This simple Honey Thyme Apple Tart came about out of total boredom pressing in forty three pastry shells for a dessert at the restaurant. My mind started wandering around the fifth shell. I knew I wanted something simple, easy to put together with an unexpected element to start the year. It is not only beautiful to look at, it is even better to eat. The little bit of thyme gives this an unexpected note while the honey and balsamic vinegar offset each other. Continue reading
A friend of mine, Danielle Luisi the pastry chef at Annie Gunn’s, came up with this version of a pop tarts, but with different fillings. I can’t thank her enough because they are easy and a very upscale version of this popular treat. Imagine a thick filling of chocolate and raspberrry sandwiched between two pieces of flaky buttery pastry.
My pop tarts starts with a pate brisee, the French butter pastry. Made in the food processor it takes minutes. Chilling is the secret to this pastry because of the high butter content. Anytime it starts feeling a bit soft, line a baking sheet with parchment and pop it the fridge or freezer for a few minutes. Other than softening, it is a dream to work with. This recipe also features a method to make shaping easier.
Apple Pie ala Mode is one of my favorite desserts but once the boys were out on their own one of my biggest challenges was what to do with full size desserts. Even more so today since Mike has diabetes and the last thing I need is a whole pie! The neighbors can only eat so much!
So I came up with an Apple Pie ala Mode ala minute. A way to have apple pie, with or without the ice cream, at a moment’s notice. And what an apple pie –spiced apples, pate brisee crust and vanilla ice cream all topped off with a salted caramel sauce.
The salt can be omitted from the sauce if desired or more can be added. But this is, hands down the best caramel sauce to be found. It’s also one of the easiest. You don’t even need a thermometer. Think of everything you can do with it. World class turtle sundaes, apple slices dipped in the sauce, or just drizzled (heavily!) on vanilla ice cream. It tastes just like my favorite ice cream, Hagan Das Caramel Cone ice cream. How much better can this sauce get. Oh, did I mention it only takes about 15 minutes to make. Easy enough to always have on hand.
This sauce is from Averie Cooks who has a great blog. She is correct in that is is a really easy recipe to make. Just make sure you take the sugar syrup dark enough.
I once taught this Gateau St. Honore as a pastry class in one dessert -and so it is. From the pastry cream to the Pate Brisee to Chou paste all finished with a hard caramel decoration, the St. Honore is a spectacular showpiece. Everyone who loves baking and pastry should make this at least once. Although it has a lot of steps, they can be broken down into an easily managed schedule.
This was one of the chapters in my first book, “The New Pastry Cook”. As with every other chapter, the information in front of the chapters is key to the success of the pastry. Here is the chapter header.
“Chou paste is one of, if not the most versatile basic pastries in the entire repertoire of pastry making. By definition, chou paste is really a thick sauce and not a pastry at all. It can be sweet or savory, baked, poached or deep fried, made free-form or piped into shapes. Alone, it maybe filled and/or sauced, or it can be combined with other pastries to make elaborate desserts. The leftover paste can be turned into delicious hors d’oeuvres. It takes its name from the french word chou, which means cabbage, the best- known shape of chou paste, the cream puff, was thought to resemble a small cabbage. Continue reading
Pate Brisee a l’Oeuf pastry crust is known as one of the, if not the, finest pastry crusts to be found. Made with all butter and, if made correctly, it will be flaky and crisp yet tender. The word pate means pie and a l’oeuf means with egg.
The use of the food processor almost guarantees a perfect pastry crust. The key is not to over mix or it won’t be flaky – tasty, but not flaky. The butter must be very, very cold. Put it in the freezer after cutting if desired. It is important to keep the pieces of butter in pea size chunks when processing with the flours. While speaking of flours, I have used both all purpose and cake flour to make pastry flour which has a lower gluten or protein count. This will make a more tender pastry crust. A two to one ratio of all purpose to cake flour is what we used at the bakery for our pastry flour as we lacked the room to store another canister of flour and we didn’t use it that often. Continue reading