Napoleon


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This past week I was left with some puff pastry and though I could have used it  to make dinner one night, I chose to keep this treasure to make a fun concoction.photo

On week-ends I like to spend time in my kitchen and make up desserts. Yesterday I really wanted to do something fancy without spending hours in the kitchen and that’s when I thought of making a much admired French dessert called Napoleon.photo

Though today this dessert is known as Napoleon, it used to be called Millefeuille which described this dessert perfectly, more so in fact that Napoleon. Indeed Millefeuille  means a thousand layers which defines perfectly what  a Napoleon is: a dessert made of 3 layers of puff pastries and pastry cream.
Ingredients for 3 large individual Napoleon or 13 mini ones:

  • 1 sheet of puff pastry thaw out in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Ingredients for the Creme Patissiere, or PAstry cream:

  • 410 gr. or 14.45 oz. of whole milk,
  • 5 egg yolks,
  • 80 gr. or 2.80 oz of granulated sugar,
  • 20 gr. or .71 oz of flour,
  • 20 gr. or .71 oz of corn flour,
  • a pinch of salt,
  • 1 stick of butter.
  • 1 vanilla bean.
  1. With a knife, cut the vanilla bean in its length. Then with the back of knife, push the vanilla seeds out of the beans and place them into the milk.
  2. In a small saucepan warm up the milk with the vanilla bean, and the vanilla seeds and bring the mixture to boil.
  3. Meanwhile, in  large bowl, beat the egg yolks with the sugar until the mixture becomes whitish.
  4. Add the flour and the corn starch to the eggs and mix.
  5. Pour the hot milk into the egg mixture and stir.
  6. Place the milk/ egg mixture back onto the stove and cook until the mixture is bubbling and is becoming really thick. Remove the pastry cream from the stove, place it into a bowl. Cover it tightly with a plastic wrap and let it cool.

While the pastry cream is cooling, prepare the layer of puff pastries for the dessert.

  1. Turn the oven to 400.
  2. Place the off pastry sheet on the roulpat and with a rolling pin, spread the dough out to make a rectangle of 12.5 by 9. Roll the pastry into the roulpat and place it in the fridge to cool for 15 to 30 minutes.photo 2
  3. Remove the pastry from the fridge. At this point you may want to cut equal rectangles to make the Napoleon. You would need 10 rectangles of about 2.5 x 4.5.photo 1
  4. If you wish to make smaller Napoleon, I would advise to bake the phillo as a entire sheet and to cut it later.
  5. Place a silpat above the pastry. Turn it around and peel the puff pastry off the roulpat carefully making sure not to stretch it.
  6. Place another silpat on the phillo dough, and a perforated sheet to keep some weight on the pastry and prevent it from rising too much:-)photo
  7. Bake in a warm oven for 15-17 minutes. It should be golden. It may still be soft but it will harden as it cools down.
  8. Let the puff pastries cool completely before assembling the dessert.
  9. If you have not cut the rectangles before baking, you may do it now. You will need 10 rectangles of 4.5 x 2.5 or 40 rectangles of 2.5 x 11/4 for the mini ones.
  10. Pour the cream into a piping bag with a sscalloped tip and pipe the cream onto the first rectangle. Place another rectangle and pipe the cream again.photo
  11. Place another rectangle to finish.
  12. At this point, you are done and  you can just sprinkle some powdered sugar over the Napoleon, or prepare un glacage ( icing)

Ingredients for the glacage ( icing):

  • 1/4 cup of powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp of water.
  • Vanilla for flavouring.
  • 1/4 cup of bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 plastig bag or ziploc bag.
  1. In a small container, mix the first 3 ingredients, and with a pastry brush, brush the icing over the top layer of each Napoleon.
  2. Melt the chocolate in the microwave for 40 to 60 seconds and pour the melted chocolate in a small ziploc bag. Cut the end of the bag to make a very narrow opening.
  3. Draw lines on the icing.

photo 3

With a toothpick draw an imaginary line to make drawings on the icing going from left to right, and the other line from right to left as shown below: photo 5

Et voila!!! Lots of steps, but really easy to make. Your turn;-)photo 2

Bon Appetit and Happy Cooking!!!

Framboisier or Raspberry Cake


Last week was my mother-in-law’s birthday and since she loves, loves, loves raspberry I thought of making her a Framboisier. I really wanted to make her a Raspberry Bavarois but since it requires several hours to set and I did not have time to bake her cake before her actual birthday I decided to make her a Framboisier out of Sable Breton and Creme Patissiere ( Pastry cream). Both require very little time to prepare, and can make succulent and wonderful looking cakes.

For the cake base, we will be making a salty shortbread dough or in French “Sable Breton”.

