Cheesecake with Christmas fruits

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Cheesecake with Christmas Fruits

The original name of this entremet is, Fruity White Cheese Squares, at least that’s what it says in our recipe books. Perhaps it’s one of those lost in translation, French to English things but I’m not exactly thinking cake when I read the title. So, I’ve evolved the name and calling it, Cheesecake with Christmas Fruits. I wanted to call it, Grandmother’s Sara Lee Cheesecake with Christmas fruits, but too long and I think I would be stepping on some kind of copyright law with the whole Sara Lee name. But, it’s a compliment I think because when I took a bite of this entremet I was reminded of the Sara Lee cake I so often had during the hot Sydney summers and my impatience for it to defrost, eating the whipped cream first while I worked down the hardened cream cheese and to the frozen strawberry centre… ooohhhh… However, with this entremet, Cheesecake with Christmas Fruits, I found it lacking something. I don’t know if it’s an unhappy marriage of the fruits and white chocolate, or the white chocolate mousse being a little dull. This recipe asked us to use Creme Fraiche and I have a feeling using mascarpone &/or cream cheese would have given that X factor it’s missing. Creme Fraiche of course is lighter. It’s certainly appealing to the eye but like my Mon Cheri said diplomatically, “It has potential”. I would like to revist this entremet because I do believe also it has potential.

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The base is an almond biscuit. But what does that really mean when pretty much most of the sponge bases in French patisserie is made of almond? The ingredients for this almond biscuit base is: almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios, icing sugar, flour, egg whites, brown sugar and granulated sugar. The base wasn’t too bad.

Over the base we spread a generous layer of what’s called in our recipe book, Pears Marmalade, which for me is a little confusing because it’s more than that, it’s bascially a basket of Christmas goodies: Cranberries, Pears, Dried apricots, Currents, Orange grated zest/juice/liquor, granulated sugar, and cinnamon powder (recipe also contains gelatin and water).

The “White Cheese Cream”, is made up of the ingredients: Cream Fleurette, Cream cheese or Creme Fraiche, Brown sugar, and yolks (recipe also contains gelatin and water). The French tend to use Creme Fraiche mostly but it’s just not as inviting as using mascarpone or cream cheese. This is really only my opinion coming from my own tastes and the information taken from chit chatter amongst our group during taste testing.

Find recipe for the CHEESECAKE mixture below.IMG_3808_2

A wonderful look into how large productions are made. Once frozen we cut them into indivdual sizes.

 

Balls that go crunch in the mouth

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Croquembouche ‘Crunchy in the mouth’

Perhaps I made a slight error in judgement regarding the construction of my Croquembouche, a tower of toffee covered pastry balls known as profiterols, or in French, choux. Do you see the teeny-tiny Croquembouche to the far left in the above photo? That’s mine. I think my childhood insecurities of always being the tallest in school has surfaced once again.

The photos below show us briefly how our Croquembouche came together. First, we began by making the base of the tower which is nougatine (cooked sugar and almonds). It all looks fun and pretty but this process of making nougatine or anything that consists of caramel is seriously dangerous business. Cooked sugar caramalised is so hot that touched if can remove your skin faster than you can blink. I think as patissiers this is for us what knives are for cuisiniers. Otherwise, once cooled it’s all very tasty, the caramel nougatine that is.

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To make the base, once the nougatine is ready use a metal rolling pin (no photo) to flatten out the nougatine rolling it out on an iron baking tray (on a pile of 3 baking trays). Then with a cloth push the nougatine into the iron cake tin. You need to work fast but ooh so carefully. You don’t want to burn yourself, nor do you want to break the nougatine as it cools superfast, and at the same time you want to perfectly shape the nougatine to the tin. If it doesn’t work for you like it didn’t for me, you then need to collect the nougetine and put it in the oven to melt, then redo the process again with the rolling pin. I had to redo this process three times. Part of the nougatine is also used to make shapes in which you’ll use to decorate your nougatine base and decorative pieces. However, making the decorative pieces, shapes such as triangles, circles and moon shapes were less challenging.

