Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way . . . .
Early this past week I received a request to provide an assortment of small goodies for the annual board meeting of Urban Ventures, a state funded, non-profit organization that exists to assist micro businesses get started in Rhode Island.
I had worked with UV back in 2010-2011 as I was developing my small pastry business, so when the call came in, I was happy to oblige.
I turned to some of my tried and true favorites - financier, pain au chocolat, profiterole, and bouchon.
|petite pain au chocolat|
I also wanted to offer something else made using croissant dough (in addition to the pain au chocolat). It just so happened that I had a small amount of crème d'amandes in my fridge just begging to be used, so I proceeded to make a small batch of crème pâtissière and blended equal parts of the two crèmes to make frangipane. I had been envisioning an apricot-almond combo and finally settled on cutting the rolled out croissant dough into small rectangles, proofing, then topping with frangipane and apricot slices before baking. And here they are!
|apricot almond pastry - the hit of the meeting!|
I've made a number of different financier over the years, including pear-ginger, chocolate-hazelnut, orange-cranberry, apple-cheddar, pumpkin, herbed goat cheese, lemon-berry, just to name a few. It's such a delicious and versatile base - definitely one of my faves!
This time I went with matcha-raspberry, a regular (and very popular) offering in the past during my Saturday winter farmers market days in Pawtucket. I love to bake them in different shapes too and find that the vast array of silicone flexi-molds currently available makes for all sorts of tempting choices. Squares! Thanks Joe!
|matcha-raspberry financier, just out of the oven|
My bouchon are based on a recipe I found in Portland, Maine's Standard Baking Company's book entitled "French Puffs". Once I had made them I wasn't sure why the word "puff" was used, since they aren't at all puffy. In fact they are a dense, moist cake, full of flavor. I adapted the recipe, adding coriander and ginger to the nutmeg in the batter and then rolling the warm, butter-dipped nuggets in coriander sugar.
My sister Joyce once described these as "the best donut hole I've ever had". I bake them in small, round flexi-molds, the result prompting Steve to name them bouchon 'cuz they kinda look like champagne corks.
|coriander buttermilk bouchon|
I happened to have some choux puffs in the freezer (a great item to have on hand for those unexpected requests!), so profiteroles here we come. A truly delicious combo is to pair fresh fruit with whipped caramel mascarpone cream - what a marriage of fresh, sometimes tart with creamy, smooth goodness.
For the cream I combine equal weights heavy cream and mascarpone, add in some vanilla and, in this case, my homemade caramel sauce to provide a hint of sweetness, then whip it all to soft peaks. I cut the tops off the puffs, pipe a swirl of cream into the bottom and top with fresh fruit. In this case I used kiwi, orange and pomegranate seeds, primarily for the lovely seasonal color combination. And don't forget - it tastes good too!
|fresh fruit profiterole|
The table . . .
The pain au chocolat and apricot almond pastries . . .
I anticipated the possibility of leftovers and had small, to-go bags on hand. Many of the attendees took advantage of the "doggy-bag" option and left with an assortment to share with office mates, co-workers, friends or family.
A good morning indeed.