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Pecan Pie (Tart)

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Pecan Pie (Tart)

The Best pecan pie recipe!

Are you looking for the secrete to the best pecan pie ever! Look no further because I’ve got the answer for you and it isn’t something that will take hours and hours in the kitchen. It really isn’t that different than any other recipe. Find the best ingredients and combine them with great flavor and technique. This is what I made for Thanksgiving weekend and it was definitely an indulgence. My secrete to the best pecan pie is fresh vanilla bean and doubling or tripling in some cases the amount of pecans in most other recipes. In this pecan pie there is not small layer of pecans on top and then a middle section of gel ( custard) and then crust. The custard or gel in the middle is filled with pecans and vanilla along with other flavors. So the secrete is out of the bag, and now it is time to go and try for yourself. Here is the recipe I hope you enjoy it!

Tart dough

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup cold butter (1 stick), diced

1 large egg, lightly beaten

Flour, for rolling the dough

Filling:

5 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 1/8 cup packed light brown sugar

3/4 cup light corn syrup or (1/4 plus 1/8 apple low glycemic and 1/4 plus 1/8 maple syrup)

1/2 teaspoon fine salt

3 cups chopped toasted pecans

1 to 2 tablespoons bourbon

1 vanilla bean scraped or 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

3 eggs, lightly beaten

2 tsp of orange zest (optional)

For the Pie Crust

Preheat oven to 350°F with a baking sheet on middle rack.

Place all the ingredients into a food processor except for the egg. Puree for 20 seconds and then add the egg to the processor while it is still running. Puree for another 10 seconds until the dough comes together. Wrap in parchment and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 12-inch round and fit into a 11-inch tart shell. Trim edge, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Fold overhang under and lightly press against rim of shell and remove the excess dough. With a fork prick the dough all over. Place a piece of parchment paper on top of the tart and add pie weights or dried beans to weight the paper down on top of the tart. Place in the oven and bake for 22-25 minutes. Take out the pie tart and allow to cool completely. Take off the parchment and save the weights for another baking day.

For the Filling

Meanwhile, melt butter in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add brown sugar, whisking until smooth. Remove from heat and whisk in corn syrup, vanilla, zest (optional), and salt. Lightly beat eggs in a medium bowl, then whisk in corn syrup mixture.

Put pecans in the bowl with the syrup-egg mixture and mix well then pour in pie shell. Bake on sheet pan lined with parchment paper until filling is set, 35-45 minutes. Cool completely.

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Ricotta Cheesecake with Passion Fruit and Feuilletine

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Ricotta Cheesecake with Passion Fruit and Feuilletine

Cheesecake is really an easy dessert


Ricotta cheesecake

1 lb Ricotta fresh

8oz cream cheese

1 cup 3 tbsp sugar

2 oz of creme friache

1 tsp vanilla paste

1 tsp of almond extract

3 eggs

3 yolk


Hazelnut shortbread

2 cups flour

1 cup of Hazelnut

2 sticks of butter

1 tsp of salt


Passion Fruit Curd

1/2 cup of passion fruit juice (approx 12-15 fresh)

1/2 cup of sugar

3 eggs

1 stick of butter


Feuilletine recipe

For the cheesecake,

Place cheeses and sugar in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment whip for 3 minutes. Then add vanilla, and almond mixing on low. Finish with adding the eggs one at a time. Mix until a smooth batter is formed. Finish with the creme fraiche.

I lined a spring form pan with parchment paper and par baked the pecan shortbread see recipe underneath, then poured the batter on top. Bake the cheesecake in a 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until the toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool to room temperature and then place in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

For the Shortbread,

Go here to so see the recipe and just add the Hazelnut from this recipe. I placed the dough in a spring form pan lined with parchment paper and par baked it for 25 minutes.

For the Passion fruit curd,

Place all the ingredients into a small sauce pot and turn on medium low heat. Whisking continually until the curd starts to thicken. Should take about 10 minutes or so. Strain into a bowl and cool for about 10-15 minutes. Once cooled slightly, pour the curd over the top of the cheese cake and using an offset spatula smooth the top off. Place the cake back in the refrigerator until the curd is set and completely cold.

To finish,

Take the pre-baked feuilletine cookie and place 1 cup into a plastic zip lock bag. Using a mallet or your hand crush the cookies into the bag (you don’t want to pulverize them into powder you still want a little texture to them). Then using a round cookie cutter or a knife cut desired shapes from the cheesecake and take crushed feuilletine and place around the cake. Serve and enjoy!

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Biscotti with Mulberry, Blueberry, and Ricotta Ice Cream

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Biscotti with Mulberry, Blueberry, and Ricotta Ice Cream

Jp loves biscotti,  and Eloise wanted me to make some for the week of his birthday.  I also love biscotti and I don't think I had ever made it before up until this point.  I thought I could make a good dessert out of the leftover biscotti that hadn’t been eaten yet. During the summer months in Malibu we have these wonderful mulberry trees that normally produce exception mulberries. This year we didn’t get a good crop and I happen to get these from the local farmers market. These mulberries I think were of turkish or pakistani variety and were very sweet. Here is the recipe using basically nothing but leftovers; ice cream, sorbet, and biscotti with fresh fruit! Here is the recipe I hope you enjoy it!

Biscotti
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons Amaretto
2 teaspoons pure almond extract
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup whole almonds with skin, lightly toasted , cooled, and coarsely chopped plus 1/4 cup pistachio
3 large eggs
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Blueberry Sorbet
1lb of blueberries
2 cups of sugar
2 1/2 cups of water
1 lemon juiced

Strawberry gel
1 cup of strawberry juice or puree
1/4 cup of sugar
1 1/2 tsp of agar 

Ricotta Ice Cream (here)

1/2 cup Strawberries sliced, mulberries, and red vein sorrel to garnish

For the Biscotti,  Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle,

Stir together sugar, butter, amaretto, and extracts in a large bowl, then stir in almonds and eggs. Stir in flour, baking powder, and salt until just combined.  Chill dough, covered, 30 minutes.
Using moistened hands, halve dough and form 2 (16-by 2-inch) loaves on an ungreased large baking sheet. Bake until pale golden, about 30 minutes. Carefully transfer loaves to a rack and cool 15 minutes. Cut loaves into 3/4-inch slices with a serrated knife. Arrange biscotti, with a cut side down, on a clean baking sheet and bake until golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer to rack to cool completely. Then take a few pieces of the biscotti once completely cooled and place in a plastic ziplock bag with as little air as possible inside. Using a mallet crush the biscotti inside the bag, leaving rough pieces. Set aside for later use.

For the sorbet,

Place water and sugar in a pot.  Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes.  Then cool slightly and place in a blender with the 2 cups of blueberries.  Puree until smooth, and the lemon juice, then chill until completely cold.  Place in your ice cream maker according to their instructions.  Place  in an air tight container and place in the freezer until you need it.

