French people are hardcore, they eat pain for breakfast

Welcome to my final post about my learning project. As you know, I started out with an idea to improve my baking skills.  I was already a pretty good dessert chef and I posted a video to show off my skills, making a cake without a recipe. Here is the video, just for reference.

From there, I decided to make a series of French desserts, hopefully scaling upwards from easiest to hardest to make. I chose ten different desserts: Chocolate Mousse, Crème Brulée, Napoleons, Gascon-style Flan, Chocolate Truffles, Madeleines, Macarons, Chocolate Soufflé, Fruit Tarte and Croquembouche.

I was able to make 8 of these 10 recipes. The two I was unable to make were the truffles and the croquembouche. The rest were tackled and went extremely well!

I will now rank them based on difficulty (1 is easy, 10 is hard) and deliciousness (1 is gross, 10 is delicious.)

1) Chocolate Mousse
Difficulty: 6
Deliciousness: 6

2) Crème Brulée
Difficulty: 3
Deliciousness: 9

3) Napoleons
Difficulty: 5
Deliciousness: 4

4) Gascon-style Flan
Difficulty: 5
Deliciousness: -10

5) Madeleines
Difficulty: 2
Deliciousness: 8

6) Macarons
Difficulty: 10
Deliciousness: 9

7) Chocolate Soufflé
Difficulty: 10
Deliciousness: 6

8) Fruit Tarte
Difficulty: 5
Deliciousness: 8

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The two best and easiest desserts were, by far, the Madeleines and the Creme Brulee.

There you have it! I had never made any of these recipes before attempting to learn about them through this class. Now I have a whole French baking skill set!

Merci beaucoup!

Olé, Olé, Soufflé

This week, I attempted to make a soufflé.  I say attempted because it did not go well.  This was the second of my “most challenging” section of French desserts and challenging it was.

At first, when reading recipes on Pinterest, I thought that the soufflé wouldn’t be terribly hard.  Honestly, I am trying to approach all of my desserts from a growth mindset, which is that it isn’t hard – it’ll just take some extra time.

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Photo Credit: Carol Dweck via Reddit cc

This is the video that I decided to take my recipe from:

Although I used the recipe from the video, I cross referenced it with this recipe, which is very similar.

Now, although I was trying to approach this from a growth mindset and not think that this dessert was too hard, something went incredibly wrong and my soufflés did not turn out at all.

But! This was an opportunity to try again. Mistakes help me learn! So, I watched the video again, searched for helpful soufflé making tips (along the way, I found a video on how to separate the egg yolks from the whites, which would have been incredibly helpful at the start of my learning project, months ago.)

After watching the video again and searching for tips, I tried again and it turned out really well!

Final Verdict: WOW!

Maybe I’m overselling it. My soufflé certainly didn’t rise as much as it was supposed to.  But my husband and cousin liked them! I forgot to take a picture when I pulled it out of the oven, and then you have to eat it right away. But, here is a soufflé that looked similar to mine.

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Photo Credit: stu_spivack via Compfight cc

Fruit Tart

This week I continued onward on my quest of learning French desserts. I was able to move from the intermediate portion of my desserts, to the harder portion.

The first dessert I made from the harder section of my French dessert list is Classic French Fruit Tart.  I’m not quite sure why I put this dessert in the “hard” section of the list, I believe that I watched an episode of MasterChef once where the challenge was a fruit tart. It looked difficult, based on that episode and, obviously, if I was in the same room as Gordon Ramsey, I would think that the task was even harder as I tried to impress!

Nevertheless, this week’s challenge wasn’t too much of a challenge.  I found the recipe for a Fruit Tart on Pinterest, from Rainbow Delicious‘ blog.   The recipe originated from a cookbook by Ina Garten.

