I don’t know about you but I have been baking a LOT since this whole COVID thing started. I like to use the ingredients I have on hand, I put in my ear buds, start up a book and putz around in the kitchen for an hour. That’s what I did on Friday anyway. I had the day off work and thought this Blueberry-Buttermilk Bundt cake sounded great for breakfast the next day. I’ve been making this particular cake for about 17 years. I know, right? It’s a tried and true, delicious cake. I found the recipe in Bon Appetit magazine in 2004 and have been making it ever since. I prefer it for breakfast since it has the consistency of a muffin, but really any time of day is great!
What I really like about this recipe is that I usually have everything on hand. Frozen blueberries, an orange, and the buttermilk are the standouts in this cake. The orange is zested into the creamed sugar mixture and really adds a nice orangey punch to the blueberry flavor. They only ingredient I may not have on hand is the buttermilk. This time I did, but usually I just make it myself by adding a TBSP of white vinegar to a cup of milk. It’s that easy!
After you mix your flour, baking soda, and salt set it aside to cream your butter, sugar, orange zest, eggs, and vanilla. Now, blend in your flour alternating it with the buttermilk. Once that’s all mixed together you add in your frozen blueberries and vôilá! You have a nicely shaded purple batter. That color mostly cooks out, which is a shame because it’s really pretty in the pan.
I was going to save this cake for breakfast on Saturday but my sister came downstairs upset over a friend quitting at work and you know what? A piece of cake is just the thing to make you feel better. Shhh. No lectures, please! Anyway, she got that first slice and you know how that goes…. once the cake is cut it’s open season for taking a slice!
I finished it off with a nice sugary glaze made with some ground up caster sugar and the juice from the orange (zest) I used in the cake. It tastes just as good as it looks, promise!
I have this little series of books that I write and tape recipe’s into if I’ve found one in a magazine, on Pinterest, or one given to me by a friend. I’ve been collecting recipe’s in these books for years. As you can see below. If you blow up the picture, maybe you can make this one yourself! Maybe not, my handwritings a mess. I’ve looked up the link for you just in case you’d like to try it yourself.
It’s been a little while since my last baking post because, well, it’s been awhile since I’ve wanted to tackle some French pastry recipe’s. I love to bake but sometimes these recipe’s are so involved that I’m in the kitchen for hours. By the end of it I’m tired, cranky, and unappreciative of all my hard work. So, cracking open the Bouchon Bakery cookbook, I decided to skip around until I found a relatively easy recipe. I settled on the Financier.
First, let’s talk about this name. In the south we’d probably pronounce this the Finance-yer, but I think in French it’s a little fancier and is probably the Fee-nance-e-ay. I felt silly, even though I took french classes in high school, so I’ve settled on the a mix of the two, Fi-nance-e-er. Couldn’t tell you if that’s the proper way to pronounce this dish, but it’s the easiest! Or you can also call these cakes Petit Fours. We all know what those are.
Now, the Financier is one of the simpler recipe’s so I decided I’d make the original and the chocolate. I gathered my ingredients of flour, sugar, almond flour, eggs, butter and for the chocolate, cocoa powder.
I, of course, forgot to take pictures of the original batch, but here’s the dry ingredients as I’m sifting the cocoa powder into them.
The secret to the financier, is the brown butter ingredient. Now, since I didn’t not have linen on hand to separate my cooked ingredients, I browned my butter and added them into the dry ingredients, as noted in the recipe. In the original financier, the browned butter really brings out the nutty taste of the almond meal. In the chocolate recipe it adds to the cocoa and dark chocolate to make a very dark chocolate brownie-like taste. Both were rather good!
Before putting the batter in the pans I did use butter on the pans, and then froze them briefly. I think this is to help the cake come out of the pan easier. They did seem to pop out, so I think that’s a job well done!
The original financier is put into an individual brownie pan, and the chocolate financier into a mini muffin mold. I do not know if this is a traditional shape for each flavor, but since I did have the two pans, I did as the recipe suggested.
There was a note on the recipe about adding in nuts or fruit to the original financier and so I added a cut strawberry and a couple of pecan pieces. Looks pretty!
When they are done, you immediately take them out of the pan and let them cool on a rack. After eating one, I decided this was done to keep the edges crisp and the cake chewy. It’s a unique flavor, not really sweet at all. As I took my second bite of the original it tasted better than the first and by the time I finished I was a fan. The chocolate was a little more bitter than I like so I think I would add a little more sugar than the recipe calls for, but you know us Americans, we like our desserts sweet! The French have a much more delicate palate.
