Office Bytes | Holiday Eggnog Bombe

| Holidays

Happy holidays! My 2015 new year’s resolution is to establish a new Milo’s Bonbons website/storefront (with a blog section to keep providing updates of course). But before we bid farewell to 2014, here is one more post from the holiday season — my plated dessert version of the classic eggnog.

This bombe is made with a rum crème brûlée tucked inside a crème anglaise Bavarian cream dome, on top of a cinnamon nutmeg shortbread. I plated this with a pear compote, shortbread crumbs and a curled wafer for my office holiday party potluck. This dessert was great while it was still cold and semi-frozen. Admittedly once it hit room temperature, I thought the flavors and textures were a little flat. (Certainly not as interesting as my original incarnation of this dessert as a citrus margarita bombe, which I created for my pastry school plated dessert project. I’ll recap that project shortly!) Then again, I don’t actually consume eggnog so I’m probably not the best judge for what eggnog should taste like . . .

But, this was a good opportunity to practice the preparation and service of a plated dessert. Main takeaway: stick with simple baked goods for an office potluck to avoid sleep deprivation.

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Baby Shower | Congrats Amy & Tim!

| Baby Showers

I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Amy since elementary school, and her husband Tim since they began dating in college. I think I speak for all of their friends when I say, I can’t wait for mini-Amy to arrive in November!!

To celebrate their upcoming baby girl, I made cake pops (a first for me) and cupcakes as party favors for guests to take home.

The cake pops are a browned butter pistachio financier, made with ground pistachios, flour, egg whites, and browned butter.

I brushed the cake with raspberry simple syrup and coated with white chocolate coating chocolate. It turns out you can make the spherical shapes of cake pops either by baking in a spherical mode, or pressing cake pieces into that shape. The latter results in a fudgier texture, and I might have gone that route if I had such a pressing mold. For these, I figured the financier would have sufficient density and texture.

It’s a bit tricky to put the right amount of batter in the mold to make sure it fills the full sphere when baking but not push the molds apart. Fortunately I had enough successful pieces to meet the guest count 🙂

The cupcakes are a play off of the Beau Soleil cake I made recently.

For the cake, I made a cinnamon swirl sour cream cake, brushed with orange simple syrup, filled with peach curd, and topped with mascarpone mousse.

Then I drizzled with honey and sprinkled with some praline. Although it used many of the same ingredients as the cake, it was delicious in its own way.

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Pastry School Recap | Unit 3 – Puff Pastry

| Uncategorized

I love puff pastry. Maybe because, like pâte à choux, mechanical leavening is involved. In class, we made paillettes, or twisted straws, flavored either with cinnamon sugar, or cheese and spices. However, I was never quite satisfied with the version we made in class, for reasons I’ll explain below. Fortunately, last Christmas when I went home to Orange County, I came across a new bakery in Brea, CA called Merely Sweets. To my pleasant surprise, I discovered on their website that the owner is a graduate of the New York campus of my school (f/k/a French Culinary Institute)! No wonder I seemed to recognize most of the desserts in the shop, including cinnamon twists that looked much better than what we made in class.

I was inspired to experiment with new methods to achieve the fatter and more robust twists that Merely Sweets had. I think the result, as seen in the photo above, was much more successful than the ones from class (see photo below).

Instead of twisting a single strip of puff pastry dough upon itself as done in class, which I think overworks the dough and results in a harder, denser stick, I cut a longer strip, put the flavoring on one side, folded the strip on itself, and then twist the folded strip. Then, I sprinkled the outer surface with turbinado/raw sugar for extra flavor and crunch. (You can do the same thing with cheese and spices too.) The problem with twisting a single strip upon itself is that on one hand, you want to twist it tightly enough to hold its twisted shape while baking (instead of unraveling), and on the other hand, you want it twisted just loose enough to give the stick some room to puff up. It just doesn’t quite work out and the exposed flavoring also tends to burn.

On the whole, puff pastry might have been my favorite unit of pastry school. Learning the technical side of puff pastry demystified the pastry and made so many diverse desserts accessible to me. It takes some amount of work to prepare the dough, and a whole lot of waiting time in between turns of the dough (rolling and folding the dough), not to mention the long waiting time for the dough to chill. But once the dough is made, it’s like a versatile, magic play-dough.

Some examples from Unit 3:

Napoleon Strip: my favorite dessert
Gâteau Pithivier: puff pastry filled with frangipane (a pastry cream / almond cream mixture)
Vols-au-vent: classic hors d’oeuvre vessel for sweet and savory fillings
Fruit Strip (bar tart): fresh pineapples and ground pistachios
Caged Poached Pears:
Apricot Galette:
Chocolate Palmiers: displayed only for demonstrative purposes; I otherwise never recommend making or eating chocolate puff pastry (not tasty)
Apple Dartois: apple compote in a lattice
Unit Exam: round napoleon, vols-au-vent, apple galettes
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