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June 2014 COTM - My Paris Kitchen: Desserts (Les desserts), Pantry (Ingrédients de base)

Greetings all!

Please use this thread to post your reviews of the following:

Desserts (Les desserts)
Pantry (Ingrédients de base)

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  1. Spiced Speculoos Flan, p256

    I actually made this back in April when I first got the book, but thought I'd put the report here. I had a half a jar of speculoos paste left and when I saw this recipe I thought it would be a good way to use it up.

    I liked these. It was a good way to use up the speculoos paste, but I'm not going to run out and get another jar. I did really like the five spice powder in the caramel. Although I probably won't make this again, I liked the simple technique of mixing the flan in a blender and also covering with aluminum foil while baking in the future. The flans were perfectly set.

    1. For some odd reason I've really been into making tarts lately. I still haven't found 'the' pastry recipe for me, so when I bought My Paris Kitchen I knew the first thing I would do is head for one of his tart recipes. I used the Apricot Crumble Tart recipe from page 309 but substituted rhubarb and strawberries as they were seasonal. You can read all about it here:

      1. The individual warm chocolate cakes with salted caramel are fantastic. I've made them several times since getting the book in April.

        24 Replies
        1. re: jordanhamons

          I've had my eye on these. Not usually a huge dessert person but they sound wonderful. Can you give more info?

          1. re: LulusMom


            The easy-to-follow recipe suggests making these in either ceramic ramekins or aluminum cake molds, however, I used a silicone mold and it works great. This cake uses salted butter which gives it a nice flavor. I used a mixture of dark and semi-sweet chocolate.

            You melt the chocolate and butter over a double boiler and stir until smooth. In a stand mixer, beat the eggs and powdered sugar until fluffy and doubled. Then, sprinkle in the flour and mix until combine. This step is the only that has given me trouble. Granted, I was making these in big batches for a party but it seemed difficult to get the flour mixed in properly. I was a bit timid to avoid over mixing but I ended up having to mix quite a bit. Make sure you add the flour VERY gradually or you will have a clumpy mess. Next, you fold the chocolate and the egg mixture together until uniform. The batter is then divided among the pans and left to rest for 24 hours (however, you can bake them after 3 hours). You will notice the batter really sets up nicely. Before letting them rest, I bang the pans a few times against the counter to get out any air pockets.

            The cakes bake at 350 for 12-13 minutes. You want the centers to be soft and not fully set, but not raw and runny.

            The salted caramel recipe is basic but a great recipe nonetheless. Caramelize your sugar with water, let turn amber brown, take off the heat, whisk in the butter and cream, put back on heat and stir until smooth. Delicious. You may want to add a little more salt, depending on how salty your butter was and how you like your caramel.

            I've served these topped with the caramel and with both vanilla ice cream and/or whipped cream. I also like to sprinkle a little Maldon salt on top.

            1. re: jordanhamons

              Thanks so much - I'm without the book, and although there is a link (I think?) to the recipe, your description helps very much.

              1. re: LulusMom

                LLM, if you're thinking of the links delys77 supplied in the announcement thread, I think there's only a link to the individual chocolate cakes with dulce de leche and fleur de sel, which is the one that caught my eye - molten chocolate cakes with a dollop of dulce de leche baked into the middle. The titles are awfully close, as is the concept.

                I can't find a link to the ones jordanhamons has made, though I did find one for the sauce, and I'd be willing to paraphrase the cake recipe for you. Here's the sauce: http://www.cbc.ca/nxnw/SaltedButterCa...

                1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                  Thanks Caitlin - that is what I needed!

                  1. re: LulusMom

                    Let me know if you'd like a paraphrase (I'm not clear), and I'll do it when I have a chance. In the warm chocolate/caramel/salt realm, the linked dulce de leche cakes are certainly less fussy sounding to make, but I don't doubt these are as fantastic as jordanhamons says they are.

                    1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                      Sorry for the confusion. Once I thought about it I realized that what I was most interested in was the salted butter caramel chocolate mousse recipe, which I found: http://www.scribd.com/doc/215578644/M...

                      1. re: LulusMom

                        Salted Butter Caramel Mousse.

                        Anyone make this yet? It's calling my name and I'm thinking of bringing it to book group.

                        I think I should be able to double the recipe with no problem. Does anyone see any issues if I were to do that?



                        1. re: beetlebug

                          It's on my list too. I don't see any issue with doubling. Just use a big enough pan to brown all the sugar like he recommends for the Carmel. Let me know if it really needs 8 hrs to set. I was ready to make it Sat eve but didn't have the required 8 hours before dessert.