For the strawberry gel,

Put all the ingredients in a small sauce pot.  Bring to a boil stirring consistently and cook for 5-7 minutes.  Then pour gel into a half sheet pan or baking dish.  Place in the refrigerator until the agar has set.  Then take a knife and cut the set gel into sections.  Place it all into a vita mix and puree until smooth.  Pour into a squeeze bottle and set aside until ready to use.

To finish,

On a plate add some of the strawberry gel in any design you want. Then add a hand full of the crushed biscotti on to the plate. Add the sorbet and ice cream. Finish with fresh strawberries, mulberries and red sorrel. Serve and enjoy!

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S'mores

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S'mores

Sometimes you have to go with what works and what is delicious. There are classic recipes and combinations for a reason, because they delicious.  Of course this is my interpretation of the classic s'mores.  I served a small scoop of vanilla ice cream that isn’t shown in the picture. Jp said "this was one of the best s'mores he's ever had" The addition to this recipe is the feuilletine cookie and the honey ganache. Incorporate the meringue and it is a great version to the classic. Here it is I hope you enjoy it!

Homemade Feuilletine

4 1/2 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature 4 ounces brown sugar 1 Tablespoon baking soda 6 ounces molasses optional: vanilla bean, a teaspoon of your favorite spice or extract, orange zest, etc 1 egg 13 ounces flour, sifted 2 ounces milk

For the Feuilletine, Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment cream butter and sugar together. Add molasses, vanilla bean, egg, and milk. Mix well, scraping the sides. Then add the flour and mix until well incorporated. Add a few spoonfuls of the batter onto a silicone mat and using a offset spatula spread the batter very thin. Then place in the oven to bake for 8-10 minutes until dry and crisp. Take out and allow to cool completely. Then break up into pieces and store in an air tight container.

Honey ganache see recipe Meringue see recipe Graham crackers crushed (store bought)

To Finish,

Take a mini ice cream scoop and scoop out balls of the honey ganache once firm. Place in the refrigerator 20 minutes just to firm up a bit. Then place the meringue in a piping bag with a plane tip. Pipe in a circular motion around the ball of chocolate ganache. Then carefully using a spatula place it on top of crushed graham crackers on the bottom of the plate. Using a torch, brown the meringue and place pieces of the feuilletine around the smores. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream if desired. Serve and enjoy!

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Vanilla Pavlova with Cara Cara and Candied Buddha Hand

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Vanilla Pavlova with Cara Cara and Candied Buddha Hand

Here is the classic meringue dessert. Meringue is actually not one of my favorite desserts but this one was really exceptional. I didn’t grown up on meringues and that is probably one of the reasons it isn’t my top dessert. My wife on the other hand loves meringue and gets it when ever she can. We just got back from Italy where she ordered a similar dessert twice. Pavlova is normally a meringue that is baked and the outer shell of the meringue is hard and crunchy while the center has that gooey, marshmallow type consistency. Here is the recipe I hope you enjoy it!

Vanilla Pavlova with Cara Cara sorbet and anglaise 

Orange sorbet
2 1/2 cup water
2 cups sugar
4 Cara cara oranges peeled and deseeded
2 zested Cara Cara

Pavlova
8 egg whites
2 1/4 cup of sugar
1 tsp of vanilla bean
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp of corn starch
1/2 lemon juiced

1 cup of cara cara orange segments

Candied buddha hand
1 buddha hand sliced 1/8 inch thick
1 1/4 cup water
3/4 cup sugar

Creme Anglaise
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 2-inch piece vanilla bean, split
3 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons sugar

Preheat oven to 350

For the pavlova,

Add egg whites and vanilla to a stand mixing bowl.  Beat the egg whites until soft peaks start to form then slowly add the sugar to the egg whites and beat until the meringue is stiff and shiny ( about 3-4 minutes.  Then fold in the cornstarch and lemon juice. Once well incorporated place the meringue into a pastry bag with a plain tip. Then on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper you can pipe out individual meringues in a circular motion.

Place the sheet pan in oven and immediately turn down to 300 and cook for 1 hour and 15 mins.  Turn off oven and allow to cool completely in the oven.  Should look something like this.

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For the Preserve,

Bring small pot of water to a boil, place the sliced buddha hand in the boiling water and blanch for 3 seconds.  Strain off the water.  Repeat the same step two more times blanching and staring the buddha hand slices.  after 3 times add the measured water and sugar and bring to a boil.  Add the buddha's hand blanched slices to the pot.  Cook for 5-10 minutes and then pour into a preserve jar seal properly. 

For the Sorbet,

Place sugar and water in a pot and bring to a boil.  Turn down to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.  Turn off the heat and cool completely.  Then puree with oranges and zest.  Strain the mixture if you desire.  Then pour into a ice cream maker and follow your instructions.  Take out and place in a container in the freezer. 

For the Anglaise
Combine milk and cream in heavy medium saucepan. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add bean. Bring milk mixture to simmer. Remove from heat.  Whisk egg yolks and sugar in medium bowl to blend. Gradually whisk hot milk mixture into yolk mixture. Return custard to saucepan. Stir over low heat until custard thickens and leaves path on back of spoon when finger is drawn across, about 5 minutes (do not boil). Strain sauce into bowl. Cover and chill. (Can be made 1 day ahead.)

To Finish,

Place a spoonful of anglaise on the bottom of the plate. Add one pavlova and place on top. Add orang segments, and preserve around the meringue. Add the sorbet on top. Finish with leaves of basil. Serve and enjoy!

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Strawberry Pop-tarts

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Strawberry Pop-tarts

Who doesn't love pop-tarts? Well this is my version of a pop tart.  It's basically a filled pie crust but with strawberries at the height there sweetness it is a recipe that not only anyone can make but that everyone will love.  In the summertime it is hard not to over buy fresh fruit  at the farmers market.  When all the farmers are giving out fresh sample of their delicious fruit and they give you price breaks on the more you buy it is hard not too.  Well, that was the case on this particular occasion,  so I was forced to make some amazing strawberry jam that was a low sugar since the strawberries were so sweet naturally.  Here is the recipe, I hope you enjoy it!

Strawberry Pop Tarts

Dough
2 cups of ap flour
2 sticks of butter
1 egg
1 tbsp of sugar and salt
3 tbsp of milk 

Strawberry Jam
3 lb of sweet summer strawberries
1 2/3 cup water
1 3/4 cup of sugar
1 vanilla bean
7 1/2 tbsp of low sugar pectin

Topping
8 oz cream cheese
1/3 cup powdered sugar
4 tbsp of strawberry jam 

Fresh sliced strawberries 

For the Jam,  Link here for proper instructions for canning

Better if done a day or two ahead of time.  Place strawberries, water, sugar, and vanilla into a sauce pot.  Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer.  Once on simmer add the low sugar pectin.  Cook for another 3-5 minutes and then with a masher (if you want a chunky jam) or a hand blender (if you want a smooth jam) mash or puree the jam.  Then fill your canning jars with jam and preserve (according to link instructions)

For the dough, Preheat Oven to 375 degrees.

Using the food processor add flour to the bowl along with the salt.  Pulse a few times to combine well.  Then turn the processor on and begin to add all the butter a tbsp. at a time.  Once the butter has been combined.  Add egg and drizzle in the cold milk.  Normally now you put the crust into the refrigerator to let the dough come together as it gets cold 45 minutes or If you can put the dough in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes it will really helps.  Then simply take the dough and put a light dusting of flour onto the parchment paper and place the dough on top.  Then dust flour on the top of the dough and put a second piece of parchment paper on top of the dough. With a rolling pin roll out your dough to a thin crust consistency in the shape of a rectangle.  Then with a knife or pizza cutter cut the dough into even rectangular shapes.  Place a spoonful of the cooled strawberry jam filling in the middle of the of dough. Brush the edges with egg wash.  Then take another piece of dough and place on top. Pinch the edges to seal and then with a fork press the dough all over the edges and prick the top of each pie.  Place a piece of parchment paper on a sheet pan and place the finished pies on top. Once all are done brush with more egg wash. Place in the oven and bake for 22-25 minutes or until golden brown.  Take out the pies and allow to cool completely.  

To finish,

In a bowl mix together cream cheese, jam, and powdered sugar until smooth.  Then once the pop tarts have cooled completely top the tarts with the cream cheese mixture.  Add sliced strawberries on top and your done! Serve and enjoy!

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Plum Meringue Tart

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Plum Meringue Tart

Plum meringue tart you say? Never heard of it! Me either, I'm sure someone had made this but I've never heard of it or seen it.  The thought behind this is actually very simple.  We have plum trees here in Malibu and they are some of the best tasting plums I've ever had.  If you let them ripen like you should they have a certain sweetness to them that isn't completely tart.  Lemons are very similar tasting profile in my mind.  They have a natural sweetness to them but they are very tart.  Why not exchange the fruits for the classic lemon meringue tart.  Add a little vanilla bean to the mix to help with some of the tartness and you have one of the best tasting tarts ever.  Everyone said it was really amazing, so delicious.  Again, almost every single recipe depends on how great your ingredients are.  If you have plums that really have little to no flavor, your tart is going to have little to no flavor.  Going to farmers markets and being able to taste different varieties of fruit would really go a long way for this recipe.  Or if you like me and have access to a tree in your backyard and it has years of maturing behind it, the result is truly amazing.  With that being said it really is an easy dessert.  I hope you enjoy it!

Pate Brissee
2 cups of flour
2 sticks of butter
1 tsp of salt
pinch of sugar
1/4 cup of ice water 

Plum Meringue Tart
1 scant cup of Plum juice (puree strained)
5 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
1 1/4 cup of sugar
3/4 cup of heavy cream
1 vanilla bean 

Swiss Meringue
1/2 cup of egg whites
3/4 cup of sugar

Plum Sorbet (here)

Plum slices and lemonade blueberries to garnish with fresh mint

For the crust 

Place flours,sugar, and salt into a food processor.  Pulse a few times and then add the butter.  Keep the processor running until butter has been incorporated. Then while the food processor is still on start pouring in the ice water until a smooth dough has formed.  Take the dough and divide into two equal parts.  Wrap in parchment paper and chill for 30 minutes.  Then take out and roll the dough in between two pieces of parchment paper into a 1/4 inch thick.  Then place dough into your tart mold and bake for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile make the filling

Place all the filling in a mixing bowl and place over a water bath.  Stir softly until the mixture comes to 140 F.  Then strain the mixture into the tart crust. Place the tart into the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minute or until it is firm with a little wiggle.   Set aside and let it cool completely.  Place in the refrigerator until ready to top with the meringue.

For the Meringue

In mixing bowl heat eggwhite and sugar over water bath until it reaches 160 F. Then immediately place in a stand mixer and whip for 5 minutes or until cool.  Put the meringue in pastry bag and pipe in a consistent motion on top of the plum tart.  Then with a torch, brown the top of the meringue.  Add the blueberries, plums, and mint.  Serve and enjoy the fresh taste of plums!

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"Berries and Cream" Greek Honey Cake with Creme Fraiche Ice Cream

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"Berries and Cream" Greek Honey Cake with Creme Fraiche Ice Cream

This might be one of my favorite cakes I have made in recent times.  Who doesn't love honey!  And who doesn't love a moist cake that is saturated with cinnamon, honey, and citrus.  Add some summer fruit to the dish along with some creamy ice cream and you have an unbeatable combination.  This is a slam dunk if you have a sweet tooth and can deal with the components.  This recipe can be broken up into parts so you don't feel like you have to accomplish all this in one day.  Also the description looks and might sound complicated but in reality it really isn't that hard.  Here is the recipe for a fantastic summer dessert!

Greek honey lavender cake
1 1/2 sticks of butter
3/4 cup plus 3 tbsp sugar
3 eggs
3/4 cup of milk
1 cup of flour
1/4 cup of corn starch
1/2 tsp of salt
1/2 tsp of cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp of fresh lavender chopped flower buds
1 tsp lemon zest

Honey glaze
1 scant cup honey
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
2 tbsp lemon juice

Strawberry coulis
1/3 cup of white wine or champagne
1 lb of strawberries cut in half
1/3 cup sugar
5 sprigs of fresh chamomile

1 cup of blueberries
1 cup of small strawberries
1/3 cup of wild strawberries (Alpine, Fragaria Vesca
1/2 cup of halved cherries
1 snow princess flowers
3 chamomile flowers
1/4 cup red vein sorrel leaves 

Creme fraiche ice cream
415g milk
135g trimoline inverted sugar
110g sugar
50g glucose
335 creme fraiche
85g cream cheese or ricotta
10g lemon juice
6g salt

For the Creme fraiche Ice Cream,

In a small sauce pot heat milk over medium heat then add in the sugar, trimoline, glucose, until dissolved.  Then pour the milk into a bowl and whisk until smooth.  Strain through a strainer into a bowl with an ice bath.  Add lemon juice and salt to season.  Cool completely then pour into your ice cream maker and use according to your ice makers directions.  When done place in a air tight container in the freezer until ready to use.  

For the Cake, Bake at 375 for 15-20 min

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9 inch square pan. Combine the dry ingredients ( flour, starch, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, lavender, and lemon rind). Set aside.  In a large bowl, cream together the butter and 3/4 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the milk, mixing just until incorporated.   Pour batter into prepared half sheet pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then cut into desired shapes. Pour honey syrup over the cake.
For the Honey Syrup, 

In a saucepan, combine honey, 1 cup sugar and water. Bring to a simmer and cook 5 minutes. Stir in lemon juice, bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes.

For the Coulis,

Combine all the ingredients in a small pot except for the chamomile and bring to a boil. Turn down and simmer for 10 minutes.  Then puree until smooth.  Add the chamomile and let it steep for 10 minutes.  The discard the chamomile.  Place in the refrigerator until completely cold.  

