Tarte Mousse Chocolat

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When it comes to chocolate I have quite a unique relationship with it. I need to have chocolate at home. At all times. And I always need to have a very specific amount of a very specific chocolate. It always have to be above 75% cocoa (my favourite is 85%) and there ALWAYS need to be five bars of it at home. It makes my feel good. This way I can always make a chocolate cake and have some to eat if I need to. And contrary to what you may think I don’t eat much chocolate. It’s just one of those things. We all do have our peculiarities.
This week I made a Chocolate Mousse Tart. It’s a bit tricky. As all French recipes it’s quite rich in butter. And that’s not a bad thing at all, but when you make it you have to remember that chocolate has quite some fat on it’s own too. Going for a chocolate with a too high cocoa percentage here might not work so well. I mean it will still be delicious, but when mixing chocolate with the eggs you might get a bit of a grainy texture (and if you do, by no means, eat the tart anyway, taste will be awesome no matter what :)). What you want to get is a light as a mousse filling in a crispy chocolate sweet pastry. It’s like eating a praline with a crispy biscuit. It might not look like much, but oh the mighty flavour it surely has!
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Chocolate Mousse Tart
adapted from Christophe Felder
For the Sweet Chocolate Pastry:
  • 95 g powdered sugar,
  • 30 g ground almonds,
  • 150 g butter,
  • pinch of salt,
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract,
  • 1 egg (at room temperature).
  • 225 g flour,
  • 15 g unsweetened cocoa powder.
  1. Sift the sugar into a bowl. Add almonds, butter, salt and vanilla extract. Beat with a wooden spoon until incorporated (or use a paddle attachment of the stand mixer).
  2. Add the egg and beat until fully incorporated.
  3. Sift the flour with a cocoa powder and beat until you get a smooth dough.
  4. Chill for at least 2 hours.
  5. Roll out the pastry to 2 mm thick (this amount of dough will be enough for 2 tarts, so just freeze the leftover dough for next time) and line the 24 cm round or square tart shape.
  6. Heat the oven to 170 C. Bake for 15 min in the middle of the oven. Let it cool sloghtly.
For the Chocolate Mousse Filling:
  • 290 g chocolate (65% cocoa)
  • 200 g butter, diced,
  • 2 whole eggs,
  • 2 egg yolks,
  • 60 g sugar.
  1. Melt the chocolate with butter in a bowl over a simmering water.
  2. Whisk the whole eggs and egg yolks with the sugar until pale and holding soft peeks.
  3. Very gently fold the melted chocolate into the eggs. Do it in 4-5 batches, mixing fully before adding more chocolate (Note: the chocolate will sink to the bottom of the bowl, so make sure you scrape it well from the bottom with a spatula).
Finish the tart:
  1. Pour the filling into a pre-baked tart shell. Be careful as it will be quite full.
  2. Bake it for 5 minutes at 190 C, keeping an eye on it not to burn.
  3. Cool completely before eating. It’s best if you give it some time in the fridge after it’s cooled enough.

A matter of bread

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I love bread. It is the simplest food you can have, but oh how satisfying can it be. Every country has it’s own special breads and those are the ones I always want to eat during holidays. To taste and get inspired. As it happens I live in the Netherlands where the bread culture is not greatly developed to say the least. First couple of months here were tough, but what you cannot get you have to make yourself. What seemed like a big downside of being here in the end helped me to develop a great passion for baking bread. Since I discovered the great variety of flavours you can get with different flours and methods I want to bake bread almost constantly.
I still remember the indescribable joy I felt when I baked my first loaf of bread. Filling the house with the incredible aroma of a freshly baked bread simply makes me happy. I think that bread is often underestimated, not being appreciated enough for what it is. Most of the time it serves as a base for some toppings, which, don’t get me wrong, can be great, but can somewhat overpower the pure taste of a perfect loaf. And it is so easy to make bread.
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There is plenty of great books about bread and I think I read them more often than novels lately. Instead of giving you a recipe for a bread, I want to share with you some of my favourite books.
  1. My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method by Jim Lahey
    This is a great place to start. I mean there is no simpler way to make an incredible loaf at home. There is minimum effort to get some pretty good bread. All you need with this recipe is time. I know it requires some planning, but it is worth it.
    And if you want to give it a try you can find the basic recipe at the website of his Sullivan Street Bakery.  I visited his bakery during my trip to New York. The bread was fantastic. We bought 2 bags of bread (because it is hard to decide which one to take..) and it was all gone in 20 minutes. So good!
  2. Flour Water Salt Yeast by Ken Forkish
    This is my favourite book lately. It really gives you a good explanation on how to handle the dough to get the best bread possible. The recipes are really simple. Again, some time is required. This is a good book when you want you’re bread to be a little bit more complex in flavour. Also it’s perfect to get your techniques right.
  3. Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes by Jeffrey Hamelman
    This is the first bread book I ever got. It helped me to develop a passion for bread. You will find here so many different types of bread that you will feel lost. I haven’t try all of them yet, but hopefully one day I will. I think this is a really good book after you baked quite some loaves.