                          1. re: Sfspicegirl

                            Thanks. I'm planning on making this Wednesday afternoon to be served for Thursday dinner. But, maybe I'll take a little bite Wednesday night.

                            1. re: beetlebug

                              Let us know. I'm sure it will be A+

                          2. re: beetlebug

                            I can't wait to hear how it turns out. I don't have the biggest sweet tooth, but this makes me salivate.

                            1. re: LulusMom

                              I have a salt and sweet tooth. Often combined (hello chocolate covered pretzels). This recipe looks delicious and here's hoping I don't screw up the sugar part.

                              1. re: beetlebug

                                Yeah, totally get that - the salt is what makes the sweet so good.

                                1. re: LulusMom

                                  I made this on Friday. It's quite easy to make and does not take much time at all. It tastes nice but I did not love how it set up. I think the caramel makes it a little more syrupy/runny and less fluffy, like a traditional mousse. I let it set up overnight and I do think this step is necessary.

                                  I'm interested to see how this turns out for you. Please let me know about the texture of your final product.

                            2. re: beetlebug

                              It's resting in the fridge now but I don't have high hopes. Despite the longer instructions for this short recipe, I don't think it's well laid out.

                              To start, melt the sugar and when it gets liquidly, stir until the sugar melts. Add the salted butter and stir until it melts.

                              Then I ran into some trouble. After the butter is melted (pan is off heat), whisk in the heavy cream. Well, part of my melty goodness became this congealed, hard caramel mess. It was just glopped in places and there was no way that it was going to dissolve. I suspect I poured the cream in faster then my whisking hand. Anyway, I turned the heat on low to try and dissolve the mess and was mostly successful.

                              Add chocolate until melted and then let the mixture cool. When it's cooled, add the egg yolks and then the whipped egg whites with the salt. Rest in the fridge.

                              When I poured the mixture in the bowl, I had a couple of tablespoons of caramel goop stuck on the pan.

                              This was more watery then I anticipated. I suspect it will need the full 8 hours for it to firm up. I did make the recipe as written (v. doubling it). Fingers crossed that it tastes ok since I don't have time to make a back up dessert. Good thing I have leftover cashew sesame bars from a picnic this weekend.

                              I'll report back to taste and texture after serving it tomorrow night.

                              1. re: beetlebug

                                Oh no. I'll keep my fingers crossed that somehow it comes out better than you're expecting.

                                1. re: beetlebug

                                  It doesn't sound like this recipe is included on this list, but I thought I'd post a link for the errata's for DL's book:


                                  1. re: beetlebug

                                    I jus checked on it and it seems like the right consistency. It doesn't move when I shake the bowl. I suspect it needs the full 8 hours in the fridge to get it to this state.

                                    I would try it but it seems wrong to bring a dessert with an obvious bite out of it.

                                    1. re: beetlebug

                                      heehee.... too bad you can't just fill that hole in with whipped cream or chocolate shavings.

                                      1. re: beetlebug

                                        Well, you Have to taste it to make sure it's worthy for your fellow club members. Just a thin sliver of a slice. Surely they will understand knowing you did it for them. [cough, cough]

                                        1. re: beetlebug

                                          Salted butter caramel mousse (link above somewhere)

                                          This turned out to be a hit with the group. I made the recipe as is (no doubling) and it served 11 comfortably. I also had leftover sesame cashew bars in case the mousse didn't turn out well.

                                          There was only a faint taste of the salted caramel. I'm not sure if it is supposed to be that subtle or bc there was some still at the bottom of the pot. I also think a darker chocolate would be better (I used Lindt discs which I think were 66%) and a tad more salt.

                                          Other then the 8 hour resting time, this was a quick and easy recipe.

                                      2. re: beetlebug

                                        Salted Butter Caramel-Chocolate Mousse, p. 258.

                                        Served this last night in eight little brandy-snifter glasses. The mousse is quite rich and could be stretched to serve 10 if I used my smaller liqueur shot-glasses, especially if one served a little cookie or some other treat with it.

                                        For me the recipe came together surprisingly quickly. I lucked out and did not have stubborn carmel bits that refused to dissolve--I did follow DL's advice to whisk in the cream slowly. But the 8-hours chilling time is necessary--I think overnight might even be better, because the texture is rather loose and needs to set up.

                                        I and our guests liked this but we weren't "speechless after one bite" as DL predicted. The caramel-salty flavor is not particularly pronounced. In fact, it could have used a bit more salt. I'm glad I used a good-quality bittersweet chocolate. I'm not sure why, but the texture turned out more like chocolate pudding than the usual mousse-like fluffiness I expected.