To Finish,

Add a few pieces of cake around the middle of the plate.  Add alternating strawberry, blueberry, and cherry in-between each piece of cake.  Add a some wild strawberries on top of the honey cake.  Then add a some of the flowers and herbs for garnishes.  Ladle some of the sauce in the middle of the plate and then finish with a scoop of the creme fraiche ice creams.  Serve and enjoy!

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Stone Fruit and Almond Tart

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Stone Fruit and Almond Tart

Simply summer!  That sums up this recipe in a few words.  When it is blistering hot outside and you want to create a dessert that doesn't mean slaving all day in the kitchen, this is your go to dessert.  Puff pastry, almond paste, and fresh stone fruit.  That's really all there is to this recipe.  It can be eaten all times of the day and and doesn't need to be made specifically for dessert, brunch would also be great.  You can purchase already perfect size square puff pastry so you don't even need to worry about cutting it.  Make the almond paste place in the center of the pastry, add the fruit, egg wash and almonds.  Bake and your done!  Here is the recipe I hope you enjoy it!

Stone Fruit
3 Nectarines sliced and pitted
4 plums sliced and pitted
3 white nectarines sliced and pitted
3 peaches sliced and pitted

Almond Cream
6 tbsp. of butter (room temp.)
2/3 cup of powder sugar
1 1/2 cup of almond flour
2 tsp of flour
1 tsp of cornstarch
1 large egg plus 1 egg white
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp of almond extract

12 Puff Pastry squares really cold   Here 
sliced almonds
1 egg for wash

For the Almond cream,

Place almond meal and sugar in a food processor and puree for 30 seconds.  Then while the machine is running add the butter a tbsp. at a time.  Once all the butter is in add the eggs again while the machine is running.  You can stop to scrape the sides if there are any clumps but once the eggs have been added you should have a really smooth and creamy almond cream.  Finish with both the vanilla and almond extract.  I normally double this recipe which gives me extra laying around that I can make something else with.  But you should have enough to fill the tart with just one batch.  Place the almond cream in a plastic pipping bag and place in the refrigerator to firm up a bit (but not too cold where you can't pipe it out) .

To Finish

Take two sheet pans lined with parchment paper and place 6 puff pastry squares on each pan.  Take the pastry bag filled with almond cream and pipe out 1 line of almond paste down the center of the puff pastry.  Then take sliced fruit and place on top of the almond cream.  Continue the same process with all of the puff pastry squares.  Take egg wash and brush around the edges of the pastry.  Top with almond slices and place in a preheated oven at 425 degrees.  Cook for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.  You might want to rotate and readjust from the bottom rack in your oven to the top rack with other pan for even cooking.  Once golden brown take out and cool completely.  Serve and enjoy!

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Ginger Snaps

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Ginger Snaps

Ginger snaps are one of Jp's favorite cookies.  He likes cookies that are thin and crunchy and I like soft chewy one 99% of the time.  This recipe was perfect mix because they are crunchy on the outside and soft and chew on the inside.  Not much more to ramble on about, this couldn't be more straight forward. Here is the recipe I hope you enjoy it! 

ginger snaps

1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup of shortening
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
2 1/4 cup ap flour
2 tsp  of baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp salt
granulated sugar 

For the Cookies, heat oven to 375°F.

Spray sheet pans with cooking spray, or line with cooking parchment paper or silicone baking mat.  In stand mixer, beat brown sugar, shortening, molasses and egg with paddle attachment on medium speed. Until well blended. Stir in remaining ingredients except granulated sugar.  Shape dough by rounded teaspoonfuls into balls. Dip tops into granulated sugar. On cookie sheets, place balls, sugared sides up, about 3 inches apart. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or just until set. Immediately remove from cookie sheets to cooling rack. Serve and enjoy!

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Coconut Ceviche

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Coconut Ceviche

This summer we took a wonderful trip to Colombia.  While there we visited both Cartegna and Medellin.  Both cities we really enjoyed.  Cartegna was a beach city very much like visiting some of the tropical "islands".  Medellin was a beautiful city that was nestled in between the mountains and it was like my father-inlaw described it, "they built a city in the middle of the jungle".  Very green and lush.  One night in Cartegna I think I had one of the best ceviches I've ever had, coconut ceviche.  It was really amazing, so smooth, refreshing, and addicting.  I don't think there was much to it other than the fish was probably just caught off the coast, the coconuts were probably just picked along with limes and cilantro.  It was really spectacular!  Here is my attempt at it, I hope you enjoy it!

Coconut ceviche
10-12 limes juiced
3 mandarins juiced
2 lemons juiced
1 can of coconut milk
Lots of salt (2-3 tbsp or more)
1 1/2 lb of snapper diced
1 lb of wild sea bass (not Chilean)
2 Serranos 1 diced and 1 sliced
3 tbsp of chopped cilantro
1 radish sliced

For the ceviche,

Place the juice of the all the citrus in a large bowl.  Add diced serranos, cilantro, and 2 tbsp of salt.  Season all the fish really well with salt and place in the bowl.  Make sure that the fish is completely covered in the citrus juice.  Place in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.  Then after 3 hours you can add a can of coconut milk to the ceviche.  Let it marinate for another 45 minutes and at this point the ceviche should be ready to serve, but it can sit for longer if need be.  To serve, place some sliced serranos, radishes, and cilantro flowers.  Serve and enjoy!

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Strawberry Fraisier

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Strawberry Fraisier

Here is a classic dessert that I decided to take a stab at.  It really is a delicious dessert in the height of summer when the strawberries are extra sweet.  This is normally made in individual servings in pastry shops.  I had a large cake ring and decided to use that instead of making several individual ones.  Because of the size and the weight of what I added on top it was a little top heavy, as you can see slightly in the picture, but that didn't effect the taste and flavor.  This is french pastry 101, if you go to any patisserie in the summertime you bound to find these in their pastry case.  Here is the recipe, I hope you enjoy it!

Strawberry Fraiser 

Sponge Cake
9 eggs separated
1 cup of sugar plus 3 tbsp
1 tbsp of vanilla bean
1 cup of cake flour
3 tbsp of corn starch
pinch of salt

Pastry cream
2 cups of milk  
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 vanilla bean
pinch of salt
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 tbsp of butter
2 tsp of gelatin

1 cup of heavy cream
1 tsp of vanilla bean
1/4 cup of powder sugar

strawberry gel
1 lb strawberries
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of water
2 tsp agar

Butter cream
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 tsp of vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tbsp of half and half 

1 pint of strawberries sliced , I pint of blueberries and raspberries and mint

For the Sponge Cake, Preheat oven to 425 degrees 

Place egg yolks, vanilla, and 1 cup of sugar into a stand mixer.  Whisk until thick and pale yellow about 5 minutes.  Then add the cake flour and corn starch to the egg mixture and mix well.  Then pour the mixture into a large mixing bowl.  Clean out the mixing bowl and then place egg whites into the bowl.  Whisk egg whites until triple in volume and then add the 3 tbsp of sugar.  Whisk until stiff peaks.  Then fold the egg whites into the egg-flour mixture in 3 parts.  Pour the batter onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and smooth surface with offset spatula.  Place in the oven and bake for approximately 10 minutes or until golden brown and cake tester comes out clean.  