Before making the fruit tart, I watched a couple of videos that described the process.  My favourite was this one, which made the process seem simple.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnAtFz-BFLg&ab_channel=JoyofBaking

These are the ingredients for the Fruit Tart:

Crust
  • 1 1/4 C flour
  • 3 T sugar
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 8 T unsalted butter
  • 3-4 T ice water
Custard Filling
  • 3 extra large egg yolks at room temperature
  • 6 T sugar
  • 1 1/2 T cornstarch
  • 1 C milk
  • 1 T unsalted butter
  • 1 T heavy cream
  • 1/2 t cognac or brandy (or vanilla)
  • Toppings
  • Assorted fruits*
  • 1/2 C Apricot Jelly**

The crust, I think, was the trickiest part.  I have to admit, I had help at this point.  My husband worked in a bakery for part of his high school career and I usually get his help when it comes to dough.

We followed the recipe, until it got to the part where you have to “cut in the butter with a pasty knife.” I do not own a pastry knife and so, upon googling the answer, found out that you can use several regular knives in place of a pastry knife.

Here is a video of that process:

The pastry cream was very similar to another recipe I tried, earlier in the semester, that of the Mille-Feuille.

The last step was arranging the fruit. I have to admit, I didn’t really think this step through and, instead of creating some sort of pattern so that you could have multiple fruits in once slice, I arranged them so that you really just had one fruit… Something to work on for next time!

Final Verdict: Amazing!

The fruit tart turned out amazingly well.  I was able to serve it to a friend (unfortunately her husband has Celiac’s and was unable to try it, due to all the terrible gluten in the crust) my husband and one of my roommates.  The tart got a thumbs up from everyone who ate it!

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Making Macarons

This week I attempted to conquer one of the hardest French desserts out there:

The Macaron

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Photo Credit: julien haler via Wikimedia cc

These super pretty and very tasty treats take a lot of time to make. There are also so many recipes, all with very pretty pictures to match.

To start, I figured I would try a simple recipe, and I found one titled Basic French Macarons. The recipe is pretty simple, actually.  Combine 2/3 cups of almond flour with 1 1/2 cups of icing sugar. Sift.  Then, in a separate bowl, beat 3 egg whites and 1/4 cup sugar until stiff peaks form, add 1tsp vanilla. Mix the flour/sugar mixture in with the egg white mixture and – Voila! You have macaron batter.

The next part is where I kind of messed up. I’m bad at guesstimating the size of things and I definitely made my first batch of macarons too small. They were adorable and still turned out well, but way too small.

With the second batch of macarons I made, using this recipe, I corrected this mistake and piped them a lot bigger. But! I forgot the crucial part to making the perfect macaron the second time: let the piped macarons dry for 15 mins on the counter before cooking them in the oven.

Due to this oversight, they did not all turn out the way they were supposed to. Luckily, I was able to find a blog that listed all of the problems that I could possibly have with my macarons and ways to maybe fix them.

Problem Possible Issues Fix
Egg whites don’t seem to stiffen Egg whites have too much water Age egg whites at least overnight.  I leave a tupperware of egg whites in the fridge at all times.
Added flavorings or coloring too early. Never add any flavorings or color until the very end. Not even spices as some have oils.
Egg whites seem to flatten or liquefy when mixing in the powdered sugar and almond meal Too much flavoring, color, or additional liquid source. Don’t add so much! Easy does it! If my flavoring has oil (often does), I add just a few drops just prior to piping.
Beating too hard. Fold the egg whites gently. After adding coloring and flavorings, I fold no more than 10 times.
Egg whites weren’t whipped long enough. Whip egg whites until very stiff peaks. Then whip for another three minutes.
Egg whites sat without movement for too long. Don’t waste time between steps.  Get a move on it.
Top of Macaron seems bumpy or blemished. Too many chunks of almond meal or flour  in the batter. Sift the almond flour before using.
Too many chunks of almond meal or flour  in the batter. Process the almond meal in a food processor for a longer period of time.
Macarons maintain a stiff peak after piping and baking. Batter too stiff. Fold a few more times or add just a few drops of liquid (flavoring, coloring, or water).
Batter too stiff. Rap the bottom of the pan on the counter to flatten.  I heard macarons are particularly fond of Sir-Mix-A-Lot.
Macarons liquify after piping.  They can also run into each other and hold hands. Too much flavoring, color, or additional liquid source. Don’t add so much! Easy does it!
Beating too hard. Fold the egg whites gently. After adding coloring and flavorings, I fold no more than 10 times.
Egg whites weren’t whipped long enough. Whip egg whites until very stiff peaks. Then whip for another three minutes.
Batter got warm or over-handled with piping Pipe macarons quickly taking care to not hold the piping bag in your hands too often.
Piped batter too closely. Pipe macarons further away from each other.
No feet develop. Batter is too wet. See the liquefying problem.
Air was beaten out of the batter. Gently fold the batter.  Quit messing with it!
Too much flavoring, color, or additional liquid source making the batter too wet to rise. Don’t add so much! Easy does it!
Luck. Sometimes, things just happen.
Macarons crack on top when baking.  There are two types of cracks.  1. Macaron is too delicate. 2. The foot develops on top creating a large bubbly crack. Shell too delicate because the batter was too wet. See fixes for egg whites flattening.
Macarons did not dry to form a shell on top prior to baking. Allow macarons to dry for longer periods of time.  Heat up the oven to dry out to the room or use a hair dryer to dry the macarons.  Or turn on the heater or air conditioner to dry out the room.  The top of the macarons should be very dry to the touch prior to baking.
Temperature too high when baking in humidity.  Humidity kills. Lower oven temperature when higher humidity levels. In dry weather, I bake for 11 minutes at 350. In medium humidity, I bake for 12 minutes at 325.  In wet weather, I bake for 13 minutes as 305 degrees.
Macarons stick to the bottom of the pan.  Perfect ones will pop off cleanly. Baking surface was a bit dirty. Make sure baking surface is thoroughly clean prior to piping.
Silpat is old or cheap. Go for the gusto and buy the expensive stuff. Some people use parchment, but I’m a huge believer in the silpat.
The bottoms are not fully baked. Bake for a while longer. Check every 45 seconds.
The tops of Macarons come off, but the bottoms remain stuck to the pan. Baking surface was a bit dirty. Make sure baking surface is thoroughly clean prior to piping.
Silpat is old or cheap. Go for the gusto and buy the expensive stuff. Some people use parchment, but I’m a huge believer in the silpat.
The bottoms are not fully baked. Bake for a while longer. Check every 45 seconds.
Luck. Fill the tops with extra filling and stick them together anyways. Scrap off the bottoms and eat them.
Macarons are inconsistent. Some are perfect, some are terrible. Uneven airflow. Bake only one pan at a time.
Uneven airflow.  Make sure to rotate the pan halfway through baking.
Uneven airflow. Use a wooden spoon to keep the oven door cracked.
Temperature change in batter or over-handling in piping. Work quickly and don’t mess with the batter.
Luck. Sometimes, things just happen.
Macarons rise and then deflate. Removing from heat before fully baking. Leave them in the oven until they are done. I’ve accidentally taken macarons out of the oven when they are only needing to be rotated.  That’s how I learned this lesson.  Re-baking them does not fix the problem.

Final Verdict: Really Good!

I was able to make very decent tasting macarons. They didn’t look the best – the first batch wasn’t the best, due to their small size and the second batch didn’t develop “feet” like they were supposed to. But, all in all, it went pretty well for my first attempt at this tricky dessert! I’m happy and will probably try this again sometime soon!

Here is my picture of my pretty macarons, both big and teeny tiny!

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Here is a link to my live tweeting of this macaron adventure!

 

Classic French Madeleines

This week I made Classic French Madeleines for my learning project.  As usual, I had a lot of recipes to choose from.  I’ve talked about this before, but I was thinking it over as I decided between the different recipes.  I know that my decision wasn’t a big one, it probably won’t even be the biggest I make this evening!

Turns out, having too much choice is not a good thing and can create anxiety.  Before choosing which recipe I would go with, I read about why having too much choice is making you unhappy and why too much choice is stressing us out. Both articles seem to point out that the internet is one of the causes of having too many options, allowing us to see all the possibilities and then, finally, not choose them.