They were tastier than my pictures lead you to believe, promise!
I didn’t spend any additional dollars on the financier recipe as I had all of the ingredients on hand from past Bouchon recipe’s. Would I make these again? If I lived in England where afternoon tea was a thing, then yes. Here in Nashville? I’d take a cupcake over these financier’s any day, but I am glad for the experience of having made them.
This is the cookbook I’m using for my Bouchon Bakery baking extravaganza. It’s beautiful, so check it out sometime!
My baking challenge has gotten even more challenging while baking during a pandemic when everyone and their mother is learning how to bake bread. Not only is yeast hard to find but now flour is also getting hard to come by. Luckily, I had enough in the jar to bake these yummy cookies. Funny enough, because of the Chocolate tart I baked a few weeks ago, I also had enough high quality chocolate to use for the recipe.
As this is my second cookie recipe I was pretty familiar with some of the techniques that Bouchon Bakery uses to make their cookies extra special. I gathered my dry ingredients, flour, baking soda, and salt and sifted them together into a bowl. OK, I didn’t sift them this time. I’ll admit that I ran a fork through the mix to make sure it was blended in well.
I combined the dark brown sugar and sugar with molasses. That molasses (just shy of two teaspoons) really added an extra layer of flavor to these cookies that helped set them apart from normal chocolate chip cookies. I’ll be remembering this trick!
I mixed it together until with was kind of smooth. Then I took out my two bars of Valrhona chocolate and started chopping it up into pieces. Now, I didn’t mention this previously but I actually went on a trip to France a couple of years ago with my sister and my mom and we toured the Valrhona chocolate factory. OK, I’ll be honest, we mainly toured the gift shop, but I brought back a lot of cooking chocolate on that trip. However, these particular bars of chocolate were purchased here in the good ole USA in Sur La Table for $13.00 each. Yep, you read that right. I used the remaining 40% chocolate and chunked it up.
Then I ruined it by using Kroger brand semi-sweet chocolate chips for the chip portion of this recipe. Hey, we’re in a pandemic here! I can’t go running out to the store for high quality chocolate chips!
Next up was pommade-ing the butter. I have gotten to be a pro at this technique! I warm up my glass mixing bowl, with the butter in it over the flame of the gas stove top. I do NOT sit the bowl down. That would melt the rubber on the bottom of the bowl that fits it into my mixer. You really just want to warm the bowl so that when you whip that butter for three to four minutes it turns into the consistency of mayonnaise.
This makes such a huge difference! When you mix your sugars into that whipped butter it gives the words light and fluffy new meaning! Add your eggs, mix, and then you’re ready to add in your dry ingredients. Once that’s mixed add in your chocolate chips and chunks and vôilá! You have some extremely delicious cookie dough.
If I had only known this dough would only make 2 dozen cookies I’d have made more! Now, Bouchon wants you to make 6 very large cookies with this dough. Can you imagine? Although, I could certainly eat that humongous cookie, I think my family would have a cow that they only got one cookie each. It’s a psychological game we play with our baked goods. I use a one inch cookie scoop and made two dozen. Still not a lot of cookies but better than six.
I pop them in the oven and they are truly pretty looking cookies. They spread evenly, puff up the way they are supposed to and when they cool? Devine! Slightly chewy with a tang from that small bit of molasses. The chocolate taste? Yum!
This is an easy to make recipe and one that I will definitely return and bake. I will NOT be using $13 bars of chocolate, but I’d imagine it will still be just as good with a normal bar of 40% Hersheys or Ghiradelli chocolate.
I did not purchase anything extra for this recipe and used what I had in the house. I even had the molasses because I love to make gingerbread at the holidays, so the cost of this one was cheap. $0
I didn’t learn anything new but I was able to go back and use the pommade technique and I feel like I’ve gotten very good at that and can incorporate that into some future baking.
If you’d like to purchase this cookbook, here’s a picture and click the link below to go to it’s listing on Amazon.
This week I went back to the Tart chapter. Why did I break from my scheduled plan of taking on one recipe per chapter? When I made the Paté Sucrée crust for the Caramel Nut Tart (read that post here) it said the dough was only good frozen for one month, so since then I’ve been gathering all of the ingredients for this tart. Remember, when I priced all of the ingredients out for this tart on Amazon it would cost $133.00? I ended up substituting a few things and got that cost down to about $80.00, but I still spread out the purchases over a few weeks. Last Sunday, I was just over that four week in the freezer mark, got the last ingredient needed, and decided to celebrate “Social Distancing” with my attempt at this Chocolate, Praline, and Cocoa Nib Tart. Seriously, couldn’t they have come up with a shorter title?
