The Tart from St. Tropez

It’s the last weekend of August. The streets will no longer be empty in the morning, walking down the corridors at work will shortly be met with the buzz of colleagues whizzing in and out of offices and we’ll soon start complaining about the onset of the colder weather. Summer came reeeeally late this year for us in Paris, but boy has it hit us hard this past week, << HEATWAVE >>. The mercury went over 30C, this shit got serious.

Baking and cooking in general in this heat has been…hot. I became inspired to test out a tarte trop√©zienne after seeing a documentary about its origins in France’s beautiful south. Golden brown, glistening with crystallised bling with a sweet aroma of orange blossom, she’s got it going on. Though I’m definitely more tanned than she is right now ūüėČ those lunch-time sessions in the park are paying off.

I’d give the difficulty factor a 5/10, it’s more time consuming than anything as you have to let the brioche rise for 24hours. Pay attention to your cr√®me patissi√®re to avoid lumps as much as possible – I say this from experience!¬†Enjoy readers, I’m gonna go melt on the couch with the sun in my eyes. Bisous.

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Ingredients

Brioche
300g plain white flour (I use Type 55)
75g powdered sugar
Pinch of salt
3 eggs + 1 yolk for browning
150g butter
45ml milk
15g dried yeast
Nib sugar Рthis has to be the big crystal pieces of sugar that do not melt in the oven, look in the baking section, a specialty shop or online.

Cr√®me P√Ętissi√®re
500ml milk
Few drops of vanilla essence, or 1 vanilla pod split lengthways
75g powdered sugar
60g of flour
3 egg yolks
2 tablespoons of orange blossom water (‘Fleur d’Oranger’)

Chantilly
125g whole cream
1 tablespoon of powdered sugar

Method

Day 1
Brioche – mix the dry ingredients together, EXCEPT the yeast. Crack the eggs in a seperate bowl. In a saucepan, combine the milk and butter together until melted. Take off the heat and let it cool until it reaches a lukewarm/tepid temperature, and then add the yeast and whisk well. If the liquid is too hot, the yeast won’t properly activate. I normally wait at least a full 5 minutes before adding it. Mix¬†the wet and dry ingredients until well-combined, put into a bowl and cover with clingfilm. Leave in the fridge overnight, I left mine for about 18 hours.

Day 2
Brioche – the dough should have risen to double its original size. remove from the fridge, rub some flour over and shape into how you want it to be baked. I left mine as a big round form, you can also make individual buns if you prefer. Place the dough in the baking tin to be used later, cover with a tea towl and leave at room temperature for 2 hours to rise further.

Cr√®me Patissi√®re – this is just the French word for custard basically. Let the milk warm up in a saucepan with the vanilla essence/pods. In a bowl, mix the egg yolks with the powdered sugar for 1-2 minutes. (Don’t throw the egg whites, I used them to make egg-fried rice for dinner.) Once the milk starts to boil, gently pour it in small quantities into the egg and sugar mixture, whisking well to avoid lumps. Once all the milk has been poured, transfer the liquid back into the saucepan. Add the flour which allows it to thicken, then the orange blossom water and just keep on whisking! Once boiled, take it off the heat and cover the surface with plastic film. Place in the fridge and leave until fully cooled down, at least 1 hour.

Brioche – after 2 hours of letting it rise, brush the beaten egg yolk all over, sprinkle the sugar nibs on top and place the tray into a pre-heated oven at 180C for 25-30mins. Mine was a little browner than I’d have preferred so keep an eye on the oven.

Chantilly Рsimply, whipped cream! Add the powdered sugar to the cream and use an electric whisker to beat until stiff peaks form. This is to mix into the crème patissière once the former has cooled down. Until that point, keep the chantilly in the fridge.

Brioche – once cooked, leave on a cooling rack. When it is cool enough to handle, cut the brioche horizantally like you would a hamburger. When the cr√®me patissi√®re and chantilly are mixed together, add a thick layer of the cream to the base layer of brioche, then add the layer with the sugar nibs on top. Et voila, the tart is finished. Perfect for an afternoon go√Ľter or in the morning with a cup of tea.