For the Pastry Cream,

Scald the milk with vanilla bean in a medium sauce pot. Turn off the heat when the milk starts to a boil.  Beat the egg yolks and sugar in a stand mixer set to high, until the eggs and sugar form pale white ribbons.  Add the corn starch to the eggs and beat for 30 seconds.  Temper the eggs by whisking in one ladle of milk at a time until all the milk is incorporated with the egg mixture.  Place the egg mixture back onto medium low heat and whisk continually until it thickens.  Allow about 10 minutes, but don't boil.  In a large bowl mix 2 tbsp of water and powdered gelatin together to bloom. Once the pastry cream has thickened incorporate butter then pour the pudding into a bowl with the gelatin ( the gelatin should melt, and whisk to incorporate well ).  Place a piece of plastic wrap on the surface of the pudding so it doesn't form a skin, and place in the refrigerator.  Cool completely.

For the Whipped cream

Meanwhile place heavy cream in a mixing bowl and whip on high.  After 45 seconds add the powder sugar and vanilla.  Whip until medium peaks.   Then fold the whipped cream in to the pastry cream in 3 intervals to make what is called a diplomat cream.  Place back in the refrigerator to cool completely

For the strawberry gel,

Puree strawberries with water in a vita mix.  Strain out and put the rest of the ingredients in a  small sauce pot.  Bring to a boil stirring consistently and cook for 5-7 minutes.  Then pour gel into a half sheet pan or baking dish.  Place in the refrigerator until the agar has set.  Then take a cake ring and cut a round the same size as the cake ring.  Take the rest of the gel and place it all into a vita mix and puree until smooth.  Pour into a squeeze bottle and set aside until ready to use.

For the Buttercream, If you want a real recipe for buttercream go here

This is a quick version of buttercream.  Place butter and powdered sugar in a stand mixer and whip until smooth.  Add vanilla and a splash of half and half.  

To Finish,

On a half sheet lined with parchment, use a large cake ring (if desired you can make individual fraisier use a small cake rings) and cut out 2 large sponge cakes.  Place one of the sponge cakes inside the cake ring.  Take sliced strawberries and place on the inside of the cake ring wall standing up on the bottom layer of the sponge cake.  Then fill the center of the cake with the diplomat cream.  Then place the second sponge cake on top of the cream and strawberries.  Place on top of the second layer of sponge the thin layer of strawberry gel (optional).  Then add a small layer of the buttercream on top of the strawberry gel.  Place in the refrigerator overnight preferably to help set.  Then before serving add the rest of fruit on top with dots of the strawberry gel.  Add some fresh mint serve and enjoy!

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Passion Fruit and Coconut Baked Alaska

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Passion Fruit and Coconut Baked Alaska

Not your traditional flavored baked alaska here.  I couldn't resists make a dessert with all of the seasonal passion fruit in California right now.  This dessert was the result.

 

Passion fruit baked Alaska
Coconut parfait
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup cream
1 cup white chocolate
12 g gelatin powder 

1 cup heavy cream whipped folded in
1 vanilla bean
1/4 powdered sugar

3 egg whites. Whipped folded in with white chocolate base
1/4 cup sugar

Passion fruit sorbet
2 1/2 cup water
2 cups sugar
14 passion fruit

Swiss meringue see recipe 

Passion fruit sauce
1 1/2cups passion fruit
1/4 cup pineapple juice
1/4 cup pear juice
1/2 cup sugar
4 passion fruit
2 tbsp cornstarch
4 egg yolks 

Cake
1/2 cup of coconut milk room temp
2 eggs room temp
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp of baking powder
1/4 tsp of baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups of flour
1 lime zested
1/2 scant cup coconut oil melted
Drops of coconut extract
 

For the Sauce,

Place egg yolks and sugar in a stand mixer and whisk on high for 3 minutes, then add the cornstarch.  Meanwhile place all the juices in a pot and bring to a boil.  Then temper the eggs with the hot juice.  Place the mixture back into a pot and cook over low heat until it thickens.  Strain out and cool completely.

 

For the sorbet,

Place water and sugar in a pot.  Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes.  Then cool slightly and place in a blender with the innards of 12 passion fruit.  Puree until smooth, strain through a fine mesh strainer and then chill until completely cold.  Place in your ice cream maker according to their instructions.  Place in an air tight container and place in the freezer for later.  

One frozen take a small ice cream scoop and scoop out 12 little sorbet balls on a frozen sheet pan lined with parchment paper.  Return the the scoops to the freezer for at least 4 hours.

For the Mousse,

Get an ice bath ready in a large bowl. Place white chocolate in a heat proof bowl. Place coconut milk and cream into a pot, turn on the heat.  In a small separate bowl add gelatin and 3 tbsp of water to bloom.  Pour the milk-cream mixture over the white chocolate and allow to sit for 1 minute.  whisk the mixture completely to melt the white chocolate.    Add a little of the white chocolate mixture to the gelatin to dissolve it.  Then pour the gelatin mixture back into the bowl of white chocolate and set it in the ice bath.    Meanwhile in a stand mixer add heavy cream.  Using the whisk start to whip the heavy cream. When the cream starts to thicken add the powdered sugar and vanilla.  Whip until stiff peaks.  Then when the white chocolate mixture has cooled but not gelled whisk in the whipped cream gently.  You want to incorporate the whipped cream well, but you don't want to over work it.  Clean out your stand mixer bowl and add the egg whites to the bowl.  Whisk on high speed until the whites start to whiten, then add sugar slowly and whisk until stiff peaks.  Fold the egg whites into your coconut white chocolate base.  Once you have combined it take semi sphere silicon molds and fill.  Then take out your scooped passion fruit sorbet and place in the middle of the mousse in the mold.  Working quickly using an offset spatula level the molds of the excess mouse.  You should be able to see the sorbet, it should be in the middle of the mouse.  Immediately place in the freezer overnight.  

For the cake,

Preheat oven to 350 degrees,

Mix all of the wet ingredients in a bowl together.  Then mix all of the dry ingredients together.  Mix the wet and dry ingredients together until well incorporated.  Pour onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.  Bake for about 20-25 minutes until done.  Take out and cool completely, then place in the refrigerator for 2 hours.  Take a ring cutter and cut out 12 rounds that perfectly match the size of the silicon molds.  Take the mousse out of the molds and place on top of each cake ring.  Place back in the freezer while you prepare the meringue.

