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Emily Jones / Sun Staff Writer

March 21, 2017

How to Cook Like a French Patissier

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Have you ever gotten back a dreadful prelim and consoled yourself with the thought that, if your [insert career ambition] plans don’t work out, you’ll become — oh, I don’t know — a pastry chef? The idea might seem far-fetched, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are a few not-too-difficult recipes I’ve learned over the course of the semester from an assortment of French cooking classes and my Parisian host mother. So roll up your sleeves, grab your chef’s hat and indulge your backup plan of a career path — or simply treat yourself to some desserts à la française.

Note: different sources suggest different measurement conversions for each ingredient, so I’ve left the measurements in their original form to preserve the original recipe.

Éclairs

Don’t be daunted by the number of components in this recipe — once you get the hang of the “squeeze, stop, flick” of piping, you’ll be cranking these out in a flash.  Feel free to experiment with different kinds of fillings and toppings: pistachio, strawberry, coffee…

Ingredients:

  1. 125 ml water
  2. 125 ml milk
  3. 6 g salt
  4. 20 g sugar
  5. 100 g butter
  6. 150 g flour
  7. 4-5 eggs (depending on the size of the eggs)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C (about 390°F).
  2. In a large pan over low heat, add the butter, milk, water, salt and sugar.
  3. When the butter has melted, bring the mixture to a boil.
  4. Remove from the heat. Add the flour and stir, then put back over the heat and mix quickly until the mixture forms a dry ball that comes away from the pan.
  5. Remove from the heat. Beat in the eggs little by little, until the mixture becomes smooth and glossy.
  6. Fill a pastry bag with the mixture and pipe onto a baking sheet. Brush with beaten egg and flatten with a fork.
  7. Put in the oven, being careful not to open the oven door for the first 20 minutes. After about 20 minutes, open and shut the oven door quickly. Allow the eclairs to cook for about 20 more minutes.

Chocolate pastry cream (to go inside of the éclairs)

Ingredients:

  1. 500 g milk
  2. 1 vanilla bean
  3. 2 eggs
  4. 120 g sugar
  5. 50 g cornstarch
  6. 60-100 g chopped dark chocolate

Directions:

  1. In a large saucepan, bring the milk to boil with the vanilla.
  2. In a bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar until the mixture is pale and thick. Stir in the cornstarch.
  3. Pour some of the milk from the saucepan into the bowl, stir, then pour the contents of the bowl back into the saucepan.
  4. Stir continuously until the mixture thickens.
  5. Let boil for one minute.
  6. Remove the saucepan from the heat and transfer into a large bowl.
  7. Add chopped chocolate and mix until combined.
  8. Let cool, then fill a pastry bag with the mixture and pipe into the eclairs.

Chocolate ganache (to go on top of the éclairs)

Ingredients:

  1. 100 g dark chocolate
  2. 80 g whipping cream

Directions:

  1. Chop the chocolate and put into a medium-sized bowl.
  2. In a saucepan, bring the cream to a boil and then pour onto chopped chocolate. Stir until smooth.
  3. Let cool, then spread on top of the eclairs.

 

Financiers

Possibly the most underrated French dessert I’ve tried so far — I wish I’d met this nutty cousin of the madeleine sooner. Deliciously moist and chewy, these almond cakes would pair well with a cup of coffee or tea.

Ingredients:

  1. 150 g butter
  2. 50 g flour
  3. 150 g confectioner’s sugar
  4. 60 g almond powder
  5. 3 egg whites

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C (about 390°F).
  2. In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Once melted, remove from the heat and let cool.
  3. Meanwhile, in a frying pan, add the flour, sugar and almond powder and whisk together.
  4. Add the cooled butter and the egg whites. Mix until smooth.
  5. Fill a set of financier molds to the top.
  6. Bake 10 minutes for small financiers or 13-15 minutes for large ones.
  7. Remove from the molds and cool.

 

Fondants

Emily Jones / Sun Staff Writer

Emily Jones / Sun Staff Writer

Perfect for any chocolate lover, these cakes are meant to ooze gooey chocolate when cut into. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream for added indulgence.

Ingredients:

  1. 110 g 70% dark chocolate
  2. 90 g of butter
  3. 3 eggs
  4. 120 g of powdered sugar
  5. 40 g of flour

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 210°C (about 410°F).
  2. In a saucepan, melt the chocolate and butter. Once melted, remove from the heat and let cool.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and the sugar.
  4. Add the chocolate and butter mixture to the egg and sugar mixture, then add the flour and whisk all together.
  5. With additional butter and flour, butter and flour a set of financier molds, then fill ¾ of the way.
  6. Bake 8 minutes (be careful not to overcook!).
  7. Remove from the molds and serve warm.

 

Pain Perdu

Emily Jones / Sun Staff Writer

Emily Jones / Sun Staff Writer

The dish name literally translates to “lost bread,” but it’s the equivalent of what Americans would call French toast. Lose yourself in this sweet, chewy treat, perfect for an afternoon goûter (snack) or a more indulgent breakfast.

Ingredients:

  1. 2 eggs
  2. ½ liter of milk
  3. 150 g confectioner’s sugar.
  4. 100 g butter
  5. 12 slices of stale bread (or brioche), cut in thin slices of about the same size.
  6. Optional: caramel sauce, maple syrup, jelly, powdered sugar, etc.

Directions:

  1. In a wide, shallow bowl, beat the eggs, milk and sugar.
  2. Dunk each slice of bread in the egg mixture until saturated.
  3. Heat and butter a pan. Cook each slice until browned on both sides.
  4. Serve warm and sprinkled in sugar.
  5. Add toppings, if desired.

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