Pastries & Tarts
Homemade Chocolate Cherry Soufflé
By now many of you know that I was a chef for many years, a pastry chef to be exact. I loved the fast-paced, creative outlet that working as a chef provided. What I did not like was the 14-hour days, odd hours and lack of time I had to spend with my family and friends. You definitely form a camaraderie, a bond with your kitchen staff, they essentially become your family. Continue reading
A pastry chef that doesn’t really eat sweets, that’s me! Don’t worry, I test everything I create but I simply do not crave sweets. It may stem from the years I spent in commercial kitchens and fine dining restaurants. Hundreds of plated desserts and homemade sweets came out those kitchens over the years, which may explain my lack of desire for the sweet treats. I will let you in on a little secret; I do still have one craving. It has never receded or lessened over the years. Oreos or more specifically, Trader Joe’s Chocolate Jo Jo’s. Just the thought of them makes my stomach growl.
Tangy lemons, buttery crust and light and airy meringue come together in one perfect bite. Lemon meringue tarts are the epitome of summer; bright and cheery. Savor these sweet bites before the summer begins to fade in fall and apple pies and pumpkin donuts slowly replace lemon desserts. I for one am not quite ready for the cool nights, fall leaves and warm spices that fall brings. I think I’ll enjoy what is left of warm summer days and nights while I still can.
What does dark chocolate ganache, sweet pate sucre crust and Himalayan pink salt need to complete this sweet and savory tart? A robust cinnamon and coconut beer from Perrin Brewing Company! No Rules is a porter produced by Perrin utilizing Beanilla extracts and flavorings. Beanilla coconut and cinnamon extracts mingle with a robust porter to create a truly amazing product. Not only is it a pleasure to drink, it is a delight to bake with. If you find yourself venturing into the Grand Rapids area and feel the need to have a truly amazing beer and great brewery cuisine, check out their restaurant and brewery.
The donut—everyone’s favorite guilty pleasure! Cake, yeast, puff pastry, glazed, ganached or even sprinkled, we can’t seem to get enough of this confection. Cake and yeast donuts can be complicated and messy to create at home, but two sheets of puff pastry are the solution to this conundrum. Puff pastry is simple to use, easy and accessible to just about every home cook. Simply place your package of pastry into the fridge overnight to thaw. Once thawed, remove from the fridge and cut into your favorite donut shape. I chose a rectangular cutter, but your shape is only limited by your imagination.
I’m not going to lie, this is a recipe that takes a bit of time to complete. It is the perfect special occasion or dinner party dessert, sure to wow even the pickiest of dessert connoisseurs. The crumbly outer crust is the perfect vehicle for a soft and creamy caramel. The dessert is perfectly rounded out with a layer of rich and creamy chocolate ganache. The addition of our Tonga bean caviar adds a bold flavor and can easily stand up the intense flavors of chocolate and caramel. This type of vanilla will stand up to the fullest flavored desserts.
If you live in any of the cold weather states, you have probably noticed the absence of good quality, seasonal fruits. There are your standard apples, oranges, strawberries and blueberries. Even these selections are shipped in from distant lands, beautifully ripened but void of any flavor. I did run into a small selection of what, I am guessing, is a leftover stock of stored plums at my local grocery store. After picking through a group of obviously-stored-too-long specimens, I found a few pounds of nice looking fruit that would be lovely in a fruit tart. Once baked in a buttery pecan crumb crust, the fruit could once again shine. And shine it did!
Thanksgiving is right around the corner--are you ready? We at Beanilla are so excited for the holiday season! Not only is it our busiest time of the year, but also our favorite. Cookies, pies, candies or just about any baked good or pastry you can create is our forte. The addition of our high quality vanilla beans, extracts, vanilla sugar and vanilla salt can bring your desserts to a whole new level of deliciousness!
Speaking of delicious, who doesn’t love pumpkin pie?! Although this pie only seems to hang around for a brief time during the holiday season, it is almost always a staple on the holiday dinner table. Traditionally baked in a flaky rolled pie crust and garnished with a dollop of creamy whipped cream, the creamy custard-like texture is unique and quintessentially Thanksgiving!
