Strawberry Tart

Some people might think ” Strawberry tart, easy!”. Make the dough, add some vanilla custard and top it with strawberries. Well, yeah, but it takes a bit more time if you don’t want to use the ready-made vanilla custard nor add almond essence in the butter.
I adapted Conticini’s recipe and combined it with Hermé’s sweet dough – it is covered with an almond butter mixed with a vanilla cream, topped with a coulis (sauce) made from berries and the strawberries resting like a crown, powdered with icing sugar and pistachios.

Prepare the dough, the berries coulis and the almond butter the day before, assemble the cake on the day you want to serve it, it will taste even better.

Serves 6
18cm tin form pan

200g dough
200g almond butter
60g berries coulis
20 strawberries
5 raspberries (optional)
20g fresh pistachios

The dough (sweet dough from Pierre Hermé)

Ingredients (for 4 24cm pies)
500g flour type 45
300g soft butter
190g icing sugar
60g almond powder
2 eggs
4 pinches Fleur de Sel
1/2 tbsp vanilla powder or half a vanilla pod

1. Cut the butter in cubes and mix it until soft.
2. In order, add: the icing sugar, almond powder, salt, vanilla, the eggs then flour.
3. Mix until it forms a homogenous dough. If you over work the dough it will lose its crunchiness.
4. Cut the dough into 4 pieces. Roll the dough in cling film and keep it in the fridge for 4 hours.

Vanilla Crème Pâtissière (for 500g)

1/2 a liter milk
45g flour
40g sugar
4 egg yolks (80g)
half a vanilla pod

1. In a pan bring the milk and the vanilla pod cut in half and grated to a boil, take out of the heat as soon as it boils.
2. Let to rest for 15min for the vanilla to infuse.
3. In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks and the sugar until “white” or fluffy.
4. Then add the flour. Mix well to get an homogenous paste.
5. Take out the vanilla pod. Pour half of the milk onto the egg mixture. Mix well then pour it back in the pan with the rest of the milk.
6. On medium heat bring to a boil while continuously whisking until it gets thicker.
7. Once it has thickened place in a baking dish and cover with a cling foil film directly on the cream (so that it doesn’t get a hard crust).
8. Place in the fridge for at least an hour.

The almond butter (For 350g)

80g almond powder
80g butter (taken out of the fridge 2h before use)
70g vanilla crème pâtissière
80g icing sugar
2 Tbsp rum

In a bowl whisk the almond powder with the softened butter. Add the crème patissière once cooled, the icing sugar and the rum. Whisk again to obtain an homogenous cream.

The berries coulis

150g strawberries, a handful of raspberries and blueberries.
3 Tbsp sugar cane syrup.
The juice of a lime.

Mix in electric mixer.

Make the tart

1. On 150c° blind bake the dough 20 min with beans or rice placed on baking paper. Take it out of the oven, take away the paper and beans and bake an extra 15 min.

2. Spread the almond butter cream onto the dough then place in the fridge for 20min. The butter becomes solid and the strawberries won’t sink in.
3. Spread the berries coulis.

4. Cut the strawberries in half and place them on the cake inside side up.
5. Crush the pistachios.
6. Sprinkle the pistachios and icing sugar over the tart. Serve.

Strawberry Tart

My chocolate mousse cake

This has been my signature cake for a few years now.

The trick is not to bake it too long so that it stays fluffy and doesn’t become dry.
It’s not too sweet either like many other chocolate cakes, so you can have it as it is or with a crème anglaise (vanilla cream/custard), à la mode (with vanilla ice cream), or with a scoop of crème fraîche, which is also very good and contrasts well with the bitterness of the dark chocolate. I enjoyed it on its own with a cup of coffee.

Gâteau au chocolat

300g chocolate (I used Lindt 85% 150g -70% 150g)
1 espresso
150g butter
100g sugar
4 eggs, separated
pinch of salt
50g flour
18cm spring-form tin, greased

1. In water-bath melt the butter, chocolate and the espresso.
Notes: Make sure the heat is not too high, otherwise the ingredients will separate and you get a grainy texture. Prefer a low-medium heat. Keep stirring to get a smooth texture. (If the texture does separate, use a hand mixer).

 

2. Let the chocolate cool and add the sugar.
3.
Separate the egg yolks from the whites. Add the egg yolks one by one, stir well.
4.
Add the flour.


5. In a cool bowl (put in the fridge or freezer for 15 min) whip the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff. Add them to the chocolate mixture in 3 times and gently fold in.


6. Place the dough in a round 18 cm spring-form tin.
7.
Bake 25-30min on 150 c°. It should be crunchy on top and soft in the middle.

8. Let cool and sprinkle dark chocolate powder for decoration.

My chocolate mousse cake

Raspberry tartlets – pistachio crème pâtissière

In search of new inspiration I got myself a few Pâtisserie books. One of then is Philippe Conticini’sSensations“. It is full of amazing recipes, creativity and complicated combinations, which happen, for some of them, to be a real challenge.

