Spring….

 

It is officially SPRING TIME!!!! I am so happy about it that I need to say it out loud.

Somehow I feel like I don’t have enough words to say how much I love spring and the  warm weather and the blue sky and the sun and the birds singing and the happy faces that you see everywhere ….and my list can continue forever.

and what is better than creme caramel to celebrate such a great season? …my answer is nothing. You would think creme caramel is sugary, has a smooth texture and it would match better the winter, but for me is smooth, it has the caramelized sugar competing with the delicate texture, is just like spring sometimes sunny but trying to fight the morning chill, full of contrast but yet so great.

To make the creme caramel I used the recipe of Julia Child (with a little twist), I am still gathering some courage to try her coq au vin or her boeuf bourguignon.

crème renversée au caramel 

serves 4-6 people

 

caramel

110 grams sugar

60 ml water

custard

480 ml  milk (I used 200 ml heavy cream and 280 ml milk)

150 grams sugar

2 eggs

4 egg yolks

1 teaspoon vanilla extract, or 1 vanilla bean

Directions:

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small saucepan, combine ½ cup sugar with ¼ cup water. Bring to a boil over low heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Increase the heat to high and cook, without stirring, until the syrup turns a light caramel color. Remove the saucepan from the heat and dip the bottom into cold water to stop the cooking. Pour the caramel into a 4-cup charlotte mold, and tilt so that it covers the bottoms and sides. Let cool.

In a small saucepan, bring the milk and vanilla to a boil. In a heat-proof bowl, beat the eggs, egg yolks and cup sugar until blended. Whisking constantly, pour the hot milk into the egg mixture; let rest for a few minutes, then strain. Pour the custard into the caramel-coated mold.

Put the mold in a small but deep baking or roasting pan, and add hot water to come about two-thirds up the sides of the mold. Place the pan on the stove over medium heat, and bring the water to a simmer. Transfer the pan to the oven. (The water should stay at a low simmer at all times; do not let it boil or the custard will over cook.) Bake until a knife inserted into the center of the custard comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes. Keep the custard in the baking pan until the water cools. Remove from the pan to finish cooling. To serve, run the tip of a knife around the top of the custard to loosen it. Invert a serving platter over the mold and quickly turn it over again. Carefully remove the mold.

Source : NY Times

Cheesecake macarons

I told you about my macaron obsession, once I started making them somehow I couldn’t stop. For the New Year Eve’s dinner I was the one that had to take care of the dessert – not a particularly tough request, since I am always looking for a ocassion to try new cake recipes.

And of course this made the perfect occasion to try a new type of macarons – cheesecake macarons.

I tried cheesecake macarons before in Paris, at Christophe Roussel’s shop and I loved them, they were fresh and amazingly delicious. So here is my attempt to re-create those macarons. Even though they were quite tasty, I have to re-make them few more times until I get the perfect cheesecake macaron :-).

cheesecake macarons

yields 24  macarons

120 g almond meal

200 g powdered sugar

100 g egg whites

30 g granulated sugar

food coloring gel

The directions on how to make the macarons can be found here

cheesecake filling

250 grams cream cheese (Philadelphia or any other cream cheese would do)

2 tablespoons whipping cream

3-5 tablespoons lemon curd

lemon rind

vanilla

Whip the cream cheese and the whipping cream together, until fluffy and homogeneous and then add the vanilla. Gently add the lemon curd and a bit of lemon rind.

Use a piping bag or spoon to fill the macarons with the cheesecake filling. Store in the fridge in an airtight container.

Brownies return

Few days ago a friend of mine left for US for few months. We usually have breakfast/coffee/ chats together and he was always complaining about the brownies he was buying at the store.

And since he discovered my blog, every morning I heard the same question – when are you going to bake brownies and bring some for breakfast?????

Well, finally before he left, I managed to cook some of my favourite brownies. Now the new question is – when are you going to make a deal with the store, so we can buy the brownies everyday?

For this I used Thomas Keller’s recipe featured in Ad-hoc at Home which always works like a charm, the only downside to it is that you become addicted to them. Just side story about this book – I LOVE IT. Besides the fact that is a special book for me, as I got it as a gift from my friends at my PhD defense, the recipes presented in this book are simply amazing. The food is so good, somehow it has a home feel to it, there are so many wonderful flavours married in these dishes that you can’t stop cooking :-)

brownies

makes 12 pieces

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened alkalized cocoa powder
3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-tablespoon pieces
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 large eggs
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste
6 oz 61 to 64% chocolate, chopped into chip-sized pieces ( about 1 1/2 cups)
Powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350F. We use a 9-inch square silicone mold, because it keeps the edges from overcooking; if you use a metal or glass baking pan, butter and flour it. Set aside.

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, and salt; set aside

Melt half the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Put the remaining butter in a medium bowl. Pour the melted butter and stir to melt the butter. The butter should look creamy, with small bits of unmelted butter, and be at room temperature.

In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, mix together the eggs and sugar on medium speed for about 3 minutes, or until thick and very pale. Mix in the vanilla. On low speed, add about one-third of the dry ingredients, then add one-third of the butter, and continue alternating the remaining flour and butter. Add the chocolate and mix to combine. (The batter can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.)

Spread the batter evenly in the pan. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until a cake tester or wooden skewer poked into the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs sticking to it. If the pick comes out wet, test a second time, because you may have hit a piece of chocolate chip; then bake for a few more minutes longer if necessary. Cool in the pan until the brownie is just a bit warmer than room temperature.

Run a knife around the edges if not using a silicone mold, and invert the brownie onto a cutting board. Cut into 12 rectangles. Dust the tops with powdered sugar just before serving.