In which, I showcase my culinary triumphs and failures while I hone my skills as a baker/cook/pâtissière.
I spent about two days straight in the kitchen last week coming up with an assortment of French pastries for when I had my friends Kristin, Andrew and others over for a night of pizza and video games. “Video games and french pastries go together?” you might ask. Well, duh. French pastries go with everything!
My original plan included a cake and some savory treats, but I ran out of time and stuck with these: two mini fruit tarts with pastry cream, palmiers, mille-feuilles and candied rose petals. Yes, I cooked a flower and I liked it.
I started with the pastry cream, since it was the ‘relatively’ easiest and I planned on using it in a couple of recipes – that, and I knew it held well for storage purposes. It was delicious and I ate about 1/4 of it when it was done, just ‘taste-testing’ it out.
I then made a HUGE, I mean seriously MASSIVE batch of pastry puff. And damn, that was a bit of a workout. I’ve seen hundreds of different recipes for making it and after combining a couple, managed the one where you use cold butter and then roll it out and ‘turn it’ every so often six ways. Kinda confusing to explain, but those who know what I’m talking about understand. After all, this isn’t an instructional post – just an experience one. Ya dig?
I then followed David Lebotvitz‘s instructions for making your own fruit tart crust and it was almost too easy. Total success. Since I had so much pastry cream, I decided to fill each of the mini tarts with it and then topped with fresh berries and whipped cream.
Note: I didn’t make my own whipped cream this time, even though it’s super easy. Just thought I’d save some time by getting it in a can. Plus they produce such perfect little shapes!
The Palmiers was pretty easy as well, even though they initially terrified me. They look a bit crispy because they are. I accidentally left them in the oven for a little too long. This is what happens when you bake a million things at once. However, as my friends can attest, they were still pretty darn good!
Next up with the mille feuilles, which were kind of challenging. My puff pastry rose a little bit too high and this recipes calls for flattened pastry. So, I did what anyone would do and I crushed the pastry down with my hands until it was flat looking. Looked fine to me! See how professional I am? I then squeezed out globs of pastry cream with a round tip and plopped some berries on there. Finito.
And finally: the candied rose petals! I saw a recipe…somewhere…and it sounded easy so I decided to attempt it. All it takes is some egg whites, sugar and a couple hours in the oven on low heat. Andrew said they tasted like frosted flakes, which they actually kind of did. Even though they’re basically just sugar at this point, I’ve been snacking on them lately thinking I’m an earth goddess. Because flowers.
Mille-feuilles: 8/10 Would bake again.
Palmiers: 7/10 Might bake again.
Fruit Tart: 7.5/10 Would bake again
Rose Petals: 10/10 Would bake again.