Nearly Neapolitan Mousse Cake

As Nearly Headless Nick cannot join the hunt because of a technicality, this dessert is only nearly a Neapolitan Mousse Cake due to a couple of technicalities. Picky, picky picky.


The chocolate ice cream base is actually almond chocolate cake. the vanilla ice cream is white chocolate mousse, much like a white chocolate ganache but lighter and airier as the cream is whipped, and the strawberry ice cream is raspberry mousse, because I like raspberries.

I have to be honest, this dessert takes some time and patience. Experimenting with the cake recipe (two tries), making the mice, mousses, err… white and pink fillings took 2 or three recipes each adjusting the amount of pectin, when to add it, the amount of whipped cream and how much to whip it. The whipped cream for the raspberry has to be whipped to firm peaks while the white chocolate should be soft peaks. I have removed gelatin from my pantry and replaced it with pectin. Gelatin is easier and fine if you like processed skin, bones, and connective tissues of animals such as domesticated cattle, chicken, pigs, and fish. I don’t. Pectin is sourced from fruit and vegetable peels. I am sure there are some nasty processing steps, but at least it didn’t start with Bessie or Babe or Miss Piggy.

The almond cake uses almond flour instead of food processor ground baked almonds. Its easier and I had some. The batter is pretty low viscosity but don’t worry, it about doubles in thickness in the oven. After cut, wrap the cake disks in plastic and they will stay fresh for 2 or 3 days so you can make them ahead.

I ordered some 3 mil acetate sheets online. I cut them to size (10 x 41/2″), cut 10 paper bands to hold the acetates in place around the cake. This obviated (not obliviate, we want to remember this recipe) the requirement to tape the acetate. I hope to use them again.

The vanilla mousse sets quickly so work with some speed. Varying the whipping time – Tied to the Whipping Post – can create a thinner mousse, but too short a time can make the mousse dense. I like to pipe the mice, mousses, errr… fillings so I can control the thickness of each layer.

The raspberry fruit has the most powerful flavor, but is the trickiest to make just right. Pectin requires sugar and acid to cross link. Pectin’s structure binds with water in an acid environment and sugar increases pectin’s ability to gel. The lemon juice (I used key lime juice, it was in the fridge) provides the acid and the berries and sugar provide the sugar environment. Vary the amount of each and when to add them. The method below worked well for me.

Neapolitan Mousse Cake



  • 200 g (¾ cup + 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 30 g (¼ cup) unsweetened cocoa
  • 60 g (½ cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 120 g (1 cup) almond flour
  • 225 g (1 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 5 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 180° C (350° F). Line rimmed jelly roll pan with non-stick baking paper or silicone baking mat. Be sure to line the sides as well.
  2. In small saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat, occasionally swirling pan, until it begins to brown and smells nutty, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, using fine mesh sieve, sift cocoa two times. Then sift together cocoa (for a third time), flour, almond flour and sugar, baking powder and salt into mixing bowl.
  4. Add egg whites, one at-a-time, whisking until just combined after each addition (do not over mix).
  5. Stir the vanilla into the cooled butter.
  6. Gradually pour the vanilla-butter in a thin, steady stream into the batter, whisking to just combine. (Kitchenaid with beater on level 2)
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared jelly roll pan.
  8. Bake until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean, about 22 minutes. Poke the cake gently, the depression of your finger should bounce back.
  9. Remove from oven and transfer to wire rack. Let stand 5 minutes, transfer cake to wire rack. Let stand until cooled completely.
  10. Using a 2½” ring cutter, cut 10 round mini cakes from the cooled sheet cake.
  11. Line rimmed baking sheet with non-stick baking paper or silicone baking mat. Arrange cakes on baking sheet, spacing 2½ cm (1-inch) apart.



  • 200 g white chocolate, cut fine
  • 350 g heavy whipping cream


  1. Melt the chocolate in a small bowl in the microwave. Heat 30 sec, then check the chocolate and stir. Heat another 30 seconds and stir again. Heat 15 seconds and stir. The chocolate should be liquid but not boiling. If more time in required keep reducing the time by 5 sec and check. Do not over cook.
  2. Whip the heavy cream until it forms soft peaks. If you overwhip the chocolate/cream mixture will set to quickly and will not form smooth even layers.
  3. Gently fold the liquid chocolate into the whipped cream using a figure 8 pattern. Be sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl.
  4. Add to a piping bag and fill the acetate cylinder with about an inch of vanilla mousse.



