Macarons

macaron2_lefermier_031215The Macaron appeared in Europe in the middle ages, made from sugar, almond and egg white from the very beginning. Some say that the Macaron was born in the VIIIe century in venetians monastery. They were introduced in France by Catherine de medicis for her wedding with the Duc d’Orléans. The macaron use to be eaten as individual biscuits and it’s not until 1830 that, in Paris, pastry chefs decide to stick two macaron together using ganache to create the “parisian” macaron which was later popularized by the very famous Ladurée.

They are now many different flavours of macaron like a mandarine and olive oil from Pierre hermé in Paris or lime and basil and even peach and rose! I have decided to add a festive touch to my macaron today by using Christmas spices to flavour my crème.

Watch the how to video below or visit my YouTube channel here for lots more videos

Macaron with a Christmas Spice Cream

Ingredients for the shells:

  • 210g icing sugar
  • 90g caster sugar
  • 130g egg whites
  • 150g almond meal

macaron4_lefermier_031215Method:

  1. Preheat the oven at 160 degrees Celsius and make sure all the ingredients are measured.
  2. In a food processor, blitz the icing sugar and almond meal until it is very fine. Make sure it is really fine otherwise the top of the macaron won’t be smooth.
  3. Sieve the almond meal and icing sugar to remove the chunky bits, and keep aside.
  4. Whisk the egg white to soft peak, then slowly add the sugar and keep whisking until it is all dissolved. Add the food colouring and whisk until combined.
  5. Using a spatula, incorporate half of the almond meal and icing sugar, mix, then add the other half.
  6. Gently work the mixture by folding it onto itself, making sure you scrape the bottom to get all the ingredients. Work it until it becomes glossy and form a ribbon when you lift the spatula (see video).
  7. Using a pipping bag with a nozzle, lay the macaron on flat baking tray lined with greaseproof paper.
  8. Leave them on the bench top for about 15 minutes so that a skin forms on the top. Check if they are ready to be baked by gently touching the top with your finger, if it doesn’t stick then they are ready.
  9. Bake for 15-20 minutes, then leave them cool down before garnishing them with the crème.

macaron3_lefermier_031215Ingredients for the Crème:

  • 2 free range egg yolk
  • 25 cl full fat milk
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 25g flour
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • ½ teaspoon ground clove
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ginger
  • 2 star anis
  • 1 orange peel
  • 1 lemon peel
  • 75g soft butter
  • 1 vanilla pod, seeds out

Method:

  1. Boil the milk with the vanilla ( seeds and pod) and the spices.
  2. Whisk the egg and sugar until slightly white and fluffy, add the flour and mix until combined.
  3. Pour the hot milk through a sieve, whisk to combined all the ingredients, and cook for about 3-5 minutes while whisking.
  4. Pour the crème in large dish, spread it as thin as you can to cool it down quickly. Once cooled completely, place it in an electric blender, whisk until it is smooth and add the soft butter. Keep whisking until the mixture is glossy and smooth.
  5. To put the macaron together, simply pipe a little bit of crème in the center of half of the shell and put a shell on top!

Paris-Brest

 

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As is the way in many European cultures, the French love to celebrate special occasions with food. And not just any old food, often dishes are created just to celebrate a particular event, at times becoming just as iconic that the event they were created for.

One such dish is the Paris-Brest. This delicious choux pastry was created at the turn of the 20th century to celebrate the annual bike race from Paris to Brest, and is shaped like a doughnut to resemble a bike tyre. The pastry is sliced through the middle and filled with a light and creamy hazelnut praline. Back then, the cyclists competing in the race would snack on these sweet treats (a far cry form the carb gels that pro cyclists have nowadays), but now they are available in most patisseries in France.

To watch the how to make Choux Pastry video click here

Choux Pastry:

Ingredients:

  • 125g water
  • 125g full fat milk
  • 10g caster sugar
  • 10g salt
  • 110g unsalted butter
  • 135 plain flour
  • 245g free range eggs, about 5 eggs

Method:

  1. Preheat oven at 180 degrees Celsius.
  2. In a deep sauce pan bring the milk, water, sugar, salt and butter to the boil.
  3. Once the butter has melted, take the sauce pan off the heat and ad the sifted flour. Return the pot to the heat and dry the choux pastry for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Transfer the choux pastry to a mixing bowl and add the eggs one a time, make to incorporate each egg before adding another one, you can use an electric mixer like a Kitchen Aid with the paddle attachment to make it easier.
  5. Using a piping bag, pipe the choux pastry in a ring shape, brush the top with egg wash and sprinkle with coarsely chopped almond.
  6. Bake in hot oven for 40 minutes.

