Sunday, July 18, 2010


Fresh Apricots
My first taste of Apricots as a child was dried Apricots.  My mom would often buy them through a food co-op. We didn’t have them all the time, so they became a special treat.  I loved them.  Secretly I would pick through the bag, selecting the softer, slightly plump ones that gave way to a bit of a squeeze between my fingers. This meant that they were not too chewy and often times a little sweeter than the others.  I remember getting a cake from a church fair one time that had bits of Apricot in it.  It was so delicious and it was the first time it occurred to me that you could put the Apricots in things.  I was in college, I think, the first time I ate a fresh Apricot and a new love was born. 

The Apricot is another popular fruit here in France.  Almost every patisserie has a Tarte au abricot.  Laduree is now making a mini tart with Apricot and Pistachio, another flavor combination I like.  I also tasted an Apricot Pistachio macaron from Dallyaou when I visited in April and it was amazing.  Last summer I bought a few fresh Apricots from my favorite fruit stand on the rue de Commerce and used them to make my own Apricot tart with browned butter filling.
Praline bar: Chocolate with Hazelnut paste

The other day while buying groceries, Apricots were on sale, but I had to buy a 1 kg carton.  Pas du problem, I would just have to make a dessert.  At home I had a nice Praline Chocolate bar I had bought previously and I had been wanting to make a Hazelnut Dacqouise, inspired by one of my favorite treats at Laduree.  The plan started to come together.  I cooked most of the apricots down and pureed them.  I baked the Dacqouise, I melted the Praline bar and mixed it with crushed Gavottes biscuits and made a small layer to go on top of the Dacqouise.  Then I chopped a few Apricots into small pieces and scattered them across the top of the Praline layer.  Next I made a nice sweet-tart Apricot Mousse (the Apricots I bought were more tart then sweet).  I poured the mouse into the cake ring and then placed it in the freezer to set up.

Apricot Puree and Mousse base, 
 Pieces of Apricot on top of the Praline layer

 Finished Cake

Romain and I were invited to dinner at a friends house that night, so I took the cake with us for dessert.  When I presented the cake, everyone oooh and ahhhhed.  Then Romain thought it funny to say I had just bought it at a shop around the corner.  Good thing I had my camera with the photos I took along the way, or they might have believed him.  There were 6 of us, and we easily finished the entire cake.  I definitely plan to make this one again.  I saw that the Apricots are still on special in the grocery and are overflowing the bins in many of the fruit stands around me, so maybe there will be some other Apricot inspired desserts in the near future.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Paris Patisseries

I found an amazing new website/blog today.  I think if I couldn't work as a pastry chef anymore, I would want this woman's job.  Though I'd need to consider a serious fitness regime, unless she is vigilant and doesn't eat the whole dessert, but how can you resist?  Although now that I think about it, hardly a day goes by for me without dessert or something sweet....hmmmm

Anyway, check it out here: and I'll also be adding it to my blogroll and definitely be visiting some of these places as well. 

a tout a l'heure,

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Yes, I am quite aware of what I do for a living involves large amounts of sugar (amongst other delicious things).  However I generally try to exercise some self-discipline and not over indulge.  Well, Sunday was an exception, maybe even the whole weekend.  I spent most of Saturday in my kitchen preping my two cupcake flavors for my Cupcake Camp entry and of course this involved plenty of taste testing.  Fortunately Romain was a very willing (although slightly biased) taster, so I didn't have to do it all myself. It was also fortunate that the 90+ heat that had settled on Paris on Friday disappated and Saturday was a nice comfortable day, not too bad for cooking in a tiny, non-AC kitchen.

Here are my two cupcakes:

S'mores Cupcake

A Speculoos (cookie sort of like a graham cracker but more cinnamon flavored here in France) flavored cake with bits of broken Speculoos cookies, a Milk Chocolate ganache filling and topped with home made Marshmallow topping and Speculoos crumbles.  