(Quantities and inspiration from here¬†and¬†here,¬†(sorry for the French!). Mixing the yeast in the butter/milk as well as rising times were taken from Rachel Khoo’s recipe on dulce de l√®che brioche buns from The Little Paris Kitchen, as I’ve made that recipe a few times so I trust her method.)

Double-chocolate brownies, because why wouldn’t you?

The betch is back.

To-do Did
New computer: check
New job: check
No more moaning about the two previously mentioned subjects like I did before: check.

Life has evolved pretty nicely since the last time I posted. As the first line on my to-do list explains, I finally bought a new laptop. This machine feels like a beast compared to my previous 8-year old dinosaur that was literally falling apart at the nails and screws. This was a sweet purchase I was finally able to make, being fortunate enough to now be paid like a real human being at my new job!!

I very unexpectedly upgraded my professional occupation¬†in March¬†– during the space of a month, I had a phone interview, 3 face-to-face interviews, handed in my notice, (took a weekend trip to Bruges!) and started at the new place. In the interest of sharing, I’m now working as a communications assistant in an international economic organisation, (can I get a hell yeeeeeh). So far I’ve learnt masses and¬†I’m loving the¬†rich and diverse responsibilities I get to be involved with.

Not to bore you with too much real-life talk (I mean yeah, some background is nice but we all only really care about the food), lets move on to the real star of this post. Chocolate brownies. A classic. The comforting taste of gorgeous, rich, dense chocolate is loved by everyone – but admittedly, this can go wrong more often than right.

I knew I wanted to make chocolate brownies during the week, mainly to bring to the office because everyone shares something cute and delish every once in a while with the rest. And for me, you either go home-made or go home. In the past, I normally encoutered the struggle of making them too cakey; the interior was fluffy and light instead of dense. Saying that, I’m also not really on the ‘fudgey’ side of brownies, I prefer compact rather than sticky. Oh the ordeal! I had a browse on the net as to what ratios people used to get the right consistency and took to composing a recipe from here and here. Result? I honestly think they’re the best I’ve ever made and will stick to the basics of this recipe from now on, changing only the almonds for example with walnuts or cranberries etc. ALSO, for the crazies out there (jk, sometimes I’m one of them too), this recipe happens to be gluten-free and refined-sugar free. So there!

Double-chocolate brownies, because why wouldn’t you (Yes, this is the official name).

Ingredients

130g dark chocolate, 70% cocoa
60g coconut oil*
3 medium eggs*
6 tablespoons of agave syrup*
2 tablespoons of 100% cacao powder**
3 tablespoons of rice flour**
150g sliced almonds
*organic, because we’re fancy like that
** these two can quickly dry out a recipe so don’t go crazy

Method

Break the chocolate into pieces and put in a saucepan with the coconut oil over a low heat. Stir occasionally until all melted and take off the heat to cool down. (Coconut oil gives a luscious gloss to the chocolate, try and stop yourself sneaking spoonfuls straight from the pan.)

Crack the eggs in a bowl, add the agave syrup and whisk until the mixture has doubled in size. When the chocolate has cooled down, add to the egg mixture and slowly incorporate. Next add the flour and cacao powder and fold in gently.

Add a handful of sliced almonds into the mixture. Line a small baking dish with parchment paper, pour the mixture and cover the top with a light scattering of almonds. Bake in a pre-heated oven for 10mins at 170 C.

Remove from the oven, allow to cool and cover lightly with powdered sugar. Slice into squares and serve, or stuff your face with them. I leave that choice entirely up to you. Happy Sunday x

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Roasted pumpkin spiced cupcakes with festive frosting

How much orange have you guys been getting in this October? Yknow what I mean – pictures of golden and fiery-hued leaves scattered on the ground, the formidable latte, pumpkin-carving, Halloween costume prep…the list goes on!

The last time we visited Fermes de Gally we picked up about 4 little sugar pumpkins and one huge butternut squash. I’ve slowly been using up the pumpkins for soups mainly but all this week I’ve had my eye on the last one to make pumpkin cupcakes. These turned out so much better than I thought – I wasn’t expecting¬†the flavour of the pumpkin to¬†come out that well but it had a rich, warming taste alongside the spices.

