I recall boarding the train when Holli gifted me with a few treats from Miette, San Francisco's 'most charming pastry shop.' Holli graciously allows me to live vicariously through her travels with edible delicacies like aged balsamic vinegar from her Italy trip and these Lavender Shortbread Cookies and Rosettes (rose geranium meringues) from her recent jaunt to SF. Take note FFwD people - if you have any rose syrup left after making your Ispahan Loaf Cake, and I KNOW you do, why not try making these little meringue kisses? They smell and taste heavenly.
|Lavender Shortbread Cookies and Rosettes|
Next stop was my kitchen on Easter Sunday. My chocolate craving kicked in and I was all over Michel Rostang's Double Chocolate Mousse Cake. I don't know how I missed this one back in January 2011, but it's done and gone now.
|Michel Rostang's Double Chocolate Mousse Cake|
I continued on my sweet journey last Friday when I decided to prepare a very decadent dessert for Hillari's Saturday night birthday party - Nancy Silverton's Butterscotch Budino with Salted Caramel Sauce and Whipped Creme Fraiche served with Rosemary-Pine Nut Cookies. Sip Wine Bar tempted me with this luscious Italian pudding late last year, and I made it over the holidays, but never got around to blogging the recipe. My review of the wine bar didn't make it to Wine & Dine San Diego either, after the restaurant and wine bar closed its doors in the dark of night. I guess that's life in the restaurant business.
|Butterscotch Budino at Sip Wine Bar, Del Mar|
The recipe isn't complicated, but it does take time, and every bowl and pan in your kitchen. I prefer to make the budino the day before and the caramel sauce and whipped creme fraiche a few hours before serving. It helps when a pastry chef shows up at your door just as you start whipping the cream and offers to take over. Say yes.
|Master Pastry Chef at work|
|Rosemary Pine Nut Cookies|
The dessert was a hit (don't ask about the few that perished under the sprinklers) and the party was a blast, especially the photo shoot in the designated photo
|A pile of friends|
The following day, the train stopped for a bittersweet Celebration of Life. About 25 years ago, Linda introduced me to the wonderful world of Newfoundlands with my first puppy, Ashley. Sadly, Linda lost her courageous battle to cancer in January and her family, friends, and fellow Newfoundland Club members gathered to share tears, stories and memories. We love and miss you, Linda. Please give my Ashley, Diver and Dooley big hugs and tell them Trapper is taking good care of me.
For the dessert buffet, I baked mini Ad Hoc at Home Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting.
|Ad Hoc Carrot Cake Cupcakes|
Although I have tears streaming down my face again, for Linda, for her husband Steve, and for the three Newfs who once shared my life, I must get to my last sweet - this week's French Fridays with Dorie Financiers. I just so happened to have six egg whites left over from the budino and they happily found a home in these cute almond and beurre noisette (brown butter) tea cakes. Read all about them, and some creative variations, in this New York Times article, The Pastry Chef's Rich Little Secret...
"It's a simple almond cake, leavened by egg whites, moistened with browned butter and baked into a small mold. But such simplicity is deceiving: the classic French pastry called the financier is exquisitely refined. It is springy, sweet and nutty with an exterior that's as crisp as an eggshell."
|Blood Orange Financiers|
The article talks about texture and says if you use almond flour, the cake will be finer but denser. If you grind your almonds, it will be coarser and rustic. I used Bob's Red Mill Almond Meal/Flour which is fairly course and gave the cakes that rustic texture. Dorie offers bonne idees for fruit or chocolate versions. Placing raspberries in the center is common, but I choose to use blood orange triangles and supremes. I also used a mini muffin tin since I don't own the traditional rectangular financier molds.
These didn't knock my socks off, but at least I'm finally off the Sweet Train...
|Best served freshly baked and warm|
-Denise & Trapper
French Fridays with Dorie is an online cooking group, dedicated to Dorie Greenspan‘s Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours. As members of the group, we have purchased the cookbook and cook along as much as we can. There is a new recipe each week, and we post about that recipe on Friday. We are asked to refrain from posting the actual recipes on our blog. The book is filled with stunning photography, and personal stories about each recipe, which makes it that much more intriguing. I highly recommend adding it to your cookbook collection if you haven't already!