I’m not sure why, but I am always drawn to the most pretentious sounding recipes. Who in their right mind makes cupcakes when they could be making chocolate friands dipped in chocolate ganache? Technically they are both mini versions of a rich chocolate cake. Socially – well let’s just say everyone thinks I’m part wizard for actually pulling these off. Instead of trying to fancify your cakes by jabbing them with popsicle sticks just make something that everyone feels uncomfortable pronouncing. Simple comme bonjour!
The other reason I’m drawn to French baking it is reminds me of the four months I spent eating everything in sight in Paris. I have never really had much of a sweet tooth, but then again I had never been confronted with 5 different types of flan on such a regular basis. The part of French baking that really amazes me is that almost everything is made from some combination of butter, sugar, flour, eggs, chocolate & cream. No smoke and mirrors – only traditional recipes perfected over decades. And if you follow the recipes it really can be that easy.
I whipped these chocolate friands in less than 2 hours – for real. All these years of eating chocolate ganache I really expected it to be highly technical. Nope. Now I have to live in a world where covering things in chocolate ganache is actually an option, which honestly thrills/scares me equally.
chocolate friands (from my favourite recipe book, Tartine)
- ingredients -
for the batter
6 0z chopped bittersweet chocolate
1 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp sugar
3/4 cup flour
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
for the chocolate ganache
4 oz chopped bittersweet chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream
- directions -
- preheat oven to 350 degrees. line up 30 mini muffin cup paper liners on a baking sheet.
- put chocolate in a large mixing bowl. on the stove, melt butter over medium until hot. pour butter over chocolate and stir with wooden spoon until smooth.
- in a seperate bowl combine sugar, flour, cornstarch & salt. slowly add the flour mixture to the melted chocolate in three batches. once fully mixed, add 2 eggs and stir until combined. add the remaining 2 eggs and mix until just incorporated – do not over mix.
- using a spoon or piping bag fill paper cups 3/4 full with batter. bake 12-15 minutes or until they start to crack on top. let cool completely.
- for the ganache – put chocolate in a heat-proof bowl. bring cream to just under a boil and pour it over the chocolate. let it sit for a couple minutes before stirring. gently stir until chocolate is fully melted.
- once the friands are cool hold the edges and dip the top into the ganache. let excess drip off before putting them on a cooling rack. let them rest in a cool place (not in the fridge) for at least one hour while the ganache sets.
- try not to eat all of them in one sitting.
I’m in serious trouble – I just found out how easy it is to make French crullers. Filled with pockets of air these doughnuts are irresistibly light making it way too easy to eat the entire batch!
Making these honey glazed crullers took less than 15 minutes – how scary is that? Even worse? It doesn’t even require any unusual ingredients, just flour, butter, eggs, sugar, salt, honey & powdered sugar. Now everytime my sweet tooth kicks in I’ll have to fight the urge to whip up these addictive delights.
I found this recipe on one of my favourite food blogs, Use Real Butter. The original recipe is for beautifully piped round doughnuts but honestly, I’m way too lazy for that. Instead I opted for quick small bites that make me feel less guilty about eating half a dozen.
Good luck & don’t say I didn’t warn you.
honey glazed french crullers (adapted from Use Real Butter)
- ingredients –
for the crullers
1 cup water
6 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp sugar
pinch of salt
1 cup flour
oil for frying
for the glaze
1 tbsp honey
1 cup icing sugar
2 tbsp milk
- directions -
- pre-heat oil in fryer or a deep pot. the oil should be around 370 degrees.
- bring water, butter, sugar & salt to a boil over medium/high heat in a sauce pan. once boiling, add flour all at once stirring vigorously. keep stirring until the mixture comes together in a ball in the center & the bottom of the sauce pan is covered in a thin layer of film (the more moisture you can evaporate the lighter the doughnut)
- remove from heat and transfer mixture to mixer fitted with paddle attachment. mix on low for a minute to cool batter.
- mix on medium speed & add the eggs one at a time. wait until the previous egg has fully incorporated before adding another egg. once all the eggs have been added you should have a smooth, shiny mixture.
- drop a small amount of batter in the fryer to test temperature. if the oil makes a lot of noise you are at the right temperature. use two spoons to drop small, ping pong sized balls of batter into the oil. do not crowd the fryer or it will reduce the temperature and make your crullers greasy.
- let the crullers fry for 4 minutes before flipping with tongs. cook for another 4 minutes. once fully cooked the oil will become silent & the crullers will be very light. place on cooling rack with wax paper or cookie sheet underneath.
- while crullers are cooling make the glaze – mix milk, icing sugar & honey together. when crullers are cool dip the top in the glaze and put back on the cooling rack. once the glaze has set they’re ready to eat.
Before I started my quest to learn how to cook I had one impressive fall back recipe – homemade apple pie. Perfectly homey, I have yet to make a pie that was worse than any store bought version. Seriously – I’ve had everything go wrong and it still tastes gourmet next to a prepackaged pie.
At the moment my tiny apartment is overrun with apples. I’ve been apple picking with LifeCyles Fruit Tree Program – a local initiative that picks fruit from privately owned trees that would otherwise be wasted. Part of the program is that volunteers – like myself – walk away with a percentage of the pick. From my haul of apples I’ve made apple sauce, apple butter, apple bars, apple fritters, apple crisp & even apple cider (which is still fermenting).
I have peeled too many apples in the last month so I decided to try a short-cut. Instead of cutting enough apples to fill the tart I used apple sauce topped with apple slices. To add some sweetness I drizzled it with local caramelized honey. It was perfect – it cooked in 20 minutes and had the perfect combination of texture.
I still have over 5lbs of apples left but I have run out of ideas. Guess I’m just going to have to make apple fritters again…
apple tart recipe
- ingredients –
for the crust
2 cups flour
1 cup very cold butter
1 1/2 cups ice cold water
1 tsp vinegar
for the filling
3 cups apple sauce
- directions –
- mix water & vinegar. put in freezer for 10 minutes. while water is cooling put flour in mixing bowl. cut cold butter in small cubes & add to flour. use a pastry cutter or 2 knives to cut the butter into the flour until the lumps of butter are roughly pea size.
- take water out of freezer and slowly add it to the flour/butter mixture. add just enough water for the dough to come together – the key is to not over mix. form the dough into a ball and divide in half. wrap the two halves in plastic wrap and let them sit in the fridge for 2 hours.
- preheat oven to 375 degrees. take dough out of the fridge and roll out on a lightly floured surface. cut out a circle 5 cm larger than the tart pan. carefully lay the dough over the tart pan and gently press it down & trim the edges. Punch small holes in the base of the crust with a fork to prevent it from bubbling. bake for 20 minutes. remove from oven and let cool.
- add a thick layer of apple sauce to the bottom of the tart. gently layer thin slices of apple working from the outside in. drizzle the caramelized honey over the tart until it is completely covered.
- bake for 20 minutes until the apples have softened. serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream.