Friday, August 26, 2011

plaisir sucre..

Plaisir Sucre (sweet pleasure) is the third pierre herme recipe i've tried. the first was the chocolate sables and the second, the lemon tart. i've put off doing this recipe for so long because i'd no experience with tempering chocolate. i don't know why milk chocolate is harder to temper than dark... i only successfully tempered it on my 3rd try. to temper it, i melted 150 g of chocolate to 120 F, remove from stove, add remaining 50 g of reserved chocolate to the melted chocolate, and stir until the temperature drops to 83 F (it takes about 30 mins of stirring, so you'll really get defined forearms from this... hah!), once it reaches that temperature, put the bowl of choc back on the simmering water and let it reach 86-87, don't go higher than that! and your chocolate should be tempered and ready for spreading on the acetate sheets...
the other five components weren't too difficult (hazelnut dacquoise, chocolate ganache,chocolate whipped cream, praline feuilletine (I sub-ed with crushed corn flakes).. it seems like a lot of effort but it was worth it when a friend proclaimed 'the best dessert i've ever had'. since this was my first time, making it - it seems kinda a clumsy attempt. i would make the dacquoise layers thinner next time and the ganache was kinda drippy too.. i would make a slight adjustment to the recipe in future.

Monday, August 22, 2011

a thousand leaves.

I've always adored the flaky and ethereal quality of puff pastry and wanted to make a millefeuille. But to rush off to the supermarket and buy ready made pastry would be cheating, no? So I decided to make my own. There is something infinitely satisfying about making puff pastry.. and seeing all the beautiful layers rise like magic in the oven.

For the creme patisserie, I used Michel Roux's recipe but made a few substitutes replacing part of the milk with double cream for a richer taste. You definitely do not want to use low fat milk to make pastry cream!

The completed millefeuille. Now this can come out from some chi-chi patisserie. Even Mum who isn't a big fan of desserts gobbled this right up.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

say cheese..

I have to say every baker must have a good cheesecake up their sleeve. Since trying this recipe, I haven't been tempted to try anything else. Sour cream really elevates the flavor and gives it a really creamy soft texture. for those who love 'dense' cheesecakes, this is not for you. but i like this one as you can eat a whole slice and not feel queasy. and to make it even more decadent, I baked this with chunks of brownie in the batter.

This is my first experience with tempering chocolate. Of course, you can use plain melted chocolate, but it won't set and it just won't shine (or heaven forbid, chocolate cake covering) I don't know why I was so hesitant to try it before; it really wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be. For these chocolate dipped berries, 200 g of chopped dark chocolate couverture was used. 2/3 of that goes into a glass bowl over simmering water and melted to past 105 F. Upon reaching that temperature, remove from the heat and stir in the remaining chopped chocolate into the melted chocolate and start stirring like mad. When your temperature gets between 88 to 89, you are ready to start dipping. My biggest worry was whether the temperature would spiral down too quickly but I was quite surprised to find that the chocolate does maintain its temperature for a while. If it dips down below 88, simply place it over the simmering water but don't let it get above 90. Sounds tricky I know, but it wasn't so bad.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Pie it.

I must admit I'm not a fan of lemon meringue pie, but it is a classic and I like to master the classics. I hate the strong eggy taste of traditional lemon curd so for these tarts, I used a vegan recipe stiffened with agar. It turned out divine, without that dreadful eggy taste, but I would probably dilute the lemon juice next time; I like my lemon desserts verging on the sweet instead of the puckeringly sour. For the meringue, I used the italian method. the last time I used the french, the meringue collapsed in a matter of hours in this humidity.

These caramel and chocolate tarts were done for a recent order. I was very happy when a customer gave me some positive feedback, saying these brought her right back to Paris. I was initially quaking in my boots when I learnt that she was there for many years. She must have had the best of the best, and here I am - still an untrained pastry novice, what hope did I have? Lol. but thankfully she loved them.