I was very excited to have an already prepared Paté Sucrée for my crust because there were quite a few steps to making this tart and that saved a LOT of time. First up, making the praline! I bought, on Amazon this amazing Hazelnut-praline paste. It’s the closest thing I could find to what was called for in this recipe. It doesn’t have any almonds in it, but in order to check this recipe off I needed some sort of paste so I purchased Love’n Bake’s Hazelnut praline paste and OMG. I could eat this with a spoon! I have an intense dislike for hazelnuts, but this stuff? Pure heaven!
Cost: $23.97. Yep. Kind of crazy expensive!
You combine this totally yummy paste with .5 ounces of Valhrona 40% chocolate (cost around $13.00 for ONE bar!), some feuilletine, and a little cocoa butter. What is feuilletine? Good question! As I also, had no idea. According to amazon, it’s a specific kind of cookie crumble. (see pictures below)
Note to self, in future use a much less expensive bar of chocolate for this .5 oz ingredient! Although there’s good news in that I have 95% of the bar left.
Substitution note: I didn’t have cocoa butter in the house and googled cocoa butter substitutions. Google suggested coconut oil, which I had! I didn’t notice any change in how the praline tasted or looked, so if you don’t want the additional cost and have coconut oil, try it!
The above pictures of feuilletine are mine on the left and Amazon’s much better photo on the right. Anyway, you mix those ingredients together to get a crunchy paste that kind of reminded me of a brown rice crispy treat and roll it flat and then freeze for four hours. You’ll size this to your tart, cut it into a circle (those are my hubby’s helping hands below) and place it on the top of your crust for your first layer.
My next step is to make a chocolate dentelle. I know you are thinking, what the heck is a chocolate dentelle? Me too! It is a mixture of crushed hazel nuts, cocoa nibs, cocoa, butter, sugar, and a little corn syrup. You mix it together, spread it on a pan and let it bubble and then turn solid. Kind of like one of those lace cookies? It caramelizes and solidifies. This will be my decorative touch on the top of my tart. The extra’s are also a tasty snack as I make my chocolate ganache filling.
Are you wondering what a cocoa nib is? Yeah, I didn’t know either until I ordered them but cocoa nibs are basically crushed cocoa beans. They taste a little chocolatey but have a very subtle flavor. Think espresso beans. When you eat those they taste like coffee but are chalky and crunchy? Same with cocoa nibs, although they taste like chocolate, not coffee.
Substitution note: I used Hershey’s cocoa powder instead of Valrhona. I’m sure that would’ve cost me a lot more, but I decided to save those dollars and go with what was in the house.
The above is a picture of some cocoa nibs.
The last step is to make a chocolate ganache. At their direction I used 64% chocolate (Valrhona again!), heavy cream, trimoline, glucose, and butter. Thankfully I had glucose left over from the Caramel Nut tart, but had to purchase another $13.00 bar of Valrhona chocolate. (Thank you Sur La Table!)
Substitution note: I didn’t have trimoline on hand, but had purchased caster sugar for another recipe which is similar from what I’ve read so I used the small amount needed in this recipe. Same taste as far as I could tell!
My ganache was silky smooth and….. I forgot to take pictures of it. LOL. However, it looked as it should so I poured it over the praline and let it set for four hours. Just before serving I added the chocolate dentelle and voilá!
The Reading Chick’s Chocolate, Praline, and Cocoa Nib Tart!
It turned out well!
Would I make this one again? No. My family thought it was VERY good, but I don’t like hazelnuts enough to take three hours to make this tart. I’m glad I did make the attempt! Also, as I said with the Caramel Nut Tart, I would definitely make this Paté Sucrée again, it is so yummy! I’d eat it alone, or maybe dunk it in hot fudge sauce or something. OMG.
What did I learn from making the Chocolate, Praline, and Cocoa Nib Tart? A lot actually. I had never made a chocolate dentelle, praline, or a real chocolate ganache that didn’t go over a Boston Cream pie. 🙂
I may end up jumping recipe’s again soon if I can gather all of the ingredients from what’s already in the house. I’m making do with “social distancing” and I hope you all are as well.
