Friday, March 26, 2010

Celebratory Tart!

To mark the end of the wedding cake project and its success-- I made a delicious strawberry tart with lemon-honey marscapone filling and whipped cream on top. It was light, delicious and the buttery sable crust scrumptious! I have included the recipe:

Sable Crust:
120 grams butter, at room temperature
80 grams powdered sugar
1/2 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
180 grams cake flour
40 grams almond meal (ground almonds done in food processor to fine consistency)
In a bowl, whisk flour and almond meal until combine. Set aside.

Place butter and powdered sugar in a medium bowl. Mix with an electric mixer until combined.
Add the egg and vanilla into the butter mixture, beat the batter until smooth.
Add the flour mixture. Using a rubber spatula, mix the batter until just combined.
Shape the dough into a disk with 1/2-inch thickness, then wrap it with a piece of cling wrap. Keep in the fridge for at least one hour.
Preheat the oven to 350 F
Roll the dough out on a floured surface. Fit dough into tart pan(s). For me, this dough made enough for two 9 inch tarts (I only made one tart so froze the remaining dough)
Bake tart shell at 350F for about 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

Marscapone Filling
250 grams marscapone cheese
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons honey
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Zest from 2 small lemons
Incorporate ingrediants well but do not overmix as marscapone will turn to butter form easily!

Melt a few tablespoons of dark or bittersweet chocolate. Brush this with a pastry brush in the bottom of the prebaked and cooled tart shell. Allow chocolate to set before proceding. This keeps the tart shell from getting soggy by creating a moisture barrier. Next, spread the mascapone filling into the tart shell using an offset spatula to make it even and smooth. Cut strawberries into even slices and arrange in a spiral over the marscapone filling.  You can either cheat and top with store bought whipped cream (oh no!) or easily whip up some heavy cream with a bit of powdered sugar to sweeten and pipe this over the strawberries in any design you choose. Slice and enjoy!

Thursday, March 25, 2010


We finished up our cakes today....whew! It was quite a task and I am very proud that I was able to complete this assignment from start to finish on my own. AND...I think it turned out pretty nice for a first timer! I have a long way to go but with will come. Here's the wine country themed wedding cake:

Only 8 more classes until we graduate. Home stretch!!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Final Project-- Wedding Cake

As our final project for school, we are required to design, cost out, bake/decorate a wedding or celebration cake. As I have never done anything like this before was a real challenge. Although it is far from perfect...I am pretty darn proud of my progress. It will be completed tomorrow and I will update my blog with the finished cake but for is what I have accomplished:

Buttercream crumb coat to lock in crumbs and provide a  sticky surface to adhere the rolled fondant.

Stacked and rolled fondant in place.

Ready for decoration!

Grapes and vines made of gum paste and marzipan.

Tomorrow will do piping borders around middle and bottom, add leaves and touch up work to finish. Will update pictures after class with final results!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Chocolatey Deliciousness

A sampling of some of Friday's accomplishments at Cocoamoda....cassis truffles lined up like little chocolate soldiers. These are topped with a bit of gold leaf.
Each truffle is filled with ganache, enrobed in chocolate couverture and embellished with a decoration--- ALL BY HAND! It's truly a labor of love.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Flourless Chocolate Cake

This one is a class favorite! We have made this a few times and each time we all agree that this one is going on our short list of things to make to wow people. It's a cake by name but since there is no flour, it has more of a dense mousse taste/feel. Be sure to use very good chocolate as there are only a few ingredients in this recipe, so it's important to make them all count. We baked these in silicone molds shaped like pyramids so as to serve them as single plated desserts. But we did also bake in pans to slice and serve as well. No icing is needed and you can serve with raspberry sauce on the side, fresh berries, whipped cream or however you see fit. It's actually delicious just by itself as it is so decadent. Enjoy!

Flourless Chocolate Cake
Heavy Cream                           12 ounces
Butter                                        3 ounces
Dark Chocolate                         1 pound and 2 ounces
Eggs                                          7 each
Sugar                                        3.5 ounces 
Boil heavy cream. Pour over butter and chocolate. Stir until all chocolate has melted. Whip eggs and sugar until ribbon stage. Fold chocolate mixture into whipped egg mixture. Pipe mixture into molds (or pour into cake pans lined with parchment paper). Bake at 350F in a water bath until cake springs back to light touch. This is a large recipe so you can either half it or they freeze nicely. You just thaw them in the fridge whenever you have guests to wow!


My mother took me out for a very special Williams Sonoma shopping spree last weekend and treated me to some special items for my new career. Thanks mom for all you do and I will be sure to break these in carefully!! Stay tuned for pictures of my test kitchen items...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Winding Down

With only 12 actual class days left, we are getting very close to the end of school! Our chef instructor let us know yesterday that he will be leaving us early --- next week is his last week with us. So it's unsure how the last 2 weeks of class will be run. Onward we go....

Next week we are each working on our own wedding or celebration cake for 2 days. This should be a challenge as we have always been with partners. As I will fly solo on this project-- and I don't consider myself a "cake person"....we shall see how I do! I tried to pick something basic. If it comes out nice enough...I will post pictures. If will never be mentioned again...HA!

A couple of pics of pastries we worked on this past week. Still working with plated desserts and moving into chocolate/sugar work next. Here is a dessert made of puff pastry, marscapone/orange filling, fresh cut strawberries topped with whipped cream. Not too sweet but just right....yum!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Plated Desserts

We have steadily been baking single serving type desserts (cheesecakes, financiers, flourless cakes, etc) in order to practice plating them with decorations. It's been fun but challenging to figure out what works best together. Some of my practice runs...

"Artsy" shot in the eggs....ha!

