Pure Pastries

passions, tastes, and tales of an american pastry chef

What Happened in Vegas… October 30, 2008

Filed under: Patisserie,Uncategorized — annakbajo @ 1:46 am


I decided calories don’t count if they are accrued while conducting research.

Only three of the countless pastry shops I visited during my weekend in Vegas stood out from the others as innovative, fresh and inspiring. Jean-Philippe Patisserie at the Bellagio, Francois Payard Patisserie at Ceasar’s Palace, and Vosges Haut-Chocolat at Ceasar’s Palace.

As you walk into Jean-Philippe’s Patisserie at the Bellagio you are greeted by a beautiful glass sculpture which also functions as the world’s largest chocolate fountain. Chocolate is literally pouring from the ceiling in various forms and hues. If this doesn’t catch your eye and draw you in, the bright and vibrant colors from the pastry case should do the trick.

The first pastry I tasted at Jean-Philippe’s Patisserie was his Rose Macaroon. This dessert was composed of fresh raspberries and rose infused pastry cream sandwiched between two almond macaroons and topped with a sugared rose petal.

This was by far the best dessert I tasted all weekend and quite possibly the best I have ever tasted.

It was infused with just enough rose to enhance and compliment the tartness of the raspberries and the sweet nuttiness of the macaroon. The macaroon was perfectly baked; a soft and chewy center surrounded by a paper thin crust. The colors and textures of this pastry added to the overall affect and experience when cutting into this wonderful piece of art.

The second dessert I tasted at the Bellagio was Jean-Philippe’s Chocobanana. This dessert was composed of a hazelnut crust, chocolate mousse, and caramelized bananas. It was beautifully presented and the flavors and textures worked wonderfully together.

Although I wasn’t able to taste another bite, the following pictures are of a few of the other pastries available at the patisserie.


Carrot Cake: Jean-Phillipe


Lemon Meringue Tart:Jean-Philippe




Saffron Apple Tart October 23, 2008

Filed under: Apples,Saffron — annakbajo @ 12:27 am

This Sunday morning I went apple picking with a few friends in Julian, CA. I had never had the opportunity to taste an apple this fresh and was pleasantly surprised to find a noticeable difference in the complexity of flavor of these Julian apples to those found in a grocery store. Since it was the last weekend the orchard was open to the public, all the reachable branches had been picked over, forcing us to climb the trees to reach the prime apples up top. Even so, it took us less than an hour to pick about 30 pounds of apples. I am now on a mission to test out several apple centered recipes this week to best enjoy our abundance of apples before they fade.

I’ll first start with a classic apple dessert, with a twist. In this recipe for Apple Tart, I infuse the apples with saffron. Saffron is one of my favorite spices to use. It adds such subtle depth and richness to a dish, not to mention beautiful color. Although saffron is the most expensive spice, a very small amount will make all the difference in the world. For example, in this recipe we only use an 1/8 teaspoon of saffron threads.  Trader Joe’s now sells saffron at an extremely affordable rate.

Sweet Dough

Makes enough for 2 10′” Tarts

4 cups bread flour

2 1/2 sticks butter, room temperature

3/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted

1/2 tsp salt

2 eggs

1tsp vanilla extract

Mix butter on low speed in standing mixer until very smooth. Add the powdered sugar and mix until smooth, do not raise speed. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until well combined. Add the flour and mix until just combined. Place dough on floured surface and finish mixing by hand. Wrap dough and place in fridge for at least an hour. This allows the flour in the dough to rest and makes for a more delicate tart shell.

After dough has rested, roll into a circle about 1/4″ thick on a floured surface . Gently wrap dough around rolling pin and place on top of the tart pan. Press dough into groves of tart pan and around bottom edges. Roll pin over top to cut off excess dough. Reserve this excess dough in fridge for later use. Allow lined tart pan to rest in fridge while you prepare the apples.

Saffron Apple Tart

Enough for 10″ tart

1 1/2# apples

6 Tbs butter

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp cardamom

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/8 tsp saffron

1/8 tsp nutmeg

1/8 tsp saffron

Peel, core, and cut the apples into even slices. Melt the butter then add the apple slices. Pour the dry ingredients on top and mix. Heat mixture over low heat for about 8 minutes or until the apples are just becoming tender. This process allows the saffron flavors to infuse the apples before the baking process begins.

Pour the apples into the pre-lined tart shell. Roll out reserved excess sweet dough and cut into strips. Weave the strips on top of the tart. Bake at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for about 1 hour, or until crust is browned. Enjoy!