Sunday, August 7, 2011

Continuation of Petits Fours

Hi my little muffins, its been awhile. I apologise... getting my shit in order took alot more out of me than anticipated! Pardon my French.

So... where were we? Yes I think we left off at Madelines and the beginnings of Petits Fours... well... we made a whole lot more plus completed our Petits Fours exam. Here's what you've missed~~~

The Petits Four Glaces

 These little sponge and buttercream desserts are the quintessential petits fours

 Sponge is soaked and cut and butter creams are flavoured and piped ontop

  Here we have pistachio, raspberry and passionfruit 

 Rounds are also cut out and mounds of flavoured butter creams piped on

 3 layers of sponge and jam are coated in buttercream, which will then be cut and dipped

 All in all, we made 3 different shapes and designs from the same sponge and butter creams

 The log was then glazed in chocolate and cut into these adorable shapes
 ready to be plated

 The rounds and cut squares were individually hand dipped into their respective coloured fondant icing and left to drip dry. They had to be moved a few times each to ensure no drips were forming beneath as they will crack and destroy the clean cut look when one attempts to remove them when the fondant has set

 Once the fondant has begun to set, chocolate designs can be piped ontop

 Aren't they cute??

 Next up, we have the Opera Cake. Layers of booze-soaked sponge, jam and buttercream...

 Glazed in chocolate...

 Once the chocolate glaze has set, the edges are trimmed off to show the layers within. The scraps can be used for all sorts of yummy things! Don't think they go to waste!

 The cake is then sliced into small fingersized portions as a petits four, or can be sliced larger for a plated dessert

I cut mine into small diamonds and squares

Moving on from the cakey portion of petits fours, we made chewy yummy candies...

 It involves high heat, alot of sugar and some patience

 But the wonderful smells given off of cooking sugar... Its worth it. Trust me.

 That yummy caramel was boiled to its right temperature, and then poured into a ring mold and left to set... of course there was a little sprinkling of Fleur De Sel on top. We're not barbarians.

 Left to cool overnight at room temperature, this gorgeous baby was ready to be sliced and eaten!!

 I cut mine into little diamonds and squares however little cute shapes can be made with cookie cutters... these are so delicious. I do what they say not to, and keep them in the fridge. I'm a rebel that way. But in all seriousness, I do that also, as I enjoy them a little firmer and chewier, which is the texture they get once they have chilled out a little in the fridge :) Sooo good. Its been weeks since we made these and I'm still eating them. And no, it's not possible to only have just one.

 Another jelly we made were pate de fruits. We boiled fruit puree, sugar, gelatin and pectin to the right temp and voila~ Fruit gums!

 Here our flavour was lychee, peach and pear, a mix of everything left over lying about in class

Left to set up, these can be cut about 2-3 hours after being poured into the mold. They set up quicker due to the pectin and gelatin added. They are then rolled in sugar. I cut mine into small cubes and triangles but didn't have any pictures taken due to the sticky nature of these plus lack of time in class for photo taking! Some days are crazy in class. This was one of them. We also made Nougat which was AMAZING. Unfortunately I missed taking photos of those too! We added roasted nuts and dried apricots to our soft nougat... they were so chewy and delicious. So good it tasted good for you. I swear.

 Little boats! This is a fast way of filling up these little barquettes with sucree dough

 They are then blind baked with an empty mold stacked on top of each one to weigh the pastry down during baking so they don't puff up. Why?

 So they can be filled with lucious passionfruit curd and topped with blueberries of course~~~

 Now, in school, we use only the finest ingredients. I have been spoiled rotten I know. I have also taken to boozing everything up generously. This is one of my favourite go to liqueurs

 Now the moment everyone has been waiting for~~~ Macarons. We made 3 different types... and they all start with meringue bases. Here we have a raspberry macaron in the making, spiked with Eau De Vie Framboise... mMmm.

 The batter is then piped into even rounds... but for these, they need to rest for an hour or so to form a skin. This is what creates those little "feet" around the edges that we all have come to love and expect in a macaron 

 Here's how they look like once baked. Once cooled, peel them off the parchment and match up the shells ready to be filled. Line them up in this fashion for easy filling and capping. 