For the Meringue

In mixing bowl heat eggwhite and sugar over water bath until it reaches 160 F. Then immediately place in a stand mixer and whip for 5 minutes or until cool.  Put the meringue in pastry bag with a flower tip or a large #104 and pipe in a consistent motion on top of the coconut semi sphere.  Place in the fridge for 15 minutes

To Finish,

Place a spoonful of sauce down on the plate.  Take a torch and brown the meringue all the way around the baked Alaska.  Place on top of the sauce.  Serve and enjoy!

 

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Coconut Flan Tart

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Coconut Flan Tart

Here is the classic French flan tart with a little twist of coconut mixed in.  This recipe brings me back to walking the streets of Paris, stopping at any of the number of patisseries for a huge slice of the flan.  I love this dessert, to me it is almost a mid day snack than a dessert because I could eat this at any time of the day.  The recipe is adapted from the bouchon bakery cookbook.  Here is the recipe I hope you enjoy it!

Flan tart
3 eggs
6 yolks
1 1/2 cup sugar
6 cups milk (half coconut milk half whole)
1/2 cup corn starch
1/2 cup custard powder ( I didn't have custard powder so I used a little instant pudding, or you can omit completely)
2 vanilla bean 

Pate Brisee
2 sticks of butter
2 cups plus 3 tbsp of flour
1/4 cup of ice water
1 tsp of salt 

For the Crust,

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees. 

Using the food processor add 2 cups of flour to the bowl along with the salt.  Pulse a few times to combine well.  Then turn the processor on and begin to add all the butter a tbsp. at a time.  Once the butter has been combined.  Drizzle in the cold water.  Finish with a few tbsp. of flour if needed.  Chill the dough for 25 minutes.

Roll out the dough, line the cake ring with the dough and place a piece of parchment paper on top., Fill it with raw rice, beans, or baking weights. Bake for 35 minutes, or until the edges of the dough are lightly browned and the bottom is set but still light in color. Remove the parchment and rice (store the rice for future use). Set the pan on a cooling rack and cool completely.

Place the eggs, yolks, and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and mix on low speed for about 30 seconds to combine. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla beans, add them to the egg mixture, and mix on low speed for about 30 seconds to distribute the seeds evenly. With the mixer running on the lowest setting, add the custard powder and the cornstarch and mix for 30 seconds to incorporate. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. With the mixer running on low speed, slowly pour in the milk. Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a large saucepan.  Place the pan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, whisking gently to prevent air bubbles. Boil for 1 minute, rotating the whisk around the edges of the pan to keep the mixture from scorching.

Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into the bowl of the mixer. Fit the mixer with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed for about 3 minutes to release steam and cool the mixture slightly.  Then pour the custard into the tart shell and bake for an hour and half to hour and forty minutes. Take out and cool overnight.  Slice and enjoy!

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Pistachio and Chocolate Opera Cake

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Pistachio and Chocolate Opera Cake

Here is a little twist on the classic opera cake which normally consists of chocolate, coffee, almond sponge cake.  I made it with pistachios and chocolate with different variations of each.  If you love pistachios and chocolate you will love this dessert.  This is a dessert I made a few weeks ago that was a huge hit.  I served it with pistachio ice cream.  Pretty straight forward baking for this dessert, it just has a several steps to the layers.  Not hard though.  Here is the recipe I hope you enjoy it!

Pistachio and Chocolate Opera Cake
Pistachio Sponge
150g 3 eggs
54g 3 yolks
111g sugar
35g flour
25g almond flour  4 tbsp
35 g pistachio flour 1/4 cup ground pistachio
128g 3 egg whites
3 tbsp sugar
pinch of salt
Drops of pistachio extract

Chocolate Sponge
150g 3 eggs
54g 3 yolks
111g sugar
35g flour tbsp
25g pistachio flour
35 g cocoa powder
128g 3 egg whites
3 tbsp sugar
pinch of salt

Quick Pistachio Butter Cream
2 sticks of butter room temperature
3 cups of powder sugar
1/2 cup of pistachio paste
drops of pistachio extract

Ganache
1 cup of heavy cream
1 lb bittersweet chocolate

Chocolate Mirror Glaze
10g Gelatin beef powder
210g Sugar
110g Water
65g Cocoa Powder
65g Heavy cream
50g Dark Chocolate

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

For the sponge cake,

Place eggs, yolks, and 111g sugar into a stand mixer.  Whisk until thick and pale yellow about 5 minutes.  Then add the flour, pistachio flour, and almond flour to the egg mixture and mix well.  Then pour the mixture into a large mixing bowl.  Clean out the mixing bowl and then place egg whites into the bowl.  Whisk egg whites until triple in volume and then add the 3 tbsp of sugar.  Whisk until stiff peaks and add pistachio extract.  Then fold the egg whites into the egg-flour mixture in 3 parts.  Pour the batter onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and smooth surface with offset spatula.  Place in the oven and bake for approximately 10 minutes or until golden brown and cake tester comes out clean.  

Chocolate Sponge,

Same process as the pistachio sponge.  

For the Ganache,

In a small pot add cream and bring to a boil.  Place chocolate in a heat proof bowl.  Pour the hot cream over the chocolate.  Wait 1 minutes and then mix well with a whisk until the chocolate is completely smooth and melted.  Allow to cool to room temperature.  

For the Buttercream,

This is a quick version of buttercream.  Add butter, powdered sugar, along with pistachio paste to a stand mixer bowl.  Mix with a paddle attachment 2-3 minutes until smooth. Add a drop or two of pistachio extract and mix well.  

For the Mirror Glaze

In a small bowl bloom gelatin powder in 3 tbsp of water.  Place sugar, water, cocoa powder, and cream in a pot and turn on medium heat.  Stir regularly until it comes to a boil.  Then add in the chocolate.  Stir until completely combined.  Then add in the gelatin and stir until smooth.  You can use the glaze immediately if you want or you can save the glaze for another time, just bring the mixture up to 110 degrees before using.  

To Finish,

You can either cut your sheet cake in half or in thirds depending on how big you want your cake to be.  If you don't want any waist you can cut in half.  Place the pistachio cake on the bottom and then spread a layer of the pistachio buttercream on top.  Then place a piece of the chocolate sponge on top.  Add a layer of the ganache on top and spread evenly.  Add another layer of the pistachio sponge and butter cream.  Then top off with the last layer of chocolate sponge and ganache.  Chill for a few hours and then pour the mirror glaze on top for a nice finish.  Accompany the cake with a side of pistachio ice cream.  Serve and enjoy!

 

pistachio opera.jpg

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Best Cheesecake with Pecan shortbread

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Best Cheesecake with Pecan shortbread

Cheesecake is not on the top of my list for desserts.  I like it but there seem to be so many better options when it comes to ordering dessert that I normally skip over that option at the end of a meal.  When I first started catering I used to serve this cheesecake bites with lemon curd that was not only easy to make but was always a crowd pleaser.  With that being said this has to be one of the best cheesecake recipes I have ever had.  Not only does the cheesecake have a great flavor but the texture is amazing as well.  Instead of making a basic graham cracker crust I make a pecan shortbread that also brings another level of flavor that is unexpected.  My wife who really doesn't like cheesecake at all actually loved it, so that must say something.  Here is the classic cheesecake recipe with a twist, I hope you enjoy it.

