What I baked this week…

Frangipane Pear Tart

Pear Frangipane Tart

This week, I made more delicious pastries, and my loved ones that live in LA were all smiles and very happy as a result.  Of all the baked goods I made in this class, I loved the Pear Frangipane Tart and the Cheesecake with the Berry filling from the American Berry Pie the most.  The Pear Frangipane Tart was also Peyman’s favorite of all my baked goods.

Friday’s conclusion of my first baking class was bittersweet.  I’m happy that I won’t intake as many calories every week, however, ending every meal with a rich and sweet confection was wonderful…I will miss my variety of sweet goodness.

IMG_0075My friend, Erica, is having a birthday gathering on Friday.  I think she’d appreciate and enjoy it, so I’ll either take a fig frangipane or a pear frangipane tart to the party.  I also think I’ll make this tart for every major holiday until my loved ones get tired of it.  What I love so much about the Pear Frangipane tart is the combination of flavors.  The pears were poached in red wine with and some interesting spices such as cardamom, black peppercorns, cinnamon stick, vanilla bean, cloves…then they were soaked over the weekend in the liquid, which made them even more potent and exciting.  The filling of the tart is a rich almond base with a hint of vanilla and rum and zest of lemon.  It’s not terribly sweet but it is sweet.  When paired along with the deep, full-bodied flavor of the poached pears, it is sublime!  Really, it’s so good that it sends shivers down me spine.

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Cookie Platter: Palmiers, Linzer Jewel Cookies, Linzer Window Cookies, Chocolate Chip Cookies with Pecans

My holiday cookie platters don’t normally look like this.  I had to space the cookies out on my class cookie platter well enough so that when a party-goer picks up a cookie, he/she would not touch a neighboring cookie.  This was not the final cookie platter that I put together.  At the last minute, I replaced the Palmiers with a version that was less brown and carmelized.  Before I could take a picture of the final cookie platter, I took a bite out of the paler cookies.  They were very nice.  My chef instructor told me I made the right move- Palmiers shouldn’t be this dark.  I made more than a dozen of each of the cookies.  I ate about 5 total this week and gave the rest away.  I think they may all be eaten by now.

My very first Lemon Meringue Tart.

My very first Lemon Meringue Tart.

Growing up, my sister, Janet, would make lemon meringue pie.  In high school, she worked at Sears department store so that she could buy her own stuff, including ingredients for this special treat of hers.  I remember trying the filling and not enjoying it.  I’m not a big fan of very sweet and tart desserts, so this was my first crack at making a lemon meringue pie.  I was inexperienced with the tips and wished I had used another.  Below, is the lemon meringue tart I made for my final.  I was pleased with it.  My chef instructor told me the filling was very good, the peaks of the meringue were very nice, like kisses, but I need to watch the tips… if they burn or catch on fire, I need to remove the charred tips.  Hahaha… I was in such a hurry during the final, I noticed the burned tips, and don’t understand why I didn’t remove them… I guess I thought that she probably wouldn’t have noticed.

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Cream Puffs with Sweetened Chantilly Cream and Strawberries

Cream Puffs with Sweetened Chantilly Cream and Strawberries

Pate A Choux means “Cabbage Paste”… it’s what we use for cream puffs and eclairs.  I had such a great time making cream puffs and eclairs.  If I had used the right tip, I would have made these look more dramatic… My chef instructor liked my Chantilly Cream (cream, sugar, and vanilla) and the lightness of the pate choux.  We scooped some macedoine sweetened strawberries into the cream puffs , which I will never do again.  In a cream puff, I think cream is good on it’s own.  If anything, I’d put strawberries and cream on poundcake.

Eclairs

Eclairs

My chef instructor, Chef Knight, liked the mignadise (minature, bite-sized) size of my eclairs.  They were filled with a chilled pastry cream and dipped in chocolate.  They were really good.  You know that saying, “once you pop, you can’t stop”..well, that applied here.  So good.

Meringue Drop Cookies

Meringue Drop Cookies

Meringue Drop Cookies with Japonaise/Meringue Noisette and Coffee Swiss Buttercream

Meringue Drop Cookies with Japonaise/Meringue Noisette and Coffee Swiss Buttercream

My sister, Riva, was very excited about these cookies.  We both think they taste like the Filipinio dessert, sylvana, only with Hazelnut.  If I had a bakery, I’d sell these… they are so sweet though… I’d want to make them smaller in size so as to not overwhelm someone.

American Pie Dough with Berry Filling... American Berry Pie

American Pie Dough with Berry Filling... American Berry Pie

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American pie dough is quite good. It reminds me of Paula Deen because there is lots of butter and shortening in the dough.  This is the biscuit of all pie doughs… it’s nice and flaky and oh so good!  I didn’t think I’d like the pie, but to my surprised, it was so good!  I made a very good filling with about 24 ounces of berries, lemon juice, and sugar.  The berries were perfect and actually went perfect with the cheesecake.

The first cheesecake I ever made

The first cheesecake I ever made

I like cheesecake a lot!  I’ve never made one before because in my past life (my life 3 months ago), I was a health nut (at home).  I used to only eat nonfat dairy products and fake butter…. All has changed… I am now open to eating real butter and real cheese and I almost feel like I’m living again… almost like when I first had organic produce..I’m tasting the real thing and it is so much better than their artificial, mass-produced counterparts.  My key to eating what you want while staying a slim size is to eat in moderation and to get some exercise.  Life is good.  I have no complaints.  I can’t wait till my next baking class!  Baking, I miss you already.

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