Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Sunny-Side up Apricot Pastries

October 7, 2014 at 12:01 am | Posted in breakfast things, general pastry, groups, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 14 Comments
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sunny-side up apricot pastires

Michel Richard is a chef with a sense of humor.  Case in point, these cute Sunny-Side Up Apricot Pastries.  At first glance, they’re fried eggs on toast.  At first bite, they’re poached fruit and pastry cream on top of crispy puff pastry.

Before you can have these for breakfast (or for dessert, if you are like I am and this is too much to process in the morning), you have to make pastry cream and poach fruit.  I’d take care of these a day in advance.  You also have to deal with the puff pastry situation and decide if you are going to buy it or make it.  I’ve worked in restaurant and bakery kitchens for more than 10 years now…while not every place I’ve worked has made puff from scratch, a few of them have, so I’ve laminated me some dough.  Frankly, it can be a pain in the neck (literally). On a large scale, those of us with no upper body strength (who me?) struggle to roll a ginormous batch by hand if there isn’t a dough sheeter.  If the kitchen’s too hot, butter oozes everywhere.  It’s often a rush-job because no one bothers to mention that they took the last sheets from the freezer and left me with nothing for the day’s production.  But, I’ve made this very puff pastry dough recipe at home before–I actually chose it several years ago when I hosted a Daring Bakers Challenge– and I know that it’s not hard at all, especially if you make it a day or two before you need it and the temps are relatively cool.  If you are on the fence, a half-batch is super-approachable, doesn’t take too much counter space to roll and will give you plenty of puff for treats.  And if you’re still on the fence, just get a nice store-bought one….I do it all the time, so no judgments.

puff pastry dough

Apricots aren’t in season here anymore, so I had planned to just use canned ones instead (and also skip the recipe’s poaching step).  Then at the Greenmarket this weekend, I saw that nectarines are still around, so I picked out a few of the smallest “apricot-sized” ones and went ahead with those.  I gave them a gentle poach and left their skins on.  I thought they were pretty, but they kind of wrinkled up in the oven.  Next time they’re coming off.  Next time I’ll also leave the puff a little fatter than the book indicates.  I think the recipe says to roll it too thin, so while the front and back ends puffed nicely, the sides were a little flatter than I would have liked.  Super crispy, though.

These were delicious, and a fun weekend kitchen project.  I’ll make them again, especially since I have extra homemade puff in the freezer now.  Here’s a document that I typed up about making puff pastry for my DB Challenge back in 2009…somewhere near the end are some tips and suggestions.

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan (it’s also here). There’s a video of the BWJ episode showing how to make both the puff pastry dough and the pastries. Finally, don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Espresso Profiteroles

September 17, 2013 at 12:18 pm | Posted in general pastry, groups, other sweet, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 12 Comments
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espresso profiteroles

Choux paste treats have been well-covered here.  Gougères, éclairs, cream puffs and even crullers–wait, something’s missing.  How could I forget profiteroles, one of my most favorite desserts?   I’ll take care of that one now with Norman Love’s Espresso Profiteroles.

Despite my love of profiteroles, I admit that I didn’t have high hopes for these.  Quite frankly, I thought the picture in the book looked terrible (the choux looked bready, not light).  I’m happy to report that they turned out better than expected.  I’m not sure how much flavor was really contributed by adding coffee to the choux puffs themselves, but they puffed and hollowed nicely.  I used espresso ice cream (instead of cinnamon) and boozed up the chocolate sauce with Kahlua (instead of Grand Marnier), so that took care of the missing coffee flavors.

These are best cut and filled right before serving, when the puffs are crisp and the ice cream is just beginning to soften.  Pre-scooped and frozen is a profiterole no-no for me.  And the sauce should be warm.  Mmmmm…sauce…

espresso profiteroles

We’re going without hosts now for TWD, so for the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan.  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Croissants (& Pains au Chocolat)

March 5, 2013 at 12:01 am | Posted in breakfast things, general pastry, groups, sweet things, sweet yeast breads, tuesdays with dorie | 27 Comments
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croissants (& pains au chocolat)

TWD’s crossing a biggie off the list this week– Esther McManus’s Croissants.  This probably qualifies as the most technically complicated recipe we’ve made so far.  Like puff pastry and Danish, croissants are made from a butter-laminated, or layered, dough.  This means a block of butter is encased in dough and repeatedly rolled and folded to create layers that puff in the oven (and flake in your mouth!).  Once you get over butter-shock, it’s really fun to make this kind of dough, and if you give someone a homemade croissant they will be seriously impressed by your talents.  Cool weather helps when making the dough, and so does leaving yourself plenty of time to let it rest in between rolls and folds.