Hazelnut Praline:

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Ingredients:

  • 135g hazelnuts
  • 90g caster sugar

Method:

  1. Toast the hazelnuts in the oven.
  2. Make a dry caramel with the sugar, make it the same way you would for a normal caramel but without water.
  3. Pour the caramel over the toasted hazelnut and leave to cool.
  4. Blitz the hazelnut in a food processor until you have a smooth paste.

Crème Pâtissière:

Ingredients:

  • 180g milk
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 40g egg yolk, 2-3 yolk
  • 30g caster sugar
  • 20g corn flower
  • 15g butter

Method:

  1. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until slightly white. Then add the corn flour and whisk until mixed through.
  2. Bring the milk and vanilla pod, seeds scrapped out, to the boil.
  3. Pour the hot milk over the eggs and whisk until dissolved. Cook over medium heat until it start to boil, then cook for a further 1 minutes.
  4. Transfer the crème into a clean bowl, cover with glad wrap and leave to cool in the fridge. Make sure the glad wrap touches the crème!

Crème Mousseline Praliné:

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Ingredients:

  • 90g unsalted butter, soft
  • 255g crème patissière
  • 40g hazelnut Praline
  • 40g Hazelnut paste
  • pinch of slat flakes

Method:

  1. Whisk the crème patissière until smooth, then add the hazelnut paste, hazelnut praline, salt flake and whish until combine.
  2. Add the soft butter little bit a the time and whisk for 3-4 minute until homogenized.

Build the Paris-Brest:

Method:

  1. Cut the choux pastry in half, so you have two rings.
  2. Sprinkle hazelnut praline and toasted almonds on the bottom half
  3. Using a piping bag with the star nozzle, pipe the crème mousseline on the bottom half.
  4. Put the top part of the ring back on and sprinkle with icing sugar!

Enjoy straight away for dessert or afternoon tea!

Bastille Day Dessert: Grand Marnier Soufflé

Grand Marnier Soufflé serve 4

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What’s wonderful about the soufflé is that because the basic recipe can be adapted to include any flavour you like, sweet or savoury, you can really make the dish your own. I’ve chosen it as the dessert for my Bastille Day feast this year and because July is in Winter here in the southern hemisphere, I’m flavouring it with oranges, both the real stuff and a splash of Grand Marnier for good measure.

Soufflé had a reputation for intimidating the most avid cooks, due to the fact that you never know whether it’s going to be an epic success or failure until the moment you take it out the oven and gingerly place in onto the serving plate. But as they say you’ve got to risk it to get the biscuit (or the soufflé in this case), so role up your sleeves, take careful note of the instructions and you’ll be set for sweet success.

For the Crème Pâtissière:

Ingredients:

  • 3 egg yolk
  • 25g plain flour
  • 65g caster sugar
  • 250ml full fat milk
  • 2 orange zest
  • 1 vanilla pod, seeded
  • 5cl Grand Marnier

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Method:

  1. Bring the milk, orange zest and vanilla skin to the boil.
  2. Meanwhile whisk the yolk, sugar and vanilla seed together.
  3. Add the flour to the mix and whisk until combined.
  4. Pour the hot milk over the eggs and mix well so that all the ingredients are combined.
  5. Pour the mix back in the sauce pan and cook on medium heat while whisking until it start to thicken, then cook for a further 5 minutes while whisking.
  6. Pour the crème pâtissière in a clean bowl add the Grand Marnier and whisk until combined. Cover with cling film, make sure the film is in direct contact with the crème to prevent the formation of a skin, then put in the fridge to cool down.

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For the moulds:

  • Brush the moulds with soft unsalted butter, making sure to cover the entire surface. Place them in the fridge to set the butter.
  • Once the first layer has set repeat the process once more, then dust the moulds with caster sugar.