                                        I say good but not extraordinary (which I had expected.) Perhaps some toasted almonds or a few chocolate-coated coffee beans on top--something to add interest to the texture. . .

                                        But those little brandy-snifters were darn cute.

                        2. re: jordanhamons

                          oooh! I bet they are :) Do I want to go down that road? I may never come back...

                        3. Merveilleux, p. 281

                          Before you get too impressed that I made this recipe - I didn't. I did tab it, I was thinking about making it but....ironically, a bakery just opened near me that bakes and sells only Merveilleux. It is called Le Mervetty, at 319 N. Canon in Beverly Hills. Thought those who live in LA would appreciate the heads up.

                          They are marvelous, by the way.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: dkennedy

                            For those of us who don't have this book yet, what are they?

                            1. re: roxlet

                              Basically stacks of baked meringues discs, if you will, each layer is covered in especially thick whipped cream then the whole stack is rolled in shaved chocolate. It almost feels as if one should genuflect.


                                1. re: roxlet

                                  I made these. They were marvelous! I'm a sucker for crispy meringue treats.

                                  1. re: Becca Porter

                                    I had a meringue, whipped cream and chocolate confection in Florence many years ago that I still can't get out of my head. Will need to make this recipe.

                          2. Chocolate chip, hazelnut, and dried sour cherry fougasse, p. 266

                            When I first looked through the book in a bookstore, this recipe jumped out as something I felt I must make. Although it's in the dessert chapter, the bread itself is not a rich or sweet one, but a simple, softish yeast bread studded with the title ingredients, well suited to breakfast, brunch, or snacking.

                            To make it, water, yeast, a tablespoon of sugar, a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, and AP flour are stirred together and set aside for a 15-minute rest, after which more flour and salt are added. The dough is then kneaded using a stand mixer with dough hook or by hand (I used the mixer, though not at the medium-high speed he calls for, as my Breville has a kneading level at lower speed). Here, I thought a bit more detail could add clarity, because the recipe simply says to knead for 5 minutes, with no description of how the dough should feel, which would be helpful in particular for kneading by hand. At any rate, it's a rather sticky dough that really wanted to climb the hook, necessitating stopping and scraping it down several times. After the initial kneading, chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (I used 72% bittersweet), chopped toasted hazelnuts, chopped dried sour cherries, and orange zest are kneaded in. This I had to do by hand, as the volume of the additions was so high relative to the volume of dough that much of it stayed at the bottom of the mixer bowl as it ran.

                            After the dough has risen in the bowl (second photo), it's divided in two and shaped. Each piece gets rolled into an oval, into which slits are cut that are meant to resemble the veins of a leaf. After another rising, the dough is brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with flaky salt before it goes in the oven (third photo). My leaf was certainly less symmetrical than those found in nature (or at the local bakery!).

                            The result is a nice little treat. As noted, the bread itself isn't sweet, but studded with nutty and just slightly sweet bits (especially given I used high-cocoa-content chocolate and unsweetened tart cherries), which to me is much nicer than something sugary. And the flavors work wonderfully together.

                            The texture was nicest the day it was baked, but while a bit less soft it was perfectly fine after sitting loosely wrapped overnight. The recipe makes two fougasse, and though DL suggests that it will keep well frozen, I decided I'd prefer it freshly baked so I froze half the dough after gently deflating following the first rise. I'll see how it goes when I get around to defrosting it.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                              Im impressed-- i have been looking at this-- and i think I'll try it--

                            2. Someone please make the duck fat cookies and report back! :)

                              1. In honor of the weekend-- I made "Le weekend"-- Bay Leaf Poundcake with Orange Glaze.p297

                                This is a basic pound cake recipe where the butter is infused with Bay Leaves for 1 hour. The butter tasted very herbal when i added it to the rest of the ingredients-- but the taste barely comes though in the finished product.

                                I doubled the recipe-- One to try ASAP-- and one for friends tonight.

                                The cakes setup well-- and took a little longer than the recommended 40-45 min to bake (for a clean toothpick) I had one in for an hour and another in for 50 min.

                                Upon tasting last night still warm-- It was moist but could have been more moist.(less baking time) even if the toothpick was not clean in the middle.

                                The glaze is pretty boozy-- With the addition of Grand Mariner-- a heaping teaspoon and fresh orange juice-- but is shiny and compliments the cake-- It was very beige in color-- so i added a touch of color-- and orange zest/bay to decorate.