Mascarpone cheesecake
1 lb mascarpone
8oz cream cheese
1 cup 3 tbsp sugar
2 oz of creme friache
1 tbsp vanilla
1 tsp of almond extract
3 eggs
3 yolk

Pecan shortbread
2 cups flour
1 cup of pecans
2 sticks of butter
1 tsp of salt

Strawberry Sorbet recipe

Whipped Cream                                                                                                                                  1/2 cup of cream with 4 tbsp of powdered sugar

Strawberry gel
1 cup of strawberry juice or puree
1/4 cup of sugar
1 1/2 tsp of agar 

1 cup Strawberries sliced
10 Figs halved
1 cup Blueberries 

For the cheesecake,

Place cheeses and sugar in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment whip for 3 minutes.  Then add vanilla, and almond mixing on low.  Finish with adding the eggs one at a time.  Mix until a smooth batter is formed. Finish with the creme fraiche. 

I lined a spring form pan with parchment paper and par baked the pecan shortbread see recipe underneath,  then poured the batter on top.  Bake the cheesecake in a 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until the toothpick comes out clean.  Allow to cool to room temperature and then place in the refrigerator until ready to serve.  

For the Shortbread,

Go here to so see the recipe and just add the pecans from this recipe.  I placed the dough in a spring form pan lined with parchment paper and par baked it for 25 minutes.  

For the Sorbet

Place water and sugar in a pot.  Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes.  Then cool slightly and place in a blender with the 4 cups of whole strawberries.  Puree until smooth, and the lemon juice, then chill until completely cold.  Place in your ice cream maker according to their instructions.  Place  in an air tight container and place in the freezer 

For the strawberry gel,

Put all the ingredients in a small sauce pot.  Bring to a boil stirring consistently and cook for 5-7 minutes.  Then pour gel into a half sheet pan or baking dish.  Place in the refrigerator until the agar has set.  Then take a knife and cut the set gel into sections.  Place it all into a vita mix and puree until smooth.  Pour into a squeeze bottle and set aside until ready to use.

For the whipped cream

Simply place cream in a stand mixer and whisk on medium speed for 1 minute then add powdered sugar and whip until thick.  Place in a pastry bag and set aside.

To Finish,

Take the cheesecake and slice into rectangular pieces.  Then alternate the fruit on top of each slice.  Pipe a little whipped cream on top as well.  Place the slice on the plate.  Add a few drops of strawberry gel.  Then take a scoop of the strawberry sorbet.  Finish with mint, serve and enjoy the best cheesecake you have ever had!

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Strawberry and Fig Pavlova

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Strawberry and Fig Pavlova

The first time I had pavlova was when I took a trip to australia about 11 years ago.  There was a new friend of mine that I had met while I was there and she was from new zealand.   She asked me if I had ever tried pavlova before and I said no.  One night a bunch of friends got together for dinner and she decided to make one for me so I could try it.  It was a delicious egg white meringue that was crunchy on the outside and creamy marshmallowy on the inside, topped with fresh fruit.  

Pavlova
8 egg whites
2 1/4 cup of sugar
1 tsp of vanilla bean
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp of corn starch
1/2 lemon juiced

2 cups of strawberries sliced
8 figs quartered
1 cup of blueberries
1/4 cup of sugar
mint leaves
 

Preheat oven to 350

For the pavlova,

Add egg whites and vanilla to a stand mixing bowl.  Beat the egg whites until soft peaks start to form then slowly add the sugar to the egg whites and beat until the meringue is stiff and shiny ( about 3-4 minutes.  Then fold in the cornstarch and lemon juice.  Then on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper you can put a large cake ring in the middle of the pan ( if you don't have a cake ring then you can simply mound the meringue in a circle 

Place the sheet pan in oven and immediately turn down to 300 and cook for 1 hour and 15 mins.  Turn off oven and allow to cool completely in the oven.  

Meanwhile take the strawberries and blueberries and place them in a bowl with sugar to macerate.  Once you are ready to serve then add all the fruit on top of the of the pavlova and garnish with mint.  Serve and enjoy!

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Nectarine and Cheese Danish

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Nectarine and Cheese Danish

Here is a simple pastry or danish using puff pastry, cheese, and nectarines.  This is a recipe that can be substituted with any stone fruit you have on hand.  Very simple and classic flavors here.  Once change I made to this recipe is adding mascarpone instead of all cream cheese.  Summertime is filled with wonderful fruit and we have a nectarine tree here in california that produces over a hundred fruit this year.  So here is one recipe to help get "rid" of some of those nectarines.  I hope you enjoy this sweet treat!

10 medium size nectarines peeled and medium diced
1 vanilla bean cut in half
1/8 tsp of cinnamon
3 tbsp of flour
1/2 cup of sugar
2 tbsp of butter
1 tsp of salt 

Cheese Filling
8 oz mascarpone
8 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup of powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla or vanilla bean

2 packages of dufour puff pastry
1 egg

Demerara Sugar 

For the nectarines,

In a saute pan on medium high heat add butter, diced peeled nectarines, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and vanilla bean. Cook for 4 minutes and then sprinkle flour all over and stir in.  Cook for another minute and then place on a tray to cool completely.  

For the cheese,

Place all the ingredients into a bowl and mix well until smooth without lumps. Then place into a plastic pastry bag with a plain tip (or none if you don't have one) and keep cool.

For the Danish, Preheat oven to 400 degrees

I took one box of puff pastry and cut them into four equal parts (you can make smaller ones or larger ones, whatever size you want).  On a sheet pan lined with parchment paper place the four pieces of puff pastry.  Pipe a 3-4 lines of the cheese filling leaving a 1 inch space around all 4 sides of the puff pastry.  Then take a few big spoonfuls of the nectarine filling and place on top of the cheese.  Then take a beaten egg and a pastry brush and brush four sides of the puff pastry.  Take the second box of puff pastry and cut four equal parts.  Using a lattice cutter cut the puff pastry into a lattice design.  Top each pastry with one lattice top making sure all sides are completely sealed.  Then brush the tops with the remaining egg.  Top with demerara sugar. You can place the pastry back in the refrigerator if the puff pastry has gotten too soft, this will firm up the dough and help with uniform baking.  Place the sheet pan in the 400 degree oven and bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown.  (if you oven is too hot and it browns too fast you can turn your oven down a bit or place on a different shelf in the oven.) Take out and allow to cool completely!  Serve and enjoy!

