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« A Review of Thomas Keller's Bouchon Cookbook | Main | Molecular Gastronomy Resources »

November 13, 2004

Comments

Angela

Hi Clement - your cake is absolutely beautiful. I'm looking forward to seeing a picture of a cut slice for a real closeup on the layers. Yum!

BTW, would you recommend Herme's Dessert book? I have his chocolate one which is fabulous to read, but mostly very time-consuming to cook from.

Sasha

In terms of presentation, I found that a mandoline is indespensible when it comes to anything to do with apples. I bought an expensive one ($100) from williams sonoma and ended up returning it. It was too pricey for the amount I used it. (Their return policy is amazing - they dont mind at all if you use the item, you just have to let them know so that they dont put it back on the shelves - and there is no time limit for the return)

Eventually I settled on a 40 dollar mandoline (it was a hand me down actually)... and I love it. The mystery behind perfect, even slices of apples was solved ! :) Its fantastic- my apple pie now look like the apple pies and tarts I see in bakeries.

As for the over browned cake - maybe your oven is hotter than you think - Cook's Illustrated talks about using an oven thermometer and recalibrating it a couple of times a year - they lose accuracy fairly fast. I myself am not yet that precise, but one day I hope to use this advice.

Overall, I think your cake looks nice though - what is the green garnish?

Clement

Thanks Angela - Pierre Herme's Desserts is similar to his Chocolates book. Most recipes have three or four subrecipes, and the variety of desserts is pretty good. Desserts was written before Chocolates, so its glossary and master recipes aren't as thorough and refined, and no weighted measures are given. I'd highly recommend Dorie Greenspan's latest book, Paris Sweets over Desserts. Although it has no photos, I've had good results with both its simple and elaborate recipes.

Hi Sasha - thanks very much for your suggestions. I had been thinking about buying the new Oxo Mandoline for Christmas, but now that it's received mixed reviews, I'm trying to decide between the plastic Super Benriner and the pricey De Buyer mandoline. I’ll mostly use it for making paper thin slices and julienning, but I'm unsure about the stability of the Benriner since it's unsupported. Would you recommend either of these, or perhaps a different brand?

I currently use an Oxo thermometer, but I'm not sure how accurate it is. I often find myself pulling stuff out of the oven a few minutes before the recommended time, so maybe it's a bit off. My oven also seems to have many hotspots as the heating element is laid out in a zigzag pattern. I usually end up rotating the food to compensate, but since the pastry's only 1/8" thick, it browns very quickly. I hope I don't need to invest in a convection oven to get more even heating!

The green garnish is just granny smith apple peel that's been julienned. I liked its appearance, but unfortunately it shrivelled up and didn't taste very good. Next time, I might try soaking them in syrup first, or maybe turning them into some sort of brittle candy.

Sam

Clement
I know this particular comment isn't on the right post, but I couldnt find a comment section on the Sparkle Cookie link. I am thinking of making the Sparkle cookies for a bake sale.
Can you remember how well they last? Fridge? Airtight container?
Any tips much appreciated.
thanks!
sam

Clement

Hi Sam - The sparkle cookies should last at least three days if they're left uncovered at room temperature. They're dry on the outside and moist on the inside, so they tend to lose their inner moisture slowly over time. I'm sure that storing them in an airtight container, or covering them with plastic wrap (at room temperature) would help. Refrigerating the cookies makes them rock solid throughout, but they'll probably recover if reheated.

If you'll be selling them over several days, the best approach might be to keep the batter refrigerated, and just bake them whenever you need them. The batter should keep for a long time. Thomas Haas actually sells the sparkle cookie batter by mail order so that people can bake them themselves (I’m amazed that he can sell one batch of batter for $75, when the ingredients cost less than $10!).

Here are a few tips for the recipe:

- Use a chocolate with a 70% cocoa content.

- After melting the chocolate, let it cool for a couple minutes before adding the butter, so that the butter doesn't instantly liquefy.

- Eggs should be at room temperature, so that they reach maximum volume.

- Mix the cocoa powder, almonds and salt together before folding them into the wet mixture, so that your cookies won't have any white specks of almond flour.

- The recipe should produce about 32 16g cookies

- Roll the dough into oval-shaped balls, instead of perfect spheres, and place them long-side up, so that they don't spread out as much.

- After rolling the balls, refrigerate them for 5 to 10 minutes before coating with granulated sugar. This ensures that the sugar won't dissolve into the dough, and also prevents the dough from melting on the baking sheet, which would create crispy feet.

- The cookies are done as soon as they begin to crack (about 11 minutes for me).

Sam

thank you so much Clement
I am certain I am going to make some.
I am going to go to the Made in France warehouse on saturday to pick up some of the same Caraïbe chocolate Pim got a few weeks ago (which is where I saw the Sparkle Cookie tip from you in the first place). I know it's only 66% but that isnt far off 70 and I like the idea of the chocolate being in manageable little pieces.
cheers again!

Ayln

Hi -
I've been reading your blog for a while I'd just like to say that all of your food looks so beautiful! How long did it take you to reach this level of skill? I'm an aspiring foodie myself, not expecting to be a chef or anything but I would love to be able to do what you do. You're amazing!

Clement

Hi Ayln - Thanks for your kind words. Although I've enjoyed cooking since I was a kid, I've only been really passionate about cooking for the past three years. It's a bit overwhelming how much I still have to learn, so I just try to do a little at a time.

If you're interested, I've posted a list of books that I've found to be very useful here. A few are reference books, but the ones with recipes tell you why you're doing something (rather than just telling you what to do), and also provide master recipes, so that once you can make the master recipe, you're able to do any variation of it. Custards (ice cream, crème anglaise, crème brulée, pastry cream) would be an example.

Aside from technique, I've found that using reputable recipes and good ingredients can often make a world of difference. And of course, don't be afraid to make mistakes or to take on recipes that look too difficult.

In any case, good luck with your cooking, I'm sure you'll find it as addictive as I do.

Nadia

I have been all over the website trying to find the updated recipe for Thomas Haas Chocolate Sparkles. I have the old recipe and the cookies are great, but would like the updated version. Can you or anyone please email me.

Thank You

Lynne in Houston

I'd love to try this -- can you post the recipe? What do you mean by a cinnamon crust? Like a cookie.

I am looking forward to the next SHF. What is the theme for March?

Clement

Hi Lynn, I'll e-mail the recipe to you. The cinnamon crust is similar to a sable cookie. I remember it being quite crumbly and fragile. The theme for SHF 6 is caramel, it's being hosted by Words to Eat By. Hope you can join us!

Lynne

Clement,

I posted the wrong email address. Would you mind sending to me at the updated email address? Thanks!

Mike

I was hunting around for some new apple cake recipes when I stumbled across this - looks wonderful!

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  • This is my blogchalk:
    Clement Lo,
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada, English, Male, 26, Cooking, Pastry, Restaurants, Skiing, Visual Design, Entrepreneur, Technology,
    Queen's University.

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