Macarons can be filled with whatever you wish, but traditionally they are filled with jams, flavoured butter creams, ganache, and mousselines. The one above was filled with raspberry-cassis jam

 Now, not all macarons are made with "feet" most others are without. Here we made a chocolate macaron filled with ganache

 This is the most traditional macaron, simply made with almond flour and I sandwiched mine with ganache. Yummy! Crispy on the outside, chewy in the middle. Take not though, macarons have very short shelf lives so eat them fresh and quick!

 Just so you get an idea of the size of the macarons made... these were for petits fours so they were made much smaller than the macarons you see in stores.

 Last but not least, we made florentines. OMG these were soooo delicious I could not stop eating them. Literally. I could not be stopped.

 A sucree base was blind baked and left slightly doughy and light, on top, a delicious orange flavoured caramel was mixed with almond flakes and slathered generously all around

The tray is then put back into the oven to bake some more, getting the nuts nice and toasty... the caramel more golden... and perfuming the room with the nutty yet citrus aroma from the candied orange peel speckled within. Once done, the tray is left to set and is then cut into squares or triangles to be enjoyed... that's if you are civilised and have the time. If not, like me, you just get in there and break up chunks with your fingers and dig in. Soooo good crumbled on top of ice cream. So good. 

With that I conclude the petits fours section. Oh wait! my exam! We had to make 3 items each and one shared item with a partner and display them on a tray for grading. Our individual items had to consist of at least one hard and medium difficulty item. Luckily my Singaporean classmate Sharon and I got each other and the Singapore team churned out one over achiever of a platter. Anything can be a petits four, so I decided to make tiny pate a choux swans filled with pastry cream, fresh mango and chantilly cream, baby carrot cake with fresh pineapple, cream cheese swirl and topped individually with a marzipan carrot, I also made a blood orange pate de fruits which I rolled in spiked sugar to give it a sour kick! If you've ever had a sour skittle, this tops that in the sour department. Together, we made square petits fours glaces decorated with white chocolate bows. I have yet to upload the pictures to my computer so stay tuned to this space to see what our final platter turned out like!

As for an update on what's going on in my life at the moment, I've just been busy working shifts at the restaurant I'm interning at. It's near my school and serves wonderful food. If any of you are in NYC and in Manhattan, come down to Public on Elizabeth street and give it a try~

NYC has been warm and humid and rainy of late... what I would give for the cool weather of May to come back. It will in time but I'm just being impatient... after all I don't have much longer here... Sigh. Trying to figure out my next course of action. That stresses me out. Do I try to get a job here? In the industry? In a related industry but not in a kitchen? Not in the industry? Whatever will take me and pay me? I dunno. Or do I try to apply for a student exchange to a bakery in France somewhere? And then perhaps Japan? Travel around and intern in places and work for my daily meals country to country for the next year? I should. But it is a huge undertaking. Emotionally I don't know if I can do that. I'm too used to plans and lists to be such a free spirit to be perfectly honest. So I've got alot to think about...

Not to mention, we have begun to do more decorating these days, as well as being allowed and graded on flavour combinations and designs. As such, we have to plan, sketch and execute our exams in more of a project basis... This doesn't leave me much time or energy for very much else. You and me alike, thought that being in school till 2.30pm everyday would allow me lots of time to do other things like explore the city. 2 months in however, something strange happens where time seems to simply fly by... and energy levels dip to an all time low. We're always exhausted and physically we are all feeling it. Our bodies hurt of course, and the accident rate has increased no doubt.. lately, my hands have started to hurt. Weird but true... I never knew it was possible to overwork and strain you hand muscles, but apparently you can. Every joint aches, especially first thing in the morning. I believe this is a cumulative effect of having used our hands so much everyday in the last 3 months. Crazy but true... for awhile there I thought I was growing old and that rheumatism was setting in... but I overheard some other classmates talking about it too! So its not just me. We form support groups to get us though the intense nature of the course... No one quite understands it apart from those going through it. Ok enough of all that rambling... time to get ready for the week ahead by getting to bed early.

Just spent the day at Coney Island and feeding myself well this weekend. I'll upload pics soon of places I've been to and things eaten here in NYC. Now that I'm fully recharged emotionally and motivated with a perfect score from my most recent mid-term exam (which I'll update soon)... here goes nothin.


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