Sunday, March 8, 2009

hungry girl at bon bon

(a little doodle)

first, let me just say how awesome it is to be guest blogging…every one of these talented ladies either has been, or has become a great inspiration and i am feeling pretty special to be included among them. thank you deb for the forum and the most perfect topic ever, paris…

i have always been a daydreamer, able to get lost in my own thoughts at anytime or place. when i was a little girl i would pore over the stacks and stacks of travel books and national geographic magazines that my grandparents had, getting lost in the most romantic notions of each region that i could imagine. i would dream of new england autumns full of vibrant colored leaves with the scent of apples and maple lingering in the air; dixie twilight’s, hide and seek and white cotton dresses—eerie and solemn with the weight of history; and of the east, south korea (where i was born and have been a few times), the open air markets my mom took me to with smells heavy and nearly tangible in the late summer humidity, so new and strange, yet familiar and comforting...and then, always, paris. i would (and still do…) dream of myself there: skies grey, umbrellas and stockings and bright, black shoes, and warm drinks in delicate cups, or bright flowers in window boxes, blue sky days and wispy clouds, dainty, pastel confections, and café tables on sidewalks.

now, i know my childhood daydreams were probably not accurate, but they were always so vivid and so real. today, when i think of somewhere i have never been (which is pretty much everywhere, paris included…) i always think of the food—what is real everyday food and what is an indulgence, a treat…and when i think of paris, i think first of pots de crème, the very first time i tasted it was in 8th grade french class and i remember feeling elevated somehow and indulgent…i had never had a desert so individual, a single ramekin for myself; and second, i think of macarons, perfectly petite and so pretty with their tell-tale ruffle.
so, here they are, the two treats that, for me, signify paris and france and those days spent laying on an afghan in my grandparent’s basement, simply daydreaming.

*oh, and deb and jim...enjoy marrakech!

pots de crème
adapted from: la tartine gourmande

2 eggs
1 egg yolk
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 cups whole milk
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped, (optional)
100 grams dark chocolate
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder

in a medium pot place milk and vanilla bean seeds and pod. bring to just a boil and turn off heat, cover and allow to steep for 15 minutes. remove pod.

meanwhile, melt the chocolate with espresso in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. set aside.

preheat oven too 320 F.

in a bowl, beat the eggs and egg yolk with the sugar, temper in hot milk.
whisk in melted chocolate.

pour into ramkins (i used tea cups)—taking care to spoon off any foam—place into a baking pan lined with a towel and fill halfway up the sides of ramekins with hot water.
cook in the oven for 30 minutes. centers should wiggle a little and set up after cooling. remove from oven and cool on rack until romm temperature. refrigerate until cold and serve.

macaron shells
adapted from a couple recipes and from a few different techniques.

100 grams egg white separated into 50 gram portions
35 grams sugar
150 grams almond meal
150 grams confectioners’ sugar
small pinch of salt
150 grams sugar
50 grams water

separate egg white at least one day prior.

in a medium bowl sift almond meal, powdered sugar and salt. set aside.

whip 50 grams of egg whites until foamy, incorporate 35 grams of sugar in 2 or 3 stages. meanwhile cook sugar and water in a small saucepan until it reaches 230 F. turn up the mixer, meringue should be shiny and firm, slowly stream in hot syrup, whip for about 10 minutes until meringue cools.

mix remaining egg whites with almond meal mixture with a rubber spatula. fold in meringue and food color. the batter should fall in a thick ribbon off the spatula and into the bowl. the piped batter should not hold peaks, nor should it spread too fast.

pipe rounds onto sheetpans lined with parchment or silicone baking mats. allow to dry at room temp for about 30 minutes. (i used an ateco #803 tip).

heat oven to 300 F. bake one sheetpan at a time for 10 minutes, rotating and finishing for another 5 minutes.

ganache filling
adapted from: tartlette

9 oz. dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
½ cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon espresso powder
place chocolate in a heat proof bowl. heat cream until just before a boil and pour over chocolate and cover (i used a plate) for a few minutes. stir until smooth and cool completely. whip in a stand mixer until it holds a peak. pipe onto macaron shells.

hazelnut brittle

½ cup sugar
¼ cup water
2/3 cup coarsely chopped hazelnuts
pinch of salt
heat water and sugar in a pan until the sugar turns caramel colored. mix in nuts and salt and pour immediately onto a baking pan lined with parchment or a silicone mat. cool completely and crush in food processor.


Maggie May said...

I know I will love any dessert that has creme in the name...
The pictures are so very lovely

Cindy said...

from one cindy to another, everything is divine ;). i enjoyed learning about your travel dreams and your photos are wonderful. i'd like to try the pots de creme, they look delicious. thanks!

Brandi said...

these looks simply fantastic! i can't wait to try making them. i've no doubt that such deliciousness will stir up some wistful memories in me as well.

Melissa de la Fuente said...

Oh my dear! You are simply delightful and so very talented! How gorgeous are these desserts and how I love your stories behind them. Thank you!

Elyse said...

Absolutely gorgeous. I'm always amazed by your culinary skills. What a beautiful array of desserts! Everything looks sinfully delicious.

cindy* said...

thanks everyone :)

hmstrjam said...


Elizabeth said...

A lovely guest blog!
I'm hoping Deb LOVES Marrakesh.
It is a magic city.
Love from India

AC said...

i love your photos. will have to try that hazelnut brittle stat!

Julia said...

What a beautiful post, cindy! And absolutely scrumptious :) Those photographs are astounding! :)

Helene said...

Your macarons are just stupendous Cindy! Bravo!