Those are my 3 gurus of bread baking. They keep me motivated and inspired. And one thing for sure: once you bake your first loaf it’s going to be hard to go back to the store bought bread..


Pate a Savarin

For almost 10 weeks now I’ve been working on my Patisserie Challenge. It’s a lot of fun. So far most of the recipes very quite easy. It’s important to get the basics right, but I’m kind of eager to start with a bit more challenging projects. When it comes to patisserie it’s all about creating little pieces of art. At least that’s how I see it.
This weekend I made some Cream-Filled Babas. Baba pastry is basically a simple yeast pastry. What makes them special is soaking in a deliciously aromatic sugar syrup and adding a little bit of a pastry cream. I think they are a really good pastry. Simple to make and very moist. But what I think makes them even better is adding a little bit of nice alcohol at the very last moment. If you have some home made liquor at home, go ahead and have a shot with your baba. If not, go ahead and make some 😉
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Cream-Filled Babas
adapted from Christophe Felder
For the Babas Pastry:
  • 10 g fresh yeast,
  • 50 ml whole milk,
  • 225 g flour,
  • 3 eggs,
  • 50 g butter, softened,
  • 20 g sugar,
  • 5 g salt.
  1. Mix the yeast with milk and 2 tablespoons of flour. Whisk it until smooth. Cover and let raise for 30 minutes.
  2. Add the remaining flour. Add 2 eggs and beat until smooth. Add the remaining egg until the dough is smooth.
  3. Add the butter. Beat for a couple of minutes. Add sugar and salt and beat a bit longer, until fully incorporated. Cover the dough and let raise for another 30 minutes.
  4. Butter the baba moulds. Put the dough in the pastry bag and fill the moulds until 2/3 full. Use a small spoon covered in a bit of flour to flatten the pastry in the moulds (that will make them rise evenly). Let them rise in the moulds for another 30 minutes.
  5. Heat the oven to 180 C. Bake the babas in the middle of the oven for 20 minutes, until golden brown.
For the Pastry Cream:
  • 250 ml whole milk,
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped,
  • 60 g sugar,
  • 3 egg yolks,
  • 25 g cornstarch,
  • 25 g butter, diced and softened.
  1. Bring the milk, vanilla seeds and half sugar to boil.
  2. Whisk the egg yolks, cornstarch and the rest of the sugar together in a separate bowl.
  3. Whisk the egg mixture into the milk. Cook for about a minute, until it thickens, whisking constantly.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the butter.
  5. Put it in a small shallow bowl and over the cream directly with a foil.
For the sugar syrup:
  • 1 liter of water,
  • 500 g sugar,
  • zest from 1 1/2 orange (only the orange part),
  • zest from 1 1/2 lemon (only the yellow part),
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split, seeds removed,
  • 2 sticks of cinnamon,
  • 2 star anise.
  1. Bring water with sugar to a boil.
  2. Take of the heat and add the remaining ingredients. Let infuse for 10 minutes.
Assemble the babas:
  1. Soak the babas in a lukewarm syrup. Turn them often and after 30 minutes drain on a kitchen rack for 10 minutes.
  2. Melt some apricot preserves and brush them lightly on the babas.
  3. Spread some pastry cream on each baba.
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Apples or Pears?

