Custard, floral, fruit, Places, Recipes, Tropical

Welcoming Spring: Flowerbomb Verrine

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Today is the first day of Spring, and while you could hardly even tell Winter came to Southern California this year, I still anticipate the sunshine and flowers and general sense of renewal that comes with this season. I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions, nor have I ever been the type to keep them, but there’s something about Springtime that just makes me want to make everything better: my life, my health, and my overall happiness. Lately I’ve noticed that I haven’t quite been myself and things have been very… off. So while I won’t go too far into personal details here, I’ve resolved to fix that, albeit slowly, as well. Baby steps.

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Yesterday was my day off and since the hubby was at work, I took a nice, quiet stroll through the San Juan Capistrano Farmer’s Market, which was a mere 10 minutes from our home. While the farmer’s market itself was small, downtown SJC during the daytime is always a bustling place, filled with rich history and culture. It happens to be my favorite place to relax; there are antique shops and little markets and boutiques all without the LA prices, so if you’re ever in South Orange County, I highly recommend stopping by. I got the lovely mix of flowers in the picture above for $4 at the market. Aren’t they stunning??

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For a while I’ve wanted to come up with a very floral dessert, and yesterday I finally decided what I wanted to make: something with very simple components, but bursting with the flavors of Spring. I made a verrine with a Honey Panna Cotta, a Feijoa and Strawberry Rope, and a Lavender Broth, and garnished it all with some edible pansies. For the panna cotta I used local honey made from avocado blossoms: while it’s not quite as floral as say, an orange blossom honey, it’s very buttery, which combines really well with the already rich and creamy dessert. For the rope, I used very ripe feijoas and wild strawberries. Feijoas are also known as pineapple guavas; they have all the tropical notes that pineapples and guavas have, but the meat is smooth and more creamy than it is tart. The rope gives the dish a nice fruity pop when you take a bite. The lavender broth combined with the feijoa strawberry rope cut into the richness of the panna cotta really well, and make for a dish that swells with springtime goodness. Basically, I want to jar it and use it as perfume.

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Flowerbomb Verrine

For Honey Panna Cotta:

Makes 3 verrines

165 g heavy cream

20 g granulated sugar

20 g honey

3 g granular gelatin

15 g cold water

Bloom your gelatin in your cold water and set aside. In a small pot, combine heavy cream, sugar, and honey and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Turn off heat and stir in bloomed gelatin until completely melted. Let mixture cool a little, then carefully pour into verrines. To achieve the tilted glass look that I have in my pictures, I set my glasses into the wells of a large muffin pan, and tilted them slightly to the side while ensuring they have enough support to stay tilted when filled, then filled them just under half-way. Chill panna cottas overnight.

For Feijoa Strawberry Rope:

90 g Feijoas, ripe, trimmed and seeded

45 g strawberries, trimmed and quartered

150 g granulated sugar

2 g granular gelatin

10 g warm water

1/2 teaspoon lime juice

Bloom your gelatin in cold water, set aside. In a small pot, combine Feijoas, strawberries, and sugar, and bring to a boil. While stirring, let mixture boil until fruit has softened and broken down considerably, and sugar syrup reduces (I brought the entire mixture to 110C). Stir in your bloomed gelatin until it has melted completely, then remove from heat and stir in your lime juice. Blend the entire mixture together until smooth, then strain through a fine mesh sieve onto a lined sheet pan. Discard any pulp, and cover and chill the puree overnight. The next day, scrape puree (it should be firmer and more like a paste by now) into a piping bag fitted with a small round tip (I used Ateco #801). Keep cold.

For Lavender Broth:

1 Tablespoon dried Lavender buds

30 g sugar

230 g water

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 drops purple color (if desired)

Combine lavender buds, sugar, water, and vanilla extract in a saucepot and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat and chill overnight. The next day, strain out buds and add color if desired. Carefully pour into verrines with chilled panna cotta, and then pipe Feijoa strawberry paste into a long rope around verrines. Garnish with edible flowers if desired.

