Sportskage finale and then some!

I've been off the blog schedule for a bit, so today is the day for catching up.  This past weekend Steve and I had an uneventful drive across the eastern US and Canada from Providence, Rhode Island to Grand Rapids, Michigan to spend the Christmas holiday with my mom.  We enjoyed a night's stay at a B&B in Niagara-on-the-Lake, a lovely town on Lake Ontario at the mouth of the Niagara River.

Prior to our departure I had a busy week preparing goodies for a 50th birthday bash, including the final rendition of the Danish specialty sportskage (you can read about the trial preparation and assembly in my 12/7/14 post.)  Early in the week I had prepared the various components (choux puffs, nougatine and dacquoise), and since I was making two of these creations, I opted to make one almond and one hazelnut.

choux waiting to be dipped in caramel

cooking sugar for caramel

two nougatines waiting for assembly

The whipped cream is the one component that has to be done just before assembly, so I made sure I had everything at the ready, including my well chilled cream.

here goes!

The nougatine is folded into the whipped cream and then formed as a domed mound on top of the dacquoise base.

Voila!  Pretty straight forward, right?
Next up is the part that was making me apprehensive - piping more whipped cream decoratively over the mound.  I started with a small star tip and piped vertical lines around the base of the mound (reminded me of piping the collars of buttercream on the religiueses at Pascal Pinaud's à Paris!)

Then, using a petal tip, I finished it off . . . .

the petals

Hey, that actually went better than expected - hooray!!

Next I place caramel-dipped choux puffs over the surface, pressing them in ever so slightly . . .

the almond version

and the deed was done - whew!!  I will say this is one of the most interesting things I've made over the years.  Never let it be said that I won't accept a challenge, yessir, you betcha.

In addition to the Danish "cakes" and seven different flavors of shortbread (salted caramel, espresso, pistachio, orange hazelnut, honey herbes de provence, toasted coconut and lime ginger) I made three versions of moelleux chocolat . . . 


orange rosemary


and several tarts:  chocolate ganache, caramel nut, pear almond and Breton pistachio-raspberry.

tarts awaiting garnishes

It was a busy, but organized and enjoyable week of planning and preparation - a lot of what the pastry world is all about!

Now it's time for some Christmas relaxation, being with family and friends and scheming about new projects for 2015!  Joyeux Noel, Buon Natale and Merry Christmas to all!