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Pistachio Cream Puffs

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Pistachio Cream Puffs

If you were me pistachios are one of those ingredients that you really have a hard time disliking.  Whether they are simply roasted with salt or pureed and made into ice-cream, this is one ingredient that I always love.  This recipe is a simple cream puff (Pate a choux dough), stuffed with pistachio pastry cream and topped with a white chocolate glaze.  This recipe is easy and absolutely delicious.  I hope you enjoy this one because this recipe is one you will come back to time and time again.  Classic pate a choux dough that can be baked ahead of time and filled with pistachio cream that also can be made a day in advance.  Here is the recipe I hope you enjoy it!

Pistachio pastry cream
7 oz pistachio paste or cream   
3 cup milk
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste or half of a vanilla bean
6 egg yolks
1/4 plus an 1/8th cup corn starch
3 tbsp butter

Pate a choux (cream puff)
1 cup milk
1 cup of flour
1 tsp of sugar
1/4 tsp of salt
4 eggs
1 stick of butter

White Chocolate Ganache/Glaze
1/4 cream
1 cup of white chocolate chips

For the Cream Puffs 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees,  In a small pot add milk, butter, sugar, and salt.  Bring to a simmer. As soon as the butter has completely melted stir in the flour with a wooden spoon and turn down the heat to low.  Incorporate all the flour thoroughly and cook for about 1 minute.  Transfer the dough to a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Turn on medium speed for a minute and then turn down to low speed.  Crack the four eggs into a measuring cup and add them to the dough one at a time.  Make sure the egg completely incorporates before adding the next egg.   Continue until all the eggs have been added.  Then take the dough and place in a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip.  On a sheet pan lined with  parchment paper pipe small rounds of the dough.  If the tops of the rounds have a tip from piping take your finger with a little water on it and push it down lightly.  If you don't have a piping bag just use two spoons or ice cream scoop.  Place in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes until golden brown.  Try not to open the oven door once you have put them in the oven because the cream puffs might deflate a bit.  Take out and let them cool completely.

For the Pistachio Pastry Cream,

Scald the milk with pistachio paste and vanilla bean paste in a medium sauce pot, stirring often with a whisk. Turn off the heat when the milk starts to a boil.  Beat the egg yolks and sugar in a stand mixer set to high, until the eggs and sugar form pale white ribbons (3-4 minutes).  Add the cornstarch to the eggs and beat for 30 seconds.  Temper the eggs by whisking in one ladle of milk at a time until all the milk is incorporated with the egg mixture.  Place all of the egg/milk mixture back into the pot on medium low heat.  Whisk continually until it thickens, allow about 10-12 minutes, but don't boil.  Once it has thickened incorporate butter, then pour the pudding into a bowl through a fine mesh sieve to cool.  Place a piece of plastic wrap on the surface of the pudding so it doesn't form a skin, and place in an ice bath or the refrigerator.  Cool completely. Once cooled completely place the pastry cream in a pastry bag fitted with a small plain tip.  

Then take your cream puffs and your pistachio pastry cream.  Take your cream in the pastry bag in one hand and take a cream puff in your other hand.  Using the metal point or tip of the pastry cream poke a hole in the bottom of the cream puff.  Squeeze about a half an ounce or until you can feel the cream puff getting full in your hand.  Continue until all the puffs are done.

For the White chocolate ganache,

Place white chocolate in a heat proof bowl.  Place cream in a small pot and bring to a boil.  Pour the cream over the chocolate and allow to sit for 1 minutes.  Then with a whisk stir until the mixture is completely melted and smooth.

Once the ganache is smooth you can take each cooled cream puff and coat the tops of the puffs by simply dipping them halfway into the ganache.  Once all of the tops are coated with white chocolate top with finely chopped pistachios.  Place in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve.  Serve and enjoy!

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Summer Fruit Tart with Cherries

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Summer Fruit Tart with Cherries

Here is a classic fruit tart with an addition of cherries to the fruit mix.   Summertime is an explosion of fruits and vegetables and this recipe is no exception.  This is a recipe that I have done in the past with slight variations if you want to revisit it here .   It is a basic vanilla pastry cream, inside a pate brissee crust, topped with local fresh berries and finished with a little apricot glaze.   This is another one of my favorite desserts that is bound to be a show stopper.  Nothing better than vanilla pastry cream with fruit and pie crust.  I hope you enjoy this classic fruit tart.

Pate Brissee (Crust

2 sticks of butter
2 cups of flour plus 3 tbsp
1/4 cup of ice water
1 tsp of salt
pinch of sugar

Pastry cream 

2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped
Pinch of salt
4 large egg yolks
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small piece

Fruit

2 cups blueberries
2 cups of raspberries
1 cup of blackberries
1 cup of cherries halved
2 cup of strawberries halved if big
1/4 cup apricot jam

For the Pastry Cream,

Scald the milk and vanilla bean in a medium sauce pot. Turn off the heat when the milk starts to a boil.  Beat the egg yolks and sugar in a food set to high, until the eggs and sugar form pale white ribbons.  Add the flour to the eggs and beat for 30 seconds.  Temper the eggs by whisking in one ladle of milk at a time until all the milk is incorporated with the egg and flour mixture.  Place the egg mixture back onto low heat and whisk continually to thicken the pudding.  Allow about 10-12 minutes, but don't boil.  Once it  has thickened finish by whisking in the cold butter.   Pour the pudding into a bowl through a fine mesh strainer.  Place a piece of plastic wrap on the surface of the pudding so it doesn't form a skin, place in the refrigerator. Leave the vanilla bean in the pudding until everything has cooled,  then discard the bean.

For the Tart dough

Preheat Oven to 375 degrees. Using the food processor again add flour to the bowl along with the salt.  Pulse a few times to combine well.  Then turn the processor on and begin to add all the butter a tbsp. at a time.  Once the butter has been combined.  Drizzle in the cold water.  Finish with a few tbsp. of flour if needed.  Normally now you put the crust into the refrigerator to let the dough come together as it gets cold.  I don't like when my dough is so cold I can't roll it and usually I am in a rush.  If you can put the dough in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes it will really help; if not simply take the dough and put a light dusting of flour onto the parchment paper and place the dough on top.  Then dust flour on the top of the dough and put a second piece of parchment paper on top of the dough. With a rolling pin roll out your dough to a thin crust consistency.  Take your tart mold and carefully place your tart dough inside the mold.  Using a rolling pin roll the pin over the mold to trim off any excess dough.  With a fork prick the dough all over.  Place a piece of parchment paper on top of the tart and add pie weights or dried beans to weight the paper down on top of the tart.  Place in the oven and bake for 22-25 minutes.  Take out the pie tart and allow to cool completely.  Take off the parchment and save the weights for another baking day.

To Finish  

Arrange the berries in whatever fashion you desire.  You can alternate berries and colors on the first level.  Then you can pile on the berries to fill in the gaps.  Once completely full.  Take your apricot jam and warm up slightly in the microwave so that it become very watery. With a pastry brush, brush the tops of the fruit so it will have a nice glaze on the fruit.  Place the tart back in the refrigerator until ready to serve.  Right before serving add fresh basil or mint leaves.  Serve and enjoy!

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