Lemon Squares

I had a craving for bright and lemony. And for once did not want any lemonade (shocking, I know) so I made these totally satisfying lemon squares.

Ingredients
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup icing sugar
1/8 tea spoon salt
2 table spoon ground almonds
zest of 1 lime
12 table spoon unsalted butter (3/4 cup)
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 cup granulated sugar
3 whole eggs
3 egg yolk
ingredients

***

1. Pre-heat the oven to 350F.
In a food processor, combine the flour, icing sugar and salt. Add 6 table spoon of butter, cut into chunks.
pulse1

2. Add the lime zest and ground almonds and barely mix to combine.
pulse2

3. Press at the bottom of a square, greased, baking dish.
press

4. Bake for 20-25 minutes until firm to the touch and slightly golden. Allow to cool. Lower the oven to 325F.
baked-crust

5. In a large heat proof bowl combine the eggs, egg yolks, granulated sugar and lemon juice.
eggs1

6. Whip until the sugar dissolves and put over a double boiler. Insert a thermometer, making sure the probe is not touching the bottom nor the sides.
eggs2

7. Add the remaining butter. Mix with a wooden spoon as the butter melts to create an emulsion. You don’t want to stop mixing at any point really, to avoid lemony scrambled eggs. Bring to 160F. The mix will thicken so that it may coat the back of the spoon.
eggs3

8. At that point remove from heat. If you want to be sure of the texture, run trough a sieve to remove any lumps.
eggs4

9. Pour unto the crust and bake for 13-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a rack for 20-30 minutes. Then cover and cool in the refrigerator for 3 hours or more.
filling-baked

10. Cut into squares and enjoy.
cut1

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Chocolate Bread Pudding

I had people over for dinner and ended up with an extra baguette. I also had whole milk left from making a batch of rice pudding. So this served as a fridge/pantry cleaning decadent dessert.

Ingredients
1 1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup cream
235g dark chocolate
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 tea spoon salt
1 tea spoon vanilla
6 eggs
butter
1 baguette (1 or 2 day old. you don’t want fresh bread)
1 cup blueberries
ingredients

***

1. Butter a souffle dish (this one fits about 1 1/2 quart). Cut the bread into small cubes and fill the dish (about 6 cups).
cut-bread

2.  In a large pot, combine the milk, cream, sugar and salt. Heat until simmering but avoid boiling.
heat-milk

3. In the mean time, whisk the eggs in a large heat resistant bowl. You want them slightly lighter.
beat-eggs

4. Put the chocolate in the milk and remove from heat. Allow to stand for a minute.
add-choco

5. Then whisk until smooth.
whisk

6. Gently, while whisking continually, pour the chocolate cream into the eggs.Stir in the vanilla.
custard

7. Put the souffle dish in a large roasting tray. Pour over the bread. Allow to soak for 1 hour. If all the custard doesn’t “fit”, leave it alone for about 20 minutes. The bread will soak it up and you will be able to pour more.
This is why you don’t want fresh bread, it doesn’t soak up enough. And really, do give it at least 1 hour to soak up.
absorb

8. Add the berries. You could also mix them in with the bread at step 1. Don’t worry if any of the custard spilled during the previous step, that’s what that roasting tray is for, in part.
add-berries

9. Add about 1 tablespoon of butter in small dots on top of the whole thing. It will help the exposed bread caramelize.
berries

10. Turn the oven on to 325F. Add boiling water to the roasting pan. Put the waterbath in the oven for 45-50 minutes. The edges should be set while the middle should be still liquidy.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool. The cooler it gets the more set the custard will be. The pieces on top and near the edges will be slightly crispy and everything else very soft and creamy.

Eating it warm however, allows you to use the custard like a decadent chocolate cause, spooning it all over your serving. I’ll leave that difficult decision to you.
remove

Crème Brûlée

Classic vanilla Crème Brûlée. Figuring out how to do this at home has completly spoiled me… Most of the restaurant made ones don’t seem to measure up. Consider yourself warned!

If you can’t get your hands on the torch, you can set your oven to broil and put the rack as high as it goes. Then carefully use the element to broil the sugar crust. It heats up the custard a bit too much, but still yields tasty results.

Special hardware :
Ramekins (6-8)
Torch.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup of sugar
6 eggs yolk
1 liter cream
2 liters boiling water
1 vanilla pod or 3/4 teaspoon vanilla caviar
Maple sugar, to taste

***

1. Pre-heat the oven to 325F

2. In a thick bottom pot, combine the cream and the vanilla.

* If using a vanilla pod include the husk, not just the seeds as it adds a ton of flavor.

3. Over medium heat bring the cream and vanilla to a boil (not a simmer!). This is called scalding the cream and is important for the final texture.

Once boiling remove from heat and allow to stand for 15 minutes.

* Remove the vanilla pod husk at this time.

4.  While the cream is cooling, combine the eggs yolks and sugar in a large bowl.

* For an even stronger taste of vanilla you can use vanilla sugar instead of plain sugar.

5. The yolks and sugar will turn into a lumpy paste. Keep whisking until it becomes smooth and light.

6. While whisking continually add the cream to the eggs mixture. If you stop whisking you will end up with vanilla scrambled eggs, so don’t be shy to ask for help for this step!

7. Transfer into the ramekins. If you are not sure of how well you did with the previous step or if you want absolute perfection you can strain the custard into the ramekins to remove any lumps.

Place the ramekins into a cake mold and add boiling water up to the middle of the ramekins.

8 .Put in the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes, until the sides are set but the middle are still slightly woobly.

9. Cool the custard in the refrigerator for a minimum of 2 hours. They will keep for 3 days, so you can do these steps ahead of time.

Take the ramekins out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving and allow to come back to room temperature.

Then add maple sugar in an even layer on top of the custard.

10. Heat the sugar with the torch until it melts and becomes a cracking caramel layer.

* Different sugar will give different results. Try with brown sugar, white sugar or vanilla sugar!
 

 
 

Lemon Curd Verrine

I was trying to emulate a desert I’ve had in a restaurant.. While tasty, this was not -quite- there. The goal is to have layers of lemon and mascarpone while keeping the whole thing quite light.

Notes for next time:

  • Strain the lemon curd to remove the zest.
  • Whip the mascarpone more… or try making a a mix with yogurt to make it lighter.
  • Use a bit less salt on the nuts.

Ingredients
2 tbs honey
125g shelled pistachios
1/4 tea spoon fleur de sel
1 tea spoon orange blossom water

1 cup mascarpone
1 tea spoon vanilla
1 tbs cream

5 eggs yolks
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
Zest of 4 lemons
1 stick of butter, cut in chunks and chilled

***

1. In a metal bowl assemble the egg yolks and the sugar. Whisk until smooth (it will turn pasty at first, just keep whisking)

2. Once smooth, add the lemon zest and the lemon juice.

3. Put the bowl over a pot of simmering water, making sure the bottom does not touch the water. Whisk constantly as your cook the curd, to avoid turning it into scrambled eggs.

4. Once the mix has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon remove from heat. Add the butter one chunk at the time, mixing well between each to ensure they all melt.

5. Mix well until smooth and shinny. Cover with a plastic wrap and set aside.

6. Whip the mascarpone with the cream. Set aside.

7. Spread the pistachio on a cookie sheet line with parchment paper. Put in a 350F oven for a few minutes, until the nuts are warm and smell slightly roast.

8. Pour the toasted pistachio in a bowl and mix with the honey, orange blossom water and the fleur de sel.

9. Spread back on the cookie sheet and put back in the oven until the honey caramelizes. Pull out of the oven and allow to cool

10. Assemble the layers.