Ingredients for 10-12 individual tartlets, or 2 10 inches tarts:

8 oz or 225 gr. of all purpose flour, 1 pinch of sea salt, 1 tbsp of baking powder, 2/3 cup of salted butter at room temperature, 3/4 cup of granulated sugar, 4 large eggs lightly beaten.

Sift the flour, salt and baking powder together and set aside. In a mixer, beat the butter until is is light and fluffy. Add the sugar and continue beating until the mixture is fluffy. Add the egg yolks one at a time and continue beating until they are well incorporated. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and with your hands kneel the dough until it is homogeneous. Mold the dough into a ball, place it inside a ziploc bag and place it in the fridge.

While the dough is “resting”, prepare the cream for the cake. We are making une creme patissiere also known as pastry cream.

Ingredients: 1 cup of whole milk, 1/2 vanilla bean, 1/4 cup of granulated sugar, 3 large egg yolks, 2 1/2 tbsp of cornstarch, 1/2 of a tube of marzipan from Odense or about 3 oz of marzipan paste( can be found in most grocery store).

Pour the milk into a small saucepan. With a sharp knife, cut the bean in half in its length and with the tip of the knife, scrape the seeds out of the bean. Place the seeds and the bean into the milk and cook the milk until is is almost boiling. Meanwhile, beat the egg yolks with the sugar until the mixture is becoming lighter in color and is becoming fluffer. Add the cornstarch and mix well. Pour the milk slowly into the egg mixture while stirring. Place the mixture back onto the stove and cook at a medium temperature until it is becoming really really thick. Remove it from the stove. Add the marzipan, mix and place the mixture into a bowl and into the fridge to cool.

Turn the oven to 350. Take the dough out of the fridge and roll it out so that it is about 1.5 cm thick or 5/8 inch thick. Roll out two discs of about 10 inches, and place those discs into two large round mold. With a fork prick the dough and cook in the oven for about 15 minutes or until the dough is a pale golden color.

If you are making individual cakes, you can use metal pastry rings of about 3 inches. Cut the dough with the pastry rings, lift the ring and the dough and place both onto a silpat. And cook like that for 8-10 minutes.

You may also cut the dough in circles, and place each circle into a muffin pan to cook. It will take about 8-10 minutes as well.

When the dough or the “Sable Breton” has turned to a light brown color, remove the sable from the oven and let them cool.

To assemble:

For the large, pipe the marzipan pastry cream all over the cake and place the raspberry on top of the cream. Sprinkle some powdered sugar for added decoration.

For the individuals cakes, pipe a very small amount of  pastry cream all over each cake to allow the raspberries to stick. Place the raspberry only on the outer part of the cake. Then pipe more cream in the middle inside the ring of raspberry.

For added effects, melt 1/4 cup of bittersweet chocolate chips into the microwave for about 60 sec. When the chocolate is melted, use a pastry brush and make streaks of chocolate onto a silpat. Let the chocolate set, and brush more chocolate on each streaks. Repeat this process at least 4 times in all. Then place the silpat into the freezer for the chocolate to set.

Once the chocolate is set, place one on each cake. Sprinkle some powdered sugar on the chocolate.

Decorate the plate with some raspberry syrup, and place each cake in the center of the cake. Et voila!!!

Bon Appetit and Happy Cooking!!!

An Old Timey French Dessert: Le Paris Brest


I must be a person of habits. When I start making something, i like to do it, over and over again until I get tired of it, and then I move to something else. You may have noticed that  a few of my most recent entries have been about “choux” or puff pastries. Choux have always been one of my favorite. My most favorite dessert is, in fact,  “Religieuse au Cafe” or Coffee Religieuses. I love coffee so anything with coffee is therefore a treat. Religieuses  come in two flavors generally: chocolate and coffee;-).

Today I am proposing not la religieuse but another favorite dessert of mine: Le Paris Brest.

The Paris Brest is a pastry that was created in 1891 to commemorate the Paris–Brest–Paris bicycle race. Its circular shape is representative of a wheel. It became popular with riders on the Paris-Brest cycle race, partly because of its energy-giving high calorific value, and is now found in pâtisseries all over France ( Wikipedia).

The Paris–Brest–Paris was originally a 1200km bicycle race from Paris to Brest and back to Paris. It is one of the oldest bicycling events still regularly run (the oldest being the Catford CC Hill Climb). The last time it was run as a race was 1951 ( Wikipedia).

The recipe that I am using comes from a book entitled ” Les Eclairs” des Editions Marabout. The recipe is fairly easy but takes many steps. You will want to make the cream first.

Creme Mousseline aux Noisetttes ( Hazelnut Mousseline Cream):

Ingredients: 350 gr. of creme patissiere, 120 gr. or one stick of butter, 60 gr. or 2.12 oz. of hazelnut.

Place the hazelnut on a silpat that you would have previously placed on a perforated sheet and cook them at 350 for 15-20 minutes or until they are turning dark brown -BUT NOT BLACK!!!

While the hazelnut are roasting, prepare la creme patissiere for the Paris-Brest Cream.

Creme Patissiere or Pastry Cream

  • 410 gr. or 14.45 oz. of whole milk,
  • 5 egg yolks,
  • 80 gr. or 2.80 oz of granulated sugar,
  • 20 gr. or .71 oz of flour,
  • 20 gr. or .71 oz of corn flour,
  • a pinch of salt,
  • 1 stick of butter.
  • 120 gr. or 4.28 of Hazelnut roasted in the oven at 400 for 10-15 minutes.
  1. In a bowl, stir vigorously the egg yolks, the sugar and the salt.
  2. Then add the flour and the corn flour and stir and mix well.
  3. Warm up the milk either in the microwave for 1 minute, or on a stove.
  4. When the milk is hot, pour it onto the egg mixture and stir. Empty the mixture into a small pot and place on the stove onto a low-medium temperature. Stir constantly while it is cooking so that it will not scorch. Stir until the mixture is thickening.
  5. Set  it aside to let it cool. When it is lukewarm, add the butter a bit at a time and stir to incorporate it homogeneously.
  6. Place the roasted hazelnut into a chopper and chop them until you have a paste that looks like peanut butter. Add this paste to the creme patissiere and mix well.
  7. Cover the cream with a plastic wrap and keep it in the fridge until the shell of the cake is ready.

Puff Shell for the Paris-Brest:

  • 80 ml. or 1/3 cup of water,
  • 80 ml. or 1/3 cup of milk,
  • 70 gr. or about 1/2 stick of butter,
  • 1 pinch of salt,
  • 10 gr. or .35 oz. of sugar,
  • 100 gr. of flour,
  • 2 eggs.
  • 1 egg whipped for the egg wash.
  1. In the saucepan, heat up the milk and water, salt, and sugar.
  2. Add the butter cut up in pieces to the water/ milk mixture.
  3. Bring the mixture to boil and make sure that the butter is completely melted .
  4. Remove the pan from the stove and add the flour by stirring very well. Place the pan back on the stove ( it must be turned off, but will still be warm), and stir and stir with a heat-resistant spatula until the dough starts becoming a ball and will no longer stick to the rims of the pan.
  5. Remove the pan from the stove, empty the dough into a large bowl and add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each egg.  Empty the dough into a pastry bag.
  6. Take a large piece of parchment paper and draw a circle of 9 inch. Place the paper on a medium perforated sheet., and place the  medium silpat on top of the paper. With a large circular opening make a circle following the circle that you had drawn on the paper. Make another circle around the other circle, but on the outside. Then with the dough left, make another circle on top the two that you already made.
  7. Take the egg wash, and with a pastry brush, brush the circle to even out the circle so that you will no longer see the lines of the circles that you made, and the whole thing will look like a single circle.
  8. Normally you would need to sprinkle almonds slivered all over the circle but i forgot- OOPS!
  9. Cook the puff pastry in a warm oven at 350 for 35-45 or until the puff pastry is becoming a darker brown and is no longer soft. 5 minutes before the end of the cooking time, open the oven slightly, place a spatula in the opening in between the oven and the door to keep the oven slightly open. This will allow the humidity of the puff pastry to come out, and the puff pastry will not deflate. When the time is up, check that the puff pastry is dry, and if it is not, let it cool in the oven.
  10. Remove the puff pastry from the oven and slice the puff pastry in half. Place the cream into a pastry bag and pipe the cream inside the Paris Brest as shown on the picture below.
  11. Place the top of the Puff Pastry on top of the cream and set aside.

 

Decoration: Caramel and Toasted Almonds Slivered.

  1. Place 1 cup of slivered almonds on a silpat and toast them at 350 for 10 minutes or until they become golden brown. Be careful not to burn them…

Caramel: 2 cup of sugar.

  1. Place the sugar in a small-size pan, and place the pan onto the stove over medium-high heat. Stir, and stir until the sugar is starting to bubble up and is starting to dissolve. Cook and keep stirring until the sugar turns to brown.
  2. Pour the caramel all over the sides of the Paris Brest and sprinkle the toasted almonds over the caramel. Et voila!

Bon Appetit and Happy Cooking!!!