Having friends over for diner is always the perfect opportunity to practice and observe the reaction of our guests. I think it was pretty well received!

This recipe offers a different flavor and consistency provided by roasted pistachio paste,  mascarpone and a salty breton (from Brittany, France) cookie base. It isn’t really difficult to make although I got confused by the pistachio paste and praline. I have seen a few different recipes for the paste. Some uses nuts and icing sugar in the same amount (ex: 125g pistachios – 125g icing sugar) and mix them, or some roast the nuts, make a syrup and add almond powder and mix the whole thing.
The praline is nuts (roasted or not) added to a syrup in a pan and caramelised. Once caramelised it is mixed in an electric mixer to give a paste, the praline.
Crème pâtissière is the base of many french pastries. It uses milk, vanilla, flour, sugar, eggs and butter.

The amounts for the praline and paste are too much, but you can freeze them and re-use them of other desserts. That way you don’t have to go through the whole process again.

This dessert – a sweet and salty dough, a round nutty pistachio cream and the acidity of the raspberries, is special for that the dough isn’t usually used for tartlets but are enjoyed as they are with coffee and the presentation makes it pretty fancy.

Pistachio Praline (150g)

90g pistachios (non salty)
60g sugar
15g water

1. In a pan bring the water and sugar to a boil. When the temperature reaches 115c° add the pistachios.
2. Mix well. The sugar will crystallize and become white. carry on mixing for about 20 min until the sugar starts getting brown.
3. Place the mixture on a cutting board to cool. Once cold mix them with an electric mixer.

Pistachio Paste

125g pistachio (skinless and unsalted)
175 ml water
60g sugar
30g almond powder
2  drops almond essence (optional)

1. Spread the pistachios on a baking sheet. Let roast for 10 minutes or until slightly colored. Set aside in a bowl.
2. Make the syrup: add the water and the sugar in a pan and bring to a boil on medium heat. Cook for 5 min. Pour the syrup on to the pistachios and let the mixture cool.
3. Pour the mixture in a mixer. Add the almond powder to it and mix again.

Pistachio Crème pâtissière:

60g pistachio praline
190g semi-skimmed milk
20g liquid cream
10g flour
10g Maizena (starch)
40g  sugar
2 egg yolks
20g gelatine preparation (20gr gelatine powder+100gr cold water. Mix well and let cool in the fridge until used)
20g pistachio paste
60g butter
25g mascarpone

The day before, make the pistachio praline.
Notes: For the ones who have never used gelatin. To soften the gelatin soak it in water for 20 min. Press out the water with the hands. Place it in a pan and let it melt on low heat. When you add it to a cream, whip continuously so that you get lumps.

1. Bring to a boil the milk and cream, put aside as soon as it boils.
2.
In a bowl whip the egg yolks and sugar until very creamy and “white”.
3.
When the sugar has dissolved, add the flour and Maizena, mix well to obtain an homogenous paste. Pour half the milk-cream onto paste, mix again and pour it back in the pan with the rest for the milk.
4.
Bring it to a boil for 2 to 3 min while mixing continuously with a whip.
5.
Once the cream has thickened set it aside. Add the gelatin. Mix well, then add the pistachio paste, the praline and the butter.
6.
Place the cream in a dish to cool and cover it with a cling film. Let it rest 30 min in the fridge.
7.
Once it’s cold, whisk the mascarpone 5 min with the cream.

Sablé breton dough:

125g flour
175g salty butter (take out of the fridge 2 hours before use)
90g icing sugar
2 egg yolks
80g almond powder
a pinch fleur de sel
Muffins tins.

1. On medium speed, whip the icing sugar, the almond powder and the butter (very soft).
2.
Once this is well mixed, add the egg yolks, the flour and the fleur de sel.
3.
Fill up the tins up to the third of the height.
4.
Preheat the oven on 170C°.  Bake for 8 min, take the tins out of the oven. Using a cork, press it in the middle of the dough to form a hollow space into the dough and bake another 7 min until golden.
5.
Once they are ready, take them out to cool, turning them upside down (the hollow side down).

Make the tartlets:

1. Using a piping bag or a teaspoon, generously fill the tartlets with the cream.
2. Place the raspberries on the tartlets and powder them with icing sugar.

Raspberry tartlets – pistachio crème pâtissière

Apple Tart with an almond-pistachio cream

THE apple pie. THE ultimate apple pie, differing from the typical but still delicious amandine apple pie, or the puff pastry based apple pie, the cream apple pie, tarte tatin classic etc.. This one would have to be on the top of the list – for now.

I combined this recipe (in french) a pistachio praline and almond cream pie to the Pierre Hermé sweet dough.
This is a different but also slightly heavier version – crunchy boscop apples, the tastes and textures of the creams, while melting, divide to then develop alongside and meet the round crunchy almond dough.