                                We ate it for breakfast-- great with coffee-- and my husband wants ice cream with it...

                                5 Replies
                                  1. re: Sfspicegirl

                                    Was it worth the effort to infuse if you barely taste it in the end product? Or does it add a certain something?

                                    1. re: Sfspicegirl


                                      I have that recipe tabbed, so will take your notes to heart. Did you use fresh or dried bay leaves? Any ideas out there about which might offer up more flavor/scent?

                                      1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                        thanks-- Update on the cake-- It was better after it sat for 6 hours-- still very subtle on the flavor, but the icing was better integrated.

                                        Friends liked it Friday - It traveled great-- and we had it again last night with icecream--

                                        It does last the entire weekend--and stays moist and fresh will be great when you have company coming to stay.

                                        I used dried Bay-- Maybe fresh bay would be better-- and a longer infusion of butter-- DL has a modification for more orange flavored with zesting the sugar-- and combining it in the food processor. I don't think you can do this with Bay--

                                    2. Duck Fat Cookies (Sablés à la Graisse de Canard), p. 297

                                      Ok, so I had all necessary ingredients and decided to take one for the team. (Listening, Torina?)

                                      These are fabulous, probably the best sablés I’ve ever had—delicate and sandy yet somehow slightly unctuous with a little pop of tart.

                                      And very easy: ¼ cup of dried cherries in my case are heated gently with 1 T of cognac (Armanac and brandy are other options) until they absorb all the liquid. While they are cooling, cream very briefly 4 T butter (softened) and 6 T duck fat (cold) and ¾ c sugar. Mix in ½ tsp vanilla. Dump in 1¼ c AP flour (whisked first w/¾ tsp sea salt) and mix just until dough comes together. Knead briefly on floured surface and pat into a rectangle. Halve that and roll the dough into cylinders and wrap w/plastic wrap. Chill.

                                      Even after this dough is chilled, it is very soft, a little hard to slice, especially with the bits of dried fruit. I had to pat several of these into rounds. But they baked up fine. At 350F, they took 16 minutes (rather than 10) to get them just barely browned on top.

                                      I really hope my husband will eat most of these quickly as they’ll be hard for me to resist.

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                        I have to ask: could you taste the duck-ness of it? I type as someone who adores duck but isn't sure she wants it in her cookies.

                                        1. re: LulusMom

                                          No, not at all. (Also, I didn't use duck fat that was seasoned. Not sure how garlicky, herby duck fat would do in this recipe.)

                                          These are rich, but the butter is muted. I think what the duck fat contributes is crispness; it also seems to put the butter in the background.

                                          When I wrote my review, I had only tasted a cookie that was not completely cooled. On a subsequent visit to the cookie jar, I found that they were very crisp, in a good way. Dangerous. (So glad I froze the second roll. I hope I can forget it exists.)

                                          I love the bits of dried cherries in them, and I'll bet dried cranberries would be excellent, too. These would make lovely holiday cookies.

                                        2. re: nomadchowwoman

                                          Amazing. We are big cookie lovers. I may have to do this.

                                          1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                            What an interesting review--thanks for doing this.

                                            1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                              Thank you so much ... they look delectable! Now to pick up a fresh jar of duck fat (all I have right now I rendered myself from a home roasted duck so it is very much garlicky and seasoned). Cognac soaked cherries, ooh lala!

                                            2. Buttermilk Ice Cream with(out) Olive Oil and Fleur de Sel

                                              This is a simple buttermilk ice cream, which DL has you finish with olive oil and salt upon serving. I skipped that last part, as I was serving this as a component of a dessert that included a caramel-coated peach.

                                              This is not a custard-based ice cream - so no eggs involved. As such, it comes out a bit "icier" that one might like. DL includes corn syrup in the recipe to keep it scoopable, but the 3 tablespoons were not enough to accomplish that. Adding some booze might help. I used raw cream and buttermilk from a local dairy, the quality is superb. We found the buttermilk flavor a bit too restrained for our taste. It wasn't bad, especially with the fruit, but having made several great ice creams from DL's ice cream book, this one wasn't quite there for us.

                                              10 Replies
                                              1. re: MelMM

                                                I haven't read the recipe, MMM, but wouldn't the olive oil congeal when it hits the ice cream?

                                                1. re: Gio

                                                  I would think that it would. I didn't use the olive oil finish, because it wouldn't have been a good fit with the rest of the dessert, so that's just speculation. Actually, I have still have plenty of ice cream, so I'll give it a try and report back.

