World egg day!

Maple pot de crème

Maple pot de crème

How many of you knew that October 12 was World Egg Day? I wouldn’t have known if it hadn’t been for Kim, the activities director at Heron Manor/Woods just down the street from our home.

It all started in 1996 when the International Egg Commission set the second Friday in October as World Egg Day to increase awareness of the benefits of eggs and how important they are in human nutrition. Who knew?

Needless to say, eggs are utilized in many different ways in the baking and pastry world. For a morning event this past Friday, October 12, I decided to really go for it in the egg department.

Never one to turn down pot de crème, I thought others would enjoy a maple version of this unctuous delight, topped with maple mascarpone cream, a sprinkle of walnut praline crumbs and a petite maple walnut shortbread cookie on the side. So lovely and so delicious.

The base is essentially a crème brulée type custard made with cream, yolks and sugar (maple syrup here). I used 3 ounce ramekins which I find to be a perfect portion for a just right taste.

To yield 14 portions, whisk together 9 yolks, 3/4 cup REAL maple syrup (don’t you even dare use “pancake syrup“!), 3/4 teaspoon salt and 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract; heat 3 cups heavy cream to barely simmering and temper it into the egg/maple syrup mixture. Strain through a fine mesh sieve into a pouring measuring cup then fill the ramekins to 1/4” below the rim.

Bake in a water bath at 325ºF. I use a clear pyrex glass baking dish, set the ramekins in, pour hot water into the corner of the dish and fill to about half-way up the sides of the ramekins. Cover loosely with foil and bake about 30-35 minutes, checking it periodically - you want the custard just set with a hint of a jiggle in the center. Once out of the oven, lift them out of the water bath and cool to room temperature on a wire rack.


Then refrigerate until chilled. Garnish with whatever you’d like! If not being consumed the same day, I cover them with plastic wrap to enjoy over the next few days.


Now for a tart!


As always, having some version of a tart in the mix is right up my alley and thus a ricotta custard raspberry tartlette was born - buttery blind baked short crust filled with a few raspberry pieces and an easy to make ricotta filling.

For the filling whisk together 2 cups ricotta/3 eggs/one tablespoon cornstarch/3/4 cup sugar/zest of a lemon/ 1 teaspoon vanilla. Et voilà, très simple!


Bake at 350ºF until the filling is set and a bit puffy, about 20-25 minutes.


To give these babies some panache I made a lightly gelled raspberry coulis and pooled it on the top.


Then a nice string-of-pearls crème Chantilly rim and a fresh raspberry to top it off. Smooth and berry delicious !


The World Egg Day table also held browned-butter pistachio crumb cakes (egg whites) . . . .


. . . . and apple pecan brioche (we all know that has eggs!).

Note: more on revisiting brioche recipes later - it’s an ongoing task.


An enjoyable egg day it was!! Can’t wait until next year.

Dried apricot purée and something new with croissant dough

Always on the path of using up ingredients I have on hand, I decided to make apricot purée with a bunch of dried apricots standing by in the fridge.  Of course, what I might do with said purée was also on my mind.  Ahhh - something with croissant dough might be nice!

First the purée. After some recipe research I came up with a pretty straight forward approach involving poaching the dried apricots in a light sugar syrup with added orange zest.  Apricots go soooo nicely with orange, n'est pas?

Place 300 ml (1 1/4 cup) water, 50 g (1/4 cup) sugar, 84 g (1/4 cup) honey and the zest of two oranges in a saucepan, bring to a simmer and cook on medium low until the sugar is dissolved. Add 250 g (1 1/4 cup) dried apricots, cover and cook about 30 minutes until the fruit is soft and supple.

Purée in a blender until smooth then strain.  This stuff looks like baby food!

I decided to freeze the end result by portioning it out into an ice cube tray. That allowed me to remove small amounts on an as needed basis. Interestingly the purée didn't freeze solid due to the sugar content but it was a good way to store it nonetheless.

The day before I wanted to create my little croissant bites, I pulled some croissant dough from the freezer, thawed it overnight and then rolled it out and cut small squares that would fit nicely into buttered and sugar-dusted mini-muffin tins.

I decided on a cream cheese type filling, making my own version based on a recipe in my CIA Baking and Pastry book.

Mix 270 g cream cheese with 33 g sugar (I reduced the amount of sugar in the original recipe since I would be adding my sweetened apricot purée), 33 g corn starch, pinches of lemon and orange zest and a splash of vanilla. Blend in 45 g egg and a couple of tablespoons of apricot purée (or more to taste).

I let the croissant squares rise for about 1.5 hours then topped them with a dollop of apricot cream cheese filling, followed by a smaller dollop of purée and a few pieces of diced dried apricot.

Then I topped 'em all off with some pistachio crumble . . . . 

and popped them into a preheated 400ºF oven to bake.  After about 8 minutes I reduced the temp to 375ºF and continued to bake until nicely browned, another 15- 20 minutes or so.  REMEMBER - watch what's going on in that oven of yours!

After a few minutes I gently lifted them out onto a wire rack to cool, and then, of course, it was time for a taste test.  Yeah baby.

Lovely layered, delectable, buttery goodness with the creamy apricot filling and crunchy pistachio crumble adding the always hoped for differences in textures and tastes.

And Steve liked them too. Yippee!

Apricot orange cake with pistachio crumble

How often do you buy an ingredient with a specific project in mind, only to have that ingredient languish on the shelf or in the fridge waiting to be used?  Fortunately, that doesn't happen too frequently, but, every now and then it's a good idea to see what's on hand, both in the fridge and the freezer, and figure out ways to use up things that are either nearing the end of their shelf life or are begging to be baked into something delicious.

This time - dried apricots and yogurt with unbaked pistachio crumble on the side.

Here I opted for a variation on a recipe for orange currant muffins with pistachio crumb.  I've had this recipe in my files for some time now, not even sure where I found it.  It calls for sour cream, for which I substituted yogurt, and currants, which I replaced with diced dried apricots.

Here goes!

Heat the oven to 325ºF.  Butter a medium loaf pan, line it with parchment and butter the parchment as well.

It's a straight forward batter.

In a separate bowl whisk together 1 1/2 cups/195 g all purpose flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, using the paddle, cream 5 TBSP/70 g unsalted butter with 1/2 cup/105 g sugar until light and fluffy; blend in 1 large egg; blend in 3/4 cup yogurt and 2 teaspoons orange zest.

Add the dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated; fold in 1/2 cup diced dried apricots.  The batter will be thick.

Spread the batter in the prepared pan.

Top with a healthy layer of pistachio crumble made by combining equal weights flour and sugar, then sanding in the same weight of cold, diced butter to coarse crumbs and adding 1/2 the same weight of chopped pistachios.  You choose your quantities and make plenty to have extra for your freezer.

Bake for approximately 45 minutes until the top is browned and a skewer inserted in the center comes out cleanly.

After about 10 minutes lift the cake out and let cool. 

Slice and enjoy!

I simply couldn't wait until this had completely cooled.  The still warm, fruit studded, moist, pistachio crumbly and oh-so-delicious slice was just the thing for a middle-of-a-winter-afternoon snack.

And guess what - Steve liked it too!!