Anyway, back to the madeleines.  The recipe I decided to go with is a Classic French Madeleine recipe from Julia Child. My friend at school happened to have a madeleine pan that she let me borrow, so I didn’t need to buy one just for this recipe!

The recipe was actually quite simple, in comparison to other things that I’ve made so far.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 eggs
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon All purpose flour (Maida)
  • 140 grams unsalted butter
  • ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon lemon zest
  • pinch of salt
  • Powdered sugar (optional)
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Slightly beat the eggs in a bowl. Measure ¼ cup of eggs into a bowl.
  2. Then beat in the sugar and the cup of flour. Add little more egg ( a tablespoon at a time), if the batter is too dry. When thoroughly blended, set aside and let it rest for 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a sauce pan, bring it to the boil, and let it brown lightly. Set aside.
  4. Place the 1 tablespoon of flour in a small bowl and blend in 1½ tablespoons of the browned butter. Paint the Madeleine cups with the butter-flour mixture. Set aside.
  5. Stir the rest of the butter over ice until cool but liquid. Mix the butter with the last of the eggs along with salt, lemon rind and juice and vanilla.
  6. Add this mixture to the resting batter and stir well. Allow the batter to rest for 10 more minutes. If you want a big hump in the middle which is so characteristic about Madeleines, allow the batter to rest for one hour at room temperature or couple of hours in the refrigerator.
  7. Preheat the oven to 375 F, and set the racks in upper and lower middle levels. Divide the batter into 24 lumps of a generous tablespoon each, and drop them into the Madeleine cups. Bake in the preheated oven, 20 minutes, until the cakes are slightly browned around the edges, humped in the middle, and slightly shrunk from the cups.
  8. Un-mold onto a rack. When cool, turn shell side up and dust with confectioners sugar for serving. (dusting is optional). They will keep in the refrigerator for a day or two in an airtight container.

Sounds simple, right?

I followed the directions perfectly and made, even if I’ve never had them before, decent madeleines.  However, during the process I was a little frustrated. The pictures on the websites never look like what I am creating. On the blog post the pictures of the batter showed a very liquid batter. Mine, however, was very dry and looked more like cookie dough than cake batter.  (Not to worry, in the end, my madeleines turned out really well!)

What got me thinking, though, is how difficult it is to learn a new skill on the internet without an expert around.  I’ve been using the food bloggers as my experts, as they’ve usually tried the recipes that I am attempting.  It’s wonderful to be able to cross reference their pictures and opinions with other pictures and videos as well.

Luckily, most food bloggers are not looking to troll others trying out their recipes and therefore they can be mostly trusted. (I hope!)

However, if you are trying to learn a skill without a clear expert, sometimes you have to spend a lot more time researching and verifying that your ‘expert’ is, in fact, the read deal. Or, you can use different websites to check out your source!

And, to finish this blog post, here is the end result of my madeleines! (Final Verdict: Delicious!!)

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Flan-tastic!

This week I moved from “beginner” level French desserts to “intermediate” level French desserts. I have these in quotation marks because I’m not sure if the flan was supposed to go into the intermediate section or not!

First – I need to clarify. I made a Gâteau Millasson, or, Gascon-Style Flan.  Classic French flans are like custard pies, making them similar to crème brûlée and the custard in the mille-feuilles.  However, there are many, many different types of flan.  There are also many arguments on the internet about the differences between types of flan. Each country/region also has variations and different names as well.   usual, I narrowed down the recipes I wanted to use.  I decided to go with this one, from

To start my very own flan, I narrowed down the recipes I wanted to use.  I decided to go with this one, from Saveur.  I also found a video, which used almost the exact same recipe.

As you can see, it is relatively simple to make and is the first dessert where I don’t have to separate the egg yolks from the whites! I decided to use Snapchat to document my dessert skills this week, since that was the topic of our readings. I added all my snaps of the process in My Story on the app, then saved the resulting video and later uploaded it to youtube.