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Too effing irresistible

Ingredients

1 sugar pumpkin – weighed in at just under 500g
Powdered cinnamon or 4 spices – between 4-5 tablespoons
220g plain flour
5g baking powder
100g powdered brown cane sugar (the frosting will be quite sweet to compensate)
2 eggs
120ml olive oil (I put abit too much in, so added 2 tablespoons of honey to mask the taste)

Method

Peel and dice the pumpkin. Place in a roasting dish with a drizzle of oil, and about a tablespoon each of brown sugar and cinnamon on top. Roast in the oven for 20m or until soft on 200C.

Beat the eggs, sugar and oil. Add to the flour, cinnamon/4 spices and baking powder. When the pumpkin is ready, mash well and add to the mixture.

Divide the batter into cupcake cakes and bake for about 15m on 200C. Allow them to cool completely before piping the frosting, otherwise it will just melt into a big mess.

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Winter light is not my friend…

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Frosting

200g of cream cheese
50g of unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
300g powdered sugar
Red and yellow food colouring

Method

Beat all the ingredients together using an electric whisk. Divide the mixture in two, adding the food colouring to one half. This will produce a lovely orange tone leaving the other natural. Leave both bowls in the fridge for at least 30m to firm up before piping.

When ready, scoop the mixtures into separate piping bags with a nozzle of your choice, and get to it! I Youtubed a bunch of videos to get an idea of what I wanted and am really pleased with the patterns!

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Raw Butter Bites

If you follow my Instagram, you might have seen that I posted a little something a while ago about my home-made Butter Bites – now I’m here to give you guys the recipe. Moorish, fruity, nutty and a bitter tang of raw cacao, these tiny discs of decadence are literally gone in two bites. No cooking, no dairy, no refined sugar, no gluten (I’m not someone who is actually against/intolerant to all those things, but I do try to lean towards the healthier side of treats and sweets).

The recipe is really versatile too so try mixing up different flavours i.e. using a different flour for the base, adding fresh berries in the chocolate stage or experimenting with other nut butters.


Raw Butter Bites

Prep time: 15m      Setting time: at least 1hr in the fridge for each layer

Base:
125g hazelnut flour
Cupful of figs, softened in warm water
Drizzle of honey

Middle layer:
Teaspoon of almond butter for each ‘bite’

Chocolate layer:
2 tablespoons of coconut oil, melted
2 tablespoons of raw cacao powder
(Add honey to taste if desired but I opted out)

Method

Soften the figs in warm water and place in the blender along with the hazelnut flour and honey. Blend until you get a sticky paste and all the flour is incorporated, it doesn’t matter if you chunky bits of fig here and there. (Add a tablespoon of warm water if it looks abit dry!)

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Place a teaspoon of the mixture in your moulds – the quantity really depends on the size of your moulds/cases, mine were tiny! Leave to set in the fridge for an hour.

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Once set, add a teaspoon of a nut butter of your choice. From my photos you can see I made 3 with almond and 6 with peanut – in the end I found the peanut butter to be too strong and really took the other flavours away, so if I made these again I would stick to almond but entirely up to you.

Place the cases/moulds back in the fridge for 1 hour.

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Finally, for the last chocolate stage, heat the coconut oil over a low heat and add the cacao powder. Stir well and add honey to sweeten if desired. I chose not to because I found the bitterness contrasted well with the nutty flavour and sweetness of the figs. Pour a tablespoon, or enough to fill the moulds, and place back in the fridge for another hour.

Once set, gently remove from the casings and enjoy with a cup of tea for an afternoon break!

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Raw Speculoos and Chocolate tart

The sun is shining for once in Paris and the skies are a perfect blue. February has gotten off to a good start. I can’t wait for spring to come around and enjoy some real beautiful weather!

Last week in my post about self-motivation I mentioned that I had made a raw tart so I’m here to give you guys the recipe and hopefully you will experiment yourselves with it. It’s not as sugar-free as I wanted because I didn’t have any nuts in the cupboard to make the base from, however I did have a pack (or two..) of those crunchy, cinnamon-y Speculoos biscuits so I just decided to use them. I’d been itching for so long to get this tart on the road, at that point I would’ve used anything!