It is definitely worth a try, it’s not difficult to make and you can freeze the creams as well as the dough.

Sweet dough à la Pierre Hermé

Ingredients (for 4 24cm pies)
500g flour type 45
300g soft butter
190g icing sugar
60g almond powder
2 eggs
4 pinches Fleur de Sel
1/2 tbsp vanilla powder or half a vanilla pod

1. Cut the butter in cubes and mix it until soft.
2. In order, add : the icing sugar, almond powder, salt, vanilla, the eggs then the flour.
3. Mix it until it shapes a ball. Stop right away. If you over work the dough it will lose its crunchiness.
4. Share the dough into 4 pieces. Roll the dough in cling film and keep it in the fridge for 4 hours.

Notes: You can easily freeze the rest and take it out a few hours before baking.
The resting time is essential to the consistency of the dough so that it stays “flexible” and doesn’t break nor shrink while baking.

Pistachio paste

125g pistachio (skinless and unsalted)
175 ml water
60g sugar
30g almond powder
2  drops almond essence (optional)

1. Spread the pistachios on a baking sheet. Let roast for 10 minutes or until slightly colored. Set aside in a bowl.
2. Make the syrup: add the water and the sugar in a pan and bring to a boil on medium heat. Cook for 5 min. Pour the syrup on to the pistachios and let the mixture cool.
3. Pour the mixture in a mixer. Add the almond powder to it and mix again.

Almond cream

100g almond powder
100g  sugar
100g unsalted butter
3 egg yolks
5 cl dark rum (optional)

1. In a bowl work the sugar and the butter.
2. Add the egg yolks, mix until you get an homogenous paste.
3. Add the almond powder and the rum, mix again.
4. Put aside in the fridge.

Make the Tart

5/6 large apples (I used boscop apples for their cooking resistance)

1. Spread the dough onto the pie tin with the pastry roll or using your hands.
2. Stir together the almond paste and 3-4 tsp pistachio paste. Spread onto the dough. Put the thinly sliced apples on the top, sprinkle roasted pistachios and bake for 35 min on 160 C° or until the apples golden.
3. Let the pie cool down before taking it out of the tin.

You can heat up some apricot jam in a pan and brush it onto the pie to look shiny.  I used some sugar cane syrup, not as sweet and color less.

Apple Tart with an almond-pistachio cream

NY Cheesecake with a chocolate ganache topping

My interest for American baking has been vivid ever since I spent year there in the 90’s.
One of my favorite dessert is the NY Cheesecake, differing from other cheesecakes by the cream-cheese based filling and the sour cream topping. I have been looking for a recipe for a while, and letting my mouth watering in front of numerous sites and cooking books, I finally did it. I combined 2 recipes – one from the BBC and from this blog. I will skip the sour cream topping and replace it with a chocolate ganache.

The crust:

184g butter cookies (30 Leibnitz or petit beurre)
100g butter
pinch of salt

The Filling:

450g cream cheese Philadelphia (1 ½ regular, 1 light)
85g sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs + 1 egg yolk
140g sour cream
1 ½ tbsp flour

Chocolate Ganache:

100g dark chocolate (here 70% Callebaut)
100g low fat single cream
10g butter

Make the cake

1. Position an oven shelf in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to fan 180C°. Line the base of a 20cm spring form cake tin with parchment paper.
For the crust, melt the butter in a medium pan. Stir in the biscuit crumbs so the mixture is evenly moistened. Press the mixture into the bottom of the pan and bake for 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack while preparing the filling.
2. For the filling, increase the oven temperature to fan 200C. Beat the soft cheese at medium-low speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Gradually add the sugar, then the flour and a pinch of salt.
3. Continue by adding the vanilla. Whisk in the eggs and yolk, one at a time. Stir the 140ml sour cream until smooth. Continue on low speed as you add the soured cream. Whisk to blend, but don’t over-beat. The batter should be smooth, light and somewhat airy.
4. Brush the sides of the spring form tin with melted butter and put on a baking sheet. Pour in the filling – if there are any lumps, sink them using a knife – the top should be as smooth as possible. Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to fan 90C bake for 25 minutes more. If you gently shake the tin, the filling should have a slight wobble. Turn off the oven and open the oven door for a cheesecake that’s creamy in the centre, or leave it closed if you prefer a drier texture. Let cool in the oven for 2 hours. The cheesecake may get a slight crack on top as it cools.

Notes: As I wasn’t sure weather the cake was ready or not as the wobbling was more than slight, I left it in the oven with slightly opened door for around 15-20min. Slightly wobbly it is now.

Make the ganache

1. In a water-bath, melt the chocolate.
2. In a pan bring the cream to a boil.
3. Pour the cream on to the chocolate and mix well.
4. Add the butter cut in cubes and mix.
9. Let the ganache cool before spreading it on the cheesecake.

NY Cheesecake with a chocolate ganache topping