Baking Chez Moi
Recipes from My Paris Home to Your Home Anywhere
Like many children, baking was my entry into the world of cooking. Who doesn't like making chocolate chip cookies? (Dibs on licking the beaters, obviously). Yes, I am writing about a baking cookbook in February, when willpower for New Year’s resolutions is already waning. But homemade baking is enjoyed any time and is fine in moderation. If your resolution is to be more popular, so much the better. So I urge you to check out Dorie Greenspan's latest, Baking Chez Moi.
Dorie Greenspan is an award winning cookbook author who splits her time between Paris and the United States. She translates French recipes for North American kitchens without losing their authenticity or “je ne sais quoi”. Her descriptions conjure up images of Parisian dining rooms and casual soirees. This book is devoted to French home desserts. Contrary to what you might think, French cooks do not make fancy gateaux at home – that’s what the patisserie is for. But there is plenty of room left for baking enthusiasts.
The book contains new versions of French classics (try toasted buckwheat and chopped chocolate sables, pistachio and raspberry financiers and classic Tarte Tropezienne). There are also French twists on American classics (how about chocolate whoopie pies with peanut butter filling, caramel topped rice pudding cake, loaf cakes speckled with salted chocolate chunks).
I first tried the Brown Butter Vanilla Bean Cake. Simple to make and deceptively plain, the nutty brown butter, vanilla and the hint of cognac all married together beautifully. A perfect pairing with coffee or tea.
Next I made the Pear Tart with Crunchy Almond Topping. The sweet, crunchy almond topping was a nice juxtaposition with the soft pears and the sweet crust. However, I thought the pears lacked flavour and the tart fell apart when I cut it. I would suggest cooking the pears at a higher heat to caramelize them, and adding additional flavouring. I would also serve it warm rather than room temperature.
For New Year’s Eve, I went for broke with Profiteroles, Ice Cream and Hot Chocolate Sauce. This one was a winner. Stuffed with rich vanilla pastry cream, the profiteroles were not too sweet and were a great match with bittersweet chocolate sauce and ice cream. This was fun to make and eat – I had a number of helpers for both. It was not too difficult and the components could be made in advance. Note - I watched a few videos for a visual demonstration of how to shape and stuff the cream puffs which I found helpful.
I was inspired by these recipes and you will be too. Recommended? Yes, for all aspiring home pastry chefs out there, young and old.