If someone wanted to try a snap story for their project, I would reccomend changing the display time for each picture. My video works, but it’s a little slow! (Except for the last picture, which is way too fast! Trial and error, guys.)

Final Verdict: Kind of Gross

I’m pretty sure that this turned out how it was supposed to. All the pictures that I’ve seen on the internet are similar to what was created. However, I did not enjoy this dessert at all.  There’s no great was to describe this, but it definitely tasted weird, like a cake that wasn’t cooked or maybe jello that was cooked for some reason?

Has anyone ever had this type of flan before? I’ve never tried it before making it, so I can’t be 100% sure that I made it correctly, but if I did, I don’t think I’ll be making it again!

Crème Brûlée

This week I was able to finally make one of my favourite desserts to get in a restaurant, crème brûlée.  I originally planned to do this dessert earlier in my project, since it seems like a simple recipe, but when I explained my project to my sister, I was told I needed to make it when she was in town.

She’s currently in Edmonton, getting her MSc in Speech-Language Pathology and she would be coming back home for the February break, so I had to wait until this week to make the dessert. Luckily for me, I listened to her and waited until Valentine’s Day to start making the crème brûlée.

Valentine's Crème Brûlée! How fitting!
Valentine’s Crème Brûlée! How fitting!

Photo Credit: katrina.alana via Compfight cc

To prepare, I went through my normal recipes that I collected on Pinterest. I had three good recipes to choose from – Chef in Training’s recipe, Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice’s recipe and Cooking Classy’s recipe.  All three were pretty similar. I wanted to make a classic crème brûlée and all of these recipes were very standard.

In a crème brûlée, you need heavy cream, sugar, egg yolks and vanilla. The only thing that differed in the recipes were the amounts of each item. I waffled for a while, trying to decide which recipe to go with. When I searched for “how to make the perfect crème brûlée” or “how many eggs should go in a crème brûlée?” I got articles like these, which detailed the perfect ratio of cream to eggs, or debated the amounts of different ingredients by making a bunch of different recipes.

Finally, while thinking my plan over and slightly procrastinating, I noticed on Facebook that one of my friends had liked another Tasty video. (I mentioned these videos in my first post about my Learning Project and even attempted to recreate a Tasty video with my first recipe – a “no recipe chocolate cake.”) The video the friend had liked was a time lapse of a crème brûlée! And it was posted just a few days before I made my own version! Hurrah!

Needless to say, I decided to go with the recipe from the video.  The article gave me the measurements.

  • 4 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup in mixture and 1/2 cup for crust

A simple recipe, and one that I can redo if it doesn’t go well. I bought double the number of ingredients, just in case.  (I figured if this recipe didn’t go well, I would try another recipe from my online search.)

Here’s the video that led to me picking this recipe.

I followed the directions exactly, which were not difficult to follow. I heated the cream and the vanilla, then combined it with the egg yolk and sugar. The mixture went into ramekins. The ramekins went into a pan, it was half filled with water and then the whole thing went into the oven for 50 minutes.

When I pulled the custard out of the oven at the 50-minute mark, I was a little worried.  The recipe called for the mixture to be “set, but still a little jiggly in the middle.” It was still really jiggly, so I quickly searched for a youtube clip to show me if I was doing it correctly and I found this:

He describes the process really well, so I was a little less worried. By the time they had cooled and came out of the fridge for the sugar/burning part, they were perfectly set!

I put a small amount of sugar on the tops of each of the ramekins and burnt it with a torch that I got as a wedding present.  At the end, it looked really good!

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My own crème brûlée

Final Verdict: AMAZING!

My parents were also in town, so I served the crème brûlée for dessert and everyone really liked it. My sister even posted an artsy shot on Instagram. It turned out really well, maybe still slightly too runny, but that could be easily fixed if I were to make it again but leaving it in the oven for a minute or two longer.

Another bit of good news: my parents live on a farm and brought me a bunch of eggs for the rest of my project. I’m finding out that I use so many eggs for each recipe, I hope I have enough now!