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Croquembouche, which is made of individual profiterols (choux) are normally filled with a flavoured pastry cream (vanilla, chocolate). In this exercise we did not include pastry cream as the goal of this class was to practice working with the nougatine, decorating and most importantly constructing the tower. The decoration included  pastillage, that is the shaping of flowers and leaves out of confectionary sugar. It also included using Royal Icing which is usually used for writing on cakes but in this case we used it to make those spider-webs you see.

This whole exercise was challenging and stressing, at least for me. Of course I will need a lot more practice. It’s a great learning experience but I’m not sure I see myself making this in the future by choice. As much as I love pastry, I’m not exactly passionate about making Croquembouche – it’s the pastillage I’m not a fan of and nougatine shape making – but perhaps if I see something that’s a little more modern I can be convinced otherwise.

Finalement c’est la fin de la semaine, profitez-en et bon weekend.

Miss Pirisi

Hôtel Plaza Athénée, all in the name of research

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Bienvenue au Plaza Athénée in Paris

Mon chéri has said often enough that he’s happy to invest in my future. I have replied equally just as often that I’m worth the investment. A part of his investment goes towards research. I have convinced my investor that tracking down the Haute Couture of pâtisserie in Paris is part of research and the development of my future as a French pâtissier. So, a few weeks back we found ourselves in the tea room of Hôtel Plaza Athénée researching. Why? Because Hôtel Plaza Athénée  is famous for its dessert menu. And not only this, the creator of these desserts is non other than the pin-up boy of pâtisserie, Christophe Michalak.

I have to say, it was a little embarrassing – having 4 desserts, a tea pot plus the cups, mineral water plus the glasses, Champagne plus the flutes and flowers and vase, all on the one teeny-tiny table. The wait stuff for some reason assumed we would like more and kept wheeling the trolley over asking us if we were ready for another. All in the name of research bring us more desserts and another one of your teeny-tiny tables, s’il vous plait!

Champagne, tea and dessert.

This way for Champagne, tea and dessert.

Oooh.. I want to sit there!

Oooh… a cozy corner.

I'll have this one...Ooh, no, I'll have this one.... Maybe that one and that one... And that one too.

Let the research begin!

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Choix de pâtisseries parisiennes – la pièce 18 euros : Religieuse (on its head), Caramel Beurre Salé

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Choix de pâtisseries parisiennes – la pièce 18 euros : Millefeuille Vanilla Crème on its side

Crème d'olive et framoise

Choix de pâtisseries parisiennes – la pièce 18 euros :  Crème d’olive et framboise

Caramel crème, crème fleur d'orange, pain d'epices et speculos

Choix de pâtisseries parisiennes – la pièce 18 euros : Caramel crème, crème fleur d’orange, pain d’épices et speculos

Excuse-moi, je cherche les toilettes (it's the tea).

Excusez-moi, je cherche les toilettes.

Merci cheri, c'etait superbe! Et Samedi prochain, on va à Bristol?

Merci chéri, c’était superbe! Et Samedi prochain, on va au Bristol?

In terms of pricing of individual desserts, you are definitely paying for a package deal of dining in a 5 star hotel. The experience is certainly a luxurious one, and you don’t even have to commit to a big fancy dinner. Even if it’s just to sit in the lobby for 5 minutes and ooze up the sensuality of the hotels surroundings (or use the fancy loos). Even better if you can enjoy just a simple thing like tea and cake. We paid for 4 dessert pastries but that’s simply because in class (the lab) we have been making these very desserts, and we, the students, are also in the phase of deciding where we want to do our stage, that is our internship. Plaza Athénée among the other Hotel Palaces (Bristol, Meurice, ..) are on the list of places. The students need to have a clear idea in which direction they want to head in terms of their career &/or learning: boutique patisserie, restaurant or hotel. In a hotel for example you are going to be making classic desserts for the tea room with a fancy touch such as the ones above, and for the hotel’s restaurant you will be doing plated desserts.

