Monday, October 26, 2009

Day of the SPICY Dead!

On Saturday I competed in the Pastry Chicago Annual Spooky Cupcake Contest. I didn't win but was still pleased with my performance. I made a Mexican Chocolate cupcake with cinnamon and cayenne filled with two layers of dark chocolate ganache and cocoa cinnamon streusel topped with a white butter icing. Everyone who I tested it on seemed to think it was delicious...too bad they weren't the judges!

Croquenbouche Day!

On Friday we built our Croquenbouche...puff pastry dipped in caramel and stacked together to build a beautiful tree shaped cake. It has a nougatine base with royal icing decorations piped on and a sugar sculputure on the top. It's a traditional French wedding cake but us silly Americans can have it anytime...just don't invite a Frenchman over or he will laugh at you!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

So pleased with myself!

Puff Pastry. Never thought I would enjoy something like that. Rolling dough. Rolling butter. Combining, rolling, turning, folding, rolling, folding, turning, chilling, waiting, rolling, turning, get the idea. But then we finally made our Pithivier which is the puff pastry with frangipane piped on the inside and a design carved in the top with a blade. If it's done correctly it will rise high and brown evenly and become the most wonderfully crisp and flaky decadent dessert.
I am just so pleased that I created this from some flour, water, vinegar, salt and butter.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Hazelnut. Chocolate. Cake.

Hazelnut Chocolate Cake. Really that is all I need to say. But I'll say a bit more just to be clear...hazelnut dacquoise with caramelized hazelnuts topped with hazelnut mousse topped with chocolate dacquoise topped with chocolate mousse topped with chocolate mirror glaze. The entire cake is built upside down in a ring. It takes several days as each layer has to freeze and be stacked on the others...but it is totally worth every minute that it took. I'm not sure I knew a dessert could taste so good.

Now I have to duct tape the freezer shut to avoid eating the entire thing tonight...

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Fruity Whipped Desserts

Anyone who knows me knows how much I hate fruity whipped desserts. Well the "cake" section of the program fits this definition. The end products are beautiful and it's amazing to build the components and make it work together but I have to say the end product is just not for me...spongy meringue based cakes, mousses that are not at all sweet and bits of nuts and dried fruit. Sigh. However, I'm intrigued for tomorrow as we are doing a hazelnut dacquoise with caramelized hazelnuts and dark chocolate mousse....please please let it be as delicious as it sounds!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Is there anything better...

...than an oven full of croissants? We have yet to learn how to make these in class but it was going on behind the demo I should have been watching today and I couldn't help but get distracted. The kitchen was so warm with all the ovens on and it smelled so was intoxicating to say the least.

Now let's redirect our focus back to the to properly glaze a cake. It is a bit more challenging that it looks and you only get ONE chance to get it right.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Killer Brownies

It's cold outside but it's warm and gooey in here....that's right because there are Killer Brownies in my kitchen! I am sending the entire pan (well minus maybe one or two) to my friend who is in Iraq. He remembers these brownies well from our college days and apparently there is nothing this good in Iraq...imagine that.


1. Combine one box german chocolate cake mix with 1/3 cup evaporated milk and 3/4 cup melted butter. Pat half this mixture into a 9x13 pan (spray with pam first)

2. Bake for 6 min. at 350 F.

3. Meanwhile spend an unbearable amount of tedious time unwrapping an entire bag of Kraft caramels. Put these caramels and 1/3 cup evaporated milk into the microwave for 5 min.

4. Once the base is out of the oven let sit for a few minutes. Then sprinkle about half a bag of chocolate chips over the top and pour the caramel on top of the chips.

5. Use the remaining cake like batter to sprinkle in little bits over the top.

6. Bake for 15 min. or so at 350 F.

7. Let cool and enjoy. They will be super gooey at first so it's best to let set before removing from pan.

8. Good luck with number 7 as it's almost impossible not to eat one when they are all gooey from the oven.

9. The name is killer for various reasons. One, the taste. Two, what they will do to you if you eat the entire pan. Three, what you will do to someone else if they eat the entire pan.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

My new favorite store...

...and my favorite new Deluxe Diner cup & saucer. It's from Roost on Clark Street and it's filled with all sorts of vintage china/dishware from hotels/diners and Grandma's table. It's just exactly what I didn't need to discover. Thankfully I have yet to find any cake plates there so I might be safe...

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Time to Study

Here we are again with exam week upon us. You'll notice all my books on the coffee table just waiting for me....

If only there was room on the sofa...It's nice that the dog let's me sit on her really expensive dog bed.

Oh yeah...back to that three things that you shouldn't do when designing a showpiece....

Friday, September 25, 2009

Some highlights from the beginning...

Little Baby Tart!

I just love the teeny tiny tarts...not quite bite sized but just right!

Tarts Tarts Tarts!

And I'm not just talking about the girls in class! :)

It's been a week filled with every kind of tart you can think of from fruit to bacon.
Most of the class has been fun but I have to say that rolling out tart dough must be done at the speed of a Nascar pit crew. No time for errors or you find yourself in the freezer again and again with lots of cursing...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

So much pastry cream....

This looks like such a simple little cake but the components took three days to make. The inverted puff pastry took three days with several turns in it each day. Not sure it's worth all the trouble when you cover it with caramel coated, pastry cream filled puffs....

And here I am...

Here I am to share my crazy journey through sugar and flour, chocolate and cream and everything in between.
I have completed the first 12 weeks of the program at The French Pastry School in Chicago and what an experience it has been thus far....