Almond Joy

Chocolate cake filled with creamy Coconut filling and an Almond, topped with Milk Chocolate and a Coconut buttercream and Almond Flower. 
Yay, I made it to the judges!
I was quite pleased with both cupcakes, but the S'mores appeared to be the most popular.  As I fought to get through the crowd at Bistro Vivienne to deliver my cupcakes to the judges upstairs, I had several hands sneak cupcakes of my tray before I could object.  I feared none would make it to the judges.  After finally getting my cupcakes settled in upstairs, it was time to start sugar feast.  Thankfully I had several friends show up to help me taste cupcakes.  We made our rounds gathering the cupcakes we wanted to try and then gathered in the courtyard to share and critique. There were lots of pretty designs, and flavors ranging from traditional to exotic. 
 Flavors from top left to top right:
Dulce De Leche, unknown, Lemon Meringue

 Flavors from top left to right:
Rosewater Poppyseed,
something Chocolate,
Watermelon Wasabi

Some cupcakes we definitely liked better than others. I think the best one I tasted was the Dulce de Leche.  The cake was almost Angel Food like, if was filled with a lucious and creamy Ducle de Leche filling and topped with a nice light Caramel buttercream.  This one I could have eaten all by myself, but I shared. 
I think one of the reason my cupcakes went so fast (other than their great taste and appearance) was that they were minis- much easier to get a taste but not be too full to try the other tasty delights as well. 

Most interesting flavor was a Chocolate Fennel. I'm sure it was quite good, but if there is one flavor I don't like, it's Fennel, Anise or Licorice.  I tasted it by accident because Romain passed it to me after he tasted it. He said what it was, but all I heard was the Chocolate part, Fennel (in French) was lost in the noise of the crowd.  Apparently some other people either were unpleasantly surprised by the flavors they tasted, didn't have friends to share with, or had finally reached their sugar limit because half eaten cupcakes were left in discreet and more conspicous places. 
Poor half-eaten cupcake left in the stairwell.  Thankfully it wasn't one of mine.

At then end of the evening we couldn't look at another cupcake.  When we arrived home to find 5 extra S'mores cupcakes I had forgotten about in the kitchen still, Romain suggested we put them in the fridge.  Good idea, I may take them to my coworkers tomorrow.  Normally at lunch time at work I'd take a dessert, but when offered a macaron to try first thing Monday morning, I quickly turned it down without even thinking. 
I guess I'm going through detox. Hope it ends soon, I have a nice barquette of Apricots bought on sale and I'm itching to get back into the kitchen and make something.  

It is also time for me to start seriously job searching in Paris.  If anyone has any tips or advice, please send it my way, it would be greatly appreciated- I have no idea where to start, I just know I want to stay here.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Cupcake Camp Paris!

 Test Subject #1 for My Cupcake Camp Entry

In the midst of working La Nuit at Laduree and trying to catch up on sleep during the day, I've been quite busy in my petite cuisine.  My friend Lindsay of Lost in Cheeseland informed me of a cool event taking place (quite appropriately) on July 4th here in Paris.  It's called "Cupcake Camp".  I believe one was held in Boston shortly before I left for Paris, but I did not know enough about it in advance to participate.  Once I heard about Cupcake Camp Paris I had to join in on the fun. 

Now as many of you know, cupcakes have become quite the rage across the US.  What's not to love about individual sized yummy cakes in almost any flavor and decoration you can imagine?  Honestly I can't say I have the cupcake fever like so many, but I do like them.  Our cake decorator at Whole Foods created many great combinations for our store.  My favorite might have been the Banana Split Sundae cupcake- Vanilla cupcake filled with Chocolate ganache and Strawberry jam, topped with a scoop of Banana flavored buttercream, and sprinkled with chopped nuts.  Looked just like a Sundae.  I always enjoyed the days at WF when I got to help decorate the cupcakes, it was fun and a nice change of pace from finishing my mini pastries.

The event planners for Cupcake Camp Paris have been blown away by the response of people who want to make cupcakes and by people who want to come and eat cupcakes.  I'm excited to go and see what flavors and decor my fellow bakers have come up with, and I'm hoping to network and make some new Parisian friends as well.  If you are in Paris, its only 10 euros to get in and have a drink and eat all the cupcakes you want!  All the proceeds go to Rebuilding Haiti.  Find more information about the event here, including a list of bakers participating:

In other news....
Tonight is my last night on the night shift at Laduree.  It's been a fun and challenging two weeks.  I'm going to miss that crazy group of boys, but I will see them in passing as I shift back to working days. I've got lots of fun memories, and lets just say don't let boys with lighters play with alcohol based sanitizer.......oh kitchens!