Roasted Pear Creme Brulee Tart


I love pears but I have never found a dessert other than poached pears that I have really liked. So when I saw this recipe of Roasted pear and creme brulee  in the Best Baking recipes of Cooking light 2011, I had to try it! And it was very good. Very very light! It is just not an easy recipe since there are so many steps.

Ingredients for a large tart tray of 12 inches.

Roasted Pears: 4 pears cored.  2 tsp of lemon juice, 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp of ground nutmeg, 2/3 cup of brown sugar.

Place the pears cut side down on a flexipan. In a bowl, mix all the other ingredients and mix well. Sprinkle the pears with the sugar and spices mixture, and bake them in an already warm oven of 450 for 30 minutes or until the pears are tender. Cool completely, remove the skin and slice thinly.

The pastry ( Pate Sablee): 8 oz of all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup of butter at room temperature, 2 tbsp of sugar, 1/2 tsp of salt.

Place the sugar, salt and flour in a bowl and mix well. Slowly add the butter a little at a time, and mix well until the dough sticks together. Place the dough on the roulpat, and flatten until it is the size of the tart. Roll the roulpat with the dough on it, and place in the fridge to cool. After 10 minutes, take the dough back out, and place it into the tart tray. Perfore the dough to prevent air pockets. Lay baking beads or dry beans all over the dough to prevent the dough to rise during baking. Bake at 450 for 10 minutes. Let it cool. Remove the baking beads or dry beans. Fill with the creme patissiere.

Ingredients for the filling ( Creme Patissiere) :3/4 cup of brown sugar, 4 1/2 tbsp of all-purpose flour, 3 cups of fat-free milk or reduced milk, 1 piece of vanilla bean, 2 tbsp of vanilla extract, 2 eggs.

Bring the milk, vanilla, vanilla bean,  sugar & a pinch of salt to a gentle boil in a pot. In the meantime, whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a mixing bowl until the mixture becomes pale and light. Stir in the flour slowly until it is thoroughly mixed with the egg mixture. Remove the vanilla bean from the milk and scrape the seeds out with the tip of a knife. Drop the seeds into the milk and stir. Pour the boiling milk into the mixture a little by little while whisking continuously to avoid curdling. And then stir in the rest of the milk until the mixture is well combined. Transfer the whole mixture into a pot and heat it under low setting. Stir it constantly with a wooden spoon  until it thickens. Once the custard has thickened, take it off the heat, pour it into a clean bowl and let it cool down. Once cooled, cover it with a plastic wrap and refrigerate it until needed.

Pour the cream over the dough, and lay the pears over the creme patissiere. Sprinkle with brown sugar, and with a kitchen torch heat the sugar until it caramelizes. Enjoy!!!

Bon Appetit and Happy Cooking!!!

My Twist on the Crepes Flambees: Creme Patissiere and Caramelized Pears.



I don’t know how it is at your house, but at my house on Sunday, we try to have fancy dinner and try to eat things we would not normally eat during the week… We also eat desserts. Since I had fixed crepes for dinner, an easy dessert to follow would have been Crepes Flambee…I love Crepes Flambees. The traditional Crepes flambees are topped with fresh oranges, and flambees with Cointreau. Nothing wrong with the traditional recipe, I just wanted my crepe flambee with a “fall flavor”. I thought of using apples, but then decided to go with pears. Pears are much more delicate in taste…Here is my recipe:

Ingredients for 4 people: 8 crepes, 1 cup of creme patissiere( 1/8 cup of brown sugar, 1 vanilla bean sliced, 2 tbsp of flour, 1 cup of milk, 1 egg). 2 pears, 2 tbsp of butter, 2 tbsp of brown sugar ( i used dark muscavado). 4 tsp of pear schaps such as Pear William.

First, make the creme patissiere: In a large bowl, beat the egg with the sugar and slowly add the flour. Then add the milk that you would have previously brought to boil with the vanilla bean. Stir the milk into the egg mixture. Place the creme back on the stove and cook at low temperature until the cream is getting thick, remove the vanilla bean and remove the seeds from the bean. Set the cream aside, and let cool.

Now prepare the pears that will top the crepes. Core the pears, and peel ( or not) the pears. Then slice the pears in thin slices. In a frying pan, melt the butter and when the butter has melted, add the sugar and bring to boil. Add the pears in the caramel,  and cook the pears for 2-4 minutes.


To prepare the crepes, spoon the creme patissiere ( about 1/8 of a cup) in each crepe. Fold the crepe in half, and again in half. You will have a triangle. Place two stuffed crepes onto a bowl, or a concave plate. Spoon some pears with the caramel onto the crepes. Drizzle 1 tsp to 1 Tbsp of Pear William onto the pears, and with a lighter ignite the crepes. Et voila! Yum, Yum…

Bon Appetit and Happy Cooking!!!