Now that I am working full time in pastry, and it is a tough job, I still try to take on the odd pastry job. I have two wonderful personal chefs that often call on me for desserts. I'm very thankful to have their patronage. In my new job at Whole Foods, I am given some creative license, but within defined boundries. I get to decide how I want to decorate or top the cheesecakes, ect, but I don't get to improvise on the bases of the cakes/recipes. However JJ and Rich give me oppurtunities to "color outside the lines" pastry speaking. Sometimes there will be specific requests from their clients, but more often I get to suggest ideas. It's kinda nice to get paid to "play".
I most recently made some desserts for a dinner party for Rich. I was given the instructions to have fun and be creative, oh and included some chococlate. Piece of cake! I spent some time going through my recipes, looking at books and trying to create a dessert menu that could be made a day ahead, and include a variety of flavors. I also started looking at what I already had on hand since I will be moving again soon, and need to clear out my pantry. There were also a few recipes I had been wanting to make and this gave me a great occassion to do so.
Here is what I came up with:
Chocolate Almond Creme Tart with Port Poached Pears and Port Syrup
Bourbon Pecan Bars with Cherries and Chocolate
(these are especially good warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top!)
Espresso Chocolate Chip Shortbread
Orange Zest and Grand Marnier Madeleines.
I did not take a photo of the last two items, but they were lovely. I'm hoping Rich put some nice fresh berries on top of the Charlotte, as I did not have time to run out and buy some. Raspberries or Blueberries would have added the perfect splash of color and gone great with the tart lemon mousse filling.
Mini Lemon Charlotte
I had some left over Lady finger pieces and lemon curd so I made a nice Tart Baby Charlotte. This one I spread a layer of the Lemon Curd in first, then topped it with a layer of creamy Lemon Mousse, bits of candied Lemon rind and some White Chocolate shavings. Mmmmm tart and tasty.
I think Charlottes may become my new obsession. Lady Fingers are so simple and fun to make. They are so light and delicate and pretty when coated with sugar or cocoa powder if making a Charlotte with Chocolate. I love lining my cake rings with them and then filling them like little baskets. Often you will see Charlottes wrapped with a little ribbon. If you are using individual Lady Fingers, the ribbon helps hold them together. If you make your own Lady Fingers, you can pipe them close together, so in the oven they will form one long line piece of cake that can be cut to lenght and used. Then the ribbon can be used just for decoration. I can't wait till the summer and local berries are in season, I will definitely be suggesting these lovely cakes to JJ for her clients. Move over Apple Tarts!