Puff pastry continued into last week. I'm starting to get the sense that when it comes to puff pastry, it's a love it or hate it thing for my classmates. I'm firmly in the "love it" category. There's just something soothing to me in all the rhythms of making the dough. That said, I was not a huge fan of a new puff pastry we tackled this week - chocolate puff pastry. It was a huge pain to make, didn't produce as much rise as even the rapide.
On Tuesday, we made poires en cage (pears in cage), conversations, and fruit galettes. The poires en cage looked really cool and were fairly simple to make. We poached the pears in a caramel ginger spice liquid, which was delicious.
A galette is a free form tart, and we used puff pastry to form the base. The fruit compote was made with a combination of cherries, blueberries, plums, and a touch of brandy. Nothing like some liquor to up the ante of breakfast.
On Thursday, most of us braved the beginning of the snow storm to get to class and make jalousie, pithivier, and tarte tatin. Jalousie, pronounced "jealousy" is a puff pastry dessert made with a layer of almond cream topped with a layer of raspberry jam. It's made to resemble the Venetian blinds a baker always witnessed his neighbor peeking through, spying on his wife to catch her cheating.
Pithivier, also known as king's cake, is made with puff pastry, and frangipane - a mixture of pastry cream and almond cream. Traditionally, this pastry is made hiding a plastic baby inside the cake. I have no clue what the significance is, but I'd be freaked out to find a tiny baby in my dessert. Whoever finds the baby though gets to be king for the day.
Tarte tatin is one of my new favorite things to eat. It's so simple - just caramelized apples and puff pastry. With a splash of Calvados. First you caramelize the apples in a skillet using butter and sugar. Once you have a good color to the apples, you throw some Calvados (apple brandy) in the pan to flambe it. I poured a little bit too much in and ended up with a HUGE flame shooting up from the pan. Really, really scary. Fortunately, I still have my eyebrows. After the apples cool, you cover them with puff pastry and put it in the oven to bake. Once the puff is baked through, you take it out of the oven and immediately flip the skillet over to release the tart. All the snow made it impossible to get into work on Friday, so I was trapped in my house with this tart. At the end of Friday, there was no tarte tatin left.
On Saturday, we used the chocolate puff pastry we had made the class before. We made and plated some banana tarts. Chef Joseph made some peanut butter ice cream to accompany them, and it was amazing. I'm not a huge banana fan though. It's just something about the texture I don't like.
We also made a chocolate Napoleon strip. The recipe called for only a creme d'or (a fast chocolate mousse) with the chocolate puff pastry, but our instructor felt it was just too much chocolate, so we also used a lightened pastry cream for a contrast of colors and flavors. The end result was really beautiful.