  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon powdered pectin
  • 175 g fresh raspberries (about 1 pint)
  • 2½ tablespoons sugar
  • ½ cup cold heavy cream


  1. Place lemon juice in a small bowl and sprinkle with pectin. Let sit until pectin softens, 3 minutes.
  2. In a blender, puree raspberries until smooth, scraping down bowl as needed.
  3. Pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a measuring cup, pressing on solids (you should have about 1/3 cup of puree); discard solids.
  4. In a small saucepan, combine raspberry puree and 2½ Tbsp sugar over medium. Cook until bubbles form at edge. Add pectin mixture and cook, stirring constantly, just until gelatin dissolves, about 1 minute. Transfer mixture to a small bowl and let cool to room temperature, 20 minutes.
  5. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat cream and 1 Tbsp sugar on medium-high until firm peaks form, about 4 minutes. Do not over mix.
  6. With a rubber spatula, gently fold in raspberry puree mixture in 3 parts until combined.
  7. Add raspberry mousse to a piping bag and fill the acetate cylinders with about an inch of mousse.
  8. Refrigerate until set, about 2 hours (or up to overnight).



  • 120 ml (½ cup) heavy cream, 35%
  • 113 g (4 ounces) dark chocolate, 70%


  1. In a small saucepan, bring cream and corn syrup just to boil (small bubbles beginning to form around the sides of the pan) over medium heat, stirring until corn syrup is dissolved.
  2. Meanwhile, finely chop the chocolate and place in small bowl.
  3. Pour the cream mixture over the chocolate and let stand, 2 minutes. You may not need all the cream. I pour some to just wet the chocolate, wait a minute and stir. If it is too thick, I add more cream, too thin, more chocolate.
  4. Using a flexible spatula, gently stir together beginning in the center of the bowl gradually working toward the edges pulling in as much as chocolate as possible until the mixture is smooth, glossy and combined well.

 Assembling Mousse Cakes

  1. To make acetate collars, cut ten 10 x 4 ½” strips of acetate paper or non-stick baking paper. Also cut 20 1” x 8½” pieces of paper for use as bands to secure the acetate. Wrap one collar around the base of each cake keeping the base flush with the baking sheet. Slide paper band down to base to secure the acetate collar. Return to baking sheet. Cover loosely with a sheet of plastic wrap.
  2. Prepare Vanilla Mousse.
  3. Evenly divide the vanilla mousse between each acetate collar. (The layers should be no more than 2½ cm or 1-inch high.) Cover the cakes with a couple of sheets of plastic wrap (don’t secure too tightly otherwise the collars will lose their shape).
  4. Transfer the cakes on the baking sheet to the refrigerator. Let chill until firm, about 2 hours.
  5. When vanilla mousse layer is firm, prepare Raspberry Mousse.
  6. Remove the cakes from the refrigerator.
  7. Evenly divide the strawberry mousse between each acetate collar. (Again, the layers should be no more than 2½ cm or 1-inch high.) Again, cover cakes with plastic wrap.
  8. Place the cakes in the freezer. Let chill until firm.
  9. Remove the cakes from the freezer and immediately remove collars. (I recommend
  10. Removing collars immediately after removing cakes from the freezer because removal is much easier when the cakes are firm. It makes for best presentation too.)
  11. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of chocolate ganache in the center (onto the surface) of each cake, gently coaxing the ganache to the edges, leaving a 6 mm (¼-inch) border. Chill, uncovered, in the refrigerator until thawed, about 15 minutes.
  12. To serve, transfer each cake to a dessert plate, and top each cake with raspberry.


Independent Pizzeria – Seattle WA

You may have read in other posts in this blog that I joined ChefSteps, a food and technology company based in Seattle. Through their app, they provide recipes, techniques and tutorials on a wide range of food to help people “cook smarter.”

I have had outstanding success with a number of their recipes and techniques but The diced-tomatosIndependent Pizzeria‘s crust may be “pizza de resistance” thus far. ChefSteps posted a tutorial with Joe Heffernan showing how to make his amazing crust. While visiting Neil and Maureen in Seattle earlier this month we went to Independent Pizzeria for dinner, 2-half-pizza-doughssampled his pizza (and fresh bread, warm honey and chevre cheese appetizer) and met Joe. For the “right” way to make this pizza dough refer to the tutorial. This post documents what I did, and proves it is possible to make this dough by a home, amateur baker. It is undoubtedly the best pizza dough I ever made. 2-uncooked-pizzas

I made the full recipe, used 1/3 and froze the other two balls, wrapped in heavy Darnel polycarbonate wrap after removing from the fridge the next day. There was enough sauce for two of the full sized pies. We like lots of sauce.


