was easy to make, but very fussy to work with.  I didn’t enjoy the process much.  You roll it out, chill or freeze it and then try and mold it into a pan….without it cracking…or before it is too soft.  Good luck with that.  It was not easy and I had to mend a few tears.  If you wait too long, it is too sticky and you can’t remove it from the parchment.  I had to re-roll one of my crusts and then re-chill it slightly to get the right firmness.  I think in the end the cracking doesn’t matter because it will all bake nicely together, but during the making, it seems rather important to have it look nice.

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This one had mixed reviews from my tasters: three did not like it….two really liked it…and one said it was good but would be really good if it was just an apple filling.

Isn’t it strange how different taste can be?  I mean it is quite fascinating how people can all try the same dessert and have such different reactions.  Personally, I don’t see me making this one again…it wasn’t loved by all and that dough was just not that easy to work with.  Still so fun though!

Happy Baking!

Le Cheesecake Round Trip

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This cheesecake has roots in the United States, but after our BCM author Dorie made a few changes while living in Paris, it is now known in New York as the Paris Cheesecake.

The biggest changes are in the crust which is made from crushed spice cookies and almond flour rather than the traditional graham crackers.  These cookie crumbs are also added into the filling. This is not a hard recipe to make, but it IS rather time consuming.  It requires a 90 min bake time…another 60 min rest time in the oven…and then a 4hr+ chill time in the fridge.  This is not a dessert to be rushed.

I am not a cheesecake fan so I had no idea what to expect.  I sent it out to my first tasters and she got back to me and said her family thought:

  • “it was better than Cheesecake Factory!!  The crust was so good!”

I was like…whoa!  Better than the Cheesecake Factory!?  For those of you not in the US or familiar with this restaurant, they specialize in cheesecake…currently they have 34 flavors to choose from…I looked it up.  You can see why I was like, whoa!   So when my husband came home I told him what she said and he gave me that look like, really??  I could tell he was seriously doubting my friend on this particular assessment!

He tries it and says,

  • “that is FANTASTIC!!  She was totally right, better than Cheesecake Factory!!”

My parents had similar reactions saying it was delicious and that they loved the crust.  I could not believe the rave reviews this cheesecake received.  It is one of those recipes you would have to plan out the baking, but at least you would know it would be a winner.  My husband was already trying to think of when I could make it again. 🙂

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Bettelman

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What?

Exactly!

From our recipe intro I can read that Bettelman, meaning beggar in Alsatian is sometimes translated as bread pudding.  Not only did I not know what “Bettelman” referred to, I also had to look up Alsatian to find out where this recipe would originate from.  You can learn more from baking than one would think!  Surprising to me, Alsatian can refer to a German Shepard dog, but in our case it is referring to the Alsace region of France where the people speak Alsatian.

Now that we have some context…we find out in our intro that although this is translated as bread pudding, it is unlike any bread pudding most anyone would recognize.  It is described with a texture more like a cake.

This was a fun one.  I had no prior experience making bread pudding or even eating it for that matter.  I used challah bread that I had go stale for a few days and then soaked it and mashed it up in boiled milk.  At this point I was thinking I may not like this one. 🙂 After some soaking time, egg yolks, sugar, cinammon, apples, and vanilla are added.  I did not add the optional rum since I didn’t have any on hand, but I did add some extra vanilla to make up for the liquid difference.  This is all mixed and then egg whites are whipped and folded gingerly into the mixture.  We are told it is better to have whipped egg white showing than to thoroughly mix.  That always makes me nervous that I may have too heavy of a hand, so I went ever so carefully.

That is it.  Pour it into a deep pan and cook for about an hour at 400.  It is suppose to puff and brown and turn slightly crusty.  It smelled delicious while it was baking!

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I think all of us were a little unsure what this would taste like….but excited at the same time.  Everyone loved it saying it reminded them of a breakfast apple cake.  I am not sure anyone would have been able to guess that the main ingredient was bread.  It was great and I would totally make it again.  What I love about this recipe is that you could make it the night before you needed to serve it for breakfast.  I am not sure it is intended to have at breakfast, but that is what I would do. 🙂

Basque Macarons

Macaron

Apparently there are different types of French Macarons…depending on the region.  Who knew?  Not me!  I am only familiar with the sandwiched ones, the Parisian Macaron.  These are a simple macaron, not sandwiched but surprisingly amazing without the filling.

These cookies have a full almond flavor due to the almond flour, and a wonderful texture which is both crisp and chewy.  As one of my tasters commented, “these have a wonderful crisp shell with a chewy delight in the middle”.  This cookie is quite unassuming, plain looking actually…and easy to make.  However, every one of my tasters was almost speechless to describe why they loved these so much.

They just loved them…and couldn’t stop eating them.  I think that speaks for itself. 🙂

These are a keeper!

Smoothest, Silkiest, Creamiest, Tartest, Lime Tart

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I think this might be the longest name of a recipe we have made…and yet, I have to say, it lives up to every word. 🙂

I just love the intro’s to all of our recipes.  It gives us the background and significance of each one.  I think it gives more context as to what we are baking.  We find out this is a “version of a tart all of Paris fell in love with…a rich and refreshing crème anglaise made with fruit juice instead of the usual milk or cream”. It is cooked precisely, whirred thoroughly, and whisked vigilently to achieve its remarkable texture.  It is likened to the American, Key Lime Pie…we are told as an option we may top it with sour cream and make the usual graham cracker crust but I decided to just go for it the Parisian way.

I followed the recipe exactly, topping out at the required 180 degree max when whisking the crème anglaise.  I do believe I reached the correct consistency, but it did take a lot longer than the 2 hours to firm up in the crust.  Perhaps I was too thorough in my quick whisk after chilling when I filled the crust.  I don’t know… I am just glad I wasn’t serving this at a dinner party or something.  It might have been a little less firm than would have been ideal.  All in all, it turned out beautifully and loved by ALL.  Everyone commented on the creaminess and lightness of the custard/creme.  I think everyone was somewhat skeptical since the tart is yellow not green as one would expect from a lime tart….but maybe this helped with everyone being so blown away by how tasty and creamy it was.  I don’t know, but this one got rave reviews!!

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Coincidentally, I started this recipe an hour or two after dropping my son off at the airport for a trip to Europe.  Imagine my chuckle when I saw that this was a Parisian recipe….he was on a plane headed to Paris at that very moment.  I thought it was fitting haha!

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Hazelnut, Ginger, and Olive Oil Cake

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I didn’t know what to expect from this recipe.  Interesting set of ingredients we have: almond flour (allowed substitution for the hazelnut), fine cornmeal, olive oil, butter, and fresh grated ginger.  I had no expectations of what this would taste like.  We are told it has its origins in France but also has influences from North Africa and Israel.

It was very straight forward to make, easy even.   I did note that I almost underestimated how big of a piece of ginger I needed to grate 1T…it is deceiving. I thought I had plenty and ended up right on the money.  We are told this is a weekend cake that is great on its own but also with sugared berries or ice cream.

I think this cake was really good…even plain!  It seemed like the strawberries almost over powered the cake.  You lost the unique flavor a bit.   The texture wasn’t really like cornbread, more like a loaf cake, but the flavor sure reminded  me of it…with a little ginger zing!

Surprisingly, this was not loved by all…it was about half and half and the half that didn’t love it, actually didn’t care for it at all.  That has been a rare event in this baking adventure.  I can only remember maybe one or two recipes where my tasters didn’t care for a recipe at all.

It was a unique one but I think we all would agree, we loved the experience!