Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Cherry-berry feuilleté and peach buttermilk ice cream

The summer annuals are showing off their colors here in Grand Rapids MI . . . .

lovely coleus in our little garden courtyard

and the summer peaches are out in full force!

Fresh Michigan peaches are one of my favorite fruits.  So of course I've been thinking of the many wonderful ways to use them.  This time I was inspired by a peach buttermilk ice cream recipe from "Food and Wine" magazine.

I followed the recipe for my usual ice cream base (2 cups heavy cream, 1 cup whole milk, 3/4 cup sugar, 5 large egg yolks, pinch of salt) replacing the cup of whole milk with buttermilk.  I blanched 1.5 pounds of peaches, then peeled, pitted, sliced and blender-ized them with a squeeze of lemon juice, folding the purée into the cooled base.

peach purée at the ready

ice cream base finishing its chill down

I usually chill my base in the fridge for a day or two, then process in my ice cream maker and transfer to a freezer container several hours before serving.

I also wanted to use some cherries and blueberries I had on hand to complement the peach ice cream in a dessert I was planning for a family meal.  And, to top it off, there was some reverse puff pastry in my freezer just waiting to be made into something oh-so-delicious.

The beauty of the feuilleté preparation is that I can roll, shape and bake them ahead of time and hold them either at room temperature if using the same day, or in the freezer for a number of days if planning a bit farther ahead.

When ready to fill them, I simply push down the center layers of puff to make room for the fruit mixture that will be mounded in the feuilleté.

I mixed 4 cups of fruit (cherry/blueberry combo) with a teaspoon of fresh lemon juice, 3-4 tablespoons granulated sugar (I like my fruit on the tart side) and 1 tablespoon cornstarch. I then cooked this concoction on med-low heat until bubbly and thickened.

Note:  this quantity of fruit filling was enough for 7-8 feuilletés about 3.5 inches square.

Then I scooped a mound of filling in the center of each feuilleté and baked at 350ºF for about 10-15 minutes.  Since the puff pastry is already baked and the filling already cooked, it's really just a matter of heating everything up.

Once cooled, I topped each one with previously baked matcha crumble (really more for color contrast than taste) and gave them a light powdered sugar dust.

the end result!

I know I've mentioned crumble before in this blog.  It's a great thing to have on hand and is so easy to make.  Make as much or as little as you'd like.  

Simply mix equal weights flour and sugar in a medium bowl, sand in the same weight of cool, diced butter to form coarse crumbs.  In this case I added some matcha powder with the flour and sugar (you don't need much).

Spread the crumbs out on a parchment lined sheet pan and bake at 325ºF, stirring and breaking up clumps every 5 minutes or so until lightly browned and crisp, 10-15 minutes total.  Let cool.

Store in a zip-top bag in the freezer and use at will!

For serving I simply placed a scoop of peach buttermilk ice cream atop each feuilleté (no muss, no fuss) and handed 'em out.


While the ice cream was a bit more icy in texture than I had hoped (I suspect due to using low fat buttermilk rather than whole milk, plus the water content of the fruit purée), the contrast of the tangy peachy coolness with the tart cherry-berry filling and buttery, flakey puff was oh-so-good indeed.

Three cheers for summer fruits!  Hip hip hooray . . . .

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Pavé aux amandes

Sum-sum-sum-sum-sum-sum summer time!  It's been a good one so far.  Teaching classes at the new Sur La Table here in Grand Rapids and baking croissants, pain au chocolat and croissant aux amandes for Nonna Cafe have been keeping me busy (not to mention a little gardening, family visits and the odd day trip here and there).

Periodically looking back at some of the classic recipes from pastry school, I recently decided to make a classic French pavé aux amandes, a moist, dense-but-not-heavy almond cake.

I think of this as one of the many treats that kids might enjoy for le gouter, the traditional afternoon snack time in France, usually around 4 pm.  And of course adults wouldn't mind it either with a nice cup of coffee or tea.

Top it with a delicious whipped mascarpone cream and some fresh seasonal fruit and you have yourself a tasty dessert!

It's a simple and straight forward recipe, baked in a 9" square shallow pan lined with parchment, buttered, then sliced almonds layered on the bottom.

les ingredients

Cream 125 gram softened butter with 200 grams sugar until blended.  I do this in a medium bowl with a spatula, but you can also use a stand mixer with the paddle - just don't cream too long since you really don't want to aerate this batter.  It's meant to be a dense cake.

