A case of the cassis

Hey guys! First thing's first.. I've been receiving a lot of very kind feedback from fellow students at Le Cordon Bleu regarding my blog. And if you're reading, I just want to say a huge thanks! I wouldn't be writing this if no one cared enough to read it. The fact that I have a groovin' pastry loving community around me motivates me to keep creating! Donc, je vous remercie! :) 

Today's cake is the "Gateau Croustillant au Cassis"

You might find this a little bit strange, but the conception of this cake was inspired by a fave lipstick of mine: 

Black Orchid - Tom Ford

I just love the look of this deep and luscious colour on the lips so much, that I thought there's no reason that it can't look just as luscious as a foodstuff. So I bought myself a big jar of blackcurrant purée and tried to think about what I could do with it.

I still had some "sablé breton" left over from the "chocolate sphere" recipe, and a roll of frozen puff pastry from a pie I had made a few weeks ago. So I decided to use both of those elements as the base of this dessert. And since the base would be crunchy, I chose to use the purée to make a soft and fluffy mousse to go on top.

I had a "deja-scent" moment as I pried open the jar of "purée de cassis" at the commencement of this recipe. It brought me back 13 years to my primary school days at Pakuranga Heights in Auckland. During the summer, us kids would line up at the "tuck-shop" (a New Zealand word for canteen) and purchase fruit-based ice blocks called "Juicies" to slowly savor during lunchtime.

As I grabbed a spoon to taste the purchased purée however, my face immediately contracted from the sheer acidity of the thing. It made me think about how much sugar they must have had to put into our much loved "Juicies" to have made them appealing to children. But I think as one gets more mature, one appreciates a little more sourness and bitterness on food (to complement our life experiences, perhaps? Hahaha). So I kept the sugar quantity low in the mousse to keep in a bit of that mouth-watering acidity.


Let them eat chocolate

I know. Another chocolate post.. It wasn't on purpose, I promise. But after some meandering on the world wide web yesterday, I came across this dessert by patissier Hugues Pouget of "Hugo and Victor" and my jaw dropped 3 feet to the ground. Oh. My. Look how perfectly formed and beautiful it is. 

The "Hugo Caramel" by Hugues Pouget

I decided I had to try to recreate this magnificence at home. However, because I didn't want to do a carbon copy, I chose a fruity filling instead of caramel and also changed up the base from a solid sablé to one that is crumbled and has chocolate stirred through it - the "Sablé Breton".

My interpretation of the "Hugo"


Know Your Pistachio

You know that feeling when you find a $5 note in your jeans' pocket that you forgot you had? I had that pleasant surprise as I was cleaning out my fridge this morning when I found a pot of pistachio paste tucked away in the corner of the very bottom drawer of my cooler. I completely forgot I had bought it to make the "Buche Pistache-Chocolat" last christmas. Good thing this heavily sugared, green concoction withstands the test of time very well. In case you're wondering, the expiry date is February of 2013!

So wasting no time at all, I went into "mad scientist" mode to conceive some sort of delicious pistachio dessert. I chose to stick with the tried and true pistachio and dark chocolate pairing. And after some baking, cooling and a little waiting.. these super tasty mini cakes came into fruition. I was very excited to finally use Pierre Herme's flourless dark chocolate cake recipe too! This cake is super good and light in texture. I think it complements the light textures of the other components very nicely.

The glaze is so shiny you can see my reflection (wearing pyjama pants)


My kind of chocolate dessert

When presented with a dessert menu in a restaurant, 9 times out of 10 I will choose the one with chocolate in it. (I really don't understand why someone would choose fruit over chocolate ammiright?) Therefore you can imagine my delight when I saw a picture of delicious looking chocolate dome cakes by my friend Byron on Facebook. Instead of just sending me the recipe, he offered show me how to make them in person. I graciously accepted his offer and come the weekend, we got down to bakin'. I soon found out that the cakes tasted even better than they looked on screen.


Red Raspberries, White Roses

Raspberries are of abundance this summer season in Paris. These tart red fruits, along with other antioxidant rich berries cover the counters from street markets to pastry shops, looking ever so plump and enticing. I thought it would be a dear shame for me not to exploit their blatant availability and obnoxious corpulence to make something sweet and exquisite. It would also provide the perfect excuse for me to test-drive my new half-sphere silicon cake mould.

If strawberries go with cream, what do raspberries go with…?
White chocolate of course!
So I decided to pair the tartness of the raspberries with the sweet richness of white chocolate bavarian cream. But just to be a little different, I added a little rose water into the mousse for a subtle floral note and lightness.

I shall name this cake

Retro Red Raspberry
Raspberry and Rose Rock
Red Raspberries, White Roses
Raspberry and Rose Romance
Ruby Raspberry
Raspberry Rose Rush

But don't you think all foods sound more delicious in French..?

Dome de framboises à la rose et au chocolat blanc

Yeah let's stick with that one for now.

Dome de Framboises à la Rose et au Chocolat Blanc

Upon dissection...


Delicious Religieuse

Summer has come again in the northern hemisphere! After graduating from Le Cordon Bleu last month, I spent 2 weeks in a mini-bus touring Europe with my family. The trip saw us explore 20 breathtaking cities in 14 days! The itinerary went as follows:

Paris -> Nevers -> Albi -> Lourdes -> Narbonne -> Cannes -> Nice -> Monte Carlo -> Milan -> Pisa -> Rome -> Florence -> Padova -> Venice -> Lucerne -> Strasbourg -> Cologne -> Amsterdam -> Brussels -> Paris

A view of Monaco from the Exotic Gardens

Early evening in Cannes - France
The Colloseum! Rome- Italy
(Instagram pics by my sister Tania)

With an average of 7 hours per-day spent on the road, I read through the second and third books of Song of Ice and Fire by George R R Martin (nerd alert, I know). Which was also awesome.

Now back in Paris, the sun-drenched 16 hour days have motivated me to try to be a little more productive… This means not squandering the daylight reading the fourth book of Song of Ice and Fire. Understandably this was very difficult. But I decided that it was time to get back into the bakin' and bloggin' business. 

Thinking back to my first trip to a Parisian patisserie in the summer of last year, a particular treat really caught my eye as I set foot in the legendary Laduree. This dessert emitted an overwhelming air of super girly cuteness that my vision tunneled as I became airborne and levitated stomach-first towards it. It was not long after, that the "Religieuse à la Rose" became the very first pastry I bit into in this fine country of France. And mon Dieu it was delicious.

What is a "religieuse" you ask? Well, the concept is simple and inspired: a pastry composed of one big cream-puff with a smaller one stacked on top of it. The globules of choux pastries are pumped amply with flavored pastry cream and glazed with shiny fondant. You can't help but feel like you're Marie Antoinette as you dine upon this confection.

The recipe is a little long and wordy, but be undaunted! The final result will definitely be worth your efforts :)