As service is greatly lacking in France in the general hospitality area, it was a real pleasure to be treated like a princess just for one afternoon at Plaza Athénée. She represents everything that I imagine Paris to be: timeless elegance.

HOTEL PLAZA ATHENEE
Chefs Patissiers: Christophe Michalak et Jean-Marie Hiblot
25 Avenue Montaigne, 75008 Paris
Tel: +33 1 5367 6665

A bientôt.

Miss Pirisi

All photos on this page are the rights of the photographer, Matthieu Pannier.

Eclairs

Individual recipes you will need to complete chocolate and coffee eclairs are, [in italics en francais]: 
Pate a choux choux or profiterols 
Pastry Cream la crème pâtissière
Coffee Cream la crème au café
Chocolate fondant fondant au chocolat
Coffee fondant fondant au café

Refer below for ingredients.

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Pate a choux for Eclairs and Religieuse (Nuns)

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Mark with flour on a buttered baking tray

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Tip No.12 or No.15

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Butter beurrer 

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With a small tip make 3 holes on the base (bottom) of eclairs

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Fill with pastry cream (pictured is coffee cream)

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Always make chocolate pastry cream after making coffee psstry cream

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Fondant

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Fondant into the mixer

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For coffee flavoured fondant

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Adding the coffee flavoured fondant

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Glacage (pictured is chocolate)

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Glace with fingers.

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My eclair babies are home!

Pate a Choux
Water, 250g
Salt, 5g
Sugar, 5g
Butter, 125g
Flour, 150g
Eggs, 220g

Pastry Cream (Creme Patissiere)
Milk, 1000g (1 litre)
Egg yolks, 90g
Eggs, 100g
Granulated sugar, 250g
Custard powder, 50g
Flour, 50g
Vanilla pod, 1
Butter, 100g

Chocolate Pastry Cream (to fill the eclairs)
Pastry Cream (above), 600g
*Chocolate Ganache a Parfumer (below), 200g

*Chocolate Ganache a Parfumer (for the chocolate pastry cream)
Liquid heavy cream, 1000g (1 litre)
Dark chocolate 55%, 1000g
Cocoa paste, 200g

Coffee Pastry Cream (to fill the eclairs)
Pastry Cream (above), 750g
Coffee Essence, 15g
*Homemade caramel, 15g

*Homemade caramel
Sugar cooked

Coffee Fondant (glazing on top of the eclairs)
Fondant, 1000g
Water approximately, 20g
Coffee essence, 25g
Glucose, 15g
Yellow food colouring

Chocolate fondant (glazing on top of the eclairs)
Fondant, 1000g
Water approximately, 100g
Cocoa paste, 300g [see photo for: la pâte de cacao]*
Glucose, 100g
Red food colouring
Use fondant approximately at 37C.

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*La pâte de cacao or le cacao en pâte is obtained from when the cacao beans are roasted. It’s texture is similar to that of Vegemite or Marmite, a thick ganache consistency. It is used in patisserie in its 100% pure form to flavour and give texture to creams, mouses, cakes, caramels and in other chocolate preparations. It gives an intense flavour without the addition of sugar.

Ingrédients of Cacao Barry : cacao en grains.

Teneur en cacao : 100%
Teneur en M.G. : 53% (Matière Grasse is fat content)
Teneur en beurre de cacao : 53%

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Sweet Chérie

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This post I dedicate to my Sweet Cherie,

I can’t even begin to tell you how beautiful she is. How delicious. Her red and chocolate colours, her moussy textures, her layersings of sweet cherries and chocolate, and the saveurs of those sweet cherries with a parfume of kirsche. Oh, and she wears those macarons so well, not too much just a couple to decorate her glacage. Ooh la la la!  She is why I want to become a patissier. I almost had a fit when a student said Entremets aren’t her thing, “Don’t say that over my Sweet Cherie!”