Then blend in 250 grams egg (about 5 whole eggs) followed by 250 grams blanched almond flour.

Note: for a bit of variation add some orange zest and a splash of vanilla and/or almond extract to punch up the flavor.  Yum.

And that's it!  How easy is that, eh??

The trickiest part of this whole thing is transferring the batter to the prepared pan.  Do it carefully - I place blobs of batter over sections of the pan, then gently spread so as not to dislodge the almonds on the bottom.

evenly spread and ready for the oven

Bake at 325ºF for about 45 minutes until the top is golden brown, there is no jiggling in the center and it feels firm to touch.  You'll see a few moist crumbs if checking with a skewer or cake tester.

Carefully run a knife around the edges of the cake and turn it out onto a cooling rack.

Once cooled, dust the top with powdered sugar and dig in!

The flavor is subtly almond, the texture is dense yet light and the crumb oh-so-moist.

And guess what - Steve liked it!!  Yay!!!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Cherry hazelnut clafoutis tart

More Michigan cherries comin' your way!

As the season continues and other stone fruits and blueberries are starting to show their faces, I just had to make something using Michigan cherries before they're no longer available.

We were slated to attend a Bastille Day celebration put on by the GR chapter of L'Alliance Française, and I had promised to bring a dessert.  Cherry clafoutis came to mind, this time as a tart.

I lined a 240 mm tart ring with a standard pâte sucrée and blind baked it first.

going into the oven

The filling is very straight forward.

les ingredients
Place 3 large eggs into a bowl; whisk in 100 grams sugar, 25 grams almond flour, 150 ml heavy cream, 25 grams melted butter, 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract, 1/2 tablespoon flour and 30 grams hazelnuts (coarsely chopped).

Place 300 grams pitted and halved cherries into the blind baked shell . . .

pour the egg/cream mixture over them . . . .

and bake at 350ºF for 30-40 minutes until the filling is set.

et voilà!

For serving I topped the tart with a hazelnut crumble which I had baked ahead of time and had in my freezer.


FYI:  a basic crumble is equal weights flour, sugar and cold, diced butter - make as much as your heart desires.

Add in the same weight of your favorite chopped nut (or less as you see fit) and you have a delicious crunchy topping to complement your tart.

Or add in some citrus zest and your choice of spice like cinnamon, coriander, cardamom or  nutmeg - you get the idea.

Baked or unbaked, you can freeze it to have on hand for lots of things.

Here's to a beautiful summer in Michigan and lots more fruit to come!!  Yes.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy July 4th!!!

Here's to a wonderful Independence Day for all!

It's a beautiful day here in West Michigan and Steve and I look forward to celebrating the holiday this afternoon at Clear Lake with the extended TenHave clan.

Cherry-berry cobbler is on the dessert menu.

I'll give you a quick narrative (hmmm - do I ever do anything quickly in this blog?) of the recipe, my take on a peach blackberry cobbler from Emily Luchetti's book "Four-Star Desserts".

And since this is, after all, a classic American holiday, I'm giving you the ingredients in traditional American measures.

The cobbler topping is a delectable cornmeal dough made by combining 3/4 cup all purpose flour, 1/4 cup cornmeal (I used fine yellow), 2 tablespoons granulated sugar and a pinch of salt.

Sand in one stick (4 oz) cool, diced butter to coarse crumbs, toss in 1-2 tablespoons ice water and mix just until it comes together.  Easy-peasy!!

Roll the dough out between sheets of parchment or plastic wrap to a thickness of about 1/4 inch then chill in the fridge.

Cut desired shapes (I opted for a stars and stripes motif bien sûr) and hold them in the fridge or freezer until ready to use.

Heat your oven to 350ºF.

For a 9x13 clear Pyrex dish I prepped about 8 cups of fruit, about half of which was a combo of Rainier and dark sweet cherries that I had purchased at the Fulton Farmer's market.  Blueberries and raspberries filled out the mix.

Toss the fruit with a mixture of 1/2- 3/4 cup granulated sugar (see NOTE), 4 tablespoons cornstarch, a large pinch of salt and a half dozen or so grates of fresh nutmeg.  I also added about 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander.  Squeeze a bit of lemon juice in to help brighten the taste of the fruit.

NOTE:  when adding sugar, consider the natural sweetness or tartness of the fruit you are using; start your sugar addition on the lower end of the scale and add as needed to taste.

As you can see above, I have my dough cut and ready to go.

Place the fruit mixture in the Pyrex dish, drizzle 6 tablespoons melted butter over it and top with the dough shapes.

Egg wash the dough and sprinkle with sugar.  I like raw sugar - it gives the finished product a nice crunch.

ready for the oven

Bake at 350ºF for about 40-45 minutes until the topping is golden brown and the fruit filling is bubbling.

et voilà!

You can be sure we'll be enjoying this later in the day with some vanilla ice cream, oh yeah.

And a Happy July 4th to all!!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Michigan cherry charlotte

It's Michigan sweet cherry season!

There are so many delicious things to make with sweet cherries, and, since I had some petite lady fingers in my freezer, my mind turned toward a cherry version of a classic charlotte.

A charlotte is a dessert assembled in a mold lined with lady fingers, sponge cake or bread and then filled with a fruit mousse, Bavarian cream, whipped cream or custard.

I remember making a pear version in pastry school and recall it was quite tasty indeed.  I don't believe I've made one since.
It was time.

First a brief note about lady fingers.  They belong in the category of sponge cake and are really quite straight forward to make.

To prepare for piping the lady fingers I marked a half sheet pan in 3 inch wide increments as a guide for my piping.  You can make your lady fingers any size your little heart desires!


The base recipe we used at Le Cordon Bleu calls for 4 eggs, separated; 125 grams sugar and 125 grams all purpose flour.

The egg whites are whipped to medium stiff peaks along with half the sugar.  The yolks are then whisked with the other half of the sugar until pale and thickened and are folded into the beaten whites.

beaten yolks and whites plus flour ready to be added

Then half the flour is gently folded into the egg mixture, followed by the second half of the flour just until blended.  Don't overwork it.

all folded and ready to pipe

Pipe the batter in rows . . . . .

and dust with powdered sugar before baking in a 375 F oven for 15-20 minutes until lightly browned.

ready for the oven
Et voila!

I had served some of the lady fingers sandwiched with lemon curd and strawberry jam at a recent demo presentation, but the rest went into the freezer (they freeze very well!) just waiting to be incorporated into a luscious, creamy charlotte.

I used a 16 centimeter round ring mold for my charlotte assembly and opted to bake a round of tart cherry shortbread as my base.

ready for the oven

Once the shortbread base was baked and cooled, I lined the ring rather rustically with waxed paper sheets, put the shortbread base in and coated it with a brushing of chocolate ganache.  This was meant to protect it from the soon-to-come cherry mousse filling and keep it crisp.

I then lined the ring sides and base with the lady fingers and imbibed them with vanilla simple syrup.

I wasn't quite ready to make my cherry mousse so I popped the assemblage into the freezer to await the final stages.

For the mousse I needed cherry purée, whipped cream and Italian meringue (boy, I haven't made THAT in forever!!).

I puréed 130 grams of pitted and halved cherries with about a tablespoon of sugar, a generous squeeze of lemon juice and a couple of teaspoons of water.

yup - looks like a purée

I made a small batch of Italian meringue by cooking 50 grams sugar and 20 ml water to 118ºC . . . .

then pouring the sugar syrup over one whipped egg white and whipping until cooled and nicely shiny and stiff.

(Note to self - plan ahead for various uses and make a larger batch of Italian meringue next time!)

Then I whipped 150 ml heavy cream to soft peaks.

Below are all three components ready to be blended.

Once the mousse was blended I filled my lady finger lined charlotte ring and smoothed the top.

I placed the charlotte into the freezer to set.

For my garnish I used 120 grams of pitted and halved cherries, cooked them with a little sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice until thickened, then let them cool.

Once the mousse was set (after an hour or so in the freezer), I topped it with the cooled cherries and added a rim of crushed chocolate shortbread cookies to give it a bit of flair.

Michigan cherry charlotte
Mom came over for a delicious summer supper of grilled chicken, fresh green beans with broccoli and sliced almonds thrown in for good measure, and couscous (all prepared by head chef Steve!).

And, of course, for dessert we three simply had to sample the cherry charlotte.

We agreed that the mousse was SOOO . .  light with a clear taste of cherries.  The shortbread crust, cherry topping and dashes of chocolate all made for a tasty combination.

And after an overnight in the fridge it was still delicious the next day - yessirree!

Here's to summer!!