January 22, 2016 § Leave a comment
Trust the French to come up with easy yet delicious recipes to indulge your sweet tooth on a daily (watch your waistline!!) basis!
The popular “Gateau au yaourt” or Yogurt Cake is simple and wonderfully adaptable. With the same basic ingredients and a single measuring tool, you can produce yummy desserts in a flash and with minimal clean up!
SWEETTABLESCAPES pulled this recipe from a French book “Simple comme un gateau au yaourt” (“As simple as a yogurt cake”). It is a perfect cake for a cold, January afternoon when you need a slice of sweetness with your coffee, tea or hot chocolate.
We chose the Chocolate Cake with Honey and Spices and fell in love at first bite!
The fun part here is that you’re using a simple yogurt (single serve) container to measure most of the ingredients. The one we used is the equivalent to 1/2 cup, so feel free to use your regular kitchen measuring tools too.
1 TBsp honey
1 tsp pepper, 1 tsp ginger, 1 tsp cinnamon and 1 tsp nutmeg
2 TBsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 jar ( or 1/2 cup) plain yogurt (we used Fage 2%)
4 whole eggs
2 jars (1 cup) sugar
1 jar (1/2 cup) sunflower or vegetable oil
3 jars (1 and 1/2 cups) flour
1 tsp baking powder
Preheat oven to 350F
In a large bowl, mix spices, honey and 1 jar yogurt.
Add 4 eggs and mix thoroughly.
Add 2 jars sugar and mix.
Add 3 jars flour, tsp baking powder and 2 TBsp unsweetened cocoa powder and mix. Add 1 jar of oil. Mix thoroughly.
Pour batter into buttered 9-inch cake pan or, like us, use mini loaf pans or, even better: decorative paper cups:
Bake for 45 minutes (large pan) or 1/2 hour for mini loaves, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. This cake is really delicious, with a subtle spice-and-chocolate flavor.
January 14, 2016 § Leave a comment
Want an easy, natural and simply beautiful way to decorate your cakes, cupcakes or even parfaits? Buy some fresh, edible and free-of-pesticide flowers and candy them yourself. They keep for many months and will be ready when you need that little something special to decorate your baked goods. SWEETTABLESCAPES grabbed a package of flowers last spring during a visit to Restaurant Depot and got to work…
There were about 60 pansies, varying in size, in our package. It cost $10.
1 large egg white with a 1/2 to 1 tsp water and 1 cup superfine sugar were all that’s needed to candy all the flowers and it took a good 2 hours. Plan ahead and allow yourself time and patience AND remember you’ll have a beautiful batch of candied flowers in the end!!
Cover a cookie rack with wax paper.
Let dry until no moisture is left at all and flowers are “hard”.
At this point, they are brittle, fragile and must be handled with care. Store them in airtight container layered on wax paper for 6 months or more. Or decorate your cupcakes for a beautiful Mother’s Day treat!!
January 7, 2016 § Leave a comment
Growing up in France, January was the month for the tasty “galette des rois”. A traditional puff pastry galette filled with “frangipane” and hiding a small trinket, this cake would be enjoyed by most families several times in the course of the month. Whether at their home or at a friend’s house or just during a friendly gathering, the galette is THE dessert in January. The lucky guest who finds the trinket in his or her slice is declared king or queen for the day and wears the paper crown that comes with the cake.
The Kings or Magi, it refers to are of course the three Wise Men (Balthazar, Melchior and Caspar) who, we are told, arrived to baby Jesus bearing gifts (Gold, Myrrh, Incense) on January 6th.
I have been making this for my family for many, many years (see here and here) and we cherish the annual appearance of the galette at our table. It is an easy and delicious dessert but reserved for those who do not have a nut allergy, since “frangipane’s” main ingredient is ground almonds.
Here is my go-to recipe:
1 1/2 cups blanched almonds, finely ground
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
300g puff pastry (Dufour is an excellent choice)
Roll out half of pastry dough (you can use leftover for a small tart or to decorate top of your galette) and cut the shape with an inverted tart pan.
Make your “frangipane” filling:
Mix ground almonds with butter until smooth, add sugar, vanilla, egg, (one TBsp of rum if you wish) and almond extract. Mix thoroughly until smooth.
Pour and spread on your circle of dough and add your “feve”. We chose from our collection…
(DO NOT GIVE TO VERY YOUNG CHILDREN : CHOKING HAZARD!!) If you do not have a feve, use a dry bean and still be careful with young children!
Cover with second pastry dough circle. Squeeze edges shut with your fingers. Cut out small shapes to decorate top.
Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. While pie is refrigerated, preheat oven to 350F.
Spread eggwash (one egg and a tbsp water) onto the pie.
Bake for 30 minutes or until golden.
Slice and serve! (In France, the younger child will usually sit under the table and blindly choose the person to whom each slice should be given to. The distribution MUST be random so everyone has a chance to become king or queen!!
ENJOY and HAPPY EPIPHANY!
January 5, 2016 § Leave a comment
Had enough of your holiday baking? Can’t stand to look at another 15-step recipe and hours of work in the kitchen? Well, here is a fail-proof and sure-to-delight French classic you must add to your repertoire, if you haven’t done so already!! “Pate a chou” is a basic recipe you must try. It is extremely easy and can help you produce what will surely be your most popular hors-d’oeuvres or desserts (We mean Gougeres for the savory version or Profiteroles and Chouquettes for the sweet ones). Trust us when we say you should always double your recipe because these will go at the speed of light. These miniature puffs are just too easy to eat, too light and fluffy and just plain too delicious!
We made this Thyme recipe (Bon Appetit, October 2011) for Thanksgiving and they vanished…
Servings: Makes about 55
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- Large pinch of cayenne pepper
- Large pinch of kosher salt
- 1 cup plus 3 Tbsp. grated Gruyère
- 1/2 cup grated Asiago
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves plus more for garnish
- 5 large eggs
Preheat oven to 400°. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Bring butter and 1 cup water to a boil in a large heavy saucepan. Remove from heat. Add flour, cayenne, and salt; stir vigorously to blend. Return to heat; stir vigorously over medium heat until mixture forms a ball and a thin, dry film forms on bottom and sides of pan, about 1 minute. Transfer mixture to a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add 1 cup Gruyère, Asiago, and 2 tsp. thyme; beat on low speed to blend. Add 4 eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each egg between additions, and scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
Spoon dough into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2″ tip or a plastic bag with 1/2″ cut diagonally from 1 corner. Pipe dough onto prepared baking sheets in 1″–1 1/4″ rounds, spacing 1″ apart. Whisk remaining egg with 1 Tbsp. water in a small bowl. Brush egg wash lightly over rounds, patting down to form rounded tops. Sprinkle with remaining 3 Tbsp. Gruyère. Garnish each with a few thyme leaves.
Bake gougères until puffed and golden brown and centers are cooked through but still moist, 20–25 minutes. Let cool slightly and serve. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 month ahead. Let cool completely. Store airtight in freezer. Rewarm in 325° oven until hot, 10–15 minutes.
NOTE: do believe that these will go fast. We are not kidding when we say you should double the recipe. These cloud-like bite-size puffs will delight your guests!!! ENJOY!