April 28, 2021



 On my last few trips to Paris I remember seeing a pâtisserie shop called Aux Merveilleux de Fred selling Merveilleux (French for Marvelous), which are cakes made out of meringues sandwiched with whipped cream and covered in chocolate shavings.  The desserts looked so pretty but for some reason I never bothered having a taste, which in hindsight I really regret.  On the bright side I now have something to look forward to when I return to Paris, right?  

Hopefully we'll be able to safely resume international travel in 2022, but until then I'll have to be content with making merveilleux chez moi.  I ended up using David Lebovitz's recipe from his book, My Paris Kitchen, because it had received good reviews when I was searching for merveilleux recipes online.  
The desserts aren't difficult to make and the steps can be spread out over multiple days, which is what I did, but the process to make the merveilleux can be messy.  In particular the part where you fill and coat the meringues with whipped cream.  If your cream isn't beaten to a stiffness similar to buttercream I can see easily foresee challenges getting it to stay intact.  Next time I'll add more whipped cream in the middle and on top to get the really tall cone shape like the cakes I saw in Paris.  Even if your merveilleux aren't shop display worthy don't worry because the final coating of chocolate shavings hides all kinds of imperfections. 

Wanting to make as many flavors of merveilleux as possible in one go, I split the filling recipe into thirds and made stracciatella, strawberry and coffee chocolate chip.    Based on it's appearance you might think the merveilleux would be really sweet, but in fact it's not.  The lightly sweetened whipped cream is a really nice contrast to the crispy meringue cookie.  Delicieux!  An added bonus is that the cakes are 100% gluten-free which makes them perfect for anyone with a wheat intolerance.  Until I can hop of a plane to the city of lights I'll be happy enjoying my homemade merveilleux.  

April 22, 2021

Korean Fish Bread or Bungeoppang 붕어빵


A few months into the pandemic and I became hooked on K-drama (Korean drama). I mean seriously HOOKED!  It all started by binge watching Crash Landing On You on Netflix.  It's gotten to the point where all I'm watching these days is Korean television, be it a drama or reality show.  I even enrolled in a virtual Korean language course at the beginning of the year in an attempt to understand the shows without the aid of subtitles...hahaha...ㅋㅋㅋ!  

One common element you'll notice in any K-drama is the omnipresence of food.  From ramen to tteokbokki, gimbap to jjajangmyeon, the delicious looking food could really be its own character. Previously, my foray into Korean cuisine was limited to the bbq, but watching the dramas has introduced me to so much more.   My cravings for Korean food has increased exponentially in the last year because of it.
A decade ago I had visited Seoul and I still remember the amazing selection of street food that was offered. In particular, I distinctly recall Korean Fish Bread or Bungeoppang 붕어빵 being sold everywhere.  Despite it's name Korean Fish Bread is really a filled waffle based on Japanese taiyaki.   The ones I had seen back then were filled with sweetened red bean paste, but nowadays there are so many options to choose from, e.g., custard, chocolate or savory like cheese, pizza, etc. 

I wanted to recreate the bungeoppang at home and it started with getting the right equipment, a fish shaped waffle iron.  Luckily I was able to find a relatively inexpensive one quite easily on Amazon.  The next challenge was finding the right batter recipe.   I tried multiple homemade batter recipes (documented on my Instagram highlights) and none of them delivered what I was looking for: a fluffy interior and a crunchy, golden brown exterior.  The taiyaki sold at SomiSomi is the gold standard I was after.  Ironically, the batter that came closest (so far) to producing the results I wanted was a pre-made hotcake mix from the Japanese brand Morinaga.  Go figure?  Obviously I would prefer a from scratch batter but when none is to be had I'll happily go the mix route.  To make things easy for myself I used a store bought sweetened red bean paste for the filling    I'll continue searching for a homemade bread recipe but for now I can buy the mix and enjoy 붕어빵 anytime I want.

April 17, 2021

Basque Cheesecake

It all started with a text from my friend Bibsy.  "Have you ever made a basque cheesecake?"  In fact, I had never and by pure coincidence I had recently saved this post from Instagram which just happened to be a Basque Cheesecake. What really drew me in was the burnt top crust.  There was something about the dark amber color that looked so inviting and delicious. Bibsy's text was just the extra motivation I needed to make the cheesecake. 

The recipe couldn't be simpler to make and doesn't have many ingredients since there's no crust to contend with.  My first thought when taking a whiff of the baked cheesecake was that it smelled like crème brûlée.  And there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.

April 12, 2021

Choux au Craquelin with Pistachio Crème Mousseline and Raspberry Jam


Towards the end of last year I decided to make homemade pistachio paste using this recipe from Stella Parks.  Being ambitious I thought it was a good idea to double the recipe so that I would have plenty of paste to last me for a while.  Little did I know that doing this would test the limits of my poor food processor.  It definitely wasn't a good sign when the motor started smoking...ha!  Fortunately, after a long rest the food processor recovered and I didn't have to replace it. Phew!  Perhaps it was that trauma that made me procrastinate in using the pistachio paste.  Several months passed and I finally found a use for it.

Pistachio is one of my favorite nut flavors and I thought it would be delicious in a pastry cream.  I found a recipe for Choux au Craquelin with Pistachio Crème Mousseline and Raspberry Jam from the blog Ana's Baking Chronicles.  Her pictures of the pastries were so stunning that I was immediately enticed to make them myself.  

You'll notice the crackly crust on top of the cream puffs.  This is called craquelin which is a dough made of butter, sugar, flour and salt (and a little food coloring, if you want).  It's rolled out thin, then frozen and cut into discs using a small round cutter.  The craquelin is placed on top of the pâte à choux just before baking.  When baked it turns into a crackly shell on top of the baked puff.

One of the issues I've found with cream puffs is the pastry cream filling tends to run and not hold it's shape, especially when you try to cut into it.  What I especially liked about Ana's recipe is that she fills her choux with pastry cream whipped with butter, also known as crème mousseline or German buttercream.  The result was a filling bursting with pistachio flavor that also held up to piping and cutting.  A layer of homemade raspberry jam at the bottom of the choux serves as a nice contrast to the nutty filling.  One bite of this decadent pastry and you'll be transported back to France!

April 7, 2021

Lemon Bundt Cake

Spring is in full swing in the Bay Area and I am here for it.  After the marathon baking I did in preparation for Easter I was looking for something delicious, yet simple to make and this Lemon Bundt Cake fits the bill.  I've made quite a few lemon cakes for this blog but surprisingly this recipe from Cook's Illustrated was one that I hadn't made before.   The cakes I've made previously had sour cream or cream cheese as an ingredient but this one has buttermilk which helps to create a tender texture. 

As is the case with any bundt cake,  a key to its success is ensuring the baked cake releases nicely from the pan.  I made sure to grease my fleur de lis pan really well with shortening and then coat it generously with a dusting of flour.  My cake released beautifully and you could really see the beautiful design too. 

This cake is really delicious and really doesn't want for anything.  The crumb was light and tender and there was plenty of lemon flavor.   I am definitely going to be making this again.

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