All the eggs!
All the eggs!

Mille-Feuille

This week I crossed another classic French dessert off of my list – Napoleons or Mille-Feuille.  This dessert was on my list – one of the ‘easy’ desserts.

Before I started baking, I researched the history of the Mille-Feuille. It is a classic French dessert, but I found out that it has many different variations and names in many different cultures.

For example, in French culture, the dessert is called Mille-Feuille (which translates to Thousand Leaves) or Napoleons.  In Australia, it’s called a custard slice. In England a vanilla slice.  A lot of these variations are similar but are still quite different.

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Photo Credit: MadPole via Compfight cc

Again, what I’m finding when I research the desserts that I want to make is that there is SO much information to sift through.  There are so many tips, tricks and recipes that it’s hard to determine fact from fiction.

Luckily, one strategy is to compare to other publications or facts. I found three recipes to compare: Classic French Napoleons, Mille-Feuilles and Classic French Napoleons (Mille-Feuilles).  All three recipes are very similar. I decided to go with the last recipe – I liked how detailed the instructions were.

I made the Mille-Feuille according to the recipe.  I used store bought puff pastry, like the recipe called for.  Apparently, store bought puff pastry will save your sanity when making these things, which I was in favour of!

Just like the chocolate mousse recipe, this one called for separating eggs again.  I have a feeling by the end of this project, even if I’m not an expert in French cooking, I might become an expert on separating eggs!

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I made the custard first since it needed to chill for at least two hours in the fridge.  I feel like I’ve been overcooking the egg mixtures.  The custard is supposed to be thick – according to one of the websites I read, the thicker it is, the nicer the pictures are! But, mine turned into jello – while still spreadable, was just too thick to be correct.

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While the custard was cooling in the fridge, I made the puff pastry.  It had to be flattened, cut up, baked and then cooled as well.

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I had to make sure it was the right size – forgive my tape measure! (How do food bloggers do it? I’ve never seen a kitchen measuring tape!)

The third step was making the glaze and putting it on one of the cooled puff pastries

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The fourth and final step was assembly: Lots of custard on one of the puff pastry, stacking the other on top, more custard and the final glazed pastry on top!

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Final Verdict: Pretty Good!

My husband rated this even higher, saying it was like “a really good toaster strudel.” The custard wasn’t the right consistency, but that didn’t affect the taste. The whole thing was also very tall – which might mean that I let the puff pastry rise too much. But, again, it still tasted pretty good! Success!

Chocolate Mousse

This is the first of the French desserts that I have decided to learn to make for my learning project.  I chose Chocolate Mousse to try out first since it was one of my three “easiest” from my previous post.

To start, I found a recipe on Pinterest.  This always takes much longer than necessary, since there are so many variations of different recipes. Did I want to make a vegan chocolate mousse? Or an easy chocolate mousse? What about a good-for-your-sweet-tooth-but-contains-like-no-calories-because-of-your-diet chocolate mousse?  Or perhaps a classic Julia Child recipe?

I wound up pinning four recipes to my Pinterest board.  The first two were variations on the “Easy Chocolate Mousse” theme.  The first was from Will Cook for Smiles baking blog and the other was on Powered by Mom.  Both of these recipes called for whipping cream, which to me, sounded wrong.

I checked with Wikipedia and found out that mousse can be made with whipped egg whites or with whipped cream.  Since the goal of this project is to gain new skills, I decided to go for the harder recipes, calling for whipped egg whites.

The two harder recipes were both very useful to me in creating my own chocolate mousse. The first, from Sprinkle Bakes, had many different pictures documenting the process of creating the mousse.  I would have used that recipe since the pictures were so helpful, but the recipe wasn’t posted on the blog. I decided to use the recipe I found on Made with Pink since the process sounded similar.

To start, I gathered all my ingredients.

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This picture is very deceptive. Since there weren’t a lot of ingredients, I thought that this recipe would be a lot easier than it actually was.

