December 22, 2017

Bûche de Noël {Recipe for Mocha Layer Cake}

Bûche de Noël featuring chocolate "hedgehog" truffles

Every December in Paris, something magical occurs. On the elegant boulevards and quaint cobblestone streets, the daintiest of pâtisserie shops transform their boutique windows into marvelous showcases of "bûches de Noël" (Yuletide logs). Considered the essential dessert to celebrate Christmas, these exquisite oblong-shaped cakes come in a variety of flavors such as chocolate, chestnut, coffee or vanilla. But the decor always features a forest theme, with details ranging from marzipan leaves to meringue mushrooms. I used Truffili chocolate "Hans the Hedgehog" truffles for a touch of whimsy.

Interestingly, the woodland motif originates from an early pagan tradition in France. During the pre-Christian era, on December 24th every househould would take a large log from the forest and light it in their fireplace. This Yule log custom found its way into the pâtisserie repertoire beginning in the 19th century, delighting French holiday celebrants ever since. 

November 21, 2017

Brown Sugar Pumpkin Pie {Martha Stewart Recipe}

Old-fashioned pumpkin pie made the traditional way (from fresh pumpkin) is quite time-consuming to prepare so you won't find it at a bakery or grocery store, but it's definitely worth the effort. Once you get past the pesky task of cutting up, steaming and puréeing the fresh pumpkin, it's really not that difficult to make pumpkin pie from scratch. Below is a wonderful recipe from Martha Stewart's Pies & Tarts cookbook that was published way back in 1985 (yet is still my favorite pie cookbook!) You're sure to impress family and friends with this classic Thanksgiving dessert. Serve it at room temperature with a dollop of whipped cream or scoop of ice cream. 

July 30, 2017

Summer Berries with Buttery Biscuits {Chez Panisse Recipe}

I love summer berries in simple desserts, especially the seasonal fruit recipes from Chez Panisse. Using fresh farmer's market fruit. I followed the recipe for Strawberry Shortcake Biscuits from "Chez Panisse Fruit" and was really wowed by the results. The biscuits are light, flaky, buttery and just slightly sweet. Oh so delicious served warm with English clotted cream (or whipped cream) blueberries and wild strawberries.