Thursday, October 2, 2008

Puff Pastry

Wednesday we started off with a quiz - weights and measures. I'm really glad we had to memorize this - I think it's really good to know without having to always check references. She did throw in some curveballs by making us do real math. We had to figure out how many ounces are in 3/4 cup, how many cups 8 T makes, and how many tablespoons are in 1 pound.
Just in case you're curious,
1T = 1/2 oz = 3t
2 cups = 1 pint = 16 oz
2 pints = 1 quart
2 quarts = 0.5 gallon
4 quarts = 1 gallon

We finished off the eclairs with chocolate fondant, dripping chocolate, powdered sugar, and almonds. To cut open the rounds, cut with a serrated knife, turning the pastry underneath your palm as you cut. This way you won't cut your hand and you won't break the pastry.

To make chocolate fondant, warm the fondant, stir in melted chocolate and simple syrup to make a smooth and creamy consistency. No one makes fondant from scratch - you have to buy it ready made. Some classmates told me you can find it online.

To make caramel, cover sugar with water and 2 oz of corn syrup in a pot, making sure there is no sugar on the sides - this will cause it to cede and ruin the whole batch. Put it on heat, and don't touch! Wipe down the sides with a wet pastry brush, making sure not to touch the boiling water. Cook to a medium amber color.

Fill the puffs with pastry cream in base, even with top, then dust with powdered sugar. To fill eclairs, poke two holes in the bottom, and pipe in creme chantilly. For the Paris Brest, pipe diplomat creme with a star tip, then drip chocolate, put down almonds (always an uneven number), and dust with powdered sugar. For the caramel, poke hole in the bottom, dip in, allow to harden upside down, and once cool, pipe in creme.

I love eclairs - and these turned out really well. They were a childhood treat, my dad would bring them home and they would be in the freezer - I would eat them after microwaving 10 seconds to soften the creme but keeping it cold. So tasty!

In order to clean the caramel pots (never, never pour this down a drain - you will pay a lot of money for a plumber), pour water to cover and then put on the heat. Once all of it becomes liquid again (including the bottom), pour hot down the drain. We had about six pots going, one by one finishing. The last one won't finish! Chef yells at us, twice, and finally tells us we will pay penalty points the next day. I want to point out that it's only 11:30 and technically class ends at 11:45, or that by yelling at us, she makes me want to dump the unclean pot under clean ones in the dish room and ditch it for someone else to deal with. Right after she threatened the penalty and walked out, the pot was finished and actually clean.

Lessons learned:
Start cleaning caramel early - it takes a really long time to finish.

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