Independent Pizza Dough





  1. In a medium-sized bowl, mix bread flour and salt thoroughly.
  2. Combine water and yeast
    1. Using a thermometer, adjust sink tap until it reaches a temperature of 65 °F / 18 °C. Add water to a new bowl.
    2. Add cake yeast and gently stir to combine.
  3. Make a well in the center of the flour.
  4. Pour in the water and yeast.
  5. Using a wooden spoon, mix ingredients together until you have a shaggy, rugged mass of dough.
  6. In a stand mixer equipped with the dough hook, mix dough on medium speed for about seven and a half minutes, or until the dough has formed a uniform mass and pulls cleanly away from the sides of the bowl.
  7. Dust your work surface with flour.
  8. Turn dough onto the work surface and shape into a ball.
  9. Ferment dough for 5–8 hours in a covered container.
    1. NOTE: Make sure that the temperature of the room is conducive to fermentation. It should be around 65 °F / 18 °C in there.
    2. Using a scale, divide the dough into 230 g portions. Shape each portion into a ball.
      1. Pour a dollop of olive oil into the palm of your hand, and lightly roll each ball on the countertop to cover with oil. This helps the dough retain moisture as it rests in the next step.
    3. Transfer dough to the fridge and chill, uncovered, for 10–30 minutes.
    4. Cover with an airtight lid and let rest overnight in the fridge. This is the point you can freeze some of the portions for later use. Wrap each portion in heavy plastic wrap and freeze. When ready to use, remove from the freezer and let come to room temperature, then continue as below.
    5. Proof in warm room until dough is relaxed and ready to stretch, about 20 minutes.
    6. Stretch and shape
      1. Each pie should be about 36–40 cm (14–15 in) across.

Sweet and Salty Pizza Sauce


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper, freshly ground
  • 2 tablespoons (4 large leaves) fresh basil, coarsely chopped


  1. Heat oil in medium saucepan over a medium heat until hot.
  2. Add garlic; cook 30 seconds or until fragrant.
  3. Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, salt and pepper and cook for 8-10 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring and mashing tomatoes with potato masher until crushed.
  4. Stir in basil.
  5. Place in small bowl; cool to room temperature This sauce may be made up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated or up to 2 months ahead and frozen.


Stand Back and Take Your Hands Off My DONUTS!

You probably don’t know just how much Homer Simpson and I have in common. We both live (or lived) in a city named Springfield. He drinks Duffs beer and I use Duff’s cake decorating products. Homer works at a nuclear power plant and I studied Radiation Science in grad school, and we both love DONUTS.img_0004

Yesterday morning was donut day in the 1y Kitchen.  I had a recipe for yeast donuts and Emeril’s recipe (modified) for raspberry jelly donut filling, plus, I had extra crème pat and chocolate ganache waiting in the fridge from some tartlets I made for a party last Sunday which were perfect for a few Boston Cream dessert donuts. What could possibly go wrong with this?

Notes to self:

  1. Check ingredient quantities in the pantry before starting. It may save a quick trip to the market while dough is rising, such as sugar for coating donuts while still hot.
  2. If you are totally out of sugar, save yourself a trip and buy two bags. You will need it eventually.
  3. Make the jelly filling while the donuts are rising. It will need to cool.
  4. Nuke the left-over ganache. You can add a little hot and heavy cream and sugar to sweeten. Mix thoroughly to dissolve the sugar. (Use confectioners or casting sugar, it will be easier to dissolve.)
  5. Add extra egg whites to the container in the fridge. You will want to make more pavlovas soon

Jelly Donuts


  • 2 Tbsp active dry yeast
  • ½ c milk (100oF – 110oF)
  • ⅓ c sugar (rounded, not level)
  • 2¼ c all-purpose flour
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 2 Tbsp room temperature unsalted butter
  • 2 Tsp salt
  • 3 c vegetable oil
  • 1 c fresh raspberry jam


  1. Place yeast, warm milk, and 1 teaspoon sugar in a small bowimg_0001l. Set aside until foamy, about 10 minutes.
  2. Place flour in a large bowl. Create a well in the center and add eggs, yeast mixture, ¼ cup sugar, butter, and salt. Using a wooden spoon, stir dough starts to come together and is sticky. Flour a work surface and knead until dough is smooth, soft, and bounces back when poked with a finger, about 8 minutes (add more flour if necessary). Place in a lightly oiled bowl; cover with plastic wrap. Set in a warm place to rise until doubled, 1 – 1½ hours.img_0002
  3. Lightly flour a work surface, roll dough to ¼“thick. Using a 2½” round cutter, cut as many rounds as you can. I rolled the extra into small balls (< 1” diameter) and made donut holes. Cover with plastic wrap; let rise 15 minutes. They didn’t rise much, but they will puff up in the hot oil.
  4. In medium saucepan over medium heat, heat oil until a deep-frying thermometer registers 370 degrees. Using a slotted spoon, or skimmer, carefully slip 2 rounds into oil. Fry until golden, about 40 seconds. Turn doughnuts over; fry until golden on other side, another 40 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, or skimmer, transfer to a paper-towel-lined baking sheet. Roll in sugar while warm. Fry all dough, and roll in sugar.img_0003
  5. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a #230 tip with jam. Poke the pastry tip into and end of the donut, pipe about 2 teaspoons jam into doughnut. Repeat with remaining doughnuts.

Fresh Raspberry Donut Filling


  • 6 oz fresh raspberries
  • ⅔ c water (⅓ added to raspberries, ⅓ for cornstarch below)
  • 1 c granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp of citric juice (I used Key Lime juice as we had some in the fridge)
  • 3 Tbsp cornstarch dissolved in ⅓ cup of water (There is a total of ⅔ cups of water)


  1. In a saucepan combine the raspberries, water, sugar, and lemon juice. Bring to boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the raspberries have broken down.
  2. Remove the mixture from the heat and strain with a fine mesh sieve.
  3. Return the stained mixture to the heat. (There should be about 2 cups of mixture.)
  4. Dissolve the cornstarch in ⅓ cup of water.
  5. Whisk the slurry into the raspberry mixture.
  6. Bring the mixture back to a boil then simmer for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
  7. Remove from heat and cool completely. It will thicken into a thin jelly.

Boston Cream Donutsimg_0006

  1. Follow above directions substituting filling the donuts with crème pat instead of jelly
  2. Dip one flat side of the donut into warmed ganache and set aside to dry.

Pavlova is Dancing in the Street

“They’ll be laughing and singing, music swinging
Dancing in the street”

Ballet dancing, actually. Specifically, Anna Pavlova, Russian prima ballerina who is most recognized for the creation of the role The Dying Swan. We saw pavlovas made on GBBO yesterday and as I have made meringue cups for years, this seemed like a natural extension. (Plus, I had egg whites left in the fridge from making crème pat earlier this week.)

The recipe was created in either Australia or pavlova_0001New Zealand and is a favorite around Christmas in the summer. Wait! Is it a Christmas treat, or a summer treat? Isn’t that a North American oxymoron? Ah, well, it is Christmas Eve, therefore, this time, it is a Christmas treat. (I just realized, I could have used the blueberries and made it a Chanukah treat in Israeli colors of white and blue.)

pavolva_0004Deceptively easy and insidiously versatile. You can top your pavlova with berries, nuts, chocolate, mocha, fruit, lemon curd or as King
Mongkut of Siam was fond of saying “etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.” It often depends what is in the fridge or what season it is, or whatever floats your current boat.




  • Meringue:
    • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract (clear to keep the meringue very white)
    • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
    • 1½ Tbsp cornstarch
    • 1½ cups granulated sugar
    • ¾ cup (6 ounces, about 6) large egg whites, preferably room temperature
    • Pinch salt
  • Topping:
    • 2 pints fresh or frozen berries
    • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Whipped Cream for topping


  1. Place rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 275°. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Stir the cornstarch into the sugar in a small bowl.
  3. In a large bowl of a heavy-duty mixer, fitted with whisk attachment, whip egg whites, cream of tartar and salt, starting on low, increasing incrementally to medium speed until soft peaks/trails start to become visible, and the egg white bubbles are very small and uniform, approximately 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Increase speed to medium-high, slowly and gradually sprinkling in the sugar-cornstarch mixture. A few minutes after these dry ingredients are added, slowly pour in the vanilla. Increase speed a bit and whip until meringue is glossy, and stiff peaks form when the whisk is lifted, 4 to 5 minutes.
  5. Pipe the meringue into 8-10 large round bowl like mounds that are 3 inches wide on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicon liner. (I used a large 1M piping tip.) Leave an indentation in the middle of the mound for holding the filling once meringue is baked.
  6. Place baking sheet in the oven. Reduce oven temperature to 250°F. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the meringues are crisp, dry to the touch on the outside, and white — not tan-colored or cracked. The interiors should have a marshmallow-like consistency. Check on meringues at least once during the baking time. If they appear to be taking on color or cracking, reduce temperature 25 degrees, and turn pan around.
  7. Gently lift from the baking sheet and cool on a wire rack. Will keep in a tightly sealed container at room temperature, or individually wrapped, for up to a week if your house is not humid.
  8. Served topped with your favorite filling – lemon curd, raspberry or blueberry sauce, and freshly whipped cream, etc, etc, etc.

Sauce or Filling Directions

If you want to make a berry sauce, heat a couple pints of fresh or frozen berries in a medium saucepan with about a quarter cup of sugar. (I used a 4:1 berry to sugar ratio.)  Heat on medium heat, stirring once or twice, for about 5 to 10 minutes, depending on how much the berries are falling apart. Remove from heat and let cool.

Biscuits – Revisited

I made buttermilk biscuits again this morning and added a few pictures to this old post. For second breakfast I tried one with just butter to QC check the biscuit flavor and one with home made blackberry jam, just because I could.

Biscuits, a.k.a. “breakfast” are delicious and are best with a dab biscuit_0002of butter, or butter and jam, or just jam, or with bacon and eggs, or… You get the idea.

Wikipedia defines: “A biscuit in the United States and parts of Canada, and widely used in popular American English, is a small baked good with a firm browned crust and a soft interior. They are made with baking biscuit_0003powder or baking soda as a chemical leavening agent rather than yeast. They are similar to British scones or the bannock from the Shetland Isles.”

Biscuits, soda breads, and cornbread, among others, are often referred to collectively as “quick breads,” to indicate that they do not need time to rise before baking.


