Bettelman

cake

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. 🙂

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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

loaf

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!

Cold Chocolate Crémeux, Wine-Poached Cherries and Lots of Crumbs

cream

 

The picture in our cookbook made the crémeux look like a scoop of ice cream…that is what it looks like, but it is actually harder to describe than that.  It is mousse-like, ganache-like, or more simply a pastry cream thickened with gelatin.  It did seem like the perfect dessert for this hot California summer….hottest July on record!

Few of my thoughts:

I struggled with the custard portion of the crémeux.  At least I think I struggled.  I actually made the custard twice, making a determined effort the second time to get a more silky result.  Same result both times…ugh.  Maybe my expectations weren’t correct. I was expecting a pastry cream and it just wasn’t the same consistency.  I went ahead and used the second custard I made, and it seemed just fine.   Anyone else with that problem?  Also, this was very rich…very rich.  It did seem like you were eating ganache rather than a cream and only needed a small amount.

I am not a wine fan…or a cherry fan for that matter, but interestingly the process of the wine poaching smelled really good…and the syrup tasted pretty good too.

The cocoa crumbs we have made before…and honestly those could be added on any dessert.  So simple, yet so good.

I wasn’t sure how this dessert was going to go over…pretty gourmet for my tasting crew, but this is what it is all about.  Unless we went to a French restaurant, where would we ever get to try something as grand as this??

Imagine my surprise then when I get this text:

“Hey Kim, Do you have any more of the dessert?  It was fantastic.  Mom and I think it displaced one of the top 5!!”

I was like whoa!  Who knew?!!  I told my husband and son, you need to try this because my parents loved it.  They were a little skeptical, but are always my trusted and loyal tasters. Honestly, sharing my creations is the best part of the baking.  I am always curious what others think since I am not a dessert lover.

They were not so blown away…they enjoyed it, but couldn’t quite embrace loving it.  They both kept saying it was interesting…and rich.  They are not cherry fans so I am sure that had something to do with it.  I tried a bite without the cherries and enjoyed the flavors and the crumbs.

All in all, fun as usual.  Not sure I would make this again, that is unless my parents requested it. 🙂

 

 

Vanilla-Bean Sablés

sable

In our recipe, Dorie tells us that “In the American world of cookies, the chocolate chip is the icon.  In the French world, it’s the sablé, a simple shortbread cookie notable for its fine texture-snappy around the edges, cakier in the center, fresh butter flavor and, often, its bit of saltiness.”

These cookies are simple…not really too much to say about the making and baking, although the dough is a little fussy, but I do think it is fun to learn more about what we are baking and why it might be popular, especially to certain regions.  Also interesting to note is the name sablé means “sandy” which describes the cookie’s characteristic texture.  This we learn, is accomplished by mixing at low speeds so very little air is added and secondly, being very quick and gentle when adding the flour all at once. Baked perfectly, they should be brown around the edges and golden on the bottom.  To me, they look slightly burnt…but I have never had a sablé in France. 🙂

We all loved these…although it would be interesting to ask everyone which they prefer…the chocolate chip or the sablé!

Me…no contest!  The chocolate chip! 🙂 🙂

Classic Fruit Tart

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We are told in our recipe that there are only 3 elements so each one must be very good.  “The crust should be beautifully brown; not pale, the pastry cream should be silky, cold, and well flavored, and the berries should be ripe.”  Sounds pretty straight forward compared to some other recipes we have tackled!

  1. We have made this Sweet Tart Dough many times, so that was easy.  I made my tart into 5 mini ones just to be different and so I could use my mini pans 🙂
  2. The Vanilla Pastry Cream we have also made before, so that was easy.  I had an easier time with it this time since I knew to pull it off the heat at first signs of it thickening.
  3. Ripe berries out here in California, was really easy!

All in all, this was an easy dessert to pull together.  Everyone loved it with the only suggestion being, that a dollop of whipped cream would have put it over the top!

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