Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Pear Frangipane Tart

Short crust pastry shell, almond frangipane filling and luscious ripe pears over the top. I think this turned out very good. I must admit it is not great because there is something way too subtle about it. Pears are one of my favorite fruit. When they are ripe they are yielding and soft, sweet and delicate. I thought they would pair well with an equally delicate frangipane filling. But everything was just...too subtle. It really needs a punch and I am thinking that maybe peaches would pack enough flavor to balance out the subtle frangipane. Maybe even cherries or possibly chocolate or a combo of those? I must say, each element on its own is perfect, the buttery crust, the almond-y flavor of the filling and the ripe juicy pears, and I am proud of my dish.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Have you ever had a freshly made eclair? It's all in the dough. Eclair dough is pate choux and it is not difficult to make. Unlike most baking it is not contingent on weather, humidity or heat. It is like a pop over only lighter. It starts with the usual suspects in dough making like flour, butter, water and a pinch of salt. First you cook this lightly over the stove and then add your eggs. That's it. Then pipe the dough onto a baking sheet and bake into the lovely boat shape for eclairs or round for cream puffs. I prefer a combination of pastry cream "lightened" (HA!) with whipped cream for my filling and they must be covered in bittersweet chocolate glaze. All culminating into a perfect eclair.

I used to think desserts like this were impossible to make at home. But don't be afraid! Try them! You will not be disappointed and if you don't get it right the first time, try again. It is worth it.

Monday, September 6, 2010


You know what I love about working with dough? The weird fact that even though most doughs for breads, sweet breads, even pizza, etc., are basically all the same ingredients that are introduced just a little differently. That makes all the difference in texture in the end product and during the process. Most doughs for sweet things are soft and tender even when they are raw. Bread and pizza doughs are firm and hearty. This is fascinating to me and I love it when everything clicks and I can "feel" how the product will turn out.

I love all sweets but my favorite home made sweets have to be doughnuts. I make some pretty mean cookies and cakes but doughnuts always turn out beautifully. There is one particular chain of doughnut shops that has a flashing sign that alerts all in the vicinity that they are removing fresh doughnuts from their fryers. I used to drive about 20 miles on the off chance that the sign was blinking. Sometimes I would even make the drive and just loiter around the area until the sign flashed. This all came to an end when I discovered home made doughnuts.

Have you ever had a home made doughnut? They are not difficult to make. As a matter of fact the ingredients are quite simple. You take some AP flour, a little sugar, dash of salt, little bit of butter, milk or water, maybe eggs and yeast. That's it. Those innocuous ingredients merge to create a heavenly little bite. Yeast raised doughnuts are my favorite. They even smell like doughnuts when the dough is raw. Creepy, trippy and absolutely maaaahvelous. These cuties come together in about 3 hours with most of your time spent waiting for the dough to rise. The actual cooking time is over in about 4 minutes in 365 degree oil.

My sister put these together today and I made the toppings. I had to have glazed. The glaze is just confectioner's or icing sugar and a little water, some were topped with chocolate icing, or a cinnamon sugar mixture. The filling today was either cherry or raspberry preserves. The jelly doughnuts weren't really filled. I just took a bite of the doughnut, either icing glazed or sugar coated and slathered on the raspberry jam (my fave!!). The chocolate glazed got the cherry preserves, sort of like a black forrest doughnut. They may not have had the perfect round shape of those you can buy at the store but I must say they are definitely more delicious because a fresh doughnut is something everyone must try. You can use any doughnut recipe. My sister "M" followed The Joy of Cooking recipe for these doughnuts.