Spring is almost here. I could not be more excited!
As a child, spring brought mud puddles, thunderstorms and tulips. Tulips are a garden staple here in Michigan. You know that spring is here to stay when tulips begin to pop through the cold winter soil. The tulips haven't shown up yet, and there is still a thin layer of snow in our front yard, but that doesn't mean I can't celebrate spring's impending arrival with a classic spring dessert.
Profiteroles, or cream puffs as they are called here in the states, are a classic French dessert. You will most likely find them filled with a sweet whipped cream and garnished with a dusting of powdered sugar or hard caramel. My favorite is the latter version. I vividly remember going to the patisserie in Paris, and blissfully enjoying this light and filling pastry. I love the chewy texture of the Pâte à Choux (cream puff dough) the soft cream filling and the crunchy texture of the hard caramel glaze.
Pâte à Choux was one of the first desserts that I made and photographed after acquiring my first DSLR camera. It was also the first time that I realized that becoming a pastry chef may be well suited to me. Pâte à Choux may look daunting, but if you follow the steps to creating it, it is a very simple dough with extraordinary results. The dough is very elastic and sticky, but once you pipe out those little rounds and place them in the oven a little bit of magic happens. When the dough hits the hot air, the profiterole (cream puff) dough begins to rise to form a "puff", enabling you to fill them with a sweet and delicious filling of your choice. Be sure to bake them until they sound hollow when baking sheet is lightly tapped on, or they will deflate and you will ultimately have flat cream puffs (a lesson I learned once or twice).
Almonds and vanilla are a match made in heaven. Tahitian vanilla beans, fresh roasted almonds and sweet cream provide a decadent base for the second part of a scrumptious recipe I guarantee you will drool over. You may wonder what I am talking about... creamy, rich and decadent almond vanilla whipped cream. So deceptively simple to prepare, but impossible to resist.
Roses are red, violets are blue, Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching, I’m ready--are you? Dinner reservations, store bought candy and jewelry are certainly appreciated and show us that you care, but nothing is sweeter than homemade cupcakes!
Do you remember the vanilla candied lemon post, and how beautiful those bright yellow lemons looked in the jar? Did you look at those vanilla candied lemons and think, "I should make those!"? Maybe you made them, and now they stare at you every time you open the fridge door. You wonder, "What in the world am I going to do with these?" I have just the solution: lucious mini-lemon cheesecakes with vanilla candied lemon slices.
It's cold here in Michigan, but that won’t stop me from bringing a bit of sunshine inside! Last year at this time, we were on our way from sunny southern California to live in snowy Western Michigan. Although I love living closer to family and friends, there are parts of California that I do miss, especially when the snow falls here and the temperatures hover near freezing.
Living in Southern California bring days full of sun and warmth, palm trees, the smell of the ocean and shaved ice! Shaved ice carts are abundant near the boardwalks of the ocean. You can choose from a multitude of syrups and holding the snow cone in your hand brings you back to the days of the Snoopy Sno-Cone Machine.
You have spent all day shopping for the perfect gifts to give to love ones and family. Upon arriving at home you have to create a perfect dinner for your guests, make the house presentable and, oh yes, you need to end your perfect dinner with a delectable dessert!
My husband is not a dessert fan, which always bewilders friends and acquaintances when they learn I am a pastry chef. He would happily eat pizza in place of dessert any day. Me, on the other hand, I could live on sweets and vegetables. One of the few desserts that he loves is chocolate cream pie; I can see the allure that it has for him. Rich creamy chocolate mousse, sweet flaky pie dough topped with sweet whipped cream. What a perfect dessert!
Today I received an email from one of my favorite retailers. It stated that they will not be decking the halls until November 27th. They stated that the Thanksgiving holiday is a time for their employees and customers to give thanks for all they are blessed with, and that decking the halls takes away from the holiday. I have to agree. As a child I have wonderful memories of gathering around the thanksgiving table with family. Each family member was blessed with the task of bringing one dish to pass. Our family was so big that we had to set up dinner in my grandparents' basement on the biggest table they owned -- the ping pong table. There was nothing extraordinary about the table until Thanksgiving Day. It was beautifully transformed with white linens, fine china, flowers and candles. A buffet table of saw horses and boards was constructed close to the table and expertly transformed into an elegant buffet with table linens and silver platters. As we gathered around the table, I remember thinking that it seemed as though no time had passed since the last Thanksgiving. I silently gave thanks for having such a great extended family and family traditions.
Imagine yourself driving down a curving mountain highway. The scenery is breathtaking, and the road treacherous. As you approach the base of the mountainous highway you look to your right and spy acres and acres of citrus groves. If you are lucky, it is early spring and the trees are blossoming. There is no more heavenly smell than citrus blossoms. You roll down your window, and breathe in the sweet and citrusy aroma of the blossoms. A farm stand approaches in the horizon, which prompts you to stop and procure a bag full of farm grown lemons and oranges.