It’s confession time. After I finished making scones I read ahead to the next chapter’s first recipe, took a look at the list of ingredients and skipped to the next recipe. It was the Chocolate, Praline, and Cocoa Nib Tart where I would need to spend almost $130 to make. I just couldn’t see buying all of those ingredients, spending that money just to test myself. Instead, I decided to make the Caramel Nut Tart. I’ll buy those ingredients slowly over time and come back to that some other time. I’ll still try my hand at Pâte Sucrée, a delicious dough, and learn how to make caramel. The new recipe will still stretch my wings.
So, how’d it go? The Pâte Sucrée was delish, and pretty simple to make. The dough was sweet, made with a combination of flour, powdered sugar, butter, and almond flour. AND I get to pommade butter again! I love this pommade technique. For those of you who may be reading my baking journey for the first time if you slightly warm the butter in your mixing bowl over an open flame and then whip the butter it turns into this really creamy mayonnaise consistency. Pretty cool!
In addition to the pommade technique above, I’ve learned that you sift EVERYthing when following a Bouchon Bakery recipe. So, I sifted, cracked and egg, mixed, etc. I got this really yummy dough. I did notice my almond flour was slightly different than what must’ve been used by Bouchon Bakery because my dough was a little nuttier looking with these brown specks. Tastes great though, so no worries! I’m going with the flow. Now, Bouchon wants me to use a Fraiser technique to mix the dough, so I wash off the countertop and drop my dough straight onto the counter, no flour and by hand push my hand into the dough to blend the dough into these little waves.
Once it was blended I wrapped it in cellophane and stuck it into the fridge to chill out for a couple of hours. Onto the caramel jam! Don’t let that word jam fool you, it’s just a fancy way of saying sauce. Maybe sauce is too plebian? Not sure, but from here on out I will be saying caramel jam. Doesn’t it make me sound smarter? I think so!
For my first purchase (outside the normal flour, sugar, etc.) I had to research and purchase glucose. Now, I know that glucose is sugar, but I wasn’t sure until I got the jar, why I couldn’t just brown some sugar as I’ve done in the past. Actually, I’m still not really sure. The glucose was really super thick and I think must be used in order to make the sauce thicker? It’s just a guess because after I prepared everything, it turned out the same as any other caramel “jam” I’ve ever made, although it was a lot silkier.
Luckily, I had my candy thermometer from some other project and was able to put it to good use in getting my jam to the correct temp of 350º.
Two hours have since gone by and I can remove my dough from the refrigerator. For the first time, as instructed, I’m going to try rolling out my dough between sheets of waxed paper, without any flour. Apparently adding flour during the rolling process messes with the flour to butter ratio or something and makes for too dry a dough. Surprisingly, or not, really, because all of these techniques I’ve learned and used so far are really working. I easily rolled out my dough using the waxed paper, measured it to 11″ across and what looked to be about the right depth and laid it into my fluted tart pan (that I had to purchase for this recipe).
Doesn’t that look nice? Admittedly, I think the dough ended up being a little too thick, but lesson learned! LOL. There was a bit of a lengthy cooking process for this dough, so if you’re going to prepare this one yourself, put aside about 60 minutes of turning the pan around so all sides cook evenly.
Once the crust is cooked, you fill the tart with nuts, cover it with caramel and voilá! You have your Caramel Nut tart. Confession time #2. Reading the instructions is super important, and if you have a bad memory like me? Read them again as you are doing everything. I was supposed to pour “most” of the caramel jam onto the nuts so it looked as if they were layered into a nutty caramel and you could still see the nuts clearly. I did not do this. I poured all of the caramel jam into the tart so you couldn’t actually see any nuts at all. So, while it didn’t look great, it actually tasted devine. Although a bit sweet. I added vanilla ice cream to my piece to counter that overabundance of caramel. It was quite nice!
Would I make this one again? For the first time, I’m going to say no. Glucose is kind of a weird ingredient and nuts are not really my thing. The crust though was fabulous and I’d definitely make that one again. In fact, I have the other half of this dough in my freezer and will use it again sooner rather than later!
Cost of tart pan $14.99 and cost of Glucose $13.99. A lot cheaper than the $130 the chocolate tart would’ve cost but I think I’d have liked to eat chocolate more than the Caramel Nut tart I did bake.
What did I enjoy? Pommading again! Man, I love that technique and the outcome is light and wonderful, even after mixing in all of the sugars and flours. I also enjoyed learning to roll out the dough between the waxed paper sheets. It’s really easy to turn and make a round dough!
What didn’t I enjoy? Caramel overload after eating the tart. That’s totally my fault though, and truthfully? It still tasted good and the family enjoyed this bake.