  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1 cup buttermilk


  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda in large bowl to blend. Using fingertips, rub 3/4 cup chilled butter into dry ingredients until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add buttermilk and stir until evenly moistened.
  3. Using 1/4 cup dough for each biscuit, drop biscuits onto baking sheet, spacing 2 inches apart.
  4. Bake until biscuits are golden brown on top, about 15 minutes. Cool slightly. Serve warm.

Sugar Cookies with Sugar Icing, I can’t stop shaking!!!

As if plain sugar cookies aren’t enough to start heart palpitations and have you bouncingsugar-cookies-chanukah_0005 off the walls with a sugar high, let’s coat them with sugar icing! There is no thought of balancing flavors or textures here, just sweet and crunch. I saw a hint somewhere of using squeeze bottles with medium fine tips rather than traditional piping bags to decorate cookies. At about $1 each, what go wrong? As it turned out, they worked great and provided squeexe-bottlemore fine motor control than piping.

I “piped” the edges of the cookies with a fairly thick batch of colored, or not, icing to make a damn dam. Be careful not to try to sugar-cookies-christmas_0005pipe thick icing. #1, it plugs the tip and “b” it takes a lot force (read: tired and cramping fingers and hands here). Once the damn dam is dried flood the inside with thinner frosting. Poke any holes with a toothpick. Let dry, probably overnight.



  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • 1 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 3-4 tablespoons water
  • 1-2 tsp lemon juice


  1. In large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, and salt. With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture; beat until combined. Divide dough in half; flatten into disks. Wrap each in plastic; freeze until firm, at least 20 minutes, or place in a resealable plastic bag, and freeze up to 3 months (thaw in refrigerator overnight).
  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment. Remove one dough disk; let stand 5 to 10 minutes. Roll out 1/8 inch thick between two sheets of floured parchment, dusting dough with flour as needed. Cut shapes with cookie cutters. Using a spatula, transfer to prepared baking sheets. (If dough gets soft, chill 10 minutes.) Reroll scraps; cut shapes. Repeat with remaining dough.
  3. Bake, rotating halfway through, until edges are golden, 10 to 18 minutes (depending on size). Cool completely on wire racks. To ice cookies, spread with the back of a spoon. Let the icing harden, about 20 minutes. Decorate as desired.
  4. For the icing, sift confectioners’ sugar into a small bowl. Mix water and lemon juice. Whisk in water/lemon juice mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time, until smooth and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. If too thin, whisk in more sugar; if too thick, add more liquid. Spread over cookies with back of a spoon. Add other decorations, if desired. Let the icing harden, about 20 minutes.


Use flour on utensils to keep dough from sticking: Dip the cookie cutters, and dust the spatula before transferring uncooked dough to a sheet. You can store cookies in airtight containers at room temperature, up to 1 week.

Savory Gougeres

As mentioned elsewhere Frances and Daniel prefer savory to bleu-cheese-gougers_0007sweet. Not that they don’t like sweet but somehow they escaped our kitchens of sweets iniquity to be more sensible and healthier eaters than their parents. Not that we don’t like savory, but c’mon, we are talking sweets here.



Anyway, they are not fans of goat or brie cheeses (I am) but do like bleu cheese, so I decided to make some bleu cheese filled gougeres with a caramel glaze topped with a little sea salt. This combination of flavors balanced very nicely.



    • 1 cup water
    • 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
    • 1 teaspoon sugar
    • Table salt
    • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
    • 4 large eggs, plus 1 large egg white if needed
    • Vegetable oil cooking spray
    • Coarse salt, for sprinkling
    • 140g crumbled blue cheese
    • 283g mascarpone cheese
    • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
    • Freshly ground pepper
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1½ cup water


  1. Make the gougeres: See and follow recipe for pate a choux
  2. Make the blue cheese filling:
    1. Beat blue cheese and mascarpone in the clean bowl of a mixer on medium-low speed until well combined.
    2. Reduce speed to low, and beat in heavy cream and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
  3. Transfer filling to a pastry bag fitted with a plain 1/8-inch round tip. Insert tip into bottom of each gougere, and fill.
  4. Make the caramel:
    1. Prepare an ice-water bath. Bring sugar and water to a boil in a small saucepan, swirling pan and brushing down sides with a wet pastry brush to prevent sugar crystal from forming.
    2. Cook, without stirring, until caramel turns dark amber, about 10 minutes.
    3. Remove from heat, and set saucepan in ice-water bath to stop sugar from cooking.
    4. Immediately dip the top of each gougere into caramel, and sprinkle with a pinch of coarse salt. (If the caramel hardens as you work, reheat over very low heat until it loosens.)

a, b, c, d… eCLAIRS!

Yesterday morning I made a couple of dozen savory gougères to take to Daniel and Frances as part of a family brunch. The pate à choux came out so beautiful and is so easy to make I thought, perhaps taking some sweet pastries would be a good idea also. While Frances and Daniel like savory, Kathy, Fran and I really do like sweet. Oh yeah, I also made some Christmas and Chanukah cookies on Friday and might as well bring those along too. There were too many for just Fran and me. Well, not too many but…eclair_0002

All the “how to” instruction videos and tutorials stress that you should make all the eclairs uniform size by drawing a template on the backside of some parchment paper. I say, who cares? It’s not like these are for sale, they are for personal consumption and if the eclairs are 2, 2½ or 3″ long, well, I really don’t care.