I could not resist turning half my dough into pains-au-chocolat.  Dangerously good–now I remember why I don’t allow myself to buy them!  Next time I make croissant dough (that’ll be awhile since I still have like fifteen p-au-c formed in the freezer), I’ll definitely prep almond-filled ones.  Would have done it this time, but as usual I procrastinated and didn’t get it together to make the filling.  Also, I’ll cut my croissant triangles a bit bigger.  I wound up with ones that were only slightly larger than minis and I associate mini croissants with conference room party platters.  Although these were much better (and flakier) than any office-croissants I’ve ever had, and here’s proof…

croissants (& pains au chocolat)

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan or read Amanda’s Girl+Food=Love. There’s even a video of Esther and Julia making the tart together).  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

P.S.: For something totally unrelated, enter my BOOK GIVEAWAY for a chance to win a copy of Breakfast for Dinner.

Homemade Marshmallow Crème and a BOOK GIVEAWAY!

March 4, 2012 at 7:19 pm | Posted in book review, general pastry, other sweet, sweet things | 42 Comments

marshmallow crème

If you think that a marshmallow is one of those semi-stale, crackly, crusty things you get at the supermarket, then we need to have a talk.  Ideally, they should be squishy and soft, not tough and dense….and oh-so importantly, they should taste fresh.  You don’t have to buy them, you know…the marshmallow ideal can be your reality if you make them at home.  It is sticky business, to be sure, but it isn’t that hard.  And there’s a whole, sweet new book, Marshmallow Madness! by fellow blogger Shauna Server, to help you out.  It has a puffy cover and everything!  It starts with the classics…vanilla, chocolate…and moves on to some really inspired flavors like buttered rum and maple-bacon.  Who would have thought marshmallows could be so adult and sophisticated?  I’ve already made my caramel sauce for the sea salt caramel swirl ones.

I whipped up a batch of Shauna’s marshmallow crème this morning.  It’s marshmallow minus the gelatin, and just like with marshies, if you’ve only ever had store-bought Fluff, you’ll be wowed by the way homemade tastes.  Like real vanilla, for one thing.  Guess what I’m gonna put this sticky stuff all over tonight??  Minds out of the gutter people, this is a PG blog– I’m talking about chocolate ice cream!  And if I have any left next weekend, I’ll turn it into a giant Ho-Ho with the chocolate-marshmallow roulade recipe in the “Fluffy, Puffy Desserts” section at the back of the book.

The nice folks at Quirk Books sent me a copy of this book, and now I want to send a copy to one of you, too.  Just leave me a comment (one per person, please) on this post before 4:00 pm EST on Thursday (March 8) and I’ll randomly choose a winner from the list.  Be sure your e-mail address is correct so I can contact you!

***Giveaway Winner Update: I now have two copies to give away, one from me and one from Quirk Books, who has very kindly offered to donate another. I used random.org to generate random comment numbers to find the winners. It selected comments 7 and 10, so congratulations to Christy and Anne M. You should be getting your books soon!***

marshmallow crème

Homemade Marshmallow Crème- makes about 2 1/2 cups
from Marshmallow Madness! by Shauna Server

Steph’s Note: I used golden syrup instead of corn syrup here, and it worked just fine (although the crème isn’t as blindingly white as it would be otherwise…it has the faintest tinge of gold).

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1/8 tsp salt
2 large egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

-Stir together the sugar, light corn syrup, water and salt in a small saucepan over high heat.  Boil, stirring occasionally, until it reaches 240°F.

-Meanwhile, place the egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Start whipping the egg whites to soft peaks on medium speed.  The goal is to have the egg whites whipped and ready, waiting for your syrup to be drizzled in.  If they’re whipping faster than your syrup is coming to temperature, just stop the mixer (or turn to lowest speed) until the syrup is ready.

-When the syrup reaches 240°F, set the mixer to low and slowly drizzle a tiny bit of syrup, a couple tablespoons’ worth, into the egg whites to warm them.  (If you add too much syrup at once, the whites will scramble).  Slowly drizzle in the rest of they syrup and then increase the speed to medium-high.  Beat until the marshmallow crème is stiff and glossy, 7-9 minutes; towards the end of the beating, beat in the vanilla.

-Use immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Please note that the publisher, Quirk Books, sent me a copy of this book.

Marshmallow Madness!

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