Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Pâte à Choux and Pastry Cream

Paris Brest

Paris Brest was created to commemorate a popular bicycle race between Paris and Brest. Its shape represents a bicycle wheel and was a popular treat with riders because of its energy-giving high calorie value (that's why it's yummy!). Today it can be found in pastry shops throughout France.


Croquembouche is a traditional French wedding cake


When it comes down to it, all the delicious desserts you see above--the éclairs, the croquembouche, the cream puffs, and the Paris-Brestthe--are a combination of two key components: Pâte à Choux and Pastry Cream.

Pâte à Choux is the delicious buttery dough. The first step to making Pâte à Choux is bring water and butter (scary amounts) to a boil. Then remove it from the stove and stir in the flour. After the flour is stirred in, place it on the stove while continuously stirring in order to cook the starch and dry out the dough. After the starch is properly cooked and the dough is dried out, remove it again from the heat, but continue to stir to cool the dough. Add eggs one at a time, until it reached an elastic consistency (like the butter, scary amount of eggs). Once you reach the right texture and consistency, fill a pastry bag and piped the dough onto sheet pan. Bake.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Last week in class we learned about cheesecake. I had no idea that there were so many different styles and types of cheesecakes. The two main types we focused on and made were American and European style.

American-style cheesecakes are usually made with a cream cheese and have a bottom crust made from pastry dough or a crumb mixture. The cheesecake is baked in a pan of water to insulate them from too much bottom heat. American style cheesecake has a dense, rich, creamy texture.

European-style cheesecakes are usually made from a curd cheese, such as ricotta or farmers cheese. and are surrounded by a sweet crust and often have a top crust as well.

-Have all ingredients at room temperature

-Mix only until ingredients are smooth, avoid over mixing

-Avoid over baking. The center of a cheesecake can remain slightly liquid when out of the oven- retained heat will continue to heat the center.

-Immediately after removing from oven, loosen the top edge of American-style cheesecake from the inside of the pan with a knife. This will avoid the surface to crack.

-Cool cheesecake to room temperature and refrigerate overnight before attempting to unmold.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Truffle Trials

This past weekend I decided to experiment with Truffles. NYC has been extremely hot and too unbearable to turn on the oven and bake. So instead of torturing my husband and turning our little apartment into a gas oven, I turned on the stove and make chocolates. I decided to try out two different recipes in search for the perfect truffle.

Trial One – Alton Brown’s Chocolate Truffles

• 10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
• 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 1/2 cup heavy cream
• 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
• 1/4 cup brandy (I substituted with one vanilla bean)
• 1/2 cup Dutch process cocoa powder, finely chopped nuts, and/or toasted coconut, for coating truffles
• 8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine

Place the 10 ounces of chocolate and butter in a medium size glass mixing bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds. Remove and stir, and repeat this process 1 more time. Set aside.
Heat the heavy cream and corn syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat until simmering. Remove from the heat and pour the mixture over the melted chocolate mixture; let stand for 2 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, stir gently, starting in the middle of bowl and working in concentric circles until all chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth and creamy. Gently stir in the brandy. Pour the mixture into an 8 by 8-inch glass baking dish and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
Using a melon baller, scoop chocolate onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and return to the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Place the cocoa powder, nuts, and/or toasted coconut each in its own pie pan and set aside.
Remove the truffles from the refrigerator and shape into balls by rolling between the palms of your hands. Use powder-free vinyl or latex gloves, if desired.

Trial Two – Easy Decadent Truffles

• 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
• 3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
• 3 cups semisweet chocolate chips, melted
• 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Gradually beat in confectioners' sugar until well blended. Stir in melted chocolate and vanilla until no streaks remain. Refrigerate for about 1 hour. Shape into 1 inch balls.

After making both recipes and having my husband and co-workers test out the results the conclusion was that some like the lighter milker task of the Easy Decadent Truffles while some preferred the rich creamy flavor of the Alton Brown truffles. The results were a 50/50 split depending of chocolate preferences. The only conclusion that I came across was that my husband and co-workers are will willing to be apart of any sort of dessert trial.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

How Sweet It Is

I close my eyes at night and wonder what pastry I want to taste or make next. What can I say, I love pastries. My husband makes fun of me because I am constantly checking out blogs, restaurants, dessert spots, and reviews to get ideas on the next thing I want to bake. This week in class we made some pretty incredible Ice cream sundaes.


Homemade Ice Cream

Bread Pudding

Creme Brulee

Peanut Brittle



Thursday, July 1, 2010

G-E-L-L-I-N-G not J-E-L-L-O


Panna Cotta

Homemade Marshmallows