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A new dessert and pain d’épices

Our new signature dessert is about chocolate and “espuma”, along with a carrousel of other  flavors and textures that I subtly weaved in and change with the seasons. Our most current version is made with apricots and cinnamon basil. It looks like this :

One additional flavor stands out this month : the “pain d’épices”. A loose English translation would be gingerbread, a literal one would be spiced bread. It is a cake or a bread made with honey and different spices like cinnamon, cardamom, anise, cloves, ginger, etc. The variety of interpretations of what it is pertains to its multiple origins. Some say it comes from China, where a similar bread, called Mi-Kong, was baked during the Middle Ages. A similar recipe is also found in Egypt, Greece, Germany (called lebkuchen), and later in France – Dijon, and Reims. And of course each place uses its own spices and types of flour. That leaves us with endless possibilities to explore which version will be our personal favorite.

I mainly remember pain d’épices as a treat that I would get at my grand-parent’s home and that – surprisingly – I did not always enjoy. To my defense, this kind of “bread” could easily be too dry or not sweet enough to a child’s taste. But mixed used as an accent and mixed with other flavors and textures, its own becomes much more interesting.

 I would like to share my home recipe of the pain d’épices:

 You will need :

300g of honey (I like to use clover honey)

100g of butter

250g flour

50g  almond meal

10g baking powder

1/2 of a teaspoon of each one of these spices : powdered ginger, cinnamon, green anise, nutmeg

2 eggs

a pinch of salt

Steps :

Preheat oven at 335 F. Butter a deep loaf pan.

Place the butter and honey in a bowl then melt them in the microwave (until butter is completely melted, but not boiling).

Sift the flour, then mix in the other dry ingredients.

Add the melted butter and honey, then add the eggs and mix until you obtain a homogenous batter.

Pour the batter into the pan and bake in the oven, first for 10 minutes at 325, then for approximately 30 minutes at 305.

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After a month away from this blog I wanted to share a dessert recipe that would be :

a – very close to the restaurant’s version

b – easy to make at home with a handful of ingredients and tools.

Before you dive into it, here are some interesting facts about this recipe. It is a frozen dessert inspired by a candy called “nougat” -an ancient delicacy that was made with nuts (often pine nuts, walnuts and almonds) and candied fruit, honey and caramel . It came to France in the 17th century through the city of Marseilles. Today, its French home is Montelimar.

Nougat glace is a frozen dessert inspired by this candy. The classic recipe calls for an Italian meringue mixed with whipped cream, caramelized nuts and candied fruit.

In our deconstructed version of this dessert we decided to use toasted sesame seeds, raspberry and fresh cherries.

We also added some crunchiness with cherry “tuiles”.

For the home version of this recipe you will need:

Cream Base:

1- 350 g heavy whipping cream

2- 6 egg whites

3- 100 g sugar

4- 30 ml water

5- 70 g honey

Toasted seeds

6 – 200 g raw sesame seeds

7- 70 g sugar

Fruits :

300 g red fruit (you could use pitted cherries, thinly diced or raspberries cut in small pieces)

Steps :

1-Whip Egg whites until soft peak.

2- In a saucepan, combine 75 g of sugar and 30 ml of water and heat until the sugar mixture reaches 250 degrees F (121 C). Pour sugar into the whipped egg whites slowly and keep beating until the mixture is homogenous.

3- Heat the honey in a microwave for a few seconds so that it becomes more liquid. Then whip into the mixture until it is homogenous.

This method is great for keeping you nougat glace in the freezer for a few days. If you know you will eat your nougat glace right away, there is no reason to go into the trouble of making an Italian meringue. A French meringue should suffice. For that, instead of melting your sugar with water, you can directly pour it into the whipped whites.

4-In a medium sized pan, toast the sesame seeds for a few minutes, until they reach a nice brown color.

5- Oil a medium size parchment paper.

6- In a small saucepan, prepare a caramel by heating the 70g sugar with a couple of tablespoons of water until they turn dark brown but not burnt. I find the dark brown caramel more flavorful than the light, but that is up to your taste. During this process, make sure to remove the crystallized sugar that forms on the side of the saucepan. For that you can use a wet brush.

Once your caramel is ready, mix in the toasted seeds and pour the mixture the oiled parchment paper.

Once cooled, you can cut the caramelized seeds into small pieces.

7- Whip the cream and mix with the meringue. Mix in the sesame seeds, diced fruit and leave in the freezer for 4 hours before serving.

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Did you know that vanilla beans come from an aromatic orchid? They are found around the world in tropical places like Madagascar (main world producer), Comoros and Reunion Islands, Uganda, Indonesia, India, Papua New Guinea, Guatemala, Honduras, and Veracruz, Mexico.

