Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Pastry Class: Cheesecakes

Week Seven of Pro Pastry I was all about Cheesecakes.  This was a little intimidating at first, but it was super fun and not too hard at all.  First we made our own graham crackers to use for the crusts of the cake.  Who knew this flavor comes from using molases?

Passion Fruit Cheesecake

You could use almost any flavor inside the cheesecake, you just have to be careful about how you incorporate it.  Using the passion fruit puree was very easy, just mixed in about 3 teaspoons and it really brightened up the cake. 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake

This flavor was a little trickier since it's so dense.  I had to fold it in to a portion of the batter first, and then swirl that into the remainder of the batter. It was good but made the texture of the cake a little tougher, more like a fudge. 

For the Ricotta Cheesecakes we made our own Ricotta cheese which was also really easy.  It's just milk, cream and lemon juice! 

I really liked how these turned out, they are much lighter than the cream cheese version.  These mini cups also are the perfect portion.

I added some left over chocolate ganache, I couldn't resist...

For Recipes Check Out: The Gourmandise School

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Pastry Class: Pâte à Choux

Week Five of Pastry Class was focused on Pâte à Choux pastries.  These were a little tricky, I definitely think this is one of those desserts you have to master over time to get just right.  Above are my Cream Puffs, some stuffed with vanilla pastry cream and some with caramel pastry cream.  The cream itself is so delicious you could just stop there and forget the pastry.  Stuffing them was not fun, I could have use two more arms, but again, practice makes perfect.  We dipped the top in a delicious chocolate ganache made with the 65% dark chocolate and whipping cream, so easy!

We used caramelized sugar to seal up the hole on the bottoms where we filled the puffs, but we were also shown how to stack the puffs to make a Croquembouche, a traditional French wedding cake. 

The inside of a Caramel Cream Puff. 

Some students also made savory puffs with cheddar and dill.

 We also made Eclairs, which is exactly the same as a Cream Puff, just a different shape.  These were tricky to pipe because you need to leave enough room for the filling.

They were pretty cute and just the right size for a little treat. 

For Recipes Check Out: The Gourmandise School

The Hart and The Hunter

This week I had dinner at The Hart and The Hunter in the somewhat new Palihotel on Melrose.  I was always curious about this place, and yes it IS related to Palihouse.  However, I liked this food better than the Palihouse Brasserie (maybe just because it was new to me).  I regret not photographing the biscuits because they were the best part of the meal! I'll have to go back... I hear they have a great breakfast.  This was the Lemon Ice Box Cake.  It reminded me of my Lemon Bar Cake, but this was much more tart and a little frozen, hence the Ice Box. 

This Coconut Cake was pretty simple but good, it felt very homemade.  It was also cold which threw me off a little, but I liked it.  How cute are the plates?! 

Monday, February 4, 2013

Pastry Class: Custards

Week four of my Pastry Class was all about learning how to make egg based desserts (I've never used so many egg yolks in my life). It might have been my favorite, and also most successful class yet.  This was the Butterscotch Pot du Creme topped with a little Sea Salt. I love using muscovado sugar to create a butterscotch flavor, it was seriously so good.

Chocolate Put du Creme.  This is always one of my favorite desserts to order at a restaurant, so I was really excited to make one of my own.  We used the dark 65% chocolate (which I also just purchased a ginormous box of), and it came out perfectly.  Dense yet fluffy with a bold bittersweet flavor. 

And for the winner: Creme Brûlée! I've probably eaten ten thousand creme brûlées in my life and never attempted to make it because I was always intimidated by the water bath and using a blow torch.  Turns out it's all super easy.  This was so delicious I ate the whole thing as soon as it was ready. It was silky smooth with such a rich amazing vanilla flavor. Of course the crispy crunchy sugar on top was incredible.  

Look at all the vanilla! Now that I know how to properly spit a bean I can't imagine I'll ever use extract again.  This was SO good, I can't wait to try making it at home. 

For Recipes Check Out: The Gourmandise School