Autumn fruit tarts

It's hard to believe autumn has fallen upon us yet again (pun intended - sorry). The changing of seasons is always very exciting for me, as fresh produce I've missed start to appear again in the marketplaces. Right now, the stores are abundant with fall favourites such as plums, figs and passionfruit that  I am just filled with ideas for autumnal desserts!

This morning's market haul includes fresh plums, figs and amazing red "William" pears - all fresh, local and cheap as chips!

I knew straight away that I wanted to make these fruits into tarts because I wanted to display and preserve their beautiful natural colours. So here are what I've managed to bake up this fine Sunday afternoon:

Fresh fig tart with spiced pear 

Red plum tart with hazelnut frangipane

These tarts are super delicious and easy to make! The tartness of the fruits (pun again?! I am on fire!) are balanced well by the fragrant and rich hazelnut frangipane, whilst the crunchiness from the tart base and roasted nuts makes for no lack of textural contrast. I absolutely adore figs - they have a unique flavour and photograph so beautifully. It really is a shame they are not available in New Zealand! 

So without further ado, it's recipe time!


French market at my house

I am currently writing this post on the plane back to Paris after spending three glorious weeks in my hometown Auckland...

The view from my kitchen..

Martin iPhoning

It's been wonderful catching up with all the friends I've missed dearly, all brimming with curious and probing questions on the year I've been away. I've also had the pleasure of meeting many new people through my blog, of whom are all very humble and talented on their own rights. I am also very grateful to have had the opportunity to be featured on the media on my few weeks back at home!

Natalie Smith of "Eat Here Now" and "Magic Surrounds" fame, very kindly wrote an article about this blog and my everyday life in Paris for the September issue of New Zealand food magazine "Taste". And I am also very excited about the new hits my blog have been getting from its feature on Metro magazine's blog "Metro Eats" written by my dear friend Jeremy Olds. Jeremy wrote about the happenings of the weekend's past where I had hosted a French-market breakfast for a few close friends in my humble abode.


Honey, I'm home.

Kia ora! I have been livin' it up back home in Auckland for two and a half weeks. Spring has just sprung, and though weather is still pretty lousy, but I have been spoilt by the warmth of lovely old friends. Waking up to the sound of the waves and the view of the sea is something I've taken for granted before I'd left for the city life in Paris. I am so happy to be home, and for now, I don't even want to think about going back! As clich├ęd as it is, I have to say, there really is no place like home.

On the first weekend that I was back, one of my good friends' Hongi, was to celebrate her 22nd birthday. I thought it would be great to make her a birthday cake and a macaron tower to mark the momentous occasion. She was pretty excited when I told her of my plans, saying she had never been made a birthday cake before, let alone a macaron tower! So that night, I put on my apron and brought my long-dormant home kitchen to life once again. 

I started by making four batches of macarons for the tower. To fill the cone, I needed about 90 macarons, but I made 120 so I could choose the best 90 and have plenty left to nibble on. I had let Hongi choose the flavours, and she went with rose petal, vanilla bean, salted caramel and pistachio. I thought those were a wonderful selection of classic french flavours, and the colours would work beautifully together. 

Pink macaron shells piped and ready for the oven

Paired macaron shells ready to be filled!

Vanilla bean and white chocolate ganache

I love the black vanilla bean specks!

My favourite part...

After all the macarons were filled, I sealed them in an airtight container and left them in the fridge overnight to mature. This is an important step as the filling will soften the inner shells and fuse them together to create the lovely chewy texture we've come to love of these treats.

The next morning I started work on the birthday cake. Inspired by the "momofuku birthday cake" I decided to surprise Hongi with a funfetti cake. I couldn't wait to see her expression when she cuts into the cake and reveals the colourful surprise inside! I achieved this by stirring in sprinkles into the cake batter before baking. I frosted the cake with a not-so-sweet italian meringue buttercream which I coloured pink for extra cuteness. 

Cake sandwich!

The surprise is slowly hidden..

A simple border to perk up the cake..

A sprinkling of sprinkles on top..

And the birthday cake is done!

The cake was finished just in time for the party in Auckland city, I was a little nervous of how I would transport the monster of a cake safely 22km away by car. So I sat with it on the cake stand on my lap and made my boy Martin drive like a grandma. 

When we got to the venue, all that was left for me to do was assemble the macaron tower!

Putting on finishing touches surrounded by hungry eyes..

C'est fini!

A light circling of ribbon to discourage degustation prior to cake-cutting.