For the soufflé:

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Ingredients:

  • 4 egg whites
  • 55g caster sugar

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven a 240 degrees Celsius.
  2. Whisk the egg whites to soft peak in an electric blender, a good way to know if they’re ready is to tip the bowl upside down if it doesn’t fall off, it’s ready!
  3. Slowly add the sugar while whisking on medium speed and whisk for a couple of minutes or until the sugar is combined.
  4. Mix ¼ of the egg white with the crème pâtissière and whisk to loosen the mix.
  5. Add the rest of the egg whites and gently fold everything together.
  6. Gently spoon the soufflé mix in each mold, gently tap the mold on the bench to avoid leaving any air bubble and smooth the top of the soufflé with a palette knife.
  7. Bake the soufflé for 8-10 minutes at 240 degrees.
  8. Dust the top of the soufflé with icing sugar and serve straight away!

 

 

Back to Basics: Choux Pastry

Back to Basics: Choux Pastry

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As we know them today, Choux pastry was created by a pâtissier named Avice in the 18th century. They were named as such because they looked like little cabbages and the French word for cabbage is “choux”. The original recipe though is thought to have been created in the mid-sixteenth century by an Italian chef in the service of Catherine de Medici.

Choux pastry is one of the quintessential French recipes. The pastry itself is quite easy to make but it’s what you do with it that contains the ‘WOW’ factor. The show-stopping French wedding cake, the Croquembouche, is a tower made of choux pastries, covered with caramel and spun sugar. Profiteroles, éclairs and churros all use the same basic choux recipe and as well as gougères, which are a savoury option, filled with cheese.

For something simpler, why not try filling them with my delicious orange and vanilla crème pâtissière and coating them in a crunchy caramel topping. They will make the perfect dessert to share with friends or family after a delicious meal or to entertain guests at an afternoon tea party!

To watch the how to video on my YouTube channel, click Here

Choux4_lefermier_260615

Makes approx. 36 Choux

Ingredients:

  • 500ml water
  • 200g Butter (unsalted), diced
  • 300g Plain Flour
  • 8 Eggs

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Method:

  1. Bring the water and butter to the boil.
  2. Once the butter is completely melted, reduce the heat to medium, add the flour and stir well with a wooden spoon.
  3. Cook the dough for a few minutes to dry it a little bit, this process take should take about 3-4 minutes.
  4. Transfer the dough into an electric mixer bowl and mix on medium speed with the paddle attachment to cool it down. The dough should just warm before you add the eggs.
  5. Start adding the eggs one at a time while mixing.
  6. Once the eggs are all mixed through, transfer the mix into a piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle.
  7. Line a couple of flat baking tray with greaseproof paper and pipe 2cm circle on the tray, make sure you leave about 1cm between each choux.
  8. Bake at 200 degrees for 20-25 minutes, the choux should sound hollow and feel a little hard when you press them between your fingers.
  9. Once cooked place them on a cooling rack and leave to cool.

Crème Patissière (French Custard)

Ingredients:

  • 40g Plain flour
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 500ml Full Fat milk
  • 4 free range egg yolks
  • 2 vanilla pods, seeds out
  • 2 orange zest
  • 20ml cointreau

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Method:

  1. Bring the milk, orange zest, Cointreau and vanilla pods to the boil.
  2. In the meantime, whisk the yolks, sugar and vanilla seeds together. Then add the flour and whisk until combined.
  3. Pour the milk over the egg mixture and whisk well until everything is mixed through.
  4. Return the pot to the stove and cook on medium heat while whisking until it thickens up. Once it starts boiling cook it for about 3 minutes more.
  5. Pour the crème patissière into a bowl, place a layer of glad wrap directly on top of it and leave to cool completely in the fridge.

Caramel:

Ingredients:

  • 125g caster sugar
  • 15cl water
  • 100g pearl or hail sugar (for the finishing)

Method:

  1. Mix the water and sugar together in small saucepan and cook the sugar until it becomes golden brown, and then take it off the heat.

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Finishing the choux:

  • Make a small hole in the bottom of each choux using the end a pen.
  • Pipe the custard in the choux using a piping bag fitted with a nozzle.
  • Dip the top of the choux in the caramel and the Pearl sugar.