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Breakfast, Cake, fruit, Places, Recipes

Good Humor Strawberry Shortcake Doughnuts

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So, I’m a thief. Kinda. As in, I totally didn’t come up with this idea myself, I saw it somewhere else. But hey, they say imitation is the best form of flattery, right? When I was a kid, Good Humor’s Strawberry Shortcake ice cream bar happened to be one of my favorite ice creams growing up.

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Yeah, you know the one. So when I heard there was a bakery in LA (a cute one, at that) that made doughnuts resembling a favorite childhood treat, I decided to make the trip on my next day off to check it out. And it was good! It was good, BUT, Lord knows I don’t have the funds to drive down to LA every time I crave that cakey goodness. I had to figure out how to make it myself, from the comfort of my own home.

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Essentially what I did was find a basic cake doughnut recipe and adjusted it so I could get something closest to what I thought would do proper homage to the ice cream itself. After a few failed attempts (who knew doughnut batter could be so taxing??) I finally rendered a recipe I liked, nay, ENJOYED, and am thoroughly pleased with the results. The hubby ate two of them right after I finished taking these pictures, so I’m gonna go ahead and say he enjoyed them too!

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Progress pics! Crushing the freeze-dried strawberries, the finished strawberry streusel, and the batter after I piped it into my oiled pan. Since I’m not quite ready to invest in a doughnut mold, I used a silicon savarin mold that I already had at home. The results were exactly what I wanted them to be, so money saved on my side!

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Needless to say, I am very happy with the results and this little adventure was a very refreshing break from all the European-style desserts I make at work (tons of fluff, or as a dear friend of mine calls it, “floofsy”). Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some indulging to do!

Good Humor Strawberry Shortcake Doughnuts

makes 8 (2.5″) doughnuts

For doughnuts:

135 g All Purpose flour

5 g baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

110 g granulated sugar

10 g freeze-dried strawberries, crushed

108 g sour cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

50 g egg (1 large)

30 g butter, melted

Preheat your oven to 350F. In a large bowl,  whisk together your flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar until there are no lumps. Stir in your crushed freeze-dried strawberries. Make sure there are no large pieces of strawberry, as they will become chewy once baked. In another bowl, whisk together sour cream, vanilla extract, almond extract, egg, and melted butter until smooth. Pour your wet ingredients into your dry, then gently fold the two just until the batter comes together. It is very important that you not overmix the batter because there is a lot of flour, so be careful! Fill a piping bag with your batter and pipe into an oiled doughnut pan or savarin mold, filling them 2/3 full. Bake in your preheated oven for 22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into one of your doughnuts comes out clean. Note that my baking time may be slightly longer than yours if you didn’t use a silicon mold, so feel free to peek in the oven as it gets closer to that 20 minute mark! Let doughnuts cool completely before removing them from your pan.

For Strawberry Streusel:

18 g granulated sugar

15 g brown sugar

108 g butter, cold, diced in 1/2″ cubes

148 g All Purpose flour

13 g freeze-dried strawberries, crushed finely

Preheat your oven to 340F. In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine granulated sugar with brown sugar and cold diced butter. Paddle until cubes of butter have broken up, then slowly add your flour. Mix until all the ingredients start to come together and form pea-sized lumps. Dump streusel onto a sheet pan lined with a silicon mat, spread out evenly onto sheet pan, and bake in your preheated oven for 10 minutes, then stir around with a spatula and bake another 10 minutes or until streusel is an even golden brown color. Let cool completely, then pour into a large bowl and toss with crushed freeze-dried strawberries. Use your fingers to toss around and break apart any large lumps.

For Doughnut Icing:

124 g powdered sugar

15 g water

1 g almond extract

Stir together all 3 ingredients until icing is smooth and fluid. This icing is basically just a glue that helps the strawberry streusel to adhere to the doughnut, so no need to double glaze or anything of that sort (unless you like your doughnuts super sweet, then feel free!). Take 1 doughnut and dunk the top half into your icing, let any excess drip off or scrape excess icing off along the side of your bowl, then quickly dunk it into your streusel. Repeat this process with each of your doughnuts, and let icing set before digging in. Have fun!

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