Pure Pastries

passions, tastes, and tales of an american pastry chef

I’ve changed hosts November 14, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — annakbajo @ 2:52 am

Hey everyone, thanks for all your support so far!

I’ve changed to using Blogger to host my blog, so I won’t be posting from here anymore.

Go to http://purepastries.blogspot.com/ from now on for updates!

I’ve switched over all my old posts and will be updating with many more soon! Thanks for all your comments, I appreciate them 🙂


Chocolate Lavender Ice Cream November 8, 2008

Filed under: Chocolate,Ice Cream,Lavender — annakbajo @ 2:00 am

useitIt’s probably pretty obvious by now that I adore floral extracts and use them frequently in my desserts. Lavender is a favorite of mine and pairs so perfectly with chocolate that I couldn’t resist testing out an ice cream that marries both. When used in moderation, lavender can transform a dish. I will never forget the lavender french fries I ate with Kate at Blue Boheme in Kensington.

I use dried lavender buds to infuse the milk in this ice cream recipe. You should be able to find dried lavender at your grocery store, and I actually found mine amongst the mexican spices section.

The following recipe is very simple. I used 72% Valrhona chocolate in my version, and because of this did not want to dilute the complex flavors of the chocolate with any eggs. Valrhona chocolate is considered to be the best chocolate in the world and it is also the most expensive. However, it is available at Trader Joe’s for a very fair price. I believe this recipe works very well and results in an incredibly rich and fulfilling ice cream with a silky mouthfeel.

Chocolate Lavender Ice Cream

3 cups whole milk

1/3 cup sugar

1 Tbs lavender buds, dried

8 oz chocolate

1. Bring the milk, sugar, and lavender to a boil. Turn off the heat and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Allow the lavender to infuse the milk for at least 20 minutes.

2. Bring the milk back to a boil and add the chocolate. Stir to melt.

3. Allow the mixture to cool completely in the fridge before churning in an ice cream maker.

I have to apologize for the lack of pictures. This ice cream was so good that we ate it all before I remembered to take any pictures.



Rose and Orange Blossom Macaroons November 5, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — annakbajo @ 2:29 am
Rose Water Macaroon

Rose Water Macaroon

My adoration of French macaroons began two summers ago while visiting my sister, Lindsay, in Paris. We made a habit of opting out of the breakfast our hostel provided each morning and instead visiting the local patisserie for a pastry or more often than not a pistachio macaroon.

I have yet to find a macaroon in America that compares to those from Paris, although I believe the following recipe comes close. The mark of a good macaroon is a paper thin crust that breaks apart with the slightest touch and encases a soft and dense almond center. If made correctly, you will see a distinct and rough border around the bottom of the macaroon and a smooth dome top. The cookies are usually sandwiched with either jam, pastry cream, or chocolate.


My sister and I visited Laduree Patisserie on the Champs Elysees and had the opportunity to taste their macaroons. Macaroons come in a variety of colors and flavors and can be very dramatic when displayed.

Macaroons are extremely delicate and are best enjoyed fresh the day they are made, although will last about a day in the fridge. You can freeze macaroons before sandwiching them, although I would only recommend this method if used for decoration.

I decided to try to replicate the rose macaroon I had tasted on my trip to Vegas. My friend, Amy, has just given me bottles of rose water and orange blossom water so I decided to test out both these in my recipe today. waters

French Macaroon

1/2# Sugar

1 1/2 oz Water

3 1/2 oz Egg Whites

8 3/4oz Almond Powder

8 3/4oz Powdered Sugar

3 1/2oz Egg Whites

1. Sift the almond powder and powdered sugar together and mix with the first measurement of egg whites. This mixture with be very thick and dry at first, but will come together in a nice paste.

2. In a small pot with a candy thermometer attached to the side, bring the sugar and water to 248 degrees Fahrenheit.


3. Begin whisking the second measurement of egg whites when the sugar reaches 238 degrees Fahrenheit so that the whites will be at stiff peaks by the time the sugar is at the desired temperature.