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Autumn is here! I love this season. The weather turns towards worse, so I turn towards the more of a comfort food, to keep warm.
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There are two great fruit at abundance now (and for quite some months to come): apples and pears. I always feel like people give way too much attention to apples, completely forgetting about an even more amazing pears. I mean, they are as versatile as apples, can be used for cooking, baking, eating fresh, just like apples again, and yet a pear pie recipe is not a part of so many cuisines as an apple pie. Why? I love pears, I think they are great and should be appreciated a bit more by everyone (a pear appreciation society?). But when it comes to a pie I like to mix both apples and pears. This makes the filling for my recipe a little bit more special. If you use nice baking apples, after cooking them for 15 to 20 minutes they will loose some water and change into an incredible mousse.  Pears won’t do that, they will stay in the nice slices. And that will create the ultimate filling: nice crispy pears in an apple mousse. Just give it a try and you will see my point.
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Apple and Pear Pie
For the pastry:
  • 120 g of butter, softened,
  • 80 g confectionery sugar,
  • 1 vanilla bean, split in half, seeds removed,
  • 75 g ground walnuts,
  • pinch of salt,
  • 1 egg,
  • 200 g flour.
  1. Sift the confectionery sugar to the soft butter. Add the vanilla seeds, ground almonds and salt. Beat with a wooden spoon until fully incorporated.
  2. Add the egg and beat it in.
  3. Sift the flour and beat the mixture for a couple of minutes until you get a smooth dough. Form a flat disk, cover with a plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 2 hours.
  4. Roll out 2/3 of the dough and put in a 20 cm spring form.
  5. Prick the bottom of the tart with a fork.
For the filling:
  • 4 baking apples, peeled and cored,
  • around 700 g pears, peeled and cored,
  • 1 tbsp of honey,
  • 1 stick cinnamon,
  • 1 star anise,
  • 1/3 cup raisins (optional),
  • 2 tbsp bread crumbs.
  1. Cut apples and pears into thin slices (3 mm thick) and put in a heavy bottom pan. Add cinnamon and star anise. Cook for 10 to 20 min, until apples become a mousse.
  2. Let it cool slightly. Add honey and optionally the raisins.

Assemble the tart:

  1. Spread the bread crumbs at the bottom of the tart. Pour in apples and pears.
  2. Take the reserved 1/3 of the dough and great it over the pie.
  3. Bake in the centre of the oven at 180 C for 30-40 minutes, until the dough is golden.
  4. Let it cool for at least an hour.
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Tarte Creme de Citron

Over the past weeks I tried quite some recipes for the tart shells. They are all different, and all work with different fillings. In all honesty this is my favourite recipe so far. It’s fairly easy to prepare and tastes delicious. The addition of ground almonds gives it a nice nutty flavour. It work perfectly for the classics tart – like the lemon curd or chocolate.
I always loved Lemon Curd. Since I discovered it I always keep a jar at home. It’s simple delicious and with a simple twist can be changed into an amazing dessert. What I didn’t realise until recently is how incredibly easy it is to make and, of course, how infinitely better a home-made lemon curd is. After trying out this recipe I don’t think you will be buying your lemon curd.

Lemon Curd Tart
Adapted from Christophe Felder
For the pastry:
  • 120 g of butter, softened,
  • 80 g confectionery sugar,
  • 1 vanilla bean, split in half, seeds removed,
  • 25 g ground almonds,
  • pinch of salt,
  • 1 egg,
  • 200 g flour.
  1. Sift the confectionery sugar to the soft butter. Add the vanilla seeds, ground almonds and salt. Beat with a wooden spoon until fully incorporated.
  2. Add the egg and beat it in.
  3. Sift the flour and beat the mixture for a couple of minutes until you get a smooth dough. Form a flat disk, cover with a plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 2 hours.
  4. Roll out the dough and put in a 24 cm tart shell with a removable bottom.
  5. Prick the bottom of the tart with a fork.
  6. Bake at 180 C in the middle of the oven for 15-20 minutes, until the dough is golden.
For the lemon curd:
  • 2 lemons
  • 120 ml lemon juice (from about 4 lemons)
  • 120 g sugar,
  • 3 eggs,
  • 175 g butter, diced.
  1. Remove the yellow skin from the lemons with a peeler (make sure not to include the white part of the lemon, as it’s very bitter).
  2. Combine the zest, lemon juice, sugar and eggs in a pan.
  3. Put it on the medium heat and whisk constantly until it thickens ans starts to simmer.
  4. Strain the mixture into a large bowl with the diced butter and whisk until smooth. Let it cool slightly.
Assemble the tart:
  1. Spread the lemon curd in the cooled tart shell.
  2. You can make some candied lemon slices to put on top (simply boil very thin slices of lemon in a sugar syrup (200 ml water and 100 g sugar) for 10-15 minutes)  and covered it with a warmed up apricot preserve.

