Tuesday, August 15, 2006

A Week in France

As I have previously written, there is certain comfort and solace to be found in the kitchen. Baking is solitary therapy. And there are few things more therapeutic than delicious French pastries. Paris Boulangerie Pâtisserieis a special cookbook featuring recipes from thirteen Parisian bakeries, and like all of Linda Dannenberg's books, it is filled with gorgeous color photographs and simple, but decadent recipes. Her books transport readers to beautiful locales, while introducing them to the true elegance and simplicity of classic French cuisine.

Last week, I took a brief break from The Suburban Apron Company, not to vacation or escape, but to catch up on several other projects that had recently lacked proper personal attention. Having somewhat caught up, there seems some time for brief escape. So, I've been traveling, via the written word, to Paris with Ms. Dannenberg, and oh, the places we've seen! And after much turn-page tourism, I decided to settle in today at Ladurée.

Financiers from Ladurée today, perhaps some chocolate desserts from La Maison du Chocolat by midweek, with even more sweet treats from Mulot at week's end...mmm...

"Small Almond Cakes"
(recipe courtesy Paris Boulangerie Pâtisserie)

5 tablespoons/75 g unsalted butter, cut into pieces
5 tablespoons sliced or slivered blanched almonds
1/3 cup/35 g confectioners' sugar, lightly packed
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon/35 g all-purpose flour
3 large egg whites
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over moderate heat until lightly golden, about 3 to 4 minutes. Watch carefully to avoid burning. Pour the butter into a medium bowl, leaving behind any sediment in the pan.
Grind the almonds, sugar, and flour in a food processor until powdery. Add the egg whites and vanilla and mix briefly until smooth. Add the browned butter, mixing until blended. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate the batter overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C. Stir the mixture briefly to deflate it. Generously butter 10 financier molds (small trapezoid shapes), or use 1 1/2 dozen small (1 3/4 inch/4-cm) muffin tins. Spoon the batter into the molds, dividing it evenly. Bake until golden, about 13 to 15 minutes for small muffin shapes, 15 to 20 minutes for larger financiers. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 5 minutes; then unmold and cool completely. Store airtight. Makes 10 financiers (or 16 to 18 small rounds).

As usual, I generously dusted mine with confectioners' sugar. Delicious.

Until we meet for coffee,

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