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Biscuits in the mini-blender

As I said this was the first time I’d ever made a raw dessert and although having read blogs upon blogs about the ingredients generally used, I wanted to use some different methods and see how it turned out. In the end, the result was a winner. For example, mejdool dates are a favourite for this kind of thing in order to really bind the dry ingredients together for the base as well as had a hit of sweetness. However, I’m not prepared to spend 1 euro per date (why are they so expensive?!) so for this recipe I used regular dates which I sliced, boiled in water to soften and then blitzed in the blender.

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And it worked perfectly. I didn’t feel like I was compromising on taste or texture at all and I was able to use up these dates that were just lying in my fridge untouched. That’s what this blog is all about really, trying and testing new ways to make great food.

OK here’s the recipe!


Raw Speculoos and Chocolate Tart

Tart base

Prep time: 20m

15-20 Speculoos biscuits
1.5 cups of dates
1/4 cup of shredded coconut

Put the biscuits in a mini-blender/food processor and blitz until they turn into a fine crumb. Place into a large mixing bowl.

Slice the dates in half, removing and discarding the stones. Place in a saucepan with about an inch of water and put on the stove for 10m. Mix every so often. Once all the dates are softened, pour out the remaining water and put the dates into the blender. Whizz until it turns into a smooth paste, then combine with the biscuit-crumb mixture.

Once it has been mixed well, smooth out the paste into a a cake tin and pop in the fridge for about an hour. Line the tin with plastic wrap if necessary – this will make it easier to remove at the final stage.

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Chocolate top layer

Prep time: 5m

In a small saucepan, melt 2 heaped tablespoons of cold-pressed coconut oil, then add 2 1/2 tablespoons of raw cacao powder. Stir until all the powder combines with the oil. Add honey to sweeten as required. Pour over the biscuit base and gently smooth the top.

Place back in the fridge to harden for about another hour. At this point you could decorate the chocolate layer if desired – frozen berries, chocolate chips, shredded coconut or even roughly chopped Speculoos biscuits will all embed nicely in the chocolate once it starts to set.

This tart was extremely decadent – the spicy, cinnamon-y crumb goes so well with the strong, bitter cacao. Perfection with a cuppa.

IMG_2244I hope you guys try this out, it tastes so good you wouldn’t believe how simple it is to make.

Bisous!

Sweet Sugar Skull and Spicy Pumpkin Cake (Post-Halloween post!)

Hi everyone! So I wanted to share with you what I got up to the night of Halloween, I know this is a bit late but I’ve just been¬†busy these past few days so forgive me!

I decided to ‘go’ as a sugar skull because I’ve always loved the creepy beauty of them, plus they’re a symbol of how other cultures, Mexican in this case, celebrate Halloween or ‘Day of the Dead’. (Plus I wouldn’t need an actual outfit as the make-up speaks for itself!) I’d been looking at a ton of tutorials on Youtube and found this one that really pleased me, so I bought the necessary make-up and off I went!

As I started applying the white base, I was feeling really unsure that I’d made the right decision. As someone who never wears make-up and then chooses to full on paint their face, I was starting to think I’d over-estimated my abilities. However as I continued to follow the steps and applied some colour and detail, it all finally came together and I could not have been happier with the result.

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I was honestly feeling like Superwoman at this point because my day had been so jam-packed but I still managed to go to La Defense in the morning to buy a floral headband, have lunch with The Boy, came home and cleaned the apartment, made a pumpkin cake!!! and still did all my sugar skull make-up.

Yes, pumpkin cake. My God it was delicious. I used one of the pumpkins I wrote about in my previous October Appreciation post, the tiny Jack-be-Little. I found that the flesh had a coconut-y taste so it was definitely going into the cake mixture.

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Here’s what I used:

-175g plain flour
-175g sugar
-175g butter (melted on a low heat)
-175g pumpkin flesh
-3 eggs
-10 dates (optional; de-seeded, chopped and soaked for 10m in hot water)
-2tspn of baking powder
-2tspn of cinnamon and mixed spice

Mix all your ingredients together, grease a baking tin and put in the oven for 30-40m on 200C. I also melted 50g of  dark chocolate with 25g of butter, put in a piping bag and piped a basic spider web design on the cake for that festive feel. The cake was warm and spicy, and the sweet dates give some texture.

Did you guys get up to any baking for Halloween? If anyone went trick or treating I would love to see your costumes!

Bisous!