In Berlin, again….

Yes, I know, I have not been writing for a very long time….

I spent the last year working at Le Môle in Marseille, which was a great experience but also a tough one. It was my first time working in the gastronomy business in France. The kitchen team is young, nice and very proficient.

But even though Marseille was amazing, gorgeous weather, friendly people, mind blowing landscape, the best aperos ever…..I decided to come back to Berlin for a while.

I first worked in a pastry shop, which didn’t work out as I had hoped, but I actually found a better place, a compromise between kitchen and social life: the Catering business at Kofler Company. It is a very different way of working than à la carte, first because of the quantities you have to produce for, the desserts have to hold for a few hours, have to be easy to plate and produceable for hundreds, thousands of guests. Then there is the organisation, the logistic etc…..a great opportunity to learn. And personally, that’s what the job is also all about.

In Berlin, again….

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.
Separate the egg yolks from the whites. Add the egg yolks one by one, stir well.
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.
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

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