Anyway, I made about 4 dozen of these little bits ‘o heaven and took over half to the brunch, heh, heh, heh.

The pate à choux (or just choux) uses one saucepan and the stand mixer, the crème pâtissèrie (creme pat) uses the same saucepan, a sieve and a bowl, and the ganache the same saucepan and a low sided bowl for dunking the filled eclairs in the chocolate. Easy! The most time consuming part of making eclairs is the drying of the choux after the initial bake. I use this time to prepare the creme pat and ganache and to clean up from making the choux.


  • Choux Pastry:
    • ½ c (65 grams) AP flour
    • ½ tsp granulated white sugar
    • ¼ tsp salt
    • 4 tbsp (55 grams) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
    • ½ c (120 ml) water
    • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • Glaze: (optional)
    • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • Pastry Cream:
    • ½ c sugar
    • ¼ c corn starch
    • Pinch salt
    • 2 c whole milk
    • 4 egg yolks
    • 2 Tbl butter
  • Chocolate Glaze:
    • 2 ounces (55 grams) semisweet
    • chocolate, finely chopped
    • ¼ c (60 ml) heavy “whipping” cream (cream with 35% butterfat content)
    • ¼ tsp pure vanilla extract
    • ½ tbsp light corn syrup (or golden syrup or glucose)


  1. Choux Pastry:
    1. Preheat oven to 400o F (200o C) and place rack in center of oven.
    2. In a bowl whisk the flour with the sugar and salt.
    3. Place the butter and water in a saucepan over medium high heat and bring to a boil.
    4. Remove from heat and, with a wooden spoon, add the flour mixture, all at once, and stir until combined. It will look like mashed potatoes. Return saucepan to the heat and stir constantly until the dough comes away from the sides of the pan and forms a thick smooth ball (about 1-2 minutes). The dough will film the bottom and sides of the saucepan and make cleaning a pain.
    5. Transfer the dough to an electric mixer and beat on low speed to release the steam from the dough (about 1 minute).
    6. Once the dough is lukewarm start adding the lightly beaten eggs (dough will separate and then come together) and continue to mix until you have a smooth thick paste (dough will fall from a spoon in a thick ribbon).
    7. Place the dough in a pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip and pipe oblongs of dough (about 3/4 inch (2 cm) wide) onto the parchment lined baking sheet. (When piping hold the bag at a 45-degree angle.) If desired, with a pastry brush, gently brush the tops of the dough with the lightly beaten egg.
    8. Bake for 15 minutes and then reduce the oven temperature to 350o F (180o C).
    9. Remove from oven, pierce an end of each éclair with a small skewer to release the interior steam.
    10. Continue to bake for a further 25 minutes or until the shells are a nice amber color and when split, are almost dry inside. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.
  2. Pastry Cream:
    1. Whisk eggs and milk together and add to all other ingredients (except vanilla) to a medium saucepan.
    2. Bring to boil whisking constantly
    3. Cook until thickened (it will look lumpy, its ok)
    4. Sieve lumpy mixture into a bowl and add 1 tsp vanilla, mix thoroughly
    5. When incorporated, cover with plastic directly on the cream and cool.
  3. Chocolate Glaze:
    1. Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl.
    2. Heat the cream just until boiling and immediately pour it over the chocolate.
    3. Gently stir until the chocolate has melted.
    4. Stir in the vanilla extract and corn syrup, mixing to ensure incorporation.
  4. To complete:
    1. Fill a piping bag equipped with a filling tip (such as Wilton 230). Inject crème pat into the hole you made to allow the steam to escape. When you feel the side of the éclair begin to bulge, the éclair is full.
    2. Dip the top of each éclair into the warm, thin ganache and set on a piece of waxed or parchment paper to dry. (I use the parchment paper previously used to line the baking sheet.)


While visiting Neil and Maureen in Seattle last weekend Maureen had a brioche roll at breakfast. On the spot, I knew I had to add this to my recipe catalog.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with brioche, it is a pastry of


Five 1/6ths Dough and Three 1/48ths

French origin that is like a highly-enriched bread whose high egg and butter content give it a rich and tender crumb, light and slightly puffy. It has a dark, golden, and flaky crust, accentuated by an egg/cream wash applied after proofing. Let me tell you, this bread is a
lot of work. Unless you like melt in your mouth, buttery, delicious bread I would urge to run, not walk away.

As usual, I adapted a number of online recipes to make this one.