In France, Bourbon Vanilla is most commonly found. Its name refers to its place of origin, ‘Ile de Bourbon’, as Reunion, the tropical island east of Madagascar, was known until 1793. Reunion has been a vanilla-producing ground since the very early 1800s, when the French brought vanilla cuttings from Mexico, and planted them in the King’s garden in the capital Saint-Denis.

Here in California, we work with the Bacstrom Import Company because of their careful selection of beans, their passion for spices and the multiple choices they offer in terms of beans origins. Vanilla being such a wonderfully versatile spice, it is nice to be able to choose between the different textures (more or less moist, thick or fine) and flavor strengths offered by different varieties. Tahitian beans are very moist, thick, “oily” an flavorful. Madagascar’s are oily and large, with a very high vanillin content that gives them a strong and unique flavor. I encourage you to try them in your own culinary experiences.

This panna cotta recipe will allow you to play with various vanilla beans, and enjoy their differences :

You need (serves 4) :
1 cup whipping cream
1 cup coconut milk
2 g agar agar
1/3 cup +1/2 tbsp sugar
1 vanilla bean.
Steps :
Let the agar agar soak in water for one hour.
Mix the cream, coconut milk, sugar and vanilla seeds and bring to boil. Turn off the heat then add the agar agar. Boil until dissolved.
Pour the cream in small glasses and let it cool for about 30 min.
Refrigerate for one hour then serve.
Can be served with fresh mangoes, pureed mangoes or  a berry coulis.

At Baumé we serve a panna cotta with strawberries, almonds, a thyme coulis and a vanilla mousse. Like the recipe above, our recipe uses agar agar instead of gelatin. I prefer it for a couple reasons. One is because it stays solid at a much higher temperature than gelatin. That way we maintain the preparation’s quality during warmer weather. The second reason is that agar agar is derived from algae -or seaweed – whereas gelatin comes from the collagen inside animals’ skin and bones.  With agar agar, our dessert remains a vegetarian dish.

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A simple recipe for a raspberry sorbet

Today, I wanted to share a very quick and easy way to prepare a delicious and refreshing dessert : raspberry sorbet. Few fruits prompt as much childhood nostalgia as raspberries, so it is crucial to preserve the raspberry taste as much as possible. At Baumé, we even enhance that taste with a frozen raspberry explosion.

At home, you only need a couple of ingredients and tools : fresh raspberries, lime , sugar,  a sieve and a ice-cream maker.

Ingredients :

- 2 lbs raspberries

- 1 1/4 cup sugar

- zest of 1 lime

Steps :

1- Grate the lime’s zest and mix with the sugar

2 – Carefully select and wash the raspberries

3- Place a sieve over a large bowl. Mash the raspberries and pass them through the sieve. You should obtain a fresh raspberry coulis.

4- Mix the raspberry coulis with the lime flavored sugar until the sugar is fully disolved.

5- Pour into an ice-cream maker

30 minutes later the sorbet is ready. For a firmer sorbet, you can leave it in the freezer for 1 to 2 hours before serving.

Et voila!

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Seasonal notes and a strawberry sorbet recipe

May is an exciting month for we are well into Spring, and signs that the bountiful months of Summer are around the corner pop up everywhere. English peas, asparagus, strawberries, flowers, have already returned to our tasting
menu. Many more summery delights are soon to be seen on our plates. Last Thursday was the opening day at the Los Altos Farmer’s Market. I was
delighted to see a portion of Second Street turn into this bright, joyous food celebration, and to talk to the farmers one on one. Strolling through a place like this is one of the best ways to connect with the people that grow our food, to carefully select and taste some of the best local produce, and to be inspired. I was reminded how lucky I am to live and cook in a place like this.

Each fruit and vegetable comes in numerous varieties, each of which has its own flavorful nuances. Strawberries for example are grown by more than 700 producers in California, and come in some 600 varieties. Larger, smaller, firmer, softer, juicier, drier, sweeter, tangier, darker or brighter are just some of the characteristics that you can look for while picking your strawberries. Don’t hesitate to talk to the farmers, they are usually very keen to talk about their crops and help you make the best selection for your culinary adventures.

Here is the recipe of a strawberry sorbet that can be easily done at home, and that will allow you to experiment with all the luscious fruits the markets have to offer.

You will need :
- 3 cups of pureed strawberries
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1/2 cup of spring water

Steps :
Pour water and sugar into a sauce pan and quickly boil the sugar to obtain a syrup. Remove from the stove.
Once the syrup has cooled, refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Mix the sugar syrup, strawberry puree and lemon juice and pour into an ice-cream maker.
Freeze the sorbet for one to two hours in freezer, then serve.

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