Linzer Tart with a Homemade Plum Preserve

This time quite a classic – Linzer tart (more commonly called Linzer torte). There are many varieties, depending mostly on the country where you eat it. It’s very simple, basically season independent and tastes great.
I was going through my pantry to find a nice preserve to fill it with. But since we are still in a plum season I decided to make something fresh. The key to getting a nice preserve is to cook it on a very low fire for a long time. The sugar will start to caramelise and the end result will be a more rich and deeper flavour. Using 2:1 (fruit-to-sugar) ratio might be a bit sweet, but it works great for this tart and you might also like it with some Greek yoghurt or in a quickly made cheesecake cup. Give it a try and while you’re making some for the pie, double or triple the amount to make a couple of jars. After all winter is coming 🙂

Linzer Tart with a Plum Preserve
adapted from Christophe Felder
For the tart:
  • 250 g flour,
  • 10 g raw cocoa powder,
  • 6 g baking powder,
  • 65 g almonds, finely chopped,
  • 90 g sugar,
  • 150 b butter, diced,
  • 2 eggs,
  • zest from 1 lemon, finely grated.
For the Plum Preserve:
  • 350 g plums, halved and stones removed,
  • 175 g sugar,
  • 1 cinnamon stick.
  1. Sift the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder into a bowl. Add chopped almonds, sugar and butter. Rub all the ingredients until you get fine crumbs.
  2. Add the eggs and lemon zest, beat with a wooden spoon until you get a smooth dough.
  3. Form a flat disk and wrap in the plastic. Chill for 2 hours.
  4. Put all the ingredients for the plum preserve in a big pan over a medium heat. Bring to boil. Lower to a small heat and let it simmer for 1 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  5. Preheat the oven to 180 C.
  6. Roll out the dough to the size of your form (I used a 20 by 20 cm square ring). Cut to the size. From the leftover make a rope and arrange it around the perimeter of your shape (you should moisten the perimeter first with some water so that is sticks better) and cut the stripes for the lattice (you can try to make them more straight than mine :)).
  7. Bake in the bottom third of the oven for 15 to 20 minutes.


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Sable Breton and an Upside Down Apple Tart

This week I made another type of shortcrust pastry, this time the one that is used for a shortbread (not the English type of shortbread though, that one is more crumbly). This recipe calls for quite some sugar. While making it I was considering changing the amount of sugar. But I did make a strong resolution to follow the recipes. So I added all the sugar. And I like it, but it is a very sweet pastry. I know some people loved it, but I have a preference for less-sweet-more-salty desserts (I love salt in my desserts, I’m just strange that way). So if you are not so much into very sweet, have an espresso on a side, then it’s absolutely perfect.
And if you have some dough leftover you can make someone happy with cookies!

Apple Upside Down Tart
adapted from Christophe Felder
For the tart:
  • 3 egg yolks,
  • 130 g sugar,
  • 150 g butter,
  • 200 g flour,
  • pinch of salt (I made it 1/2 tsp.),
  • 11 g baking powder.
For the filling:
  • 100 g sugar
  • 3 tbsp. water,
  • 4 baking apples, peeled and quartered,
  • 1 tbsp. butter,
  • juice of 1/2 orange,
  • 50 g redcurrant jelly,
  • 40 g white chocolate,
  • 2 tangerines, filleted,
  • 1 tbsp. apricot jam.
  1. Whisk egg yolks with sugar until pale and creamy.
  2. Add softened butter and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth.
  3. Sift the flour with salt and baking powder. Beat again until smooth.
  4. Flatten into a disk, wrap in plastic and chill in the fridge for 2 hours.
  5. Preheat the oven to 180 C.
  6. Combine 100 grams of sugar and 3 tablespoons of water in a pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
  7. Let the syrup simmer until it’s lightly brown (don’t stir it at this point).
  8. Pour the caramel on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Let it cool and brake into pieces.
  9. Arrange the apple in on oven proof skillet. Put caramel pieces on top of the apples. Add butter and orange juice and bake for 20 minutes.
  10. Butter the 24 cm tart pan. Roll out the pastry to the sieze (it shuld be around 5 mm thick).
  11. When the apples are read, bake it in the middle of the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until it’s golden.
  12. Let the dough cool and remove from the tart shape.
  13. Melt the chocolate and brush it thinly over the tart shell (this will stop the tart from getting too soggy).
  14. Spread the red currant jelly on the cooled chocolate and then arrange the apples (caramel side up).
  15. Arrange the tangerine segments on top of the tart. Brush the top with warmed up apricot jam. Et voila!

Eat immediately, the crust is at its best just after making. Enjoy!