4. Once the sugar reaches 248 degrees, begin slowly pouring into the whites (continuing to whisk in mixer). Continue mixing until the meringue is shiny in appearance.


5. Fold the meringue into the almond powder mixture in three stages. The first fold will lighten the paste and decrease deflation of the egg whites with the second and third fold.

6. At this stage I separated my batch into two bowls to add my food color. I dyed the first batch orange (orange blossom) and the second pink (rose water).

7. Pipe small quarter sized rounds on parchment paper that has been sprayed. It is important that the macaroons are identical in size so that you may later sandwich them. Make sure to leave space between the piped macaroons to allow for spreading.


8. This next step will ensure that your macaroons have the desired crust and the rough border on the bottom. It is also the easiest step. Allow the piped macaroons to “rest” for at least 30 minutes and up to an hour. Leave them at room temperature during this time.

9. Bake at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for 12 to 15 minutes or until their is a distinct crust on the bottom when turned over. Allow to cool

Pastry Cream

3 1/2 cup milk

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

9 egg yolks

6oz butter

2 Tbs Orange Blossom Water

1/2 tsp Orange extract


1 1/2 Tbs Rose Water

1. Combine sugar with the milk over heat and bring to a boil.

2. In bowl, whisk together yolks and cornstarch.

3. Once milk comes to a boil, temper egg mixture with heated milk mixture. Pour a small amount of hot milk over yolks while whisking to incorporate. Add more milk and continue to whisk.

4. Bring the rest of milk mixture to a boil, then add the egg mixture, stirring constantly to avoid clumps. Mixture will thicken and begin to bubble when ready.

5. Remove from heat, add butter and stir to combine. Add flavorings.

5. Pour mixture into a bowl and immediately cover with plastic wrap touching the pastry cream. Place in fridge to solidify.

Once the pastry cream has cooled, pipe between two macaroons and sandwich them together. Yum!



Peace, Love and Chocolate: Vosges Haut-Chocolat November 2, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — annakbajo @ 9:45 pm

Curry powder, balsamic vinegar, wasabi and…chocolate?

Vosges Haut-Chocolat

Naga: Vosges Haut-Chocolat

Vosges Haut-Chocolat Las Vegas is located in Ceasars Palace. This was our first stop upon arriving in town and definitely started the weekend off with a bang. Katrina Markoff started her specialty gourmet chocolate company in 1998 in Chicago. She began traveling the world to discover and blend new diverse spices with chocolate. Her motto is peace, love, and chocolate and her company focuses on being green and donates a percentage of profits to improving conditions for women throughout the world.

Vosges Haut-Chocolat

Budapest: Vosges Haut-Chocolat

At her Las Vegas location, we were welcomed into the store with chocolate offerings and unlimited samples of their various truffles and chocolate bars. The salesclerks were helpful and knowledgeable and allowed us to taste freely.

My favorite truffle was the Naga made from sweet Indian curry powder, coconut milk, and milk chocolate. This is actually Katrina’s first ever truffle and by far the best. There is just enough spiciness to offset the sweetness of the milk chocolate and coconut milk. The light dusting of the curry powder on top of the truffle adds a brilliant color, which is echoed throughout her collection of truffles.

Vosges Haut-Chocolat

Viola: Vosges Haut-Chocolat

I next tried the Balsamico truffle which was filled with a 12-year-aged balsamic vinegar and topped with hazelnuts. This truffle was enrobed in dark chocolate which paired wonderfully with the tangy vinegar.

Vosges Haut Chocolat

Balsamico: Vosges Haut Chocolat

The above Viola is topped with a candied violet flower petal and is beautiful to behold.

We next tasted the Budapest truffle, which is topped with sweet Hungarian paprika and encased in dark chocolate. Incredibly curious and different.

I tasted a milk chocolate truffle filled with a sweet potato and brown sugar center and enrobed with milk chocolate. This truffle was much too sweet for my tastes.

The Red Fire truffle just makes sense. For those of you who enjoy Mexican Mole, this truffle should satisfy you. It is made from Mexican ancho & chipotle chillies with Ceylon cinnamon and dark chocolate.

