Monday, November 28, 2011

two weeks in pictures

I didn't make this beauty. Anthony made it for a dinner party and I forgot to post my shots. It's a Bûche de Noël with mascarpone mousse, pecan dacquoise, gingerbread cake and chocolate glaze.

I made four batches of macs and these pics are from round one. I filled these with peanut butter ganache from a recipe given to me by a friend and former coworker (thanks Cassie!). The ganache was amazing.

I made more ice cream. And here is my very own idea for an ice bath. I cook with some random set of pots and pans I bought on sale at Macy's. The set came with large and small stock pots. I fill the larger pot halfway with ice and water, nestle the smaller pot inside and pour my hot ice cream base right into the small pot. ICE BATH! The smaller pot doesn't sink into the water because its handles rest securely on the sides of the larger pot.

And last but not least, a small first year anniversary cake for Cara and Chris. I tried to match the flowers from the original cake from last year but I ran into an issue with my florist. I ordered the flowers well in advance and let them know that they were for the top of a cake and needed to be in bloom. I also specified that I needed a light pink color. Here's what they gave me when I went to pick the flowers up today.

I had a back-up plan thankfully, but geez the stress. And for what it's worth, I would NOT recommend purchasing flowers from Exchange Place Florist in Jersey City.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

chocolate hazelnut sponge cake

This recipe was created by Elizabeth Faulkner for the October issue of Bon Appetit. I didn't finish it with the decorations because I was mainly curious about the techniques she used in the components. The cake was a traditional sponge cake which called for whole eggs and yolks beaten until light and fluffy, egg whites with granulated sugar and corn syrup beaten until frothy and cocoa powder and all purpose flour folded in at the end. I didn't like the cake that much. It wasn't a bad recipe, I just don't like sponge cakes. I hate cakes that need to be soaked with something like simple syrup (or as this recipe called for, straight up brandy) in order to make them moist.
The two layers of filling, a hazelnut ganache and a hazelnut mousse, were incredibly delicious. The ganache had no chocolate in it, which I found curious. Hazelnut butter, hazelnuts toasted and ground into a paste, replaced the chocolate and I loved the result. It was savory and rich and I want to try it as a bon bon filling as soon as possible. The mousse was terrific as well. I was thrilled that it didn't call for any gelatin in the mousse because I HATE gelatin in mousse. It ruins the texture for me.
What amazed me the most was how important it was to let the cake hang out in the fridge for a few days before eating it. I tried slivers of the cake the day I made it and each of the following two days. For me, it tasted best on the second day. The flavors came together and the mousse had time to soak into the cake and make it more soft and moist.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Charlotte Patisserie

I can't believe it's been almost 2 years now since I graduated from the French Culinary Industry. After graduation, only a few of my classmates went on to work in the culinary industry and no one yet has opened their own store front. That is until two weeks ago. Mike Lechowicz is the first person from my pastry class to open his own place. He named his French-inspired pastry and coffee shop Charlotte Patisserie because "Charlotte" sounds French but also means "apple pie" in Polish. Cute. His shop is on bustling Manhattan Avenue just steps away from McCarren Park in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

Everything in the display case looked so delicious---cakes, tarts, macarons, danish, scones, croissants. Best of all, he brews Counter Culture beans in a shining La Marzocco espresso maker.

The shop's interior was lovely, all exposed brick and dark woods with stainless steal accents. Mike did the build-out himself and installed all the plumbing. He said the building used to be an All-State Insurance office, though he did such an amazing job with the space that you can't even tell.

He also has access to a spacious backyard area where he plans to have outdoor seating along with wine and savory offerings in the near future.

So if you're in the Greenpoint area, definitely drop by and enjoy a cappuccino and a buttery almond croissant. Mike gets up at 4 a.m. every day to bake them fresh and I guarantee you'll love them.