Finished, Cooling Brioche


Dough Starter (Sponge):

  • 29½ g room temperature water
  • 12½ g sugar:
  • 1 teaspoon Dry Yeast
  • 71 g unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg

Flour mixture:

  • 156 g unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 25 g sugar
  • 16 g dry yeast
  • 3 g salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 113 g very soft unsalted butter

Egg Glaze (if making a large loaf, glaze is optional)

  • 1 large egg yolk
  • cream or milk: 1 teaspoon


  1. One day or up to 2 days ahead, make the dough. In the mixer bowl, place the water, sugar, instant yeast, flour, and egg. Whisk by hand until very smooth, to incorporate air, about 3 minutes. The sponge will be the consistency of a very thick batter.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and set it aside, covered with plastic wrap.
  2. Combine the ingredients for the flour mixture and add to the sponge. In a small bowl, whisk the flour with the sugar and yeast. Then whisk in the salt (this keeps the yeast from coming in contact with the salt, which would kill it). Sprinkle this mixture on top of the sponge. Cover it tightly with plastic wrap and let it stand for 1½ to 2 hours at room temperature.
  3. Mix the dough. Add the 2 cold eggs and mix with the dough hook on low (#2 KitchenAid ) for about 1 minute or until the flour is moistened. Raise the speed to medium (#4 KitchenAid) and beat for 2 minutes.
    1. Scrape the sides of the bowl with an oiled spatula and continue beating for about 5 minutes longer or until the dough is smooth and shiny but very soft and sticky. It will mass around the dough hook but not pull away from the bowl completely.
    2. Add the butter by the tablespoon, waiting until each addition is almost completely absorbed before adding the next tablespoon, beating until all the butter is incorporated. The dough will be very soft and elastic and will stick to your fingers, but don’t add more flour at this point; it will firm considerably after chilling.
  4. Let the dough rise. Using an oiled spatula or dough scraper, scrape the dough into a 2-quart dough rising container or bowl, greased lightly with cooking spray or oil. Lightly spray or oil the top of the dough and cover the container with a lid or plastic wrap. The dough will rise a lot, be sure your container is at least 3x as big as the original unrisen dough. Allow the dough to rise until doubled, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
  5. Chill the dough. Refrigerate the dough for 1 hour to firm it; this will prevent the butter from separating.
    1. Gently deflate the dough by stirring it with a rubber scraper or spatula, and return it to the refrigerator for another hour so that it will be less sticky and easier to handle.
  6. Deflate the dough and allow it to rest, chilled. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and roll it into a rectangle, flouring the surface and dough as needed to keep it from sticking. The exact size of the rectangle is not important. (Mine was about 6″ x 12″.) Give the dough a business letter turn, brushing off any excess flour, and again press down or roll it out into a rectangle. Rotate it 90 degrees and give it a second business letter turn and round the corners. Dust it lightly on all sides with flour. Wrap it loosely but securely in plastic wrap and then place it in a large zip-seal bag. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours or up to 2 days to allow the dough to ripen (develop flavor) and firm.
  7. Shape the dough and let it rise. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and gently press it down to deflate it. Cut the dough into 16 pieces (roughly 60g each). Without a scale, the easiest way to divide the dough evenly is to lightly flour your hands and press it into a long brick. Cut it in half, then in half, then in half, then in half until there are 16 pieces.
    1. Cut each of the 16 pieces into thirds or about 20g each and tuck three of the little pieces into a greased cupcake pan. (Next time I would make each of the smallest pieces about 10-15 g and make more, smaller brioche.)
    2. Cover the pan loosely with oiled plastic wrap and let rise (ideally at 75° to 80°F, I used my proofing oven) until the edges of the dough reach the tops of the molds, about 1 hour.
  8. Preheat the oven. Preheat the oven to 425°F 1 hour before baking. Have an oven shelf at the lower level and place a baking stone or baking sheet on it before preheating.
  9. Glaze and bake the brioche. Lightly beat together the egg yolk and cream for the glaze. Brush the top of the brioche with the egg glaze, being careful not to drip any on the side of the pans, or it will impede rising. Allow it to dry for 5 minutes and then brush a second time with the glaze.
    1. Set the cupcake pan on a baking sheet  Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center will read about 190°F.
  10. Cool the brioche. Remove the brioche from the oven and pan onto a wire rack. Turn top side up and allow them to cool until barely warm.
  11. Note: The small brioche can be reheated in a 350°F oven for 5 minutes.

It’s Kim’s Birthday! It’s Joe’s Birthday!

Invited to the family birthday celebration of the dynamic duo of daughter Kim and father Joe (parental, not priestley type father), I asked if I could bring a couple of varieties of pastries I was working on that day. I was making some tartlets in recognition of the Mandarin Orange Festival recently held in this area. I also wanted to make ganache/caramel/sea-salt tartlets. Also, having just binge watched several seasons of The Great British Bake Off with Fran I was compelled to try my hand at a roulade. I told Kim I would bring those that were successful. Disasters never leave home.

I have a nice, easy recipe for tartlet shells and used it to make a dozen, six small 2½”  and six img_0003larger 3″ diameter, wanting more surface areaimg_0001 for the orange slices. Because the oranges are very sweet and the creme de Patisserie is likewise sweet, I wanted to add something to balance. I added the zest of three small mandarin oranges to the creme pat to add just a little bitter to the mix. (Hindsight – use 3 slices,  not 5. Even small slices were too big/many.)