                                                  1. re: Gio

                                                    OK, I just tried it. Not sure why I didn't think of doing that before I wrote the recipe up.

                                                    Added right before serving (as in two seconds before), the olive oil did not congeal the way it does if you put it in the fridge. It did thicken to the point where it stopped moving, if that makes sense, but it didn't get cloudy.

                                                    I didn't feel like the olive oil and salt improved the ice cream at all. Nor did the ice cream improve the olive oil (and yes, I did use good stuff for this). It seems to me, if you have a really nice olive oil, this is not the way to show it off. The cold ice cream just mutes the flavor. The salt was neither here nor there, for me. As for the ice cream, I think it tasted better set off by a sweet peach than with olive oil.

                                                    In short, the recipe with the salt and olive oil really irked me. I feel like it is more about fashion than flavor.

                                                    1. re: MelMM

                                                      Again an all inclusive report. Thanks Mel. And, for being so brave. Cold olive oil is just horrible, as far as I'm concerned.

                                                      1. re: MelMM

                                                        Olive oil and salt is very popular as an ice cream topping in the Bay Area (actually going back several years, Picco in Marin did this as early as 2005). I agree with you, it's more about fashion than about flavor.

                                                        1. re: Torina

                                                          I've heard of it before, quite a bit, but it's never been something that sounded good to me. And now I know I was right. Just because something is popular doesn't make it good. One of those food trends we will look back on twenty years from now and shake our heads... what were we thinking? Kind of like those chocolate on chocolate on more chocolate desserts of the '80s. I never liked those either.

                                                          1. re: Torina

                                                            At one point, I felt olive oil was trendy for a gelato... especially as a drizzle! But I have to admit, I was seduced by an olive oil gelato this year (not a drizzle)

                                                            I went to Florence earlier this year. I was very very fortunate to have eaten this wonderful gelato trio comprised of gianduja, silician blood orange, and olive oil. Perhaps the citrus notes help elevate the oil olive gelato but that particular gelato was illuminating. It had a green brightness uncommon to most milk based gelato throughout my trip. I quite enjoyed it in the pairing with the blood orange.

                                                            1. re: Torina

                                                              yes-- all the rage here-- still.. but mostly on Strauss'(local dairy) soft serve.

                                                        2. re: MelMM

                                                          It sounds like your great ingredients deserve a better vehicle, Mel. I was very happy with the buttermilk ice cream in Smoke & Pickles when I made it last year. It's exceedingly simple, just cream, sugar, and buttermilk. It was smooth and creamy, and though it has a higher ratio of cream to buttermilk than Lebovitz's (two to one), it had a nice tang.

                                                          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                            I loved so many things from that book, but I never tried the buttermilk ice cream. I will have to give it a look. I always have buttermilk on hand.

                                                        3. St. Tropez Tart, pg. 306; Filling & syrup ONLY

                                                          Every year during strawberry season I give some new pastry cream filling for a tart a whirl. This one which combines a pretty standard cornstarch pastry cream with a French butter cream seemed like it might have potential.

                                                          The steps: 1) make the pastry cream-this version is heavy to cornstarch (1TBS/yolk, less than 1/2 C milk per TBS starch)-which I don't usually like, but it certainly works and the pastry cream was smooth, no need to sieve, and sets up very well. 2) make the buttercream- using granulated sugar, an egg yolk is --what makes it " French" I guess--and butter and liqueur; nice enough but quite soft. Once these have set combine in a mixer and whip together.

                                                          Overall the results were OK, this filling definitely has enough structure to hold its shape in a tart shell for a day or two, a bit sturdier than the more common pastry cream + whipped cream alternative. The flavor was pleasing, but not quite divine.

                                                          As for the syrup, I used that to toss with the strawberries before assembling the tart.

                                                          1. Salted Butter Caramel-Chocolate Mousse p. 258

                                                            This is, seriously, one of the best desserts I've ever had. Ever. It's also very easy.

                                                            You make a caramel by spreading 1/2 cup of sugar over the bottom of a large saucepan and heating it. Once you have the caramel (I like mine pretty darn dark) you add butter, then cream, then chocolate. Lebovitz suggests semi-sweet or bittersweet ... I went whole hog and used unsweetened. (I used scharffen berger.) Cool, then add egg yolks, then whipped egg whites. And salt, of course!

                                                            This is a top notch chocolate mousse with a wonderful salt and caramel flavor all the way through. I made 6, for two separate small dinner parties, Saturday and also Sunday, and everyone said it was one of the best desserts they ever had.

                                                            Make this mousse! :)