Vosges Haut-Chocolat

Red Fire:Vosges Haut-Chocolat

This chocolate shop is an experience to remember and an inspiration. I plan to attempt these flavor pairings in my own kitchen in the near future.

Although I was not able to try their ice cream flavors, I hope to test one in particular very soon. Curry ice cream made from coconut milk! Maybe I will even try a chocolate ice cream infused with ancho chili peppers. Why not?


Vegas Round 2: Francois Payard Patisserie

Filed under: Patisserie — annakbajo @ 12:39 am
Francois Payard

Francois Payard

Our next stop in Vegas was to visit Francois Payard’s Patisserie & Bistro in Ceasar’s Palace. Chef Payard offers an assortment of pastries as well as ice creams and chocolates. You can even order freshly made crepes! His patisserie is warm and inviting, dimly lit and whimsical in decor. In the center is a clock tower adorned with chocolate sculptures turning along with the rotation of the clock dials.

Chef Payard’s desserts are exciting and visually astounding. Most importantly the ingredients and flavors maintain a perfect balance while still offering some intriguing combinations for the customer.

I chose to try the Cendrillon and the Sweet Relief. The Cendrillon consisted of pumpkin mousse, cranberry marmalade, ginger and cinnamon. I couldn’t resist this dessert as it was adorned with small orange macaroons! The pumpkin mousse was not overpowering in flavor and quite light in texture. The cranberry marmalade in the center offered a nice burst of flavor to offset the mousse itself.

Francois Payard

Cendrillon: Francois Payard

The Sweet Relief was simply decorated, but the construction of the dessert itself intrigued me. I could not figure out how Chef Payard had encased the dessert so perfectly in the swiss meringue. Had he dipped it? Piped it? I had to cut it open to investigate.

This second dessert consisted of a mango mousse with a pinapple souffle. Inside were pieces of roasted pineapple and the entire pastry of course was covered with swiss meringue.

The tropical fruit flavors were a nice change of pace. The pineapple pieces inside the mango mousse added an exciting element of surprise to the dessert. The sweetness of the meringue offset the tartness and acidity of the fruit. Overall this dessert was well balanced and extremely satisfying.

Francois Payard

Sweet Relief: Francois Payard

I recommend enjoying a double espresso at the fountain outside the patisserie after you have tasted your pastries. The espresso here is wonderful.

Every time I see a picture of Chef Payard he is so sincerely happy. It is clear he truly loves what he does and wants you to enjoy it as much as he does. His cookbooks are unpretentious and cater to the homebaker. I recommend his Simply Sensational Desserts.

Francois Payard

Francois Payard


Happy Halloween! November 1, 2008

Filed under: Pumpkin — annakbajo @ 1:21 am

Happy Halloween everyone! Last night I carved pumpkins with some friends and with all the seeds we accrued from 4 large pumpkins I had to try out a few pumpkin seed recipes! I tested 2 savory recipes; one made with red pepper flakes and the other with curry powder. In the end, the seeds tasted the best when mixed in a bowl together so all the seasonings combined. However, I realize not everyone enjoys curry powder and it is most certainly an option in this recipe.

You may also add other seasonings of your choice. I added my favorite Mexican seasoned salt,
Tajin. Tajin can be tricky to find, usually located at specialty food stores, but can also be ordered online. I have actually seen it at Target before as well. This seasoning salt goes with anything from sweet mangos to cucumbers to guacamole to soup.

Spicy Curry Pumpkin Seeds

pumpkin seeds, fresh

olive oil



red pepper flakes

curry powder

Preheat oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit. Thoroughly rinse your fresh pumpkin seeds and remove any excess pulp that remains. Dry on a towel then transfer to a bowl. Drizzle seeds with olive oil and sprinkle seasonings on top to taste. Mix seeds with spices then spread out on a baking sheet that has been coated with cooking spray (may also line with aluminum foil then spray). Bake seeds for 1 hour at 275 degrees Fahrenheit turning seeds with spatula every 15 minutes to cook evenly. Cool and enjoy!