Sadly, the ganache did not set (too much hot cream initially, and not enough time to img_0005correct it before the party.) Happily, I had some extra creme pat so I could substitute some img_0006blackberry tarts for the ganache/caramel/sea-salt ones originally planned. (Remember, disasters stay home.)

Back to the GBBO binge.  A roulade is a rolled sponge cake filled with something. Think Swiss Roll but without the chocolate and yodelling. I filled mine with cream cheese frosting, a blackberry reduction and fresh blackberries, hence extra blackberries for tartlets above.

I made a genoise sponge, taking a bit of a risk having never attempted one. A genoise is a sponge cake that is leavened naturally with eggs using the foaming method which is the gentle warming of the eggs with sugar and beating them until they are foamy and thick. After baking and while still warm the sponge is dusted with confectioners sugar, rolled up in parchment paper and left to cool. While waiting for it to cool, I made the berry reduction and cream cheese frosting. The reduction is simply mixing equal weights berry and sugar and cook over medium heat until boiling for a few minutes, until it starts to thicken. The cream cheese recipe, while equally simple is below. Once the two spreads are ready, carefully unroll the now cooled sponge, coat with both layers, lay a dozen or so fresh berries on the fillings and re-roll, this time without the parchment paper.  Refrigerate until the filling is set, dust the top with more confectioners sugar, trim the edges to a clean line and serve.

Note: I am slowly converting recipes to weight and want to be consistent with units but am too damned lazy to convert existing recipes until I need to.

Tartlet Shell

  • 50 g cold butter cut into small cubes
  • 100 g all-purpose flour
  • 30 g icing
  • ¼ tsp vanilla
  • ⅛ tsp salt
  • 1 egg – ½ for the dough and the other ½ reserved for an egg wash



  1. Mix butter with sugar
  2. Add salt then vanilla
  3. Add egg
  4. Stir in flour. Mix by hand until incorporated
  5. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for 30 min


  1. Butter tartlet pans, or use non-stick pans
  2. Roll dough to about ⅛” thick
  3. Lay over tart mold and press into all crevices
  4. Roll top to cut off excess
  5. Prick holes in bottom and sides of formed dough
  6. Fill tarts with pastry weights (I put beans in a cupcake paper and remove 5 minutes before the end of the bake.)
  7. Paint edges of the tartlet with the egg wash.
  8. Bake in preheated oven 350 deg F (175 C) for 15 min
  9. Immediately remove from pans and cool on a wire rack

Creme Patisserie (Creme Pat to us philistines)

  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup corn starch
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 4 egg yolks


  1. Whisk eggs and milk
  2. Add 2 Tbl butter
  3. Bring to boil whisking constantly
  4. Cook until thickened (it will look lumpy, its ok)
  5. Sieve into a bowl
  6. Add and stir 1 tsp vanilla
  7. Cover with plastic directly touching the cream
  8. Refrigerate

Cream Cheese Filling

  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 2 cups confectioner sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


  1. Add all the ingredients to a bowl and beat it with the whisk attachment to make as light, airy and spreadable as possible.
  2. Easy, huh?

Genoise Sponge

  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • Pinch of salt
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ cup cake flour (spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off)
  • ¼ cup cornstarch


Set a rack in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Butter a jelly roll pan, line it with parchment paper, and butter that too.

  1. Half-fill a medium saucepan with water and bring it to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat so the water is simmering.
  2. Whisk the eggs, yolks, salt, and sugar together in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer. Place over the pan of simmering water and whisk gently until the mixture is just lukewarm, about 100 degrees (test with your finger or play with your infrared thermometer, which is what I do). Attach the bowl to the mixer and, with the whisk attachment, whip on medium-high speed until the egg mixture is cooled (touch the outside of the bowl to tell) and tripled in volume. The egg foam will be thick and will form a slowly dissolving ribbon falling back onto the bowl of whipped eggs when the whisk is lifted.
  3. While the eggs are whipping, stir together the flour and cornstarch.
  4. Sift one-third of the flour mixture over the beaten eggs. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the flour mixture, making sure to scrape all the way to the bottom of the bowl on every pass through the batter to prevent the flour mixture from accumulating there and making lumps. Repeat with another third of the flour mixture and finally with the remainder. There is a balance between incorporating all the flour mixture and deflating the egg mixture. Be thorough but careful.
  5. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
  6. Bake the gênoise for about 25 minutes, or until well risen, deep gold, and firm to the touch. Do not over bake it.  Also, do not over fill the pan. Very thick genoise is more difficult to roll.
  7. Immediately use a small pairing knife to loosen the cake from the sides of the pan. Invert the cake onto a rack, then reinvert onto another rack and let the cake cool right side up on the paper. Remove the paper when the cake is cool.


Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for several days, or double wrap and freeze for up to a month