Hope to See You there…

I will be at the Valentine’s Day Pop up  Market in Corktown. I will have handmade marshmallows, nutella puffs, pb puffs, french macarons and sea salt caramels. Lots of great indie vendors selling their wares a great way to shop local.

vlntnsdy market poster

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Here’s where I’ll be in Friday!

Here's where I'll be in Friday!

I will have macarons, sea salt caramels, salted caramel popcorn and some other goodies in tow.

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Pie in the November sky

Pie crust.  Golden flaky delicious.  You make my heart sing, wild thing.  Ok no but really.  I recently taught a class where a lady said to me that she always bought her crust and nobody knew the difference(This is where I keep quiet).  Then we proceeded to make crust from scratch  and she saw  with her own eyes the difference and then she knew her family wasn’t telling her what they really thought! She could taste the difference herself.

It isn’t hard people really, You CAN do it!

 The trick with pie crust is to not overwork it.  The butter should be frozen to start that way it won’t blend so much that it makes the dough sticky and wet.I personally love my food processor for the job but you can do this by hand.  Look at the dough that is rolled out, you can see actual pieces of butter, that is what you want to create those golden flaky layers as the dough bakes.  As the season to bake pies is upon us I urge you to try your hand at this recipe from Rose Levy Berenbaum.  It is my favorite, user friendly and delicious.  Need it gluten free?  Substitute the all purpose flour with your favorite gluten free flour mix.

Feel the flaky force!  See the layers?  That is the textural difference between cardboard crust and the real deal the way Grandma used to make before she went to the giant box store and bought a frozen pie!

What you’ll need:
8 Tbsp frozen butter, cut into half-inch cubes
1 1/3 cups of all purpose flour
1/8 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp baking powder (use Rumford or another non-aluminum variety)
1 1/2  tsp cider vinegar Plus 2 1/2-3 1/2 Tbs of ice water

How to make the dough:
1) Using a processor fitted with a metal blade, blend flour, salt, and baking powder.
2) Add butter cubes and pulse until dough forms peanut-size balls.
3) Add water and vinegar and pulse until butter is the size of small peas.
4) Scrape dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Place the dough into a plastic bag, and shape the dough into a flat disc.
6) Wrap and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes before rolling.

Here are two tips for success:  1)You must chill the crust for at least 30 mins before you bake so it will hold its nice shape and lovely edge. 2) If you are going to bake it blind(with beans in it) then do so at 425 for 20, then take out the beans and bake it 15 minutes more. I didn’t bake blind for the pumpkin pie but other fruit pies I would because of all the juices it can go soggy quick.

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This guy scared the daylights out of me when I was a kid, but the movie was definitely an influence on my future as a pastry chef. I just love the thought of all that CANDY!

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Brazil 2012

So it has been about 8 years since my last trip to Brazil.  My husband is from southern Brazil so when our kids were young and before 9/11 we traveled quite frequently to see family and friends.  This trip was unusual in that it is the first time in 24 years there weren’t children in tow that needed entertaining.  So I had time to really see things.  The economic boom that is going on right now in Brazil is illustrated in some strange ways.  So many cars on the roads, yet very little wifi.  Similarly in Europe people just don’t have the same access we have here.  Maybe we are spoiled and inundated with info 24/7.  But one thing that hasn’t changed are the sweets…you knew I was going there!  Marta Rocha is her name and she was Miss Brasil in 1954, this cake is an homage to the second runner up for Miss Universe.  While there are many variations, and trust me I make a mission to try as many as I can.  This one was excellent…Brazilian cakes are quite soft and the fillings very sweet.  The prune layer is in a simple syrup.  The yellow layer is egg yolks cooked with sugar, a pastry cream.  The white layer is meringue.  Really delicious!  I tasted this at Neisa which is located in Bage a town in Rio Grande do Sul.

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Pastry Theme song?

Mick, you remind of dessert all dressed in pink like a macaron, go on with your BAD self!

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If Walter White were a pastry chef…

One of the things I love about working as a pastry chef is the accuracy.  I know this is the one thing that puts most people off,  to me it’s taking variables away on the road to desired results.  I admire Walter White’s commitment to the best product he can produce using his chemistry skills (ok it’s crystal meth which I don’t advocate and people tend to get killed!).  When he gets to work in the shiny new lab under the laundry facility(spoiler! seriously you haven’t watched Season 3 yet? Giddy UP) his excitement is palpable. I feel the same way about a new gadget #newkitchenaidmixercomingsoon !!

Reading a recipe is only part of the process.  If  5 people make a recipe chances are you will get 5 different results.  If the ingredients are not scaled properly and the instructions are not concise the results will be unpredictable.  Which is why good cookbook authors test their recipes over and over.  Sometimes when pastry chefs cut a recipe down for the home cook the measurements get out of kilter, because they make large quantities by weight and they cut it down volume measurements(cups and Tbs).

French Macarons are showing up in places like never before!  Is this the love affair with all things French?  I believe it is, many people in the classes I teach have eaten them in Paris. I am starting a countdown to see when and if Starbucks will get in on that action.  There are many recipes out there and while some people have beginners luck accuracy is essential. I can’t say I have conquered this as I still have disasters (so many variables and a humid day will bear down on you!)  I will soldier on until I have 99% purity just like Walter White!

Stick to the formula!

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