It has taken days to complete Sweet Cherie because each time we add a layer we need to put that into the freezer before we add the next. Also, we alternate the completion of other entremets (cakes). You can imagine how I anticipated her arrival home. I didn’t want to be too selfish and have her all to myself, so I shared her with my neighbours who have said she is their favourite so far.

Sweet Cherie is a perfect marriage of the saveurs of chocolate and cherry (and a little part kirsch), and this is certainly one to keep on the menu.

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Feuillantine noisette croustillante au chocolat

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Feuillantine noisette croustillante au chocolat

A whole lot of chocolate, a whole lot of mousse and whole lot of crunch deserves attention. I can’t believe this is school work. This is by far what I call learning how to make food porn. Totally delicious. It’s why this recipe in one variation or another is frequently on a restaurant menu. Perhaps it will come in a petite round form on your plate beautifully decorated with chocolate syrup or even a raspberry coulis. The one made at school was prepared as a huge slab. Don’t blame me for wanting it all. And, in fact, a classmate of mine confessed to me she did have it all! It took her 5 days to get through it, “It was so delcious!”.

A 1 large frame 60/40, 35 mm high is used to make the cocoa biscuit which in fact is a recipe for biscuit a cuilliere with cocoa powder added.

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Chablonage: Once sponge has cooled (if I recall we removed from freezer). Melt choclate and spread on the biscuit sponge, then turn it over so that the melted chocolate spread is underneath the sponge. This will become a nice thin chocolate base.

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Feuillantine Praline is made up of milk chocolate, hazelenuts, praline and feuillentine which is crispy wafer flakes. You will not find in the supermarket feuillentine, instead look for Gravottes in the biscuit section, once you put the wafers in the bowl crush them with your hands to make small flakes which then becomes “Feuillentine”.

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Praline Chocolate Mousse is a combination of praline, dark chocolate and liquid cream which made to a chantilly, that is, whipped cream.

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With a patisserie tool called a comb, with one stroke or one comb move through the mousse, it will create ribs (kinda like ribbed stockings only in mousse). Freeze.

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Out of the freezer, we need to remove the ring/frame and we do this with a blow torch/dryer. Refer below, then we take the spray gun/hose and spray chocolate. That’s fun!

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Decor: We take noisettes, hazelnuts and almonds and dip them in cooked sugar (250g sugar, 60g glucose and 60g of water over the stove). Keep on stove the cooked sugar and keep at low temperature or even turn off stove. Put toothpicks into the nuts dip them into the cooked sugar, creating a toffee exterior.

A similar recipe to this is Pierre Herme’s Carre from his book The Best of Pierre Herme.

G.Detou in Paris: is where I buy my ingredients such as feuillantine, couverture chocolates, praline paste, hazelnut paste, hazelnuts, cacoa powder.

Supermarket, any: gravottes (feuillantine), cream 35%, sugar, eggs, cocoa powder, flour, and milk.

Utensiles/equipment such as the entremet frames “cadre”: MORA in Paris and EMB Mora in Versailles.

The Opera is more tastier than it sounds

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Coffee butter cream
Granulated sugar, 400g
Water, 120g
Egg yolks, 60g
Eggs, 140g
Vanilla bean, 1
Butter, 720g
Coffee essence, 40g
Caramel*, 10g

Instructions
Cook the sugar with water to 121C
Beat the eggs and yolks lightly, add the contents of the scraped vanilla bean
While whisking, add the cooked sugar to this mixture
Whisk till cool
Incorporate the softened butter in ‘pommade’ consistency
Flavour with the cafe essence and caramel
Whisk together
For use it is preferable to soften the butter cream in a bain-mairie
If the cream will be stored in the fridge, it is preferable not to whisk it to volume now but just before use.

*How to make caramel? 200g sugar in a casserole and heat until it’s caramalized (almost a burnt colour), add 10g of water

[This recipe is the owner of Chef Patissier Averty from l’ecole FERRANDI. Last updated, February 2013].