Left to right: cheesecake, flourless cake and berry tart.

I call this one....Mickey Mouse!!!
Easter bunny loose in the eggs! It's actually a tuile cookie used for garnish...

Macarons at Home

They are nowhere near perfect....but I am getting better each time I make them. Filled with chocolate ganache infused with orange liquor. I adore the French macarons!
Shout HOORAY if you see them grow 'feet'!!!

Stay tuned for further successes!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Sunday Night Treat

Decided to try out a new pate a choux recipe that I received during the petits fours class with chef Kraus. It was simple, tasty and seemingly foolproof (knock wood). Oscar loved the results and I must admit...I did too. Mini eclairs...what a nice treat on a Sunday night....

Ganache ready for dipping..

Just after the dip into the ganache

And they are ready to serve!

So with all of the egg whites left over from the pastry cream....AND the newly acquired gel food coloring...I would say some French macarons are on the menu!

Wedding Rehearsal Dinner

Cocoamoda hosted a wedding rehearsal dinner at the chocolate factory Friday night. The dessert on the menu was of the chocolate variety, of course. Chocolate boxes fillied with an apple/celery ganache, chocolate mousse and chantilly whipped cream. What an amazing presentation on the plate...

First cover inside of polished plastic mold with tempered dark chocolate.

Place mold in refrigerator upside down for about 10 minutes to set up.

Once chocolate is set, should slide out of mold with ease.

You can see the nice temper on the chocolate by the shine.

And the finished dessert topped with chocolate decorations. Beautiful!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Flan, creme brulee, custards, panna cotta, etc

The title states what we will be working on for the next few days. I also think we will be making ice cream, sorbets, gelato, etc. Later on next week, we will begin plated desserts which will be fun as we get to do some creative work with decorating the plates. Only five weeks!!!

Creme brulee before we caramelized the sugar on top.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Chef John Kraus- Day 3

This was our final day with chef Kraus. I must say--- I found these 3 days immensely valuable for my future in pastry. His creativity and talent was inspiring to observe and his great sense of humor made the class all the more enjoyable. I was a huge fan of Chef Kraus even before he came to our school as I follow The French Pastry School's blog/website and am so impressed by their talented staff and all-encompasing curriculum. I cannot express how thrilled I was to be able to sit in on this class as it is a true privilege. Austin rarely gets acclaimed chefs to come to the area for specialty classes such as this and so....what a real treat this was for me. I soaked up as much information as I could, wrote extensive notes, took TONS of pictures and asked lots of questions. I found Chef Kraus to be very generous in sharing his knowledge and do appreciate all that I took away from this class. As well, I need to send out a huge thank you to Chef Todd Champagne for seeing to it that I was able to attend and to chef Steve Mannion as well for allowing our participation in such a wonderful, beneficial class. This is another notch I can put on my resume--- but moreso I feel like I am really beginning to build my arsenal of formulas, recipes, and ideas for the future!! Without further ado....I will attach a slew of pictures from the last day with the incredible chef John Kraus...

Orange Madeleines with orange liquor glaze. These were delicious -- especially warm out of the oven with the glaze. Will definitely be making these again and again.

The is the hazelnut wafer better being spread over the template type molds. These were baked quickly and then shaped while still in the over to form decorative wafers.

Chef Kraus reaching into the hot over to form the hot wafers over a round rod.

And the end result--- a delicate hazelnut wafer!

My current obsession--- French macarons. These are filled with raspberry ganache that was very flavorful.

Piping the ganache filling.

Sandwiching the cookies together....YUM! I could have filled up my whole blog with pictures of these beauties!

Chocolathe-- chocolate Financiers. These are similar to chocolate almond pound cake. He put raspberry gelee into each one and then topped with ganache infused with Earl Grey tea. Heavenly!

Piped ganache on top of the chocolathe.

To finish...each was embellished with a chocolate circle sprinkled with cocoa nibs.

These are called grapefruit tuile. They have almonds, butter, grapefruit juice/zest and a bit a flour. The dough is spread into these round flat flexi molds and cooked into disc shaped cookies. They were crunchy and buttery.

How they looked coming out of the oven.

Lemon raspberry tarts. Using the almond sable dough to make shells, place some of the raspberry gelee into each shell, top with lemon cream and bake. Top with mint and candied lemon rind. These were amazing!

Raspberry gelee

Assembling the tarts.
Raspberry and creme fraiche tarts. Another one I will be making soon!

Macaron and raspberry tart shortly before being consumed!!!

These were really interesting. It's a pineapple mango salsa made into a mold with a bit of gelatin and then placed on top of a coconut cake. The salsa is dipped in a glaze to adhere it to the cake. Really refreshing and a great summer dessert. He topped each one with a piece of mint.

Tartelette chocolate. These were fudgy deliciousness. Tart shells with chocolate filling topped with the chocolate streusal and powdered sugar. YUM!

Filling the chocolate tarts!
Chouquette Caramel. These are pate a choux filled with caramel mousseline. Basically cream puffs with a caramel mousse-like filling. They have a Swedish pearl sugar on the outside that looks like GIANT granules of sugar.

When baked....this turns into this:

And while still warm....chef Kraus did this:

They are called Pecan Nespresso Florentin Tuile. You can use them as decorative accompaniments for ice cream, plated desserts, etc. They have coffee, butter, heavy cream, pecans and sugar in them. Yum!

Hazelnut carrot cakes topped with orange blossom water glaze. Pretty simple to make but the cake is very delicate and must be handled with care.

Some pictures of the final dessert buffet....what a feast for the eyes and the palate!

What a wonderful experience. I have so many great recipes and ideas now that I can experiment with. Five more weeks of class.....and then it is out into the world we go!