I started out by measuring out all of my ingredients.  Whenever I make a recipe that calls for measurements other than cups, I usually turn to google and convert the recipe.  Then, I separated the eggs white and the yolks.  Although I have seen videos like this:

My mom taught me to separate the egg using the shell like so:

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I proceeded to follow all the steps in the directions, melting the chocolate, butter and coffee in a double boiler.  I then combined the egg yolks, sugar, rum and water and cooked those in a double boiler as well.

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The next part was my favourite. The recipe called for the egg mixture to be cooled quickly in an ice bath.

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The third part of the recipe called for whipping the egg whites into “soft peaks.” I have heard of hard peaks before, but not soft. I searched for a guide and found one that described it well.

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When the egg whites were ready, they needed to be folded into the chocolate mixture.  I needed to learn how to fold egg whites into the batter on the fly! I quickly googled “fold egg whites” and clicked on the videos tab. This was the first video that popped up!

Here is what my folding looked like:

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I then took my finished mixture and filled up my ramekins, a wedding gift that I have yet to use (although, with my plans for this project, I will probably use them again soon!)

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Final verdict: Just okay

The mousse turned out okay and was definitely edible. The recipe called for a 1/4 cup of coffee and I thought that it was way too strong.  My husband loved it, but I thought it was too dense. For a dessert that it supposed to be “light and airy” I must have done something wrong!

From a search after the fact, I found that there are a whole bunch of variables that could have affected the mousse. I could have whipped the egg whites too long, or the chocolate could have been too warm. Or, I could have folded/stirred the mixture too many times.

For my next dessert, I plan to search for “what could go wrong” beforehand and see how many issues I can prevent!

To Become a Baker Extraordinaire

For my Learning Project, I decided to improve my baking skills, specifically with French desserts.

In my last post, I mentioned that I had found a gallery of French desserts and I would pick ten of the desserts to try over the course of the semester.  I made sure to pick desserts that I’ve never tried to make before.

I wanted to scale my learning, so I decided to try and categorize the desserts from easiest to hardest.  Using The Cordon Bleu PDF I found online, I was able to categorize half of the desserts based on which module they fell under. For the other half, I looked at some recipes online and moved them into a category based on the ease of the recipe.  The three categories I used are the three courses offered by the Cordon Bleu in Ottawa, Basic (Easy), Intermediate (Medium) and Superior (Hard).

Here are my desserts, categorized by level:

Basic French Desserts 

Chocolate Mousse

Crème Brulée

Napoleons

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Photo Credit: rofi via Compfight cc

Intermediate French Desserts

Gascon-style Flan

Chocolate Truffles

Madeleines

Macarons

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Superior French Desserts

Chocolate Soufflé

Fruit Tarte

Croquembouche

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Photo Credit: Anz-i via Compfight cc

After I had decided which desserts I would attempt, I turned to my trusty Pinterest account, to find some recipes for each of my desserts. Now I should be all ready to begin my learning project!

But!

I have to establish a baseline!

I wrote last time that my friend thinks that I am an awful baker, but honestly, I have practiced quite a bit. My baking usually turns out for me.  I follow a recipe, read all the directions and usually, a great dessert appears at the end.

In order to establish a baking baseline, I decided to make a cake from scratch, with no recipe at all.  From previous experience, I knew what to put into a chocolate cake.  I wrote my list down and added amounts beside each item. (Kind of feeling like this mini chef.)

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Once I had created my own recipe, I decide to record myself making the chocolate cake! My inspiration for the video is from the Tasty videos that have been appearing on Facebook quite often.

Here is my no recipe chocolate cake!

It turned out really well! Turns out I needed more milk than I had originally planned, so I added more off-camera at one point. But otherwise, no movie magic! It tasted as good as it looks. I brought it to my inlaws for supper and my father-in-law had seconds! (He’s a picky eater, so this is a clear marker of my success!)

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With this recipe under my belt, I am excited to try my first French dessert. I’ve decided it will be Chocolate Mousse! Stay tuned!