Some small treats for a Friday morning meeting

I trust everyone is enjoying their holiday season and not getting too harried.  Just remember to slow down and take some deep breaths every now and then!

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 entitled "French Puffs" that I found in Portland, Maine's Standard Baking Company's book .  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.