I grew up enjoying classic dense cheesecakes complete with graham cracker crust and a slightly sweet sour cream topping. On special occasions, sweet cherry pie filling would cascade over the side adding to the decadence of the cake. My mother was an accomplished cook and there was always some sort of pastry or dessert in the house. On holidays and special occasions we could count on her creating the most delicious and decadent treats. She made everything from homemade pies to crème filled chocolate cupcakes. The most memorable and often most requested was her sour cream cheesecake.
My husband loves avocados, which was great when we lived in San Diego where fresh avocados were available year round. Finding the perfect ripe avocado that doesn't cost $3.00 proved to be a bit of a challenge here in West Michigan this winter. When the season began again, and the prices dropped to a more reasonable $1.50, I began to think once again about this luscious little fruit. Fresh guacamole is delicious, sliced avocado is lovely and salads of avocado are amazing, but after awhile it becomes a little monotonous. In my quest to discover new ways to use this creamy, delicious fruit, I have found and created a couple new desserts. I know it's hard to grasp, but avocados are delicious in dessert applications! The texture of the fruit makes it easy to blend them into ice cream and whipped creams. My favorite way to use them is in a delicious avocado cream. A simple combination of heavy cream and sugar beaten together with half of an avocado can create a heavenly dessert. Kick it up a notch with a crispy cinnamon sugar tortilla and a delicious currant sauce.
The Florida Mangoes are in season and they are delicious! Fragrant, large, and brightly colored, the Tommy Atkins mango is the most popular variety seen in the grocery stores and at farmers markets. Mangoes are at their peak from June-September.
When picking a mango, choose one that is firm but the outer skin gives when gently pushed. The aroma should be sweet and tropical, and the coloring should be consistent throughout the fruit, ranging from bright red to a deep orange. Mangoes can be utilized in many applications from a savory and spicy mango salsa to a sweet and juicy tropical fruit salad. When in season, the most delicious and unique way to let the fruit shine is in a sweet and creamy mango tart.
Classic blueberry pie is the quintessential summer dessert, and the perfect addition to any barbecue or backyard picnic that you may have planned this summer. This past weekend was the unofficial kickoff to barbecue season. Many of us celebrated the Memorial holiday weekend grilling out with friends and family, while others brought the RV out of storage or dusted off, and aired out their tents. I have beautiful memories of big family picnics packed up and hauled out to the Holland State Park. We would pick the perfect spot for everyone and set up camp. My grandmother always made her famous potato salad and perfectly cooked pasta salad with huge chunks of cheddar cheese. Aluminum foil would be brought out to line the community grills, and burgers and hotdogs would be cooked to perfection. There was never a lack of desserts -- homemade cookies and pies would magically appear from the picnic basket towards the end of the meal. Completely stuffed and happy to relax on our blankets in the sun, we would watch the boats slowly sail through the channel on their way out to bigger bodies of water. I feel very blessed to have such wonderful Michigan summer memories of my childhood. What is your favorite summer holiday memory?
The sun is out, the birds are chirping and the temperature is slowly climbing above freezing. I look out my office window and see the neighbor kids playing basketball in short sleeves, couples walking their dogs and others slowly emerging from winter hibernation. Spring seems to have finally found us!
In celebration of green grass, fresh flowers and bountiful farmers markets to come, I have decided to celebrate with a bright and tangy tart -- a Meyer lemon and orange tart to be precise. Meyer lemons are a specialty lemon that is a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange. They are typically sweeter and less acidic than traditional lemons making them a perfect choice for desserts and pastries.
The beignet is a classic New Orleans breakfast treat. It is a staple in the New Orleans food culture, dating back to the early 1900’s. Café Du Monde is the most famous and well recognized purveyor of beignets, but many bakeries in and around the French quarter have their own recipes for these light and filling breakfast treats.
The easiest and simplest way to describe a beignet is a cross between a rich and dense egg-based French pastry (such as a profiterole) and a classic American yeast donut. The beignet dough is fried to a light golden brown and covered in powdered sugar. They are served in sets of three and brought to your table piping hot. A simple pairing of a classic café au lait with your